Fried rice makes me think of lazy evenings with my husband when we decide to go grab takeout instead of cooking at home. We get up, drive a few blocks down the street to the best takeout place ever (probably isn’t good that we have an awesome takeout place right down the street) and pick up our food, take it home, open up the fried rice box, and attempt to divvy it out onto plates and spill little grains everywhere because they always fill it right to the very top. Or if you don’t want to dirty any dishes, you just grab two pairs of chopsticks/forks and eat it right out of the box, proceeding to spill even more little grains all over the place. I appreciate them trying to give us the max amount of delicious fried rice, but it can prove to be a challenge.
Despite the mess that fried rice always leaves us with, it is so delicious. The little chunks of soft carrots and sweet peas, the slightly toasted rice, it’s the perfect bite.
But this version is even better. Way better, actually. And it uses quinoa instead of rice, which is much healthier for you and is PACKED with protein and fiber. It doesn’t feel like you are making a sacrifice at all. It’s so much more flavorful than fried rice you would get at any restaurant.
I love everything about quinoa. Especially the texture of it — it’s almost chewy and fluffy at the same time if that make sense. Brown rice, on the other hand…..is my nemesis. I literally don’t know what I do wrong, but it always turns out a little mushy every. single. time I make it. The only brown rice that works for me every time is dang “Uncle Ben’s Boil in a Bag Brown Rice.”
Don’t judge my lack of rice cooking skills. I’ve accepted it and moved on to quinoa, which is foolproof. One part quinoa, two parts water, bring to boil, reduce to simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Bam. Quinoa. Un-mushy quinoa.
I think it tastes better than brown rice, too. If you are a quinoa hater, you should try this recipe before writing off the grain completely because there is so much flavor going on in this dish on top of the quinoa, and since you fry it in your pan after simmering it, the texture is a little different than regular quinoa. Just try it.
So here are the reasons why you should make this instead of heading to the Chinese restaurant next time:
1. It’s inexpensive to make. Quinoa isn’t the cheapest thing ever, but you only use 1 1/2 cups of it, and other than that it’s pretty much just veggies. And it makes 4-5 servings, so even with the quinoa it’s super cheap.
2. It tastes WAY better than takeout. It just does…I promise. Takeout tends to taste bland to me a lot of the time and I end up adding soy sauce. This has soy sauce, sesame oil, and a little Sriracha in the sauce, along with a trio of scallions, ginger, and garlic for the flavor base. So it has way more goin’ on than takeout.
3. It is SO much better for you. The quinoa is miles above white rice. Even if you can get brown rice, quinoa is still healthier for you. It also has way less oil than takeout restaurants pile in there.
4. Because…I want you to make it.
So there ya go. Four solid reasons.
Here is the recipe:
- 1½ cups quinoa
- 3 cups water
- 3 carrots
- 3 cloves garlic
- 7 scallions (reserve part of the green ends for a garnish)
- ¼ teaspoon grated fresh ginger
- 2 eggs (optional -- leave out if making vegan)
- ¼ cup + 1 tablespoon soy sauce (or Tamari for gluten free)
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- A little bit of Sriracha - to taste (start with about a pea sized amount and go from there)
- ¼ cup frozen peas
- Combine the quinoa and water in a medium pot and bring to a boil
- Once the water has come to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 15 minutes
- Meanwhile, peel your carrots, slice them in half, and chop them into small half moons. If your carrots are particularly large, you might want to slice your halves in half before chopping them
- Finely mince your garlic and scallions
- Save a few inches of the green ends of the scallions for a garnish
- Grate ¼ teaspoon of ginger
- Heat a wok over medium/medium-high heat
- Once the wok is hot, add a little bit of vegetable or canola oil and your vegetables
- Sprinkle your vegetables with a little salt and pepper
- Cook your vegetables for about five minutes, stirring often
- When your quinoa is done, transfer it to a sieve and push a spoon against the top to squeeze out any excess moisture. You may have to do this in batches depending on how large your sieve is
- If you don't have a sieve, you can skip this step
- Add your quinoa in with the vegetables and stir together
- Continue to stir the quinoa and vegetables around for a few minutes so the quinoa can fry a little in the pan
- Push the quinoa aside and make a small space in the pan. Crack your two eggs into the space (if you are using them) and let them cook for about ten seconds before stirring them in with the rest of the quinoa. Stir for another 30 seconds to 1 minute until the egg is cooked through.
- In a small bowl, whisk together your soy sauce, sesame oil, and Sriracha, and add it to the quinoa and veggies
- Add your frozen peas
- Continue to stir everything around and let it cook for another 3-5 minutes
- Garnish with the sliced scallion greens
- Note: I used a wok for this recipe, but if you don't have one, a large saute pan will work too.
If you make this or any of my other recipes, make sure you Instagram it and hashtag #thegarlicdiaries!