Need a fun, colorful and tasty way to use up the extra meat from your big Turkey day celebration? I’ve got just the recipe for you. Not only is this dish attractive to kiddos, it also helps your family eat more healthy veggies. As an added bonus, leftover turkey is integrated into an Asian dish that will be a refreshing change from all the American classics we enjoy this time of year.
I like referring to this dish as my sneaky fried rice because it is basically a version of fried rice with lots of “hidden” veggies and protein. The secret is to chop the veggies very finely in a food processor and to shred and dice the leftover meat you choose to use so that it mixes evenly in with the rice.
I have made this dish with almost half veggies and meat and my 18month old only sees colorful “rice” which is his favorite grain. Since there are no chunks of veggies for him to refuse (except corn, which is often a favorite for kids, leave it out if yours don’t like it), he eats it eagerly enjoying the texture and flavor while loading up on foods I don’t often get him to try. If you don’t have leftover turkey, you can bake some chicken breasts or thighs until tender, or I have even used the leftover roast and veggies from a Sunday dinner with great results.
- 2 cups of rice, plus water (I love Basamati rice, but Jasmine, white or brown work as well)
- 1 bag of baby carrots
- 1 green bell pepper
- 1 red or orange bell pepper
- 1 purple onion
- 1-2 slices of fresh ginger (optional)
- 2 teaspoons chopped garlic or 2 fresh chopped garlic cloves
- 1 can of sweet corn
- 1 cup of frozen peas (optional)
- 1-1/2 cups of shredded meat
- 2-3 tablespoons cooking oil (such as safflower)
- your choice of stir fry seasoning or sauce
- soy sauce or tamari for serving
- Make the rice on the stove top or in a rice cooker according to the instructions on the package.
- Using a food processor, finely chop the carrots, bell peppers, onions, garlic and ginger. *
- In a large skillet or wok, heat 2 tablespoons of cooking oil and sauté the finely chopped veggies until they are tender, stirring often. Add more oil if necessary to keep veggies from sticking. If you are using frozen peas, you can add them at this step and they will cook along with the other veggies.
- Drain the can of corn and reserve the liquid. Stir the corn in with the other veggies.
- Prepare and stir the meat in with the cooked veggies. If using leftover Turkey, beef or chicken you want to separate the meat fibers with a fork as well as cut the meat crosswise so that the shredded pieces are as short as the pieces of rice. If you don’t have leftover meat, you can bake 2-3 chicken breasts or thighs until very tender.
- Work in the cooked rice and add a stir fry sauce of your choice.
- *Food processor tip: I find that it works best if I chop the pepper and onions into large chunks with a knife first so that the veggies are free to move in the processor and don’t get stuck or mushed. Unless you have a really large processor, you may have to chop veggies in shifts. I suggest chopping the garlic and ginger with the onion.
- Little idea: If it seems like your rainbow rice needs a bit more moisture, add some of the reserved liquid from the corn.
- Sauce options: When selecting a sauce, look for an asian sauce without too many additives. Some stir-fry sauces come in jars, others are dry seasoning packets. Read the labels and try to find one that suits your family's taste while listing all or mostly all ingredients that you recognize. If you choose, you can just use soy sauce or tamari (which is like soy sauce but smoother and richer and can be found gluten free, if needed) as your flavoring. I've found that in addition to soy sauce, a squirt of agave nectar or even honey can help create that sweet and salty combo that makes Asian dishes come alive.