Two nights before our wedding, DFJ and I made dinner for his parents and our friends. We wanted to make some lemon chicken that is a favorite of DFJ’s family and a vegetable stir-fry, which is my cooking signature, and some rice to go with the whole meal. I didn’t really have a set plan for what vegetable dish I wanted to make. As far as I’m concerned, all vegetables, when thrown together in some olive oil, salt, and pepper over heat, pretty much turns out wonderful.
Since our wedding was pretty much a one-week affair at the charming, Lake Chelan, we didn’t want leftover produce to go to waste in our fridge at home. So, we took what we had in a cooler and brought it to the lake. The veggie dish that I made turned out so good that I knew I had to remake it at home and share it with you all. So, here it is almost three months later.
You will need the standard garlic and onion. To me, these two ingredients are the essential bases for any stir-fry. Throw in some mushrooms for some earthy flavoring, carrots for some nice crunch, and bell pepper slices for some sweet and juicy bites. In my first dish, I didn’t add any corn because it wasn’t in season. For this one, however, I couldn’t resist tossing in some kernels, they’re too sweet and pretty to be excluded. Of course, the main actors of the dish are the kale and jicama. What can I say? I LOVE KALE. I used Italian kale (otherwise known as dinosaur kale, Tuscan kale, Cavolo nero, Lacinato kale, etc.) for this one, but really you can use any kale variety. The regular variety can be slightly bitter and earthy, which I love and which I used the first time I made this recipe. Italian kale, however, is milder in flavor but is in no way less delicious. Either kind is good, promise! The other main star, jicama, is an ingredient that I have recently gotten to know and love. Jicama is like a tougher and less sweet version of an Asian pear. It tends to be starchy when raw, but it renders its true flavors when cooked.
This dish is simply seasoned with salt and pepper… fresh ingredients need nothing more than that. Although, a little splash of soy sauce and/or rice wine vinegar wouldn’t hurt either, if you do this, just cut back on the salt. This is a truly vibrant stir-fry that embodies the taste of summer, health, and goodness!
Kale and Jicama Stir-Fry
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion (about 13 oz), diced
a couple of cremini mushrooms (5 oz), chopped
1 jicama (13 oz), chopped into ½ inch sticks
2 carrots (oz), chopped into half moons
corn kernels from 1 ear of corn
1 bunch Italian kale (13 oz), chopped into thin ribbons
1 large bell pepper (8.5 oz), sliced into 1 inch sticks
salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large, deep skillet. When the oil is hot but not smoking, sauté the garlic for about a minute, until golden brown and fragrant. Add the onions and let cook for about 3 minutes, stirring often, until shiny and translucent. Toss in the mushrooms and cook for about 3 minutes, until soft and spongy. Add the jicama and carrots and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring often. Add ½ teaspoon salt and freshly cracked black pepper to flavor the first couple of ingredients.
Stir in the corn kernels and let cook for about 2 minutes until they become plump. Add the kale in two batches. Stir in the first batch with the other hot ingredients until they are slightly wilted, then season with ¼ teaspoon salt. Add the rest of the kale and cook until they wilt. The total cooking time for all the kale should be about 4 minutes. Toss in the bell pepper sticks and cook for about 3 minutes, stirring often. Season with another ¼ teaspoon salt and some freshly cracked black pepper to taste.
I recommend serving this warm over brown rice (or any rice you prefer). This dish serves well as a main entrée or a side. It also makes for a great fried rice leftover. Simply cook leftover cooked rice in garlic and olive oil, toss in the leftover stir-fry, scramble in an egg or two, splash with some soy sauce or rice wine vinegar, some frozen peas, and perhaps some minced chives or spring onions.