Here in Chicago we had probably one of the nicest summers I can remember and I was fortunate to be able to enjoy a lot of it. As a result, I’ve been in some pretty serious denial that fall was coming but the pool is now officially closed, football is on the tv (sadly my teams are no bueno) and I had to wear long sleeves to take the dog out yesterday morning so I did what anyone would do… I pulled a new pair of kicks out of their J.Crew box, brushed off some old recipes and headed to the grocery store! Yeah, that was probably just me that did that but it’s the little things right?!?!
Don’t get me wrong… I love fall… the dry, cool air that doesn’t frizz my hair… the new clothes (even if they’re just ones I haven’t worn since last season they feel new)… how much better those clothes look when you still have some color on your skin… the colors of the leaves… the football (record skip… maybe not this season)… it’s just that I know fall is the harbinger of winter (how about that word?!?! ;) ) and in Chicago winter can mean months and months and months of parkas and boots…. so… you can see why I’m a little misty at letting go of this summer.
SO back to the grocery store run, or more importantly what I brought home! In the couple of years I’ve been cooking I’ve learned a few things. One of these is that while technically cooking is a science, it doesn’t always have to be as precise a science as say… baking. Once you start getting comfortable with spices, herbs and various cuts of meat, following a recipe word for word becomes less important than your palate preference. I’ve also realized that eating ‘clean’ or ‘paleo’ truly can be an easy, affordable and extremely delicious lifestyle and not just a sentence to be served after overindulging in carbs, sugar and fried foods!
One of the recipes that I’ve made and played with is a beef stir fry situation. I find that when added to some cauliflower rice, it’s a nice, warm, healthy comfort meal that wards off the fall or winter chill. The concept isn’t rocket science… it’s meat, greens and delicious flavor at its core… but it’s a simple enough recipe to allow for meal sizes and variance.
Meat + Greens Stir Fry
what you need
meat – I would say 8 oz if you’re cooking for one and go up from there. In my house we like to eat and I find that making extra at night checks the lunch box for at least one day. I typically use a flank steak (read - cheap, lean and delish) and I generally find that a pound and a half feeds enough for dinner and a couple of lunches. You can easily sub in chicken, shrimp or even tofu if cows aren’t your thing.
greens – I like using rainbow chard mainly because it’s easier for me to find and I like the pops of color the stems provide. If you haven’t cooked chard before, know that it WILTS so don’t be afraid to use more than you think. I generally use 1 bunch per pound of meat. Again, you can add or subtract depending on your love of greens.
green onions – I’m becoming repetitive but the amount here, again, depends on your preference. As a rule of thumb I would say to use 8 of them per pound of meat. You can always add more in if you need more flavor.
garlic + ginger – Ditto to the above but about 2T minced per pound of meat.
extra light tasting olive oil – I prefer cooking with extra light olive oil. Light in this case doesn’t mean less calories but rather a lighter flavor. While I love evoo when I’m dragging my bread through it at my fave Italian restaurant, the flavor can overwhelm when you’re using it to cook. Sometimes that’s ok but more often than not I like my oil to play a supporting role and not be the leading lady.
juice from 1 lime
how it happens
To prep you’re going to slice your meat into pieces that are small enough to eat without a lot of work but not so small that they cook too fast especially if you’re cooking beef and still want a pink or red center. Season the pieces with salt. Next you want to cut up your greens. If you’re using chard, separate the leaves from the stems. Then cut the stems into bite size pieces and roughly chop of the greens. You’ll want to keep the stems and leaves apart as they aren’t cooked together. Finally, mince up your garlic and ginger and slice the scallions.
When the prep work is done it is time to cook. Btw, all of this can be prepped in advance so if you’re feeling motivated you can do it the night before or for you real overachievers, in the morning. Also, my cooking times below are for beef so you'll need to adjust when the meat goes in if you're cooking chicken (likely longer) and shrimp (shorter).
Start by drizzling 1T of olive oil into a skillet over med-high heat. Once it’s heated, toss in the seasoned meat and cook until the outside is a golden brown (about 2 – 3 mins per side – again, a little less if you want your beef on the rarer side).
Add in another T or so of olive oil and add your chard stems, green onions, garlic and ginger. Cook this mixture about 2 – 3 mins and make sure that you’re stirring often. You want those flavors touching everything!
Finally add in another T of olive oil and add the chard leaves cooking until they wilt (again another 2 – 3 mins). Depending on the size of your skillet and how much you’re making, you may need to add the chard leaves in batches (add more when the prior batch starts to wilt). You can also get them started in a separate pan with olive oil and add them to the bigger party when they’ve shrunk down a bit.
Once the chard is wilted, squeeze the lime juice over it all and mix well. If you’re making more than a pound of meat your skillet may be filled to capacity. In this case just dump it all in a large bowl, squeeze on your lime juice and toss.
This can be a one dish meal or can be paired with a side like cauliflower rice or something similar. I personally like to put some cauliflower rice in a bowl and add a heaping serving spoon or two on top.
30 minutes later…. You’re ready to eat!!!
Again, it’s a pretty simple recipe that you can easily play with to make your own. Let me know what creative adds or tweaks you have… I’m always looking to try out new things!