The sun is shining, flowers are blooming, birds are singing… swimsuit season is looming…
It’s beginning to feel a bit like… Summer? At least, it is here in good ol’ Tucson, Arizona, where most of those things are true all year either way, but there you have it. Summer is upon us. If only gastronomically speaking – as far as this blog is concerned – so even Canadians and Montanans can feel free to join in!
With that, here’s a little number to pre-empt your forthcoming hankerings for grilling season.
My love of spicy Asian food and my husband’s love of both soy sauce and peanut butter make stir-fries like this one a no-brainer for an easy and healthy dinner (as well as easy subsequent lunches for him – Really? Peanut butter in dinner and lunch? You’re welcome, Steve.) But that grilled-food mood got me today, so I picked out some fun veggies to grill up and WHY haven’t I ever done this before it is so. good.
This is my high-protein, scrum-diddly-umptious, vegan version, but please do take it upon yourself to add any other grilled items such as chicken, shrimp, tofu, which would also be delicious!
Thai Fusion Stir Fry
Makes 6-8 servings
2 cups dry quinoa
2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
5-6 cups broth or water
5 heads baby bok choy (how fun to say is “baby bok choy”!)
4 bell peppers of various colors, stem + seeds removed, sliced into long strips
1 large onion, sliced in half + then sliced length-wise to make long strips
Potential other steamed vegetables such as broccoli or edamame
Sauce, adapted from Budget Bytes:
2 in. fresh ginger, grated
1/2 c. natural peanut butter
About ½ a cup or so (one small jar, usually) hoisin sauce (or gluten free alternative)
1/3 c. hot water
1/2 tsp. Sriracha hot sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
Let’s make the sauce first and get that out of the way. I like to mix all the ingredients together to make a paste and set it aside. There. Done.
Now to the quinoa. I am loving using quinoa instead of brown rice in my stir fries for all that extra protein (makes even vegan stir-fries hearty!) and because brings a little South American fiesta! to the otherwise Thai Fusion party.
Spray or put about 1 tsp. canola or peanut oil in the bottom of an extra-large wok or cooking pan and heat to medium.
When the pan is heated, spread the quinoa around the bottom of the pan to toast for a minute or two. Don’t wander off now, because you need to be able to watch and smell it. Then, stir and give the quinoa another minute until it smells deliciously nutty, but is not overly browned or toasted. Pour the broth or water and vinegar over the quinoa and put a lid on to simmer about 15 minutes, at which point you will want to check its progress and perhaps add more liquid. (The total cooking time should be about 30 minutes or so.) When the quinoa is nice and fluffy looking, and soft... as opposed to crunchy... when you taste-test it, move it to a large bowl.
Meanwhile, chop the vegetables to be grilled. The heads of baby bok choy – hehe – should be sliced length-wise in 8ths, with each piece of the base still holding onto the individual leaves. Slice the peppers and onion length-wise to make long strips. If using an outdoor grill, place a piece of foil over the grill bars first, or use a grill basket. I used a George Foreman (super easy), but you could also use a grill pan atop your stove (great for those still in wintry places, eh?) Preheat your chosen device until nice and hot, spray with canola oil, and place the veggies down perpendicular to the grill bars. You will need to do this in batches. Spray the side that faces up. If using a George Foreman, you can just clamp the lid shut to get both sides evenly grilled. Otherwise, let one side cook, unmoved, for about 1-2 minutes. The bok choy will need to be flipped and cooked another 1-2 minutes or until tender (unless in the clamper) but you don't really need to flip the others - they cook fairly quickly. Transfer to a bowl and repeat until all are done.
If you are adding any other veggies like broccoli or edamame, you can steam those now to add to the vegetable mixture.
Finally! Now place all the vegetables on top of the quinoa and drizzle with the sauce. Garnish with sesame seeds, chia seeds, and/or green onion slices. For an extra pretty presentation, ladle the quinoa into separate bowls first, then top with vegetables, drizzle with sauce, and sprinkle toppings. Perhaps even add your grilled shrimp or chicken on top!
I want to say bon appetit… but that doesn’t seem right after a non-French recipe. So, happy eating!