The order to EAT LESS SALT arrived in our house recently. That means a radical change in eating habits with fewer meals out and definitely no fast food. I will admit that re-structuring all one’s recipes has been a difficult task, but in some instances it has been pure delight. A case in point is one of my stir fries using long-time veggie favorites.
Carrots, zucchini and red bell papers have been mainstays of my cooking for decades. All are full of unique flavors which do not need much “salt enhancement” in the first place – but that doesn’t mean I didn’t over-salt in the past. To start, cut up two medium carrots and cook in unsalted water until soft. While those are cooking, cut up a small onion, one red bell pepper [other colors are fine but reds seem much sweeter to me] and two medium zucchinis.
In a medium skillet, heat one tablespoon of bacon grease [vegetable or olive oil for vegetarians] and three pats of unsalted butter. The bacon grease will be the only salt used. Sautee your onion and red bell pepper until they begin to soften, about eight minutes. Then add your zucchini and the cooked carrots which have been drained.
Now you add a great assortment of flavors to a dish brimming already with vibrant colors and the tastes of onion, bell peppers, carrots and zucchini. First add a generous dash [or three] of red pepper flakes and two minced garlic cloves [dried is fine too]. Stir all this occasionally as it simmers while grating fresh ginger and lemon zest [about a teaspoon each]. Add these and a tablespoon of light brown sugar to your veggies for a wonderful sweet and spicy sauce. Finally, I add an optional tablespoon of corn starch dis-solved first in a little water. This makes for an almost creamy sauce and you can use milk or coconut milk as well instead of water to dissolve the corn starch. The rich mixture of flavors and textures makes salt unnecessary and you have a beautiful side dish. Add precooked shrimp or chicken to make this a main dish served over rice or noodles.
–Photo and story by Dick Funderburke