Chinese takeout was a weekly staple in our house when I was a kid. We always had a favorite spot that changed as our tastes and the restaurants themselves changed. Whether Dad picked it up on his way home from work, we stopped after school, or we made a special trip, those meals are fond memories.
The table would be full of those iconic white containers. White rice, fried rice, egg rolls, won ton soup, sweet and sour chicken (sauce on the side), lo mein. One place even made fried won ton chips. I sometimes have dreams about those chips!
I swear the food never bothered me. I could load my plate, eat until I was satisfied, and not feel it the next day. Now, I have a food hangover and am salt swollen for days if I so much as look at it. But that doesn’t mean my cravings have gone away, and it doesn’t mean they can’t be satisfied.
To quell those cravings, I whipped up Vegetable Fried Quinoa. Not only is this healthy, gluten free, vegan, and low sodium, it totally reminded me of the fried rice I grew up with in both smell and taste. I wanted to up the nutritional value, so I added mushrooms, carrots, onions, garlic, and kale (my favorite). Balsamic vinegar adds that umami flavor without adding any salt, while Sriracha adds spice and that classic fried rice flavor. It was actually the first time I tried Sriracha and I am not addicted to it and this fried quinoa – and you will be too!
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
½ Vidalia onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
4 carrots, chopped
12 cremini mushrooms, sliced
2 cups kale, chopped
3 cups cooked and chilled quinoa
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
½ teaspoon black pepper
Sriracha, to taste
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, add 1 tablespoon of the oil, followed by the onion and garlic. Sauté, stirring frequently, about one minute. Add the carrots and mushrooms, and continue to sauté, stirring frequently, for 5-7 minutes, until the vegetables are soft and beginning to caramelize.
Add the other tablespoon of oil, followed by the kale and quinoa. Cook for about five minutes more, stirring less frequently to allow the quinoa to caramelize. Add the vinegar, pepper, and Sriracha, stir to coat, and cook about one minute more. Serve immediately with more Sriracha, if desired. May be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 2 days. Serve cold or reheat in the microwave in 30 second increments until warmed through.