A clever and nutritious vegetarian recipe that flips the classic fried rice formula on its head by using aromatic Middle Eastern flavors.
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Fried rice is a dish that, in my mind, is usually bound to Asian flavors. In the past, I’ve regularly made variations of fried rice, but now I do it even more frequently as my toddler boy loves it too. Fried rice is a great weeknight, family-friendly dish, not only because it’s quick and easy to make but also because it makes great use of leftovers: just chop up leftover veggies and meat (or tofu), drizzle in soy sauce, garlic, ginger, and sesame oil, crack an egg in to bind it all together, and you’ve got a delightful meal you can eat with a spoon. Who doesn’t like that?
It’s probably because I could make fried rice with my eyes closed that one of the recipes in the new and gorgeous The Love & Lemons Cookbook jumped out at me. Jeanine, the recipe creator in the Love & Lemons duo, flips the classic formula on its head and makes fried rice with ingredients and flavors you would usually associate with Middle Eastern cuisine: chick peas, raisins, turmeric, cardamom, and yogurt, to name a few. The use of coconut oil and milk make the dish extra aromatic, while the addition of cashew nuts boosts the protein content. But the recipe’s truly genius idea—one I will probably reuse in all my future fried rice renditions, whatever the variation—is to use a 2-to-1 chopped cauliflower-to-rice ratio. Using cauliflower as a substitute for rice is a popular trick, and this recipe makes an especially clever use of it: combining cauliflower and rice provides the best of both worlds texture-wise.
Fried rice is best made with leftover rice—that is, rice that has been cooked and cooled. I like to use brown basmati rice because it’s much more nutritious, fiber-rich, and flavorful. To save time, I make a large batch and freeze it in portions so I always have the option of making last-minute fried rice for dinner. This recipe can be a meal on its own, but I like to boost its protein content: diced tofu, leftover roasted chicken, sautéed shrimp, or a hard- or soft-boiled egg are all tasty toppings. You could even turn this dish into a sandwich: spread some yogurt inside the pocket of a pita bread, add a generous serving of fried rice, top with any protein and some leafy greens (if desired), and enjoy!
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