On my seemingly endless journey to get back to a healthier weight, I'm trying to focus on eating more vegetables. Loading up a meal with veggies lets me eat a bigger portion size without adding a lot of calories, so I can still feel satisfied.
Stir-fries are one of my favorite ways to make this mantra a reality. I turn to stir-fry recipes on busy weeknights for a quick and healthy dinner that the family will actually eat—even my 3-year-old. Stir-fries are super-adaptable. Plus, I'm a veg head and CSA junkie, so I can often whip up a stir-fry just by digging around in my fridge. But the best part is that they come together start-to-finish in 30 minutes and only require one pan, so I can still have dinner on the table fast without a ton of dishes to do.
To round it all out, I typically fire up my rice cooker the second I walk in the door or cook some brown-rice noodles or quinoa to soak up all the delicious sauce. All we need is the bottle of sriracha and we're ready to eat.
Here is a foolproof stir-fry recipe formula to help you get a delicious meal on the table in the time it takes my 3-year-old to set the table.
1. Make Your Sauce
Stir-frying is a technique that can cross ethnic divides. Pick a flavor profile and whisk up one of these stir-fry sauces before you prep your protein and veggies. Then park it next to your stove. Here are two delicious stir-fry sauce recipes to try:
Gochujang Stir-Fry Sauce gives you Korean street-food flavor in a flash.
Mojo Stir-Fry Sauce is a Caribbean-inspired herb and citrus blend.
2. Prep Your Ingredients
Stir-fries cook up in a flash, so have all the ingredients prepped and next to the stove before you turn on the heat. Pick a protein and some vegetables. You can vary the the ingredients according to what's in your fridge and freezer or what combinations your family prefers.
Protein: Cut 1 pound of your chosen protein source into 1- to 2-inch pieces.
• Boneless, skinless chicken breast or thighs
• Boneless pork chops or pork tenderloin
• Flank or strip steak
• Baked tofu
Longer-Cooking Veggies: These vegetables require a little more contact time with the wok than their quicker-cooking counterparts (see below). Pick at least one from this group, peel (if desired) and cut into 1/2- to 1-inch pieces. Aim for 3 to 4 cups total.
Quicker-Cooking Veggies: These veggies are softer and more tender so they only need a few minutes of cooking time to be the perfect texture. Pick at least one from this group and cut into 1- to 2-inch pieces. Aim for 3 to 4 cups total.
• Mature or baby bok choy
• Green or red cabbage
• Corn (kernels or baby)
• Green beans
• Snow or snap peas
• Kale, spinach, chard or collards
3. Get Cooking
Heat a 14-inch flat-bottom carbon-steel wok over high heat. You'll know it's hot enough when a bead of water vaporizes within 1 to 2 seconds of contact. Add 1 tablespoon oil and swirl to coat. Add the protein and stir-fry until just cooked, 2 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a large plate.
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4. Add Veggies, Batch 1
Swirl in another 1 tablespoon oil, then add the Longer-Cooking Veggies. Stir-fry for 2 minutes.
5. Add Veggies, Batch 2
Swirl in 1 more tablespoon oil; add 3 cloves minced garlic and the Quicker-Cooking Veggies. Stir-fry until the vegetables are tender, 2 to 4 minutes more.
6. Mix & Serve
Return the cooked protein and the sauce you mixed up to the wok. Cook, gently stirring, until well-coated and hot, 1 to 2 minutes.
Want a little more guidance? We created 4 perfect combos into sizzling stir-fry recipes for you to try: