Leftover brown rice becomes a healthy meal in minutes with this whole foods plant based Vegetable Fried Rice recipe featuring frozen stir-fry vegetables and riced cauliflower.
Time during a pandemic does funny things. Individual minutes and hours can seem to crawl by, but whole days, weeks, and months pass by so quickly that I often have to stop to remember what month it is. August? August. It’s really hard to believe that most of the summer is gone without my going anywhere.
And I do mean “anywhere.” Since I started having groceries delivered, I don’t have even the chore of shopping for groceries to mark the passing of days. I’ve never been a Walmart shopper, but someone at that store is now selecting most of my produce for me since I found that they do a much better job of it than the random Instacart shoppers at Kroger. What Walmart doesn’t deliver, I get from Whole Foods or even online sources, such as Vitacost. And my daughter, who is living here now and working at a veterinarian’s office, doesn’t mind dropping by the local farm stand for fresh peaches and tomatoes on her way home from work.
So this is all by way of noting that I’ve had it incredibly easy during this pandemic. None of my family members have had Covid (though E has been tested a couple of times), my husband is able to do most of his work from home, and I’ve enjoyed the convenience of grocery delivery while “working”: updating old recipes on my blog and posting daily on Facebook. (There’s one big, new blog feature I want to mention, so I’ll get to that after the recipe.)
I really appreciate those of you who have reached out to find out how I’m doing, and I feel very guilty because one of the things I haven’t been doing is posting new recipes. For a long time I told myself, “I’m really not cooking,” but then I had to admit that that isn’t true. One of us cooks every day to get dinner on the table, and it’s usually me. What I haven’t been doing is cooking anything fancy. I mostly just remake old favorites that I’ve already shared here and sometimes take new photos of them, like this pineapple cake and this Dal Bhaji .
But mostly I make simple, throw-together meals that don’t need recipes. I’ve been doing a lot of stir-fries lately since I discovered that both of the stores I use regularly have nice frozen stir-fry blends that can be combined with whatever I have in the refrigerator to make a quick meal. Also, I bought myself a fancy rice cooker, and as with any new toy, I play with it a lot–so much so that I always have rice in the refrigerator (and often the freezer.)
This ridiculously easy recipe uses those frozen vegetables and my leftover rice to make something that has become a regular meal for us, Vegetable Fried Rice.
Leftover rice is perfect for fried rice. In fact, it’s better to use cold leftover rice than freshly made because the individual grains are less likely to clump together. You can even use frozen rice, though it’s best to let it thaw on the counter for a couple of hours before cooking.
I use riced cauliflower in addition to brown rice to “stretch” the rice and add more vegetables. Between the cauliflower and the stir-fry vegetables, this is probably the most vegetable-filled fried rice recipe you will find. But feel free to use whatever vegetables you have in your fridge.
My family loves air-fried tofu, so that’s my preferred fried rice add-in; the tofu gets a nice, chewy texture and rich flavor. But you can use any meat substitute you like instead, including shelled edamame. I’ve added a couple of suggestions in the Notes section of the recipe. And don’t worry if you don’t have an air fryer: I’ve included oven instructions, too.
Finally, I should note that though this is called “fried rice,” there’s no oil or frying involved. I didn’t even include sesame oil, which I allow myself to use in minute amounts for flavor. So you can make this really low-fat if you leave out the tofu or replace it with something lower in fat. Who knows, maybe even lima beans would work!
Ridiculously Easy Vegetable Fried Rice
Tofu and Marinade
- 14-16 ounces firm or extra firm tofu
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce (or coconut aminos for gluten-free)
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 teaspoon sriracha sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- 16-20 ounces frozen stir-fry vegetables
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 2 teaspoons ginger root minced
- 12 ounces riced cauliflower
- 3 cups cooked brown rice
- 1 teaspoon sesame seeds optional
Air Fried or Baked Tofu
- Drain the tofu well and cut it into small cubes. Place the cubes into a bowl or large ziplock bag. Mix the soy sauce and other marinade ingredients in a small bowl and pour over the tofu. Stir gently or seal the bag and turn it until all the tofu is covered. You can let it marinate as long as you like before proceeding to the next step.
- Preheat an air fryer or oven: Breville air fryer or oven 400F; other air fryers 370F. If cooking in an oven, line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone liner.
- Drain the tofu completely, reserving the marinade. Spread the tofu on the hot air fryer basket or lined baking pan, being careful that the cubes don't overlap. Cook until medium brown, about 15 minutes in the Breville but probably less time in other air fryers. Remove immediately from the basket (it sticks as it cools) onto a plate or bowl and set aside.
- Heat a large, deep skillet or wok that can be covered over medium heat. Add the frozen stir-fry vegetables, spread them over the pan, and add 1/8 cup water. Cover and steam for 4-6 minutes, until hot throughout and brightly covered, adding water as needed to keep pan from drying out. (Exact time depends on your vegetable blend, with those containing large pieces of broccoli or cauliflower taking longer.)
- When the vegetables are hot, push them to one side of the pan and sprinkle the garlic and ginger onto the hot skillet. Cook for just a minute or two and then pour the cauliflower rice over the spices. Stir and cook until the cauliflower is thawed and warm throughout.
- Add the rice to the pan, and toss well with all the vegetables. Stir in the reserved marinade. Add the reserved tofu, stir, and cover. Cook, stirring every minute or two, until the rice is hot. Add additional soy sauce and sriracha to taste.
- Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve.
- Edamame: Use 2 cups of shelled edamame (mukimame) cooked to package directions (usually boiled or steamed in the microwave.)
- Soy Curls: Place 1 1/2 cups of soy curls into a medium mixing bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of soy sauce and a squirt of sriracha, if desired. Pour bowling water over to cover the soy curls. Allow to rehydrate. Pour off water before adding to fried rice.
Nutritional info is approximate.
I’ve added an exciting new feature to the blog. At the bottom right corner of every page, there’s a floating heart and a magnifying glass. Click on the heart to save the recipe as a favorite. You’ll be given the chance to log-in if you want to be able to access favorites on any device, but you don’t have to login if you just want favorites on your current device.
The magnifying glass will bring you quickly to the search page, which has new features of its own. You can search the entire site or just those recipes you have favorited. You can also check out the most popular posts and search by ingredients. It’s a lot of fun, and I hope you’ll enjoy this new way of searching. (Sometimes it can be glitchy, so I recommend refreshing the page if you have problems.)
The old recipe box is still there, so if you prefer using it, keep on. It’s not going away.