Veg, veg and more veg (with brown rice and an egg)

Leek, mushroom, bean sprouts, green onions, snow peas, napa cabbage, carrots, shallots, cilantro

Leek, mushroom, bean sprouts, green onions, snow peas, napa cabbage, carrots, shallots, cilantro

Lots of travel usually means lots of meat and carbs in my diet, and as delightful as that is, when I get home I usually just want to detox on a giant pile of vegetables.  A quick stir fry over brown rice has become our go-to for a filling, veg-centric meal.  We try to keep brown rice in stock in our apartment, so whenever the fancy strikes us, I can make a quick run to the little neighborhood grocer, pick up whatever vegetables look good that day, and get dinner started.  The best thing about this is that you can use as many or few vegetables as you want in any combination.  Experiment.

A few tips:

Brown rice has a bad reputation for being hard to cook.  I love this recipe for perfect brown rice every time.  It’s easy and reliable.  I like to substitute chicken stock or add chicken stock concentrate to enhance the flavor.

Saute the vegetables separately.  It takes a little longer, but I find the flavor of the final dish to be better when the tossed components are cooked separately, rather than muddling the flavors by cooking them together.  It’s also helps keep vegetables crisp and not too soggy if you don’t overload the pan.  After sauteing each vegetable, I load them on a large platter.  We then serve rice in a bowl, and top with veggies.

Shred the carrots on a grater to keep their texture and crunch more consistent with the rest of the meal.

Add a little sriracha to the cabbage when sauteing.  I don’t know why, but these two go so well together.

Garnish with a little fresh chopped cilantro and bean sprouts for crunch.

Topping the dish with a fried or poached egg adds the perfect amount of richness.

Top brown rice with sauteed veggies, fresh cilantro, and a fried or poached egg

Top brown rice with sauteed veggies, fresh cilantro, and a fried or poached egg

Summer tomatoes with baked polenta

Polenta is an amazing vehicle for so many vegetables.  In the summer, I like to roast cherry tomatoes, corn, and mushrooms in the oven and serve over baked polenta.

Sungold cherry tomatoes from the farmer's market

Sungold cherry tomatoes from the farmer’s market

The Mister used to go through the labor intensive process of making polenta on the stovetop, but then we found Joy the Baker‘s amazing baked polenta recipe and haven’t looked back.  Its so amazingly simple and there is no need to stand by your oven stirring until your arms ache.  I start with her recipe,  substituting chicken stock for flavor and goat cheese instead of butter.  I also like to add a few red pepper flakes and a little fresh chopped rosemary.  Leave in the oven 10-20 minutes longer if you like your polenta a little firmer.  Another nice touch is to finish it under the broiler.

Cherry tomatoes, corn, garlic, onion, mushroom, pepper and sea salt

Cherry tomatoes, corn, garlic, onion, mushroom, pepper and sea salt

There is no set recipe for the vegetables; I usually wing it.  For this version, slice the cherry tomatoes in half and toss with chopped mushrooms, onions, red pepper, and corn cut off the cob.  Add garlic, salt and pepper to taste, drizzle with olive oil and stir well.  Then pop in the oven along with the polenta, taking the pan out to give them a stir once or twice.  Allow the polenta and vegetables to cool for about 15 minutes.  Top with fresh chopped herbs–basil or lemon balm are great–and if you like sprinkle with grated parmesan, sea salt and a drizzle of good olive oil.

Seasoned and ready for the oven

Seasoned and ready for the oven

Let them rest for about 15 minutes after coming out of the oven

Let them rest for about 15 minutes after coming out of the oven

Garnish with fresh herbs

Garnish with fresh herbs

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