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Clean-Out-the-Fridge Sweet & Spicy Vegetables

Do you ever have those days when all of a sudden you notice your fridge overflowing with greenery and panic about how on earth your family will possibly eat it all before it wilts beyond recognition? If you said no, I’m jealous — and a bit dubious. Really? This time of year, between tennis team practice, baseball games, and happy hour at the pool, we’re lucky to eat two or three dinners a week at home (I know, this is a situation I need to rectify. Thankfully little league season comes to an end soon; now, what to do about the poolside vodka lemonade slushies?). So I’m not sure why I still feel compelled to buy heaps of produce every time I’m at the market. I guess it’s because it’s all so gorgeous right now, I can’t resist.

Last night I found myself with a night at home and lots of vegetables that needed to be eaten while we had the chance; looking ahead, I didn’t foresee another free evening until Sunday — oops, and that’s Father’s Day, so we’ll be barbecuing with my husband’s family. But what to do with large quantities of spinach, bok choy, broccoli, and arugula kind of escaped me at first. I don’t love raw spinach or broccoli, so salad was out. The bok choy got me thinking about things like Asian chili paste and rice wine, so I decided to stir fry the veggies in an Asian-inspired sauce. It was delicious and sweet enough that even the kids loved it.

Recipes like this are obviously just guidelines. You could also add red bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, well just about any veggie, to this stir fry. I served it over brown rice with grilled fish. The meal was the perfect antidote to our all-too-frequent snack bar suppers.

Sweet & Spicy Stir Fried Vegetables

1 large bunch organic spinach (Give the spinach a good cold bath in the sink, then rinse thoroughly to remove all the sandy grit. Dry on paper towels or in a salad spinner and remove thick stems.)
3 broccoli crowns, cut into large pieces (I blanched mine first in boiling water for about 3 minutes. I did this party because the greens cook so much more quickly than the broccoli, but also in case the kids didn’t like the sauce, at least I would still have some cooked broccoli to give them. And frankly sometimes that’s all I need to feel like I gave them a good dinner.)
4 baby bok choy, ends cut off and leaves separated
1 handful arugula
1 one-inch piece of fresh ginger, minced
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
olive oil
1 tbs. Asian chili paste (such as Sambal Oelek, which is brought to us by Huy Fong Foods, the same people who make my beloved Siracha), more or less to taste
1-2 tbs. Hoisin Sauce (you can substitute a small amount of jam for the sweetness if you don’t have Hoisin)
Splash Mirin or Japanese Rice Vinegar

Heat a large skillet (the largest you have; I have a 14-inch pan and it’s perfect for this) over medium heat. Add chopped ginger, garlic, and oil (and onion if you want). Saute for about 5 minutes until it’s fragrant but not browned. Add bok choy and cook until it starts to wilt. Add spinach and cooked broccoli (and other veggies if you’re using). Mix Hoisin and chili paste in a small bowl and taste. If it’s too sweet or too spicy, add more of one or the other. Stir into veggies and add Mirin or vinegar. Toss in arugula and stir fry until veggies are well coated and hot.

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