How to make a quick stir-fry from your store cupboard

by admin on March 8, 2009 · 14 comments

Stir fry

Making a quick lunch from your larder needn’t be a big deal.  As a food fanatic it’s easy to fall into the trap of over-thinking your next meal, deliberating what to make for so long that eventually you are so hungry you’ll eat anything.  Sometimes it’s good to remember that you are just getting yourself something to eat, grab a few nutritious ingredients and get on with it.

Everybody has (or can plan to have) some combination of these ingredients in stock and use them to knock up a quick lunch. Unlike most stir-fries, this is a true one-pan meal because it doesn’t require you to cook a separate grain (thanks goes to Nigella Lawson for the nifty idea of using a can of drained beans instead of cooking rice or noodles). With the step of boiling water neatly side-stepped, your lunch really can be ready in ten minutes.

This recipe is just a template, a broad list of foods into which you can substitute whatever you have available.  The recipe given is a template from which you can experiment and find your own favourite combination:

Frozen meat substitute

Quorn, seitain, tofu, vegetarian “stir fry strips”, “chicken style pieces”

All of these ingredients are a good source of protein, lower in saturated fat than most meats and can be cooked straight from the freezer.

Canned legumes

Chickpeas (garbanzo), butter beans, red kidney beans, cannellini beans, flageolet beans, borlotti beans, mixed pulses.

Legumes provide fibre, carbohydrate and protein as well as providing a useful vegetarian source of iron. Contributes towards your five a day.

A flavoursome paste

Thai curry pastes, indian curry pastes, sun dried tomato paste, pesto, tapenade

These ingredients can be high in fat but a small amount can provide heaps of flavour.

Fresh green leaves

Baby spinach, kale, rocket, green cabbages, watercress, chard, spring greens
Rich in vitamins, minerals and fibre, counts towards your five a day.

A crunchy, quick cooking vegetable

Bell pepper, courgette (zucchini)
Rich in vitamins, minerals and fibre, counts towards your five a day.

A cooking oil

Olive oil, rapeseed (vegetable) oil

These oils are high in monounsaturated fats, thought to be beneficial for heart health.

Between the beans, green leafy veg and peppers a portion of this stir-fry provides at least two of your five a day.

Instead of the thai flavours in the recipe below, how about making an indian version with chickpeas, garam masala curry paste and spinach, or a more Italian affair with borlotti beans, tapenade and kale?

Other storecupboard customisations on Mostly Eating
A ‘mix and match’ recipe for a wholegrain lunchtime salad
How to make a healthier muffin
Easy ingredients to make your smoothies nutritious and delicious

Recipe for Store cupboard stir-fry

This recipe is intended as a guide only. See the notes in the accompanying post for suggestions for other ingredients. If you are using thai curry paste then adjust the quantities according to how spicy your paste is.

For 2 people

1 tbsp rapeseed oil
A big handful of frozen vegetarian “chicken style” pieces
425g (15oz) can mixed pulses, drained
1 large bell pepper, chopped
1 heaped tsp yellow thai curry paste
1 handfuls rocket leaves

Heat half of the oil in a frying pan, adding the frozen “chicken style pieces”

Cooking a medium heat, stirring regularly, until the “chicken style pieces” begin to colour.

Add the pepppers, continue to cook for two minutes.

Add the pulses and continue to cook for two minutes.

Add the thai curry paste, stirring until all of the ingredients are evenly coated in paste.

Stir in the rocket.  Serve immediately.

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