The fast food industry has given comfort foods a bad reputation. Classic dishes such as macaroni and cheese, hamburgers and chili are often laden with processed ingredients and refined sugars. Even seemingly healthy fast-food options such as salads and wraps lack the honesty and wholesome flavor of their homemade counterparts.
One of my goals with this column is to show college students that cooking delicious food from scratch is easy, affordable and incredibly gratifying. Fried rice, a Chinese takeout staple, quells carbohydrate cravings without providing much nutritional value. My homemade version delivers the deeply savory flavor of its fast food counterpart using minimal oil and vibrant fresh vegetables.
Ideal for busy weeknights, this one-pan recipe comes together in minutes. Simply sauté the mushrooms and broccoli, mix in the rice and serve. Even beginners can execute the quick method; just make sure to prepare all of the components before starting the cooking process.
While I provide exact ingredient proportions, you can apply the technique to whatever vegetables or greens you have on hand. For a more substantive meal, feel free to top the dish with a grilled protein such as salmon or tofu.
Even if you do not follow this recipe, pre-cooked brown rice forms an excellent base for countless inspired meals. To maximize efficiency, I recommend making a large batch over the weekend, then storing it in the refrigerator for easy access throughout the week. Even if you are hesitant about learning to cook, stocking your kitchen with smart staples is the first step to embracing an epicurean dorm.
Healthy Vegetarian Fried Rice
•1 teaspoon plus 1 tablespoon canola oil
• 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
• Salt and black pepper
• 1 garlic clove, minced
• 1 tablespoon grated peeled fresh ginger
• 1 cup (4 oz.) stemmed and thinly sliced button mushrooms
• ½ cup broccoli florets
• Pinch of red pepper flakes
• 2 cups cooked brown rice
• 1 scallion, trimmed and thinly sliced
• 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (from 1 large lime)
• 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
Total: 15 min. Serves 2.
1. In a large nonstick skillet, warm 1 teaspoon oil over medium heat. Add egg mixture, season with salt and pepper, and cook until just set, about 30 seconds. Remove from the pan and slice the omelet into thin strands.
2. Warm the remaining tablespoon of oil in the skillet. Add the garlic, ginger, mushrooms, broccoli and red pepper flakes. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are browned and tender, about 3-4 minutes. Mix in the brown rice, lime juice and soy sauce, tossing occasionally until the rice is crisp and warmed through, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the scallions and egg slices. Serve immediately.
Basic Brown Rice
• 1 cup brown rice
• 2 cups water
• Large pinch of salt
Active: 5 min; Total: 30 min. Serves 2-4.
1. Rinse the brown rice with cold water to release excess starch. Place rice, water and salt in a medium pot set over medium-high heat. Bring water to a boil and then reduce heat to medium-low, cover pot and simmer without stirring until liquid is completely absorbed and rice is tender, about 25-35 minutes. Fluff rice with a fork before serving.
Maral Tavitian is a sophomore majoring in print and digital journalism. Her column, “The Epicurean Dorm,” runs Tuesdays.