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.

Meeting The.Family.

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


  1. Sprinkle the cooked rice with salt and pepper and stir in the sesame oil with a fork.  Set aside.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.


You are reading this post on Eats Well With Others at Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and or owner of Eats Well With Others. All rights reserved by Joanne Bruno.
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69 Responses to Vegetable Fried Rice {food matters project}

  1. Exciting about meeting the boy’s fam! Glad it went well. 🙂
    This recipe looks like a perfect, easy one-dish dinner. Yum!

  2. Jeanette says:

    How exciting to meet the family! I do think food is the central theme in a lot of cultures, which makes it that much easier to get to know each other. I would have done the same thing – skipped the patties and made fried rice – just made some yesterday for the boys using all the leftovers in my fridge.

  3. Foodycat says:

    It looks tasty! I don’t see what you could possibly do to brown basmati to make it stick in a patty.

  4. Shawnda says:

    Families – especially big ones – can be so scary! Congratulations on passing the ultimate test 🙂

  5. Those rainbow cookies can win anyone over! So glad it went well, though I knew it would!

  6. bellini says:

    Sounds like it is getting serious when you are meeting the family Joanne. I remember when my daughter met her boyfriend at the times Italian family.

  7. LOL, that’s always what I’ve pictured since seeing My Big Fat Greek Wedding!! At least it’s done with and now you can enjoy that fabulous fried rice =)

  8. Saguna says:

    Sounds like it went down a success! I love those huge family gatherings- they’re always so epic and fun. I’m sure you wowed aunts, uncles and cousins aplenty with those impressive rainbow cookies- they’ll be wanting you back right away. 🙂

  9. I love how your vegetable fried rice actually contains vegetables – and lots of ’em!

  10. I make a big thing of fried rice every couple of weeks. Love this recipe!

  11. Amy says:

    Oooooh, big day! Did you bring a spray bottle of WIndex with you? *snort* I can’t help it! That’s what I think about when someone mentions big Greek families. Damn movies. I bet it was awesome. And I bet they loved you!!

  12. Megan says:

    Sounds like meeting the family went well! And I love fried rice. I often make a big batch so I have plenty of leftovers for lunches.

  13. kelsey says:

    ahhh meeting the family is always scary but it sounds like it went well!!

    sometimes i think you read my mind (ie stomach) when you post recipes…

  14. Gotta love the versatility of fried rice. My mother’s side of the family is greek…if you’re looking for a laugh, you and the.boy. should watch my big fat greek wedding (unless he would interpret that as some sort of passive aggressive hint hint, then perhaps avoid it).

  15. Marcia says:

    LOVE fried rice.

    I remember meeting “the family”, still!

  16. Shannon says:

    so… things went well? i’m sure they loved those seven layer cookies 🙂 i know i do! this fried rice looks awesome, especially packed with so many veggies 🙂

  17. Jenna says:

    Yay! I’m so glad you’ve now met The.Family! What a huge step. =) They are going to be so blessed to have a culinary genius like you around.

  18. On another note – have you tried flax seed mixed with water? It seems to be an awesome way to get things to stick together in a vegan friendly way!

  19. Hey Joanne!

    I wouldnt mind a plate or two of your veg fried rice. =)

    Glad you survived the family meeting. ^.^

  20. Dawn says:

    Congrats! That is a BIG milestone but it sounds like you passed with flying colors! In the end maybe this recipe worked out better – saved us a few calories as opposed to frying the rice patties! Hugs!

  21. Tandy says:

    Wow, has it already been six months! Great post on adapting 🙂

  22. Suzi says:

    Lovely dish here. You might try adding a spoonful of whole wheat flour to help hold the rice patties together and maybe a tad of baking powder, it works great for falafels and is vegan.

  23. Congratulations! I am sure all the family members LOVE your rainbow cookies, oops, I meant YOU.
    The rice looks delish!

  24. Faith says:

    Ahhh, so exciting! I’m picturing My Big Fat Greek Wedding in reverse (since your boy is Greek), lol. I’m hungry and the veggie fried rice like it would make the perfect lunch right about now! 🙂

  25. Beth says:

    This looks delicious, and so healthy. Oh, and I’m sure his family adored you.

  26. This fried rice looks WAY better than your average fried rice. Congrats on passing the ultimate test!! How could they not love you??


  27. Dining Alone says:

    I can remember those days fondly 🙂 I am sure they loved you, and not just for your cookies.

  28. Roz says:

    Oh Joanne, what a time you have had! I loved your comparison of Greek and Italian family get-togethers . . . it’s a good thing that you run so much and that you are so young. Don’t ever pick up on my bad habit of not exercising enough with the plethora and bounty of foods presented at our family tables as you grow older . . . cuz our moms were right when they tell us that it gets harder. Your generation has more brains than mine had! Anyhow, back to the recipe, I love it even if it didn’t go as planned. I need more veggie stuff in my life now too. Just made a veggie marinara sauce that I know you’ll appreciate. No meat included! Now go have a glass of wine and relax.

  29. Elizabeth says:

    I love veggie-heavy fried rice, I wish it was always like that

  30. Pam says:

    I bet they adored you!!!

  31. Cara says:

    aww, I’m so glad to hear this! I bet you wowed them with your cookies… and charm 🙂

  32. marie says:

    If it felt like going home then you’re with the right guy in the right place.

  33. Camila Faria says:

    Meeting the parents is such a huge step! I’m so happy it felt like going home!

  34. That Girl says:

    I kind of like your bowl version

  35. Hotly Spiced says:

    Your ‘meet the family’ story reminds me so much of a scene out of ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding’ where she takes her boyfriend home to meet the family and there’s hundreds there to meet him. Then they find out he’s a vegetarian so one of them says, ‘That’s okay, I’ll cook lamb’. So funny. Glad you had a great time and probably your Italian heritage was good preparation xx

  36. As it happens, when I’m stressed out, fried rice is one of my go-to comfort foods. Love all the vegetables and tofu in this version! Hope you had a great time meeting the family.

  37. Kelsey says:

    Congratulations on making this yummy dish and on passing the Fam Exam. Opa!

  38. Guru Uru says:

    So happy for you my friend, that the parent meeting went well 😀
    Big stepS and I bet they love an addition of genius chef 🙂


  39. Congrats Joanne! I still remember the first time I met K’s family and came bearing sweet treats as well ;).
    I hear you on this one – I skipped this week b/c the thought of binding the rice just seemed like too much work for a stir-fry!

  40. It is always so nerve-wracking meeting the fam for the first time. Glad to hear you were able to bring some tasty food, though, including a healthy entree! 🙂

  41. So glad your “meet the family” went well!!! Sound like you guys have a ton in common 🙂 I’m kinda jealous…both Nate and I come from small families. What a delicious looking stir-fry…one of my favorite foods.

  42. glad meeting the family went well! veggie fried rice is classic, so i bet i would have done this too instead of the patties. yum!

  43. oooh! congrats on finally meeting the family… i bet they loved you!!! 🙂 i made rice stir fry too… 🙂

  44. Hold the phone – he’s GREEK? And from NJ?? We might be related…lol. Seriously though, that’s great!

  45. Kari says:

    I love vegetarian fried rice like this, so I am very pleased you made it in this form instead of pattie form (I am less fond of rice patties). And – congratulations on the family meeting 🙂 I chuckled that a 13 mile run featured first. Working off stress?!

  46. fried rice is the bomb and you just made it look even better than before. Is that even possible? Love it. speaking of love, i know his family loved you- so glad it went well

  47. teresa says:

    ah, meeting the family, good times! i’m glad it went well. you could win just about anyone over with that rice!

  48. Reeni Pisano says:

    Heehee I can’t help but picture My Big Fat Greek Wedding – I would of been super stressed too! I bet they loved you! And your rainbow cookies. Good call on the rice – I love kitchen sink recipes like this.

  49. I would prefer the rice this way anyway! I make things like that look pretty if cooking for others or for my blog but when it’s just me, I want something that’s not finicky and can be shoveled into my mouth as quickly as possible 🙂 Also, congrats on meeting the family!

  50. Congrats on the milestone! I have a big Irish family and we have scared off many an eligible suitor, so I was terrified when I met my boyfriend’s family. They’re German, so let’s just say there was lots of beer involved.

    I don’t blame you for tossing the rice cake idea with all the craziness. It looks like it came out delicious anyway!

  51. Katie says:

    What a good feeling to have that first meeting over with! I, too, would have been the one abandoning the rice project, and with a result like this, I would have been glad for it. Looks delicious!

  52. Christine says:

    Had to laugh at your description of families. I recall meeting the German (huge) family of the person I used to be married to and was overwhelmed by noise, rowdiness, food, volume one had to speak at and beer. Coming from a Danish background where one is very reserved, this was a shocking experience 🙂 However, the Italians that my Irish father’s sisters all married, kind of balanced it all out. Families…. Very happy it was a great experience for you!!

  53. I love fried rice with lots and lots of veggies! I eat stir fry or fried rice pretty much every week and because I have so much zucchini from my garden to go through still, your recipe is a definite to-make!

  54. Johanna GGG says:

    that is exactly what I would do – in fact I did it with some cauliflower rice patties recently. Your family sounds overwhelming but fun too – glad you and the boy got through it 🙂

  55. tigerfish says:

    I like the fact that there are more vegetables than rice in this fried rice! ;p

  56. Lynn says:

    I’ll bet they loved you. And I am so making that!

  57. The family!! You’re in! Now you just have to show them your cooking and baking skills – they’ll never let you leave!

  58. Eliana says:

    Gorgeous rice Joanne. And can’t imagine that meeting the family would not have gone well cuz you’re pretty awesome 🙂

  59. Sounds like a fun time meeting the family. Of course they loved you! Your fried rice is really packed with vegetables, looks so good. I’d like it next day, cold for breakfast. I know I can be weird, my kids tell me 🙂

  60. daphne says:

    well done! now u can relax!

    This looks more like vegetable fried with rice rather than rice with vegetables! And that’s the way I like it.

  61. It’s the simplicity that makes this so appealing. Beautiful Joanne.

  62. It’s so great that you got to meet the family! Congrats! And I’m sure they loved you cause, well, you’re awesome.

    As for this fried rice – I am in love! My fried rice dishes never have this much veggies in it! I can’t wait to try your version.

  63. vianney says:

    they would be crazy not to love you….congrats!

  64. Ranjani says:

    I’m sure they loved you, especially since you arrived with those amazing cookies!

  65. Carolyn Jung says:

    Whoa, now that’s a crowd to meet. I’m sure they loved you and immediately want to welcome you into the fold. After all, the way you cook, who wouldn’t want you as part of their family? 😉

  66. Evi says:

    We did our veggie as well, so much better than anything else! Yum. Glad the family meeting went well, that’s always very stressful!

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