I've got friends who have an obsessive desire to follow recipes exactly. I used to be this person. It's what you do when you're first learning how to cook. But I think it makes you afraid a little. Afraid you might mess something up. You know what? You almost never do and a lot of times what you come up with is better than what the Internet says, especially one of those recipes from TV, blerg. AND most of the time the recipe has got one or twelve things you don't have sitting in your fridge at the moment. So let's talk about what is in your fridge. At any moment I have every ingredient necessary for a good soup, Italian anything, stir-fry, and hummus. Always have the ingredients for hummus. All you need for hummus is any bean variety, oil, garlic, and salt. All you need for soup is a can or two of tomatoes and a variety of vegetables, and sometimes you can pull it off without the tomatoes! Italian needs tomatoes, basil and garlic. Mushrooms are good, other herbs, or onions, but really all you need are tomatoes, basil, and garlic. Let's get to that stir-fry now.
I started on this because I had some peanut sauce from the Farmer's Market calling my name all week. I also had purple cauliflower, red cabbage, carrots, a squash from my garden, oyster mushrooms, a white bell pepper, half an onion, and some garlic. Sounds like stir-fry to me. Does it matter what color your vegetables are? Nope. Do you need all those vegetables to make a stir-fry? Nope, though it does help to feed a larger group to have a variety if you only have small quantities of each like I had. Do you have to have fancy soba noodles like I did? Not even. I wasn't even thinking of noodles when I realized I had the makings for stir-fry. I was going to do rice first, but realized I hadn't left enough time to pull it off, so noodles it was! What I'm trying to say here is relax. Take a deep breath. It's just one dinner. You can do it. If all else fails, there's always peanut butter or grilled cheese, or whatever sandwich combination your family is allowed to eat in this day of allergens and intolerances.
The biggest thing to remember when doing a stir-fry for a family is not to cook everything in the same pan unless you have a huge pan. I like my stir-fry veggies warmed and nearly raw, cooking everything in the same pan tends to steam everything and take forever so you're left with a long cook time and mushy veg.
Refrigerator Clean-Out Stir Fry
3 large carrots, sliced
1/2 large onion, sliced
2 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/2 medium cabbage, sliced
1 large or 2 small yellow squash, sliced
1/2 lb oyster mushrooms, chopped
1/2 cup cauliflower florets
1 bell pepper, sliced
2 green onions, sliced
1 Tbs sesame seeds
1 bunch of soba noodles, boiled and drained
1 tsp high heat oil
1 Tbs peanut sauce, soy sauce, or tamari sauce
On medium/high heat, cook onions first in a small amount of oil until they have softened slightly, then set them aside, then carrots cooked until slightly soft and set aside, continue cooking vegetables one at a time until all are cooked, excluding the green onions and sesame seeds, mushrooms and garlic can go in together. Mix all the veggies together. Plate noodles and top with cooked veggies, finish with the sauce of your choice.
Now, go to your fridge and start experimenting!! Here's a few more ideas to get you started:
Chicken, pork, or tofu, eggplant, peas, bok choi, broccoli, any color of bell pepper, zucchini, green beans, water chestnuts, baby corn, bamboo shoots.