Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Stir Fry Vegetables with Cashews

"What's exciting about this?" I hear you ask.  I never professed that these recipe choices would set the world alight (especially when I have to get through 366 different ones on 366 consecutive days).  My personal challenge was to broaden the food horizons of my family.  As you know, I struggle with (but haven't totally given up on) the husband and the child, so most days it's just me trying out new recipes on me.  That said, the child actually ate chicken today, which is another first so she's getting there slowly but surely.

Anyway, after a day where I spent most of my time sneakily grazing on bad stuff  (I worked from home today and was unusually working downstairs ie near the kitchen, making face stuffing far easier than when I'm banished to the study on the second floor of our house) so I felt the need to compensate somewhat with a healthy choice for tea.

Earlier in the week, with virtuosity in mind,  I'd bought some pak choi with the intention of doing a prawn ramen soup.  Except I forgot to check that I had all the necessary condiments and so rather than have prawns and chinese cabbage in boiling water, and having failed to find any mention of pak choi in 95% of my recipe books (they're either too old for something so trendy or about cakes) I settled on a BBC Good Food recipe.

It's a really simple stir fry that most people just whack together of an evening.  And once you've made this recipe, you'll probably never refer to the website again and just make it up as you go along.  But sometimes, we all need a starting point and for me this the start of a new veggie stir fry.  I had a really good chicken and cashew stir fry recipe that was a staple of our weekly diet until the husband decided on consecutive weeks that he didn't like the carrots (too orange), then he didn't like the bamboo shoots (they make the kitchen smell like stargazer lilies which in turn smell like burnt saucepan handles), then he didn't like the mange tout (too squeaky), then he didn't like the peppers (too crunchy), and finally he didn't like the nuts (too nutty).  So we were effectively left with chicken and rice.  Of course the rice was home cooked basmati rather than Uncle Ben's Express so that got the chop too (okay this bit is poetic license, it didn't quite get that bad!)

And I miss the once a week ritual of eating all five of my fruit and veg in one sitting.  And hoping that by having fruit salad for pudding I can store up extra fruit n' veg points for other days of the week when I forget to eat more than two or three.  So this works really well and is great for assuaging any giant-chocolate button-snorfing-induced-guilt that may be hanging around.

Your five a day in one healthy meal!
Incidentally, I happened across an article on the Guardian website today that 'analysed' Nigella's eating habits based on her Twitter feed.  Apparently she eats quite unhealthily with a lack of wholegrains and vegetables.  What the author chose not to highlight until right at the end was that she only had the meals that Nigella chose to post to base her opinion on.  Hell, if she read this blog, she'd probably think I lived on nothing but cake and only ate vegetables about once every three months.  What a slanderous judgement to make (although thinking about it, it might actually be true!)  Anyway, if you want to read about how the Domestic Goddess herself indulges her Twitter audience, you can do so here.  Interestingly, there was no mention of the bacon brownies that I know Nigella tweeted about last week...

I adapted the recipe slightly by adding a teaspoonful of ginger which gave a lovely subtle flavour to the leaves of the pak choi.  I also used chilli olive oil instead of vegetable oil - something I always use for stir frying as it adds a little heat to Chinese dishes without blowing your head off.  And finally, I roasted my cashews first as this gives them a more intense flavour and a better crunch.

Ingredients - serves 2


  • 2tbsp chilli olive oil (or plain vegetable oil if you prefer)
  • 1 red onion sliced
  • 1 red pepper , sliced
  • 200g mushrooms , sliced
  • 2 heads of pak choi , cut into quarters
  • 1 garlic clove , crushed
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
  • 100g cashews, roasted
  • soy sauce , sesame oil, chilli oil to drizzle (optional)

Heat 2 tbsp oil in a wok or large pan. Add the onion and cook for 2 minutes. Add the red pepper and mushrooms and cook for 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the pak choi, ginger and garlic, mix well and cook for 2 more minutes. Finally, add the cashew nuts, mix and serve with a drizzle of soy, sesame oil or chilli sauce if you like.

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