Quick & Healthy Pineapple Fried Rice

Lately I’ve been really into quick but still healthy meals. Working full time is great… but when I get home from a long day and an even longer commute, half the time I want to just curl up on the couch with my soft blanket and my Kindle, and the other half of the time I want to bake doughnuts, cookies, and muffins and skip dinner entirely. No idea why this disparity, but dinner is usually not my highest priority. But ya gotta eat, right? So I’ve been turning to quick meals that are still healthy and that make loads of leftovers to eat all week long, like this fabulous Pineapple Fried Rice. This crave-worthy dinner can be made in about 20 minutes so it’s awesome for busy or lazy nights when you just want something yummy but not heavy.

Pineapple Fried Rice | thepajamachef.com- a 20 minute quick and healthy #dinner #STARFineFoods #vegetarian

I started off this dish with the Asian Cuisine Cooking Oil from STAR Fine Foods which they graciously sent me to try out. If you can’t find this at your local grocery store, just add a little ginger [fresh or ground] and some extra soy sauce as the veggies are sauteing. Normally I wouldn’t think of using special infused oils on an ordinary weeknight, but I’m beginning to change my mind. They really make an ordinary dish shine–and cut down on my prep time so I can get back to my book sooner. :) #librarianalert

Pineapple Fried Rice | thepajamachef.com- a 20 minute quick and healthy #dinner #STARFineFoods #vegetarian

For this batch of fried rice, I used garlic, carrots, edamame, peas, and green beans, but feel free to use whatever veggies you want. I’m thinking some sugar snap peas and broccoli would be good to try next time. What we especially loved about this vegetarian fried rice was the subtle sweetness of the pineapple with the salty soy sauce and sesame oil. Oh man, what a combo! This dish was hearty enough without meat [I totally think fried rice is one of those dishes where meat isn’t missed] but if you gotta have some, pork or shrimp would be good. Chicken is too predictable, methinks. Oh, and don’t forget the chopped honey roasted peanuts on top. Crunch crunch! :) Cilantro would be a good addition too! TTYL :) [I can’t believe I just wrote that. LOL! Hahaha.] Enjoy!

one year ago: Lemon Cranberry Muffins
two years ago: Camp Tecumseh Baked Oatmeal
three years ago: Pork Chops with Red Wine Sauce

Quick & Healthy Pineapple Fried Rice
click to print

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons STAR Asian Cuisine Cooking Oil [extra virgin olive oil infused with soy and ginger]
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2/3 cup frozen edamame
  • 2/3 cup frozen peas
  • 2/3 cup frozen cut green beans
  • 20 ounce can pineapple tidbits in pineapple juice, drained [reserve 1/4 cup pineapple juice and save the rest to drink or for something else]
  • 4 1/2 cups cooked, cold rice [day old if possible]
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • sesame seeds, for serving
  • chopped honey roasted peanuts, for serving

Directions:

Add cooking oil to a large skillet or wok set over medium-high heat. When hot, add carrots and saute for 5 minutes or until crisp-tender. Add garlic and saute for about 30 seconds, until fragrant. Stir in edamame, peas, green beans, and pineapple. Cook for a minute or so until they just begin to soften.

Add rice and soy sauce to vegetables, then stir continuously for about 4 minutes, until rice is hot and begins to crisp up.

Push all the rice mixture to one side of the pan and pour the eggs in the empty spot. Quickly stir the eggs on the hot surface until they just begin to cook, then whisk them into the rice mixture. Pour in toasted sesame oil, then stir to combine.

Remove from heat, and serve fried rice with sesame seeds and chopped honey roasted peanuts.

Time: 20 minutes.

Yield: 5-6 servings.

Disclosure: STAR Fine Foods sent me a complementary package of their new cooking oils and some other goodies to try out. I had no obligations to blog about them or provide positive feedback. I’m glad I had the opportunity to try them though! Thanks to Ruby and all the other great people at STAR Fine Foods for their generosity.

Linked up with: What’s Cookin’ Wednesday.

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Neely’s Lemon Pasta Salad

So this pasta salad. I’ve made it twice already–on Saturday with my mom for dinner, then again on Monday night so I could enjoy it for lunch all week long. Recipe repeats aren’t my style so this is how you know that it’s pretty darn incredible. It’s basically spring in a bowl. YUM! Those Neelys sure know what they’re doing–I hardly changed a thing! :)

Neely's Lemon Pasta Salad | The Pajama Chef

It’s a lovely combination of light, fresh veggies–asparagus, tomatoes, and peas–mixed with a lemony mustard dressed pasta and a punch of feta cheese.

Neely's Lemon Pasta Salad | The Pajama Chef

I seriously can’t get enough of this salad, and suspect I’ll be making it weekly for the rest of asparagus season. Even Ben, who isn’t such an asparagus lover, thinks this pasta salad is pretty fabulous thanks to the bright flavors in the dressing and the satisfying crunch of the veggies. I can definitely see adding some shrimp or grilled chicken to make for a more filling meal. However, that’s completely not necessary–this is a great vegetarian dish or side dish. Perfect for a BBQ or a family dinner, like with these sloppy joes. Just a warning though–it’s addicting, so be prepared for the deliciousness!

Neely’s Lemon Pasta Salad [from The Neelys]
click to print

Ingredients:

  • 12 ounces whole wheat rotini 
  • 1 pound asparagus
  • 2 tablespoons dijon mustard
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried dill
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup frozen peas, defrosted
  • 4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
  • freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente. When there are 3 minutes left of cook time, add the asparagus to let it blanche until slightly tender. Drain and rinse pasta and asparagus, then remove asparagus to a cutting board.

Cut off ends of asparagus, then slice into bite-sized pieces.

In a small jar, combine mustard, garlic, lemon juice, oil, and dill. Cover and shake well.

In a large bowl, combine pasta and asparagus, then add tomatoes, peas, and feta. Pour dressing over and toss to coat. Season with pepper as desired.

Time: 30 minutes.

Yield: 8-10 servings.

Linked with: Weekend Potluck.

Healthy “Fried” Rice

Wednesday night pop quiz. What makes fried rice the color of… fried rice? Any guesses?

Soy sauce!

Seriously. Soy sauce. What?

For years, I always ordered fried rice at Asian restaurants because I just love the flavors, the crisp texture, and the itty bitty pieces of egg scattered throughout the rice. But what I don’t love is the lack of vegetables. Usually, the pieces are miniscule, and I’ve all but given up on ordering chicken or shrimp fried rice because most places are pretty skimpy on the good stuff.

However, I always thought that there was some secret “special ingredient” that restaurants added to fried rice that was so complicated and mysterious that I could never recreate it at home. Boy, was I wrong. Soy sauce is all that’s needed to create delicious, restaurant-style fried rice at home. My world was rocked the day I learned I could make a healthier, lighter version of fried rice, full of the good stuff, whenever I pleased. It’s so easy, and I typically have many of the ingredients already so it’s just a snap to make for a quick weeknight dinner. I’m excited to play around with this recipe more and find some new variations. But for now… here’s the classic!

What are your favorite additions to fried rice?

Healthy “Fried” Rice [from About.com and Daily Garnish]
printable version

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups cold cooked brown rice [prepared the day before from 1 cup dry brown rice]
  • 2-4 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2-4 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 medium carrots, diced small
  • 1/2 cup shelled edamame [I used frozen]
  • 1/2 cup peas [I used frozen]
  • 1 egg, beaten

Directions:

In a large skillet, heat about 1 tablespoon sesame oil over medium-high heat. Add rice to skillet and stir frequently to coat, approximately 4-6 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk together 1 tablespoon sesame oil and 2 tablespoons soy sauce in a small bowl.

After rice is warm and has incorporated the sesame oil, mix in the vegetables. Cook thoroughly, until carrots are crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Then, add sesame-soy mixture and stir quickly to mix in. The sauce should steam.

Push rice to sides of the pan, leaving a hole in the center of the pan. Pour egg into the hole and quickly scramble it, breaking the egg apart. Then mix egg with rice and vegetables, taste, and season with additional soy sauce and sesame oil to taste.

Springtime Linguine

My love affair with pasta began a long long time ago [sorry husband], and I don’t anticipate it disappearing anytime soon! Especially now that I’m in my final week of taper for my upcoming marathon, I’m carbo-loading up a storm this week!

[side note: I’ll be automatically tweeting my progress at the race on Sunday, via live runner tracking. You can follow me here if you don’t already.]

Last night was homemade fried rice, and you can bet that pasta, rice, and bread will be filling my lunchbox and plate many times this week. Yum! Even though heavy, cheesy, rich pastas are my thing, I also love light, veggie-filled delights like my new creation, Springtime Linguine. These sort of light dishes are great for carbo-loading and ensure that you don’t [gasp] get sick of pasta before your big event. Oh, the horror! Anyways. This dish is pretty simple and easily customizable. Each bite held a hint of creamy and cheesy goodness [the good stuff] as well as the tangy freshness of lemon and parsley and the nutritious stuff of veggies and protein [the good for you stuff]. I just love a meal with a wide variety of tastes and textures, don’t you? Enjoy!

Springtime Linguine

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound whole wheat linguine, uncooked [or any other type of pasta]
  • 1/4 cup red onion, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup cooked ham, chopped
  • 1/2 cup peas [I used frozen]
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup fat free half and half
  • 5 tablespoons lemon zest [from 1 large lemon]
  • handful fresh parsley, minced [about 1/4 cup]
  • about 1/4 cup asiago cheese, grated
  • olive oil
Directions:
Cook linguine to al dente. While pasta is cooking, heat olive oil over medium heat in a small skillet. Add onion and garlic and cook until soft. Mix in chopped ham and peas. Set aside.
When pasta is ready, drain and return to pan. Toss with a little olive oil [maybe 1-2 tablespoons] and stir in lemon juice and half and half. Toss in onion, garlic, ham, lemon zest, and parsley until well combined. Top with asiago cheese and stir until cheese melts. Serve immediately.
Click here for the printable version: Springtime Linguine