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serrano fried rice with apple and almonds

by Jackie Newgent  |  September 6, 2012  |  5 Comments

(Click on photo for full-size image!)

Makes 4 servings: 1 1/2 cups each

Here’s a surprising and scrumptious “fried” rice … and one that you’ve never had. That’s because I just created it. Not only is it vegan, it contains one of fall-time’s favorites: the apple! The apple picks up savoriness and heat when cooked with the onion and Serrano pepper. The toasted sesame oil and pan-toasted almonds balance it out perfectly. And the soy sauce provides the umami and salty elements that give this rice the full-on Asian essence. So pick up some apples at your farmers’ market (or from your apple tree, if you’re so lucky!) and enjoy a bowl of it. It’s actually a full meal-in-one recipe—and one that’ll definitely create intrigue.

p.s. There’s new news on almonds. They provide fewer calories than we once thought: 129 instead of 170 per ounce! That’s 23 almonds … or lots and lots of almond slices. So go ahead and garnish with some extra slices.

Calories Saved: 100

2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 cup diced white onion
1 medium organic Pink Lady apple or Asian pear with peel, scrubbed, cored and finely diced
1 Serrano pepper, with about half of the seeds, minced
3/4 cup coarsely grated carrots
3 cups cooked brown basmati rice, chilled, grains separated
1 red or orange bell pepper, thinly sliced (1- to 2-inch strips)
1 1/4 cups frozen shelled organic edamame, prepared according to package directions
4 scallions, green and white parts, sliced on the diagonal
1/4 cup sliced natural almonds, pan-toasted
3 1/2 tablespoons naturally-brewed soy sauce, or to taste
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

  1. Heat the grapeseed oil and 1/2 teaspoon of the sesame oil in a wok over high heat. Add the onion, apple, and Serrano and stir-fry until the onion is partially caramelized, about 7 minutes. Add the carrots, rice, and bell pepper and stir-fry until the rice is “fried” as desired, about 4 minutes. Add the edamame, scallions, almonds, soy sauce, and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil and stir-fry until fully combined, about 1 minute. Stir in the cilantro.
  2. Transfer to individual bowls, sprinkle with additional sliced almonds for garnish, if desired, and serve.

Per serving: 400 calories, 15g total fat, 1.5g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 840mg sodium, 55g total carbohydrate, 9g dietary fiber, 11g sugars, 14g protein


The “Before” Recipe

chinese fried rice
Adapted from

Makes 4 serving

2 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon + 3 tablespoons light soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
3 tablespoons canola oil
3/4 cup finely chopped white onion
8 ounces chopped rotisserie chicken thigh meat
1/2 cup coarsely grated carrots
1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
4 cups cooked medium or long grain white rice, chilled, grains separated (prepared with 1/2 teaspoon salt)
4 scallions, chopped
2 cups drained canned bean sprouts

  1. Whisk together the eggs, ¼ teaspoon soy sauce and the sesame oil in small bowl. Set aside.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the canola oil in a wok over high heat. Add the onion and stir-fry until caramelized, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon of the canola oil in the wok over high heat. Add the egg mixture and cook on both sides omelet-style. Remove the wok from the heat. Transfer the cooked egg to a cutting board and dice it.
  4. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon canola oil in the wok over high heat. Add the chicken, carrots, peas, and the reserved caramelized onion and stir-fry until the chicken is fully heated, about 2 minutes. Add the rice, scallions, and bean sprouts and stir-fry until the rice becomes browned and slightly crisp, about 3 minutes. Add the diced eggs and the 3 tablespoons soy sauce and stir-fry until fully combined, about 1 minute.
  5. Transfer to a large bowl or individual bowls, and serve.

Per serving: 500 calories, 20g total fat, 3.5g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 165mg cholesterol, 1030mg sodium, 56g total carbohydrate, 4g dietary fiber, 4g sugars, 24g protein


Tasteover Tips

  • Go bigger, fresher, and more colorful with veggies when you can
  • Incorporate a surprise ingredient, like seasonal fruit in a savory dish, to create intrigue
  • When adding fruit to a savory dish, balance it with a bit of extra “heat” or nuttiness … or both
  • If you’re making over a meaty dish into a vegetarian one, be sure you still give it a “real” boost of protein, like with edamame
  • For nuts/seeds and nut/seed oils, choose toasted when possible for heightened flavor, like you’ll get with pan-toasted almonds and toasted sesame oil


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