The December before I graduated college I was given my first cookbook as a Christmas gift. It was like a big hint: you're on your own now, baby, you better learn how to fend for yourself in the kitchen.
I remember feeling all domestic as I leafed through the pages, trying to find the recipes that didn't intimidate me. One of the first ones I tried was this, my favorite dinner throughout high school and college:
Can you read that? Yes, it is good old Fettuccine Alfredo. This quickly became a standby dish for me, something I had in my regular rotation of the few dinners I knew how to make. It's difficult to remember a me who would eat this dish without thinking twice about what it was made with. I don't recall what it was like to eat and not think about what I was putting in my body--but I actually lived most of my life blissfully unaware of the impact our diet can have on our health and well-being.
As I got older and started learning more about nutrition, I had to change the way I cooked. This has been a journey and I am continually evolving, but I do remember where I started. When I first began trying to cook more healthfully, I made a lot, I mean a lot of stir-fry vegetable dishes. My cooking repertoire didn't have much depth to begin with, but to limit it to what could be defined as healthy cut it down even more. So I stuck with safe, easy stir-fry dishes. So much so that one day my hubby exclaimed, "I don't care what you make, but please no more mixed vegetables with rice!" To make matter worse, in those days I was working full time and often used frozen vegetables for my stir fries. Bleh.
So it's been a really long time since I've made a classic, Asian-style stir fry dish. I was pleasantly surprised with the results and realized that I need to throw these kind of dinners back into the mix more often. This is a quick and easy dish that makes a perfect weeknight meal.
1 cup brown rice
2 cups vegetable broth/stock
2 tsp butter or vegan margarine (optional)
2 carrots, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon coconut oil
10 ounces sliced mushrooms
1/2 lb. sugar snap peas
1 cup edamame (thawed if using frozen)
for the sauce
1/2 cup vegetable broth/stock
1/4 cup coconut milk (lite is fine)
1/4 cup natural peanut butter
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Put your rice in a pot with the vegetable broth or stock and butter. Bring the rice to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and allow the rice to simmer until it is soft and the liquid is absorbed. (About 50 minutes for regular brown rice. If you use par-boiled, the cooking time is cut down to about 30 minutes.)
When your rice has about 20-25 minutes cooking time left:
Steam your carrots until they are crisp-tender. Meanwhile:
In a large skillet, melt the coconut oil over medium high heat. Add the mushrooms and saute until they are soft and reduced in size, about 8 minutes. Once the carrots are crisp-tender, add them to the skillet and stir fry for about 5 minutes. Add the snap peas and edamame along with a few sprinkles of salt and stir fry until everything is warm, about another 5 minutes.
To make your sauce, place all ingredients in a small sauce pan over medium low heat and stir. When sauce is heated, it's ready. Taste and season accordingly.
When the rice is finished cooking, fluff with a fork. Serve with a portion of rice, topped with the vegetables and a drizzle of the sauce.
Meghan's plate looked like this:
Rice, carrots, edamame, and the sauce separate instead of together. (Is this a toddler thing or just a Meghan thing? She doesn't ever want her food all mixed together.) I also gave her some leftover zucchini coins. Next time I'll make sure we eat them all up on the first night because these were not great as leftovers. Her favorite thing was the sauce. She ate it with a spoon as if it was soup. I had to convince her to dip her carrots, edamame, and rice into it.
If you already have some cooked brown rice, this meal will come together even quicker. This is one old standby I'm glad I revisited. I'm pretty sure Fettuccine Alfredo will never be an old standby again.