Give Stir-Fry a Try

When is the last time you made a stir-fry? A stir-fried meal can be both creative and flexible, and is a great way to use up vegetables in the refrigerator.  Frozen vegetables can also be used in stir-fries.  This is a great time of year to use fresh vegetables from the farmers’ market, since they are in season.  Plan a family visit to local farmers’ markets that remain open through the fall.  To find a local market visit the Maryland Farmers’ Market website.
Stir-frying is a cooking method that produces quick, delicious, and healthy meals. To get started, you will need a non-stick skillet with deep sides and a vegetable oil, such as canola oil.  The oil is heated to a high temperature and then ingredients are cooked quickly.  Continually toss the food in the pan with a large spatula or spoon to allow for even cooking.  The high heat and constant movement in the pan help the vegetables to stay crisp and not get soggy.
Many stir-fries include a source of protein, such as chicken chunks, thinly sliced beef or pork, or tofu.  The meat is easier to cut into strips if you freeze it for 20 minutes. It is best to cook the protein first and remove it from the pan.  Then cook the vegetables, add the sauce and protein to the pan to finish up the dish.
Vegetables that are thicker and take longer to cook, such as broccoli, carrots or celery should be added to the pan before other quick cooking vegetables, like cabbage or tomatoes. Vegetables and other ingredients should be cut into similar sized pieces to allow for even cooking.
Most stir-fry dishes are served over brown rice, but whole grain pasta or other grains like quinoa also work well. While most traditional stir-fries are Asian flavored, using soy sauce, garlic and cornstarch, consider switching up the recipe and adding cilantro and garlic for a Mexican theme. You can also make a savory stir-fry using chicken broth, rosemary and thyme. Sauces add flavor to dishes so don’t skip this step. Since this dish cooks quickly, be sure to make the sauce before you start cooking the other ingredients.   This quick cooking technique also saves time during clean up since everything is cooked in one skillet.
Experiment with your own stir-fry or try one of our traditional recipes on Eat Smart:
Garden Stir-Fry

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© Eat Smart, Be Fit Maryland!Maira Gall