When I was a kid and we were either pressed for time or money, my mom would make what she would call a “mess” for dinner. Messes usually consisted of some sort of veggie, some sort of meat (usually ground beef or turkey) and it was all cooked together and served either with a salad or some rice. She called them “messes” because she just threw a whole bunch of random things together and cooked it up into something that may not have been food porn-esque, but delicious and very filling.
This particular stir-fry is inspired by the idea of the “mess”. I had some leftover quinoa from that one cup I had cooked that morning, a tiny bit of frozen mixed veggies, and half a package of seitan. With some soy sauce and a little bit of garlic, the whole thing turned out quite well! I used mixed veggies & pepper strips, along with some leftover Swiss chard, but feel free to make your own “mess” with whatever veggies you have on hand! This is a great way to make use of all those pesky little bits & pieces that may be lurking in your fridge & freezer.
A quick note for those who wonder how this can be something you can have when you’re extremely strapped for cash: this can be done. Yes, seitan is not easily found in regular grocery stores, but with the help of some research and reader comments, I’ve learned that even places like Trader Joe’s and the Co-op will accept the EBT (food stamps) card, so it is possible to purchase it. It is also the type of food that is added to other ingredients, not eaten on its own, so it will yield quite a bit more of the finished product than it appears it will. I used half a package and was still able to make enough for 2 large servings of this. You could also make this with tofu (especially if you have wheat allergies) and cut your cost WAY down. The other important thing to remember is that if you shop smart you will eat smart. Just because you’re struggling does NOT mean that you cannot change your shopping habits to benefit you! From spices to seitan, as long as you shop wisely and have a working stove or even a little buffet burner, you can make great, delicious food.
Veggie & Seitan Stir-fry with Quinoa – (Serves 2; total cost per serving: $1.07)
¼ c frozen mixed vegetables
¼ c frozen mixed bell pepper strips
2 T soy sauce
½ t granulated garlic
1 T cooking oil
¾ c cooked quinoa
In a large skillet heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the seitan and granulated garlic and brown quickly, about 1-2 minutes. Add the frozen veggies & peppers and cook until heated through. Lastly, add the chard and soy sauce, and cook until the chard has barely wilted. Serve over a nice bed of quinoa and enjoy!