How To Make Stir-fries More Interesting

Picture this:

You have a fridge full of veggies, and you are busy and…

Them: Hey what’s for dinner?

You: Mmm, I think it’s going to be stir-fry again tonight…

Them: Oh, boring!

OR

That again!

Does this ever sound like your house??

Or maybe your husband says he “won’t eat plain stir-fry,” leaving you searching for a more creative way to use up the veggies in your fridge…

Well, I totally understand that dilemma! And I feel like it comes up at all times of year… in the summer you’ve got fresh greens and squash piling up in the fridge and in the fall and winter there are things like onions, carrots, and cabbage waiting to be used.  And stir-fry it has got to be!

 

 

Here's one long-time CSA member's solution...

One of our CSA members gave me this idea that helps her family make stir-fries more interesting.

She says that they have the “same stir-fry” each night of the week, but change up the spicing/flavoring combinations to make it different and interesting. Also they change up what it goes with to keep it diverse, too.

Wow! What a revelation! So simple, and easy, yet, I forget to do this myself and fall prey to the “stir-fries again" mentality. Here are some of the ideas she shared with me as well as more that I’ve used myself.

But first, how to make a stir-fry…

 

How to make a stir-fry

Making a stir-fry is easy and fun! For those of you who need a refresher, here are the basic steps:

  1. Chop your veggies
  2. Heat oil in skillet/wok to medium-high
  3. Throw in veggies and stir-fry until tender crisp (literally stirring around while frying in a little oil)
  4. Throw in optional spicing/flavoring/additional ingredients of choice (from list below)

And boom! There you go!

That’s how easy it is and that’s why it is often a go-to in my house when our fridge is as full as our schedule!

 

What local or garden fresh veggies can you put in a stir-fry?

Well, in short, just about any veggies you want to! Here’s a list based on the seasonality of the veggies:

Winter

  • Carrots
  • Cabbage
  • Onions
  • Leeks
  • Rutabaga
  • Turnips
  • Salad turnips
  • Garlic
  • Daikon radish
  • Winter greens of any kind
  • Brussels sprouts
  • etc.

 

Spring

  • Green onions/scallions
  • Greens of any kind: kale, collards, etc.
  • Bok choy (aka Pac choi)
  • Garlic scapes
  • Salad turnips
  • Radishes 
  • Peas
  • Stored carrots
  • Stored cabbage
  • etc.

 

Summer

  • Carrots
  • Tomatoes
  • Zucchini
  • Summer Squash
  • Cucumbers
  • Green beans
  • Eggplant
  • Fennel
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Fresh onions
  • Fresh garlic
  • etc.

 

Fall

  • Leeks
  • Carrots
  • Potatoes
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Cabbage
  • Greens of any kind
  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Fennel
  • etc.

 

How To Make Stir-fries More Interesting

Mix it up using any combo of these spicing ideas and/or the accompaniments below.  After generating this list, I've reinvigorated myself on making stir-fries!  So easy and such a great way to eat lots of veggies!  General ideas first and then a couple specific recipes for those who like that!

 

Easy spicing / flavor combos to try

Use whatever amounts and choice of ingredients appeal to you!  To make things quick and easy in the kitchen you could figure out which combos you like best and then always have those ingredients in your fridge/pantry for easy ways to make your stir-fries more interesting!

  • Pesto pizza style: fresh tomatoes, basil pesto, and fresh mozzarella
  • Mexican: cumin, coriander, hot pepper, salsa
  • Mediterranean: olives, feta cheese, artichokes
  • Indian: curry powder, coconut milk, hot pepper, turmeric
  • Asian: using Gene’s stir-fry sauce including "Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet" flavors: soy sauce, hot sauce/hot pepper, vinegar, and some kind of sweetener (honey, sugar, maple syrup)
  • Garlic sesame:   soy sauce, honey, vinegar, ginger, sesame oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes
  • Or get even simpler with pre-mixed spice combos like Cajun Seasoning, etc.

 

Farmer Gene's Spicy Peanut Sauce

This stuff is so good on stir-fry!  Makes you eat it right up!  Make extra so you can use it on leftovers.

  • 1/3 cup peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1-2 TBLS vinegar of choice
  • 3 TBLS soy sauce
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • cayenne powder or chili oil to taste

Mix all together and add to the pan after everything is cooked.

 

Lisa's Homemade Teriyaki Sauce

Great with veggies and chicken in particular!  Courtesy of a CSA member.  (Thank you Lisa!)

  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce 
  • 1Tbsp. cornstarch 
  • 1 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 3/4 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/4 garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper

Mix it all together and add to the pan after everything is cooked. It thickens a bit.

 

Stir-fry accompaniment ideas to help mix it up:

  • rice, farro, quinoa, or other whole grain option
  • pasta
  • mashed potatoes
  • sausage
  • ground beef
  • chicken/turkey or ham leftovers
  • shrimp
  • tofu
  • hard boiled eggs
  • tortillas: corn or flour
  • mushrooms

 

What is your favorite way to make a stir-fry?  Hit reply and let me know!

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