Chinese Vegetable & Brown Rice Skillet (vegan | vegetarian | dairy-free | gluten-free)
My Chinese Vegetable & Brown Rice Skillet is an elevated version of a classic Chinese Fried Rice. Although, I can’t really call it “fried rice” because there’s no egg involved. But in any case, this vegan and gluten-free rendition is packed with flavor, texture, color and nutrients. Not to mention it’s incredibly easy to make. The brown rice takes about an hour to cook (including time to steam after simmering), but that’s the most time consuming part of this dish. In fact, the “active time” for this recipe is less than 20 minutes. So if you have leftover or quick-cooking rice, it’s actually a 20 minute meal that both nourishes and satisfies.
Meat-, dairy- and egg-free dishes can sometimes lack flavor and intrigue. But here, I achieve outrageous flavor from freshly minced ginger root, garlic, toasted sesame oil and reduced-sodium tamari. If you’re not familiar with tamari, it’s a gluten-free soy sauce. Also note that I always choose an organic variety of tamari to ensure quality. Finally, shiitake mushrooms, carrot, onion, bell pepper, arugula and toasted cashews add additional flavor, texture and color.
Like in many households (if not most), Chinese takeout was a common occurrence. This dish hits all the same flavor notes, while making health and nutrition a priority. This recipe makes three entree-size portions. Or it can serve 4-5 people as a side dish accompanying simply prepared proteins such as chicken, fish, tofu or steak. Any way you serve it, it’s a guilt-free and easy way to enjoy Asian-inspired flavors and to satisfy those takeout cravings.
Health Food Highlights
Ginger Root is a superfood in my opinion. It gets its flavor from “gingerols,” which are powerful anti-inflammatory compounds. Because of gingerols, ginger has been shown to relieve arthritis-related pain and to have cancer-cell-fighting properties. Additionally, ginger is known to combat nausea and to promote the elimination of intestinal gas and discomfort.
Shiitake Mushrooms are my favorite mushroom variety because of both their flavor and texture. They have been shown to regulate blood pressure due to the high values of a phytonutrient called eritadenine. Shiitake ‘shrooms also contain concentrated levels of beta-glucan, a polysaccharide that is believed to promote the growth of healthy bacteria in the digestive tract, regulate blood sugar amounts and support the immune system. The stems of shiitakes can be rather tough and woody, so I like to remove them completely before slicing.
Brown Rice is a whole grain, meaning the outer layer of the rice grains have been left in tact. This outer layer contains the bran and germ (both removed in white rice). The bran and germ is where much of the rice’s nutritional properties reside, therefore using brown rice instead of white rice provides fiber, vitamins and minerals that white rice does not.
Chinese Vegetable & Brown Rice Skillet
Serves: 2-3 entrees or 4-5 side dishes To Make: 55 minutes
1.5 tablespoons canola oil (non-GMO preferred)
1 cup dry brown rice, short grain, 2.75 cups cooked
Sea salt, fine grain
1 large red bell pepper, ribs/seeds removed and diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 medium yellow onion, outer layer removed and diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3″ pc. fresh ginger root, peeled and diced
1/2 lb shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and sliced
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium tamari (organic preferred)
1.5 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon rice vinegar (white wine vinegar works too)
1-2 teaspoons hot sauce
2 teaspoons white or yellow miso (optional, adds umami)
2-3 ounces fresh baby arugula
1/2 cup cashews, roughly chopped and lightly toasted
1 lime, cut into wedges, for serving (optional)
Cook brown rice according to package instructions. My general method is… combine 1 cup rice, 3/4 teaspoons sea salt and 2 cups water in a small sauce pan. Bring to boil, cover, reduce to simmer and cook for 35 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to sit, still covered, for about 10 minutes.
While rice cooks, prepare bell pepper, carrots, onion, garlic, ginger and mushrooms. Roughly chop and toast cashews. This can be done in a skillet or in a 350 degree oven. It shouldn’t take long. Set cashews aside.
When rice is off heat and steaming, heat canola oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add peppers, carrots, onion, garlic, ginger and 1/4 teaspoon sea salt. Sauté for 3-5 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook until all vegetables are tender, 2-3 minutes.
Add cooked rice, tamari, sesame oil, vinegar, sriracha and miso (if using) to skillet. Stir to combine for 30 seconds. Turn off heat. Just before serving, toss arugula into warm rice mixture until slightly wilted. Top skillet with cashews. Serve with lime wedges.
*if making ahead, wait until serving to add arugula
*another option, especially for make ahead and meal prep, top a bed of arugula with the rice mixture and a lime wedge, enjoy hot or cold
*i add miso to lots of dishes – it adds a richness that makes dishes more satisfying without using animal products – for this recipe, choose an organic white or yellow miso – if you omit the miso, it’s still a delicious dish