Growing up a stone’s throw away from the greatest city on earth (and hailing from the home state of aforementioned superlative crooner, thankyouverymuchnowgetoutoftheleftlane), I recognize that I’m lucky to have immediate access to a wide array of (well-done) cuisines – with the exception of barbecue, maybe. There’s an incredible Chinese takeout place across the street, two amazing pizzerias down the block, and quite possibly the best sushi (and half price, most days) I’ve ever eaten less than 10 minutes away. And I live in a teeny little suburb! Killer burritos, to-die-for-tapas, cracker-thin pizza, melt-in-your-mouth sushi; you name it, it’s possible for me to have that for dinner tonight and be one hundred percent satisfied. Now, I don’t mean to sound cocky; I recognize that (with the exception of maybe pizza), restaurants/takeout here may not be the absolute, hands-down, best-in-the-nation. For example, I’m sure the Southwest has better burritos – but ours are nothing to sneeze at.
I know that if/when I ever leave the Manhattan metropolitan area, I will probably miss pizza and Chinese takeout more than anything except my family. And friends. OK. So the three things I’ll miss most, should I ever run away to Provence (/wishful thinking) are family, friends and food. Sounds about right. Fortunately, I’ve “mastered” at least a few recipes that mimic (and are just as good as) Chinese takeout – and this latest fried “rice” dish is no exception. Don’t be alarmed. I put rice in quotation marks not because it’s some creepy fake food, but because it simply isn’t rice; it’s quinoa. And saying “fried quinoa” sounds weird, right? It sounds like something super unhealthy and something healthy morphed and it’s confusing and oops, my brain exploded. Not that fried quote-rice-end-quote sounds any better. Ugh. I don’t know. I can’t be perfect
all the time ever. Besides, if you do a quick Google search, you’ll realize that many other aspiring (and successful) food bloggers have made their own riffs on this, and many of them choose to go the “rice” route in naming their dishes. [/rambling.]
I made this with some sweet and sour pork, using this recipe from Thistle and Maize, which has quickly become a household favorite. You can really use any mix of vegetables you have on hand. I’ve made variations with string beans, and I’m sure it would be delicious with snap peas, snow peas, peppers, broccoli, asparagus, or even some wilted baby bok choy. Really, anything your little heart desires.
Fried “Rice” (Serves 2)
2 cups cooked quinoa
1 carrot, diced
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup corn
1/2 cup edamame
1 small onion, diced
about 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
mix of sesame and vegetable oil (1-2 tbsp total)
2 tbsp soy sauce
Cook quinoa according to directions on the package (it’s basically the same as cooking rice), set aside.
Please excuse my pans. They need a baking soda-vinegar bath or something.
Heat your oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once the oil begins to heat up, add your onion and carrot to the pan and cook until your onion starts to become soft and translucent.
Add your frozen vegetables, garlic and soy sauce and toss to coat. Cook it over medium heat until your veggies are defrosted and tender, about 3-5 minutes. Add your quinoa to the skillet and toss to combine.
Top with more soy sauce, if you’ve got a salty tooth like yours truly, and serve alongside one of your favorite homemade takeout-esque dishes. (If you’re not going the sweet-and-sour route, might I suggest some Mongolian beef?)