After almost six months of eyelash batting, hand holding, and smiling coyly while being berated about my “excessive coffee intake”, I finally passed the ultimate security clearance.
And in case you happened to think that The.Family. included no more than The.Mother, The.Father, The.Sister, and The.Brother. Well, you were highly wrong because, when you’re Greek, The.Family. actually also includes cousins thrice removed, grandmothers, at least six aunts and uncles, and friends of the family who no one is actually related to at all, except in spirit.
It was epic.
So on Saturday morning, with a 13 mile run behind me and a batch of rainbow cookies in tow, The.Boy. and I hopped aboard a bus to New Jersey so that I could meet, well, everyone.
And strangely enough, it was a lot like going home. The differences between a big Greek family gathering and a big Italian family gathering are mostly non-existent. At both there is enough food to feed at least six armies and while you’re there, you’re family. (Especially if you come bearing rainbow cookies.)
Even so, on Friday morning, before this all went down, I was a bit of a stress maniac. And so when I went to make this week’s Food Matters Project recipe, which involved shaping cooked rice into patties and then frying them, I cracked. The rice just would not stay together and while I could have spent an inordinate amount of time finagling with it to get it to form something cohesive that you could actually drop into a pan of hot oil without it crumbling into a thousand kernels in the process…I decided it was best not to bother. And thus this vegetable fried rice was born. It’s a totally easy, no-fuss meal that is adaptable to just about whatever you have on hand. Throw in everything but the kitchen sink and I’m sure it will still taste good. And if you happen to not be meeting your boyfriend’s family this weekend and have enough patience and time to deal with finicky, totally non-sticky rice…then check out Small Kitchen College for the original recipe!
Vegetable Fried Rice
Serves 4, adapted from The Food Matters Cookbook
- 1 cup brown basmati rice, cooked according to package directions
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp peanut oil
- 12 oz extra firm tofu, pressed and cut into small squares (or 12 oz meat of your choice)
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 tbsp minced garlic
- 2 large carrots, chopped
- 1 lb zucchini, chopped
- 12 oz broccoli florets
- 3 tbsp soy sauce
- juice of 1 lime
- Sprinkle the cooked rice with salt and pepper and stir in the sesame oil with a fork. Set aside.
- Put 1 tbsp of the peanut oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When it’s hot, add the tofu and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Let it sizzle for a couple of minutes before stirring for the first time, then cook and stir until the tofu is browned on all sides.
- Remove the tofu from the pan. Add in the onion and garlic. Cook for 30 seconds or so. Add the carrots and zucchini. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the veggies begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the broccoli and cook until tender but still crunchy. Stir in the soy sauce, a few tbsp water, the lime juice, the tofu, and the rice. Cook until everything is heated through. Taste and adjust seasoning.