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Recipe: A how-to guide to stir-frying

It’s a shame to let precious vegetables go to waste, especially these days, when we’re trying to limit trips to the supermarket. But the good news is that, as greens and other vegetables start to soften and sag, they’re perfect for stir-fries.

These aren’t conventional times, so what you need isn’t a recipe for a conventional stir-fry. Instead, you need one that helps you work with what you have, building texture with nuts, greens and crunchy vegetables.

This particular formula starts with almonds, toasted in oil, then salted. Next, celery, a long-lasting staple, provides substance and structure.

Quick-cooking greens like spinach, chard or even pea shoots are added last, lowering the cook time for the delicate greens, which wilt quickly, and steam with a splash of vinegar.

The rest is open to interpretation. Do you have ginger or garlic? Toss it in. Maybe you bought snap peas or green beans on your last grocery run? They’ll be perfect. You’re down to one shriveled watermelon radish? Slice it into thick matchsticks and toss them in.

Fresh herbs really take this dish to the next level. If you have a pot of mint or basil growing on your windowsill, or an about-to-wilt bunch of cilantro in the fridge, throw in a generous handful.

Serve your stir-fry on a bed of fluffy rice, and douse at will with Sriracha, soy sauce, toasted sesame oil or all three.

ANY VEGETABLE STIR-FRY

  • 2 tablespoons canola oil or other neutral oil
  • 1 heaping cup whole, skin-on nuts, such as almonds, pistachios or cashews
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 4 to 6 celery stalks, fennel stalks or bok choy, sliced on bias
  • 1 to 2 cups other crunchy vegetables, such as snap peas, snow peas, green beans, carrots or radishes, trimmed and sliced or chopped if large
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds (optional)
  • 4 packed cups lighter greens such as spinach or chard, trimmed and roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar or white wine vinegar
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1/2 packed cup torn or roughly chopped mint, cilantro or basil (optional)
  • 4 cups steamed rice, for serving
  • Tamari or soy sauce, for serving
  • Sriracha or other hot sauce, for serving

In a large wok, skillet or cast-iron pan, heat oil over medium-high until shimmering. Add nuts, season with salt and cook, tossing, until toasted and crisp, 3 to 4 minutes.

Add celery and crunchy vegetables; toss until slightly softened, 1 to 2 minutes.

Sprinkle with sesame seeds, if using, and toss until toasted, 1 to 2 minutes.

Add greens, toss until coated in oil, then add vinegar, scraping bottom of wok to release any browned bits. Cover and cook until greens are lightly wilted, about 1 minute. Add herbs and toss.

Season with sesame oil and salt. Serve over rice, garnished with soy sauce and Sriracha, if using. Serves 4.

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