Make This Amazing Stir-Fry In No Time
I think the only sensible way to approach family meals is:
a) home cooking from scratch (ready-meals are too yucky, too small and too expensive) and
b) advance planning (not something that comes naturally to me but pretty much essential if you're going to do (a) without going mad. Unless you like spending hours in the kitchen everyday. No?)
In the spirit of doing (b) in order to achieve (a) - do keep up - I've been experimenting with some advance planning that even I can get to grips with: the bulk preparation of vegetables. This deserves a post of its own but, put briefly, I have peeled, chopped, fried and roasted my way to bags of vegetables in the freezer. I've also soaked and boiled my way to bags of beans in the freezer. The result is - ta da - dinners on demand. Well, not quite 'demand' but literally only a few minutes away.
To illustrate: tonight we had 'Sweet and sour stir-fry with black beans and cashews, served on a bed of wholewheat noodles'. Sounds fancy, doesn't it? And it was rustled up in under half an hour using the pre-prepped veg from the freezer and some cupboard staples. Let me show you how easy it is.
First, I got a large pan, which happened to be my Le Creuset casserole dish, and placed it on the hob. Then I went on a hasty rootle through the freezer to retrieve a selection of vaguely stir-fry appropriate veggies, which were: onions, carrots, cauliflower, courgette, swede and, randomly, just one lonely chunk of sweet potato that had got mixed up with the swede. Remember, these were all pre-prepared and already tastily fried or baked. No actual stir-frying had to happen in the casserole dish. I also added some peas and chopped bell-peppers which I had bought ready-frozen, from a supermarket.
Then I realised that my meal needed some protein (it had peas but I was down on pulses, in Daily Dozen terms) so I added some black beans (again, pre-prepped and frozen by yours truly) and some cashew nut pieces (that I happened to have in my store cupboard).
On went the lid, and I left that lot to defrost and heat through for about 15-20 minutes. The moisture and steam generated as the frozen veg defrosted meant that it all stayed succulent and didn't stick to the bottom of the pan.
Whilst that was heating, I made some sweet and sour sauce from stock-cupboard ingredients. In a glass, I mixed 3 tsp cornflour, a good, large slosh of balsamic vinegar, about the same amount of tomato ketchup, quite a lot* of teriyaki sauce and 3 tsp of sugar. *Sorry, did you want me to be more precise?
When I could stir the veg and they were separating, steaming and generally seeming hot enough, I put a pan of noodles on to boil. Returning to the vegetable pan, I added some chopped pineapple from a tin, some capers from a jar and the sweet and sour sauce, stirring it until the sauce thickened and went sticky. It looked like this:
Hmm, maybe not the most appetising picture, if we're honest, but you get the idea.
That was it. Dinner, ready to serve. Within 30 minutes. Easy peasy etc.
Obviously the unnecessary parsley garnish was just for your sake. I do hope you appreciate...
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