It is a daily challenge to make a healthy dinner instead of grabbing takeout from the many tempting places in our neighborhood. And I do love to cook. But when we don’t plan ahead, and it’s 8 p.m. and the hangries are coming on… well, a kebab or a wok stir-fry someone else has prepared starts to look pretty appealing.
Sometimes I give into takeout’s siren song, and I enjoy every bite. But I know it’s not great for our budget or our health to do it as often as it crosses my mind, so I try to have a few easy recipes to draw from that I actually look forward to.
The wok takeout places are our default for fast food: you choose your noodles, your sauce and your protein, and they stir-fry it to order with veggies. It’s tasty and cheap, and because it has vegetables in it, it feels healthier. But I’ve been working on making our own version at home with whatever we have on hand. It’s cheap, it makes a ton – so we have leftovers for days – and it’s delicious and much less greasy than the takeout version.
If we have chicken, I’ll add it to the hot wok first, browning it on all sides, and then adding the veggies. But more often, I’ve been making it with just veggies. If you use a good portion of something hearty like squash or sweet potato, it’s really filling (even meat enthusiast Brian agrees) and a great way to use up produce you don’t want to spoil.
The “recipe” below is just a basic framework. I do it differently every time, and it’s very forgiving and adaptable. I’d love to hear any variations you try!
- Fresh vegetables, cut into cubes (suggestions include: squash, carrots, potatoes, cabbage, snap peas, broccoli, cauliflower, onions, bell peppers)
- ½ can- 1 can coconut milk
- 1 package rice or egg noodles
- Curry paste or powder
- Soy sauce
- Sriracha hot sauce
- Ginger, garlic, fresh basil or cilantro (optional)
- Heat a small amount of oil over medium-high heat in a wok or large pan.
- Add the heartier veggies that will take longer to cook (such as squash and potatoes) and stir-fry until they start to soften a bit. If they begin to stick to the pan, add a little more oil, water or broth.
- Add the rest of the veggies, as well as curry paste/powder, soy sauce, ginger and garlic (if you’re using them), and cook for a few more minutes.
- Add the coconut milk, stirring well to mix in the spices, and let simmer until the veggies start to become tender. Season with soy sauce and hot sauce to taste.
- Meanwhile, boil water for the noodles. When the veggies are just about done, cook noodles until al dente (usually 1-2 minutes).
- Drain noodles and add them to the veggies (along with fresh herbs if you’re using them), mixing well and turning off the heat.
- Serve with extra herbs and hot sauce.