ITALIAN-STYLE RAINBOW VEGGIE STIR-FRY
Italian-Style Rainbow Veggie Stir-Fry
- 1 red bell pepper, sliced into strips
- 1 green bell pepper, sliced into strips
- 1-2 zucchini, sliced into thin rounds
- 10-12 white mushrooms, sliced thinly
- 8-12 cherry tomatoes, quartered
- 2-5 cloves garlic*, minced
- Olive oil for cooking
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 4-6 cups rice, orzo, or pasta, cooked and preferably day-old
- Assorted dried spices, such as thyme, oregano, basil, marjoram, and sun-dried tomato powder (or fresh minced herbs), or Herbes de Provence, to taste
- Red pepper flakes, to taste
- Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for serving (optional)
- Italian or French crusty bread, for serving (optional)
- *Trader Joe's Minced Roasted Garlic (spice) can be used in place of fresh garlic
This was probably my very first "original" recipe. I studied abroad in Paris for a year during college and lived with a host family. I am picky about eating meat and in France I ate mostly vegetarian. My host mom didn't really cook (and what she did cook was loaded with heavy butter and oil), so one time I asked if I could cook dinner. She was more than happy to oblige, and I created a rudimentary form of this dish. I simply used a combination of my favorite vegetables, some spices, and rice, and over the next several years my stir-fry evolved into this recipe, which I like to think is a little more refined than the college version! My secret ingredient is sun-dried tomato powder from Oliviers & Co., an olive oil store in France which now has several locations in the US. It's not essential to the success of the dish, but it gives it a nice depth. The proportions listed here are approximate; a lot of them are written as "to taste" because there is really nothing exact in this recipe-- put in whatever you like! In fact, the stir-fry has never really had a name, but in order to post it here, I'm calling it "Italian" because it has a lot of Italian flavors, and "rainbow" because it's very bright and colorful. I hope you like it! :)
1 red bell pepper, sliced into strips
1 green bell pepper, sliced into strips
1-2 zucchini, sliced into thin rounds
10-12 white mushrooms, sliced thinly
8-12 cherry tomatoes, quartered
2-5 cloves garlic*, minced
Olive oil for cooking
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4-6 cups rice, orzo, or pasta, cooked and preferably day-old
Assorted dried spices, such as thyme, oregano, basil, marjoram, and sun-dried tomato powder (or fresh minced herbs), or Herbes de Provence, to taste
Red pepper flakes, to taste
Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for serving (optional)
Italian or French crusty bread, for serving (optional)
*Trader Joe's Minced Roasted Garlic (spice) can be used in place of fresh garlic
Heat the olive oil in a non-stick saute pan on medium heat. Add the minced garlic and cook 1-2 minutes, or until the garlic is fragrant and lightly browned. Add the sliced red and green bell peppers and season to taste with salt and pepper; stir and cover the pan. Saute several minutes until the peppers begin to soften.
Add the rice/orzo/pasta and spices to taste and mix thoroughly. Cover the pan and cook several minutes until the rice is well coated and begins to get crispy on the bottom. Stir and allow to cook a few more minutes. Stir and then add the zucchini, mushrooms, and tomatoes; mix thoroughly so that the vegetables are even incorporated into the rice. Season with spices, salt and pepper, and the red pepper flakes. Cover the pan and allow the vegetables to cook down, releasing their liquids. Stir and continue to cook several more minutes until the flavors are blended and the mixture is slightly thickened. Add more spices if desired. The vegetables will be very soft and the tomatoes and bell peppers will begin to break down. Check every few minutes and cook to desired doneness; the stir-fry is especially delicious when the rice gets crispy. Serve immediately as a main vegetarian dish or alongside chicken. Sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese and serve with bread if desired.
Storage: This dish keeps in the refrigerator very well for several days and can be reheated in the microwave. I've never tried freezing it, but I don't suppose that would pose any problem.
For couscous: Omit the rice from the recipe; add a small can of tomato sauce to the pan when all the vegetables are beginning to soften. The vegetable mixture will resemble a thick sauce more than a stir-fry. Pour the sauce and vegetables over hot couscous and mix to combine.
For added protein: Cook the stir-fry as directed and add grilled or baked chicken, cut into strips, to the pan a few minutes before the dish is done.