If you know me from my rants on this blog, you know my family is picky (as hell), but there happens to be ONE (okay, fine, two) meals that we ALL enjoy. Besides pizza, I mean. And this fried rice dish is one of them. Even Little Guy ate some, though to be honest he seemed to enjoy the carrots most of all. Note to self, cook the kid some carrots. Second note to self, consider covering entire kitchen floor with a plastic sheet before any meal with rice and two kids. Enough said.
This meal makes my people happy, but more importantly it makes ME happy to only cook one dinner. The other night I slaved over this delicious lemony pasta dish only to have Bunky turn her nose at it. I made her wait until I finished eating my bowl before making her dinner #2 which turned out to be a grilled cheese that I burned on one side because I was so annoyed and in a rush. Lucky for her she ate it cause I was not making another. That’s right, I run a tight ship around here. (Yeah, right.)
The great thing about this meal is that IF you can think ahead – and sometimes I actually can – cooking the rice earlier in the day makes it come together pretty quickly. Bonus, if you can cook the chicken or tofu ahead of time, or use leftover chicken, even faster. In my home, I consider it a raging success if I can make dinner within one 20 minute show on Netflix. (Recently, it’s been Horseland, which sounds more tolerable than it actually is. A bunch of Bratz-ish looking hot girls who ride horses and often act catty. Oh, I am nostalgic for the sweet days of Little Bear, sigh.)
Don’t have zucchini or don’t like it? Skip it. Do you find peas and carrots to be a rather banal veggie combo? No problem. Free style it, people. Use what you like and/or what you have. Frozen veggies are awesome because you don’t have to chop or thaw or anything. Just toss right into your hot skillet.
The less work for me, the better. Time is money, right? Or in my case, time is just time and the less of it I spend slaving over a hot stove while kids are screaming and crying in the background the better. Ah, domestic bliss! Well, sometimes, it is.
Gluten Free Fried Rice, Free Style
- 4 tsps canola or vegetable oil divided in half (plus more just in case)
- 1/4 medium onion diced (not for us, alas, but you can!)
- 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 lb chicken breasts or tofu, cubed (this is optional and totally your call)
- 1 zucchini or summer squash diced
- 1 cup frozen peas and carrots, or any mixed veggie you like! free style it
- 1/2 cup corn (or not – I opted out because of my picky husband)
- 1/2 teaspoon of dried ginger
- approximately 3 cups of cooked brown rice cooled*
- 3 tablespoons of gluten free tamari or soy sauce (we use San-J)
- handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
- iceberg lettuce if you want to serve in lettuce cups/wraps
* Cook rice ahead of time and store in fridge to get it cold. I cooked 1.5 cups of long grain brown rice in my rice cooker with 3 cups of water + 1.5 tablespoons of water an hour or so before starting this meal. Fried rice is best prepared with rice that is nicely chilled, similar to white wine, which you should also totally have.
1. In a large nonstick skillet, heat 2 teaspoons of oil on medium. [Skip to step 2 if you are not using chicken or tofu.] Add diced chicken or tofu and cook until it is cooked through, for chicken, or browned the way you like it, tofu. Remove meat or tofu and set aside in a large serving bowl.
Often, I dice up the chicken into small pieces after cooking. Easier that way.
2. Lower temperature to medium low and add onion (if using) and squash to the skillet. If necessary, add another teaspoon of oil. Saute until onions become translucent, then add garlic and cook for another minute until fragrant.
If you’re NOT using onions, then saute the squash in oil for about 3 minutes BEFORE adding the garlic. Then add garlic for another minute or so until fragrant. You really don’t want to burn garlic, as it is a total buzz kill and smells awful.
3. Add frozen veggies – peas, carrots, corn, or your choice – to the squash and possible onion/garlic mixture. Continue sauteing until frozen veggies are completely thawed and hot.
Once cooked, remove veggies and add them to the bowl with chicken or tofu.
4. Add remaining oil, or another 2 teaspoons if you used it all, and then turn heat to medium high. Add the brown rice to the skillet and stir frequently until all the rice is heated through.
5. Return meat/tofu and veggies back to the skillet as well as the 3 tablespoons of tamari. Stir everything until it is well combined. Remove from heat and sprinkle with cilantro. Or not if you forgot to buy cilantro and your kid has an aversion to pieces of added green stuff.
Serve in bowls or use iceberg lettuce cups/wraps.