Stir Fried Greens with Crispy, Spicy Rice Noodles

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We recently returned from 10 glorious, 87 degree days in Miami to the brutally stark contrast of 7” of snow and no food in the house. My immediate thought was of course our serious food shortage situation. So before more snow fell I needed to get to the grocery store and stock up. My second thought was to ensure that I stocked up on greens. And that is all due to our eating patterns during this last trip. Normally when we are in Miami we eat fairly lean. Lots of salads, fresh cut fruit and lighter fare. But this trip was indulgence, and more. More of everything and anything, including sun. So my NY shop was going to be all about getting back us back on track. I filled my cart with lots of produce to make soups and sautéd veggies. And I was on a good track except that as I was looking for true buckwheat noodles, meaning no wheat, just buckwheat a lady placed a package of rice noodles back on the shelf. What else could I do but grab them? Now with my shopping cart busting, and some noodles to make me smile, I went home. (Notice that I didn’t have a third thought of how cold it was. I was betting on the “let’s not focus on the mound of snow” attitude.)

First, I made two different soups which we slurped up for 2 days. But I really didn’t feel like slurping anymore and needed to chew on something, and not just drink my meals. As I stared down at all those greens stir fry was the immediate light bulb. And even though there was snow on the ground, I ventured out to the shed to get our plancha* as thoughts of stir fried noodles and veggies floated in my head and made my tummy gurgle.

*plancha = flat metal grilling surface or pan

A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do. Serious commitment to cooking.

A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do. Serious commitment to cooking.

I was fully aware that I was getting a jump start on dinner by cooking at 11am. So I resigned to the idea of eating this dish for lunchtime and making enough to share with ‘others’ (my hubby and sister) so they could enjoy at dinner time.

Here’s what I pulled out of the fridge.

A bounty of greens

A bounty of greens

Scallions, Cilantro, Swiss Chard, Carrot, Onion, Baby Kale, Baby Bok Choy.

First things first. You should know the drill by now. MISE EN PLACE, people. Cut it all up and ready it for stir frying. I grabbed just handful of each. This is stir fry so you can add as much of each as you like. Amounts are of no consequence here. Let me say that again. Amounts DO NOT matter. Use what you like or what you have.

Now that is a beautiful board full of chopped up veggies.

Now that is a beautiful board full of chopped up veggies.

Look at the vibrancy of that chard!

Look at the vibrancy of that chard!

I’m not usually a big fan of bok choy, but this fresh and tender and tossed with noodles, that’s another story.

I’m not usually a big fan of bok choy, but this fresh and tender and tossed with noodles, that’s another story.

Before I tackled stir frying the veggies, I cooked my rice noodles and set them aside. Then on my plancha, I added olive oil and two veggies at a time. I cooked each one separately to keep their integrity. Plus I wanted this dish to have the same feel and eating style as you often see in a big bowl of Asian soup. You know the kinds where all the toppings are sectioned off on the top of the soup and you stir them in as you wish.

I gathered my mise en place board of nutrients, and readied them up next to the plancha for easy grabbing. I only seasoned the veggies with salt, pepper and drizzle of sesame oil as each one cooked, then plated them onto a large platter before enhancing the noodles that were standing by.

The real seasonings was going on the noodles.

The rice noodles I just had to grab. I love me some noodles.

The rice noodles I just had to grab. I love me some noodles.

It fits perfectly over two burners. I love this plancha.

It fits perfectly over two burners. I love this plancha.

Bok Choy and onions getting stirred with love.

Bok Choy and onions getting stirred with love.

A good shot of vitamin A, vitamin K and vitamin B

A good shot of vitamin A, vitamin K and vitamin B

Once everything was stirred with love I got a slurry of spiced sauces ready. In a cup I mixed a tablespoon of red curry paste, a heaping tablespoon of Thai chili paste, half tablespoon of chili oil and 1/2 cup of olive oil, and a tad of sesame oil. I didn’t actually use all of it. You can use as much or as little heat as you desire.

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Having left the scallions on the plancha, I dumped my cooked rice noodles onto the grill and drizzled the slurry on top, then let it cook away until some parts got crispy. I added in the cilantro, then I cut some more and added it to the top.

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Done and done. I couldn’t stop eating this. I think I ate too much. So much for eating light again. Sure there were greens, but in order to truly accomplish the lean eating I would have needed to swap the noodle to veggie ratio a bit. Something I recommend you do if you don’t want to rice noodle your way into a carb coma… like I pleasantly did. What can I say, I love noodles.

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Swiss Chard, Potato & Eggplant Hash

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Oh, what a week of delightful leftovers we devoured after our glorious backyard pig roast.  Leftovers are truly one of the pluses to hosting a party... Having a break from cooking for a few days after.  Especially when you consider all the prep needed for the party. A little rest is well deserved.  Suffice it to say that those leftovers were yummy, but they tasted even better knowing they required no work whatsoever.

Alas, the rest must end when the fridge is bare and thus begins the restocking of nutrients.

So off to the farmer's market we went, plucking the freshest of greens.  As you all know by now, I buy what looks good without a plan for how it will land on my plate.  Now with our fridge full and bursting with glorious greens my mind searched for what to cook up.  

As luck would have it, Sunday turned out to be a rainy, yucky day giving me permission to crave something comforting. (Who am I kidding?  I always want something comforting.)

I realized that beside all the fresh greens we bought I had fingerling potatoes and baby eggplant that needed to be dealt with. As a matter of fact, I was only able to salvage a handful of the eggplant.  The other ones met a different destiny; top of the compost. This is sometimes the result of over zealous buying

This kind of cooking is what Sundays are meant for. Opening up the fridge, kitchen doors, and your mind to invent new recipes. It was going to be a something from nothing kind of day.  I started pulling out items and compiled my ingredients to see what would evolve.  When JuanCarlos saw my little stockpile he immediately asked if I was making soup.  But I just didn't feel liquid-y.  I wanted the dish to be warm, but dry.  It was simply how I felt.  And so, right then and there I realized that the beans were out. They may have made it into the photo but they got bumped on final review on account of my stomach.   That is how a something from nothing day plays out.  You ask your ingredients to participate. You begin layering flavors and realize that some get to play and others have to sit on the bench 'til the next game. 

The starting line up.

The starting line up.

ingredients

1 bunch Swiss Chard, chopped
4 c Fingerling Potatoes, thick slices
3/4 - 1 c Baby Eggplant, thick slices
1 med/lg Yellow Onion, thinly sliced
3 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced
Oil for sautéing
Salt, Red Pepper Flakes to taste
 

Instructions

Wash the Swiss Chard, removing any stems that might be too hard to eat.  Stems that don't look too woody can be chopped up and cooked. Chop the chard and blanch in salted in boiling water just until wilted. Remove and set aside. 

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Using the same water, add the potatoes and let cook until tender.  Meanwhile, sauté the onions, garlic and Baby Eggplant over medium heat.  You want to get these nicely browned, almost crispy. You may need to add oil.

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Once the potatoes are done, drain and add those to the onion mixture. 

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Squeeze all the excess water from the Swiss Chard and chop again.  Add to the entire sauté to heat through until everything is combined and warm.

Once it was all done, I couldn't stop eating it.  I dubbed it Swiss Chard/Potato hash because it had all the elements of hash, and the consistency, too. This met my desire and expectations for warm, comfort food.  I started thinking about other ways this dish could be served. I guess this is a thing I do with everything in my life.  I see an item for its obvious use, then look beyond to see how else it can serve. I apply this to clothes, furniture, textiles, so why should food be any different.

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 Here are some alternative ways for enjoying this 'comfort me' dish.

  • Enjoy it straight up as is for a side dish to any protein: fish, meat, chicken
  • Smash it up, form small patties and fry them as potato cakes
  • Use it as a topping on a lettuce salad. Add beans then top with the warm potato mixture. (another take on my Salad: Hot &  Cold)
  • Egg/Potato Sandwich: Scramble an egg and add the mixture and cook and place on roll

I love when a new creation takes on a life of its own and invents even more dishes than I originally imagined. Hope this week you can find time to create your own something from nothing.  If not, borrow mine