Chili Garlic Quinoa Stir-Fry

Once in awhile, we all find ourselves standing at the foot of our refrigerator, staring glassy eyed at shelves of ingredients with no idea of how to put them together. Before you throw in the towel to call for pizza, it’s worth trying to use what ingredients you may have in a stir fry. The only requirement is that you bring some creativity.

First, create a sauce using sweet and salty ingredients. I like to start with a base soy sauce and/or  hoisin sauce, and then I add a little bit of a vinegary kick with some lime juice or rice wine vinegar. To sweeten it up, I toss in a little honey and season liberally with flavors like fresh garlic or ginger. There really is no end to your creativity when it comes to sauce making. Try peanut butter or orange juice if you want to try something a bit more complex or stick with staples like sriracha or brown sugar. Whatever ingredients you decide to combine, simply add everything to a high speed blender and set to high. Now, you’re ready to prep some vegetables.

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When it comes to the vegetables in a stir fry, anything really goes. I just try to add as much color as possible while keeping textures in mind. Remember that peppers, zucchini and scrambled eggs tend to be soft in texture, so you’ll want to toss in some red cabbage or edamame to add a little bit of crunch. Choosing a protein is the next vital part to your stir fry. Use leftover chicken, pork, tofu or beef if you have it on hand, but if you’re in a crunch for protein, you could also add scrambled eggs or some canned chickpeas. Don’t forget your base — the grains. Classic stir frys use chow mein or rice, but don’t feel restricted to these two choices. My favorite impromptu versions have used quinoa, couscous or even pasta. It’s important that your ingredients are prepped and ready to go before you begin cooking. Stir frys are meant be cooked quickly, so you want to make sure you have everything in place when you first heat your wok.

While a wok is not necessary for creating stir frys, I do recommend one. The shape helps draw the heat to the center of pan, so you can quickly cook your vegetables over a high concentration of flames. Also, the high sides of the wok make tossing the ingredients a tad easier, also making it easier to show off your skills in the kitchen. If you don’t have a wok, make sure to use the largest saute pan you own. Place over medium-high heat (I usually place my dial between 6 and 7) and add coconut oil or vegetable oil. You must wait until the oil begins smoking, then it’s time to fry your veggies. Toss quickly and season lightly with salt and pepper. Add half of your sauce once the vegetables begin to soften, then add your grains and the remainder of the sauce. Quickly toss in your protein of choice, and you’re ready to enjoy the fruits of your laborless meal. It’s really just that easy.

This version is a combination of zucchini, red pepper, red cabbage and quinoa. The sauce is full of fresh garlic, ginger and gets a little kick from sriracha. I like to keep things light, so I chose scrambled eggs to bulk up the meal.  Remember, if you don’t have any of the ingredients there is no worries! Simply, substitute what you have on hand and before you know it, you’ll be enjoying a flavorful meal that’s packed with nutrients.

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Chili Garlic Quinoa Stir-Fry

for the sauce:

3 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons hoisin sauce

1/2 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

1/2 tablespoon brown sugar

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 inch fresh ginger, grated or minced

1 tablespoon water

1/4 teaspoon salt

fresh cracked pepper

for the quinoa:

1 tablespoon butter

1/3 cup chopped onion

1/8 teaspoon Chinese 5 spice

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

3/4 cup quinoa, rinsed

1 1/2 cups vegetable stock

for the stir-fry:

1/2 tablespoon coconut oil (sub any light color oil)

1 cup zucchini, cubed

1/2 cup red bell pepper, cubed

1/4 cup red cabbage, chopped

1/2 cup frozen peas

2 eggs, whisked

splash of milk

1/4 teaspoon salt

fresh cracked pepper

Place all sauce ingredients into a blender and process until smooth. Pour into a small bowl and set aside.

For the quinoa, place a medium-sized sauce pan over medium heat and add butter. Once butter is slightly foaming, add onions and a little salt. Cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the Chinese 5 spice, garlic powder and quinoa to the pan and toast until nutty, about 5 minutes. Pour in vegetable stock and give it a stir. Bring to a boil, cover and lower heat. Cook for 15 minutes and remove from heat. Let rest for an additional 5 minutes and then fluff with a fork. Set aside.

Add coconut oil to a wok or large saute pan over medium high heat. Once oil is slightly smoking, add zucchini and red peppers. Season with salt and pepper and cook until softened, about 8-10 minutes. Add cabbage and peas to the pan and toss to combine, cooking for an additional 5 minutes. Move vegetables to the outer sides of the pan to create a “well” in the center of the pan. Whisk eggs, milk, salt and pepper together and add to the center of the pan. Using a spatula, scramble the eggs until fluffy. Remove scrambled eggs to plate. Add a quarter of the sauce and continue to cook until slightly thickened. Add quinoa and toss with other ingredients. Add a quarter more of the sauce and toss again. Taste to season accordingly. Add eggs back in a gently toss. Serve immediately. Stores in airtight container for up to 3 days.

prep time:15 minutescook time: 30 minutes serves: 4

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