Stir Fried Leftovers

When I intentionally cook more than we will eat for dinner, I carefully package and freeze extra portions, occasionally carefully layering and arranging partly cooked ingredients so the dish will finish cooking when we defrost and microwave it later. We call those meals “planned-overs.”

This recipe is for leftovers, servings of vegetables and meat that don’t make a whole meal. We also make this recipe without leftovers, adding a can of beans for protein.

Better is a dinner of vegetables where love is
than a fatted ox and hatred with it.
— Proverbs 15:17 (NRSV)

I recently received two cookbooks, each of which detail how to make similar dishes using whole fresh foods and elegant sauces from scratch. But this recipe can be assembled economically from off the shelf items in about twenty-five minutes.

  1. Start cooking rice. We boil 2 cups of water, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and a teaspoon or so of olive oil. Then stir in 1 cup of long grain rice and turn heat down to a light simmer. Set a timer for 20 minutes for white rice and 40 minutes for brown rice. When cooking brown rice, take a twenty-minute break.
  2. Meanwhile assemble and chop vegetables and meat into bite sized pieces. We find that left over green beans, asparagus, carrots, and bell peppers work well. We typically keep a bag of mixed vegetable in the freezer to supplement any leftovers. Add a small onion cut into rings and a teaspoon of minced garlic, if the bagged vegetables (or the leftovers) does not include them. If using beans instead of leftover meat, drain and rinse them thoroughly.
  3. Heat a large frying pan on medium then add about a tablespoon of salad oil. Add the vegetables beginning with the firmest raw vegetables, and especially the onion. Stir nearly continuously to keep the vegetables from sticking. Add any well cooked vegetables and meat last. Some might only need to be heated.
  4. To make the sauce pour 2 ounces (1/4 cup) soy sauce in a measuring cup with a similar amount of water. Stir in a tablespoon of corn starch and a teaspoon of powdered ginger.  When the leftovers include roast beef or when adding a can of beans, I like to add a few drops of Tabasco pepper sauce. If the leftovers include chicken or turkey, I might add a few sprinkles of powdered lemon zest.
  5. When the vegetables and meat are tender and hot, move them to the sides of the skillet then stir in the sauce until it thickens then fold in the vegetables and meat.
  6. Serve vegetables over the rice, which should finish cooking about at the same time.

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