Sacramento is surrounded by bounty. The Capay Valley. The Delta. Amador County. Placer and El Dorado counties. The rural communities surrounding Sacramento are always growing fine fruits and veggies for our plates.
Within Sacramento is bounty. Urban farming is on the rise (no pun intended). From Soil Born Farm along the American River to community gardens and backyard homesteads, local, seasonal produce is increasingly easy to find.
Not only does local, seasonal produce taste better than packaged produce from far away, it leaves a smaller ecological footprint and is generally less expensive. If growing your own veggies or participating in a CSA isn’t your thing, local farmers’ markets offer everything in season and well priced.
On the 1st and 3rd Mondays of the month, I’ll be contributing a seasonal meal idea to East Sacramento Mom. I’ll generally include a recipe—from another source—but up-dated using local and seasonal ingredients.
During the past month or so, my family has eaten fried rice a couple of times. With the right ingredients, fried rice can be a complete meal and it’s easy to customize based on family preferences and locally available produce.
Using Heidi Swanson’s Fried Rice recipe from 101 Cookbooks as a starting place, I added asparagus, peas, and fava beans to our dish. Not counting the time it took to cook the rice and prep the fava beans (more on this below), the whole meal took roughly half an hour to make. The kids and spouse devoured the dish both times and we’ll be making it again.
Fried Rice with Spring Vegetables
3-4 cups of cooked wild or brown rice
1 scant tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 scant tablespoon olive oil
3 – 4 good quality eggs, well beaten with a big pinch of salt
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups cooked wild or brown rice
6 ounces extra-firm nigari tofu, cut into 1/2-inch cubes, raw or browned in a skillet ahead of time
2 big handfuls of peas
½ a bunch of asparagus, chopped
1 large handful of fava beans*
1+ tablespoon tamari or soy sauce
In a large, clean skillet, heat the toasted sesame and olive oil. When they are nice and hot (but not too hot!), pour the eggs into the pan. Cook the eggs into an omelette and transfer to a cutting board to cool. Then slice into strips and set aside.
Don’t bother cleaning the skillet outright, just scrape or wipe out any remaining egg. There should still be enough residual oil to cook the onions over medium high heat for a minute or so. Stir in the cooked rice and tofu and cook until heated. Now stir in the peas, asparagus, and fava beans, and cook for 20 seconds. Gently add the eggs back into the skillet and finish by adding the tamari. Use a spatula to stir until the tamari works its way around the pan. Taste and add salt or more tamari if needed.
Serves 2-3 as a main.
* Fava beans are wonderful, but a require a bit of work. The beans have 2 shells: the shell on the outside covering all of the beans within the pod, and the individual shells around each of the beans. To shell, first remove the beans from the pod. Place the beans in a pot of boiling water for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Drain the boiling water from the beans and cool with cold water. Slip the shells off of the individual beans. The individual shells should slip right off the beans.