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Recipes: Crunchy stir-fries with autumn veggies

Three great ways to use the season’s bounty of greens, sweet potatoes, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts.

Spicy stir-fried broccoli, mushrooms, and peanuts (center); Thai-inspired red curry sweet potatoes and kale with cashews (top left).
Photograph by anthony tieuli; food styling by Sheila jarnes/Ennis inc.
Spicy stir-fried broccoli, mushrooms, and peanuts (center); Thai-inspired red curry sweet potatoes and kale with cashews (top left).

When the local harvest is going strong from midsummer into the fall, I invariably end up with overenthusiastic hauls from the farmers market. At least weekly I take some of that mother lode and make a stir-fry with a nice fall vibe, using seasonal greens, sweet potatoes, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts. Adding nuts is a fun way to give these simple stir-fries some extra texture and crunch, not to mention a bit of satisfying protein. While I specify particular nuts in these recipes, don’t let that stop you from adding your favorites.

SPICY STIR-FRIED BROCCOLI, MUSHROOMS, AND PEANUTS

Makes about 9 cups

With peanuts and hot pepper sauce, this dish resembles a milder kung pao (which typically uses whole chilies and Szechuan peppercorns).

½      cup low-sodium chicken broth or water

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1½    tablespoons soy sauce

1½    tablespoons Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry

1         tablespoon Worcestershire sauce or Chinese black vinegar

1½    tablespoons sriracha or other hot pepper sauce

2        teaspoons light brown sugar

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1½    teaspoons Asian sesame oil

1½    teaspoons cornstarch

3        medium scallions, whites minced and greens thinly sliced

1         tablespoon minced or grated ginger

1         tablespoon pressed or grated garlic

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¼      cup peanut or vegetable oil

¾      cup roasted, salted peanuts

1         medium red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and cut into 1-inch squares

1         pound cremini mushrooms, cleaned and quartered

Salt

1         large head broccoli (about 1¾ pounds), trimmed and stalks peeled; florets cut into roughly 1-inch pieces and stalks bias-cut into ½-inch slices  

In a small bowl, mix the broth, soy sauce, rice wine or sherry, Worcestershire sauce or black vinegar, sriracha, brown sugar, sesame oil, and cornstarch to blend, and set aside. In another small bowl, mix the minced scallion whites, ginger, garlic, and 2 teaspoons peanut or vegetable oil to blend, and set aside.

In a 14-inch nonstick skillet over high heat, heat 1 teaspoon peanut or vegetable oil until shimmering. Add the peanuts and cook, stirring occasionally, until spotty brown, about 2 minutes; transfer to a bowl. Return the skillet to high heat, add 2 teaspoons oil, and heat until shimmering. Add the bell pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until spotty brown, about 2½ minutes; scrape into the bowl with the peanuts. Return the skillet to high heat, add 2 teaspoons oil, and heat until shimmering. Add the mushrooms and ½ teaspoon salt and cook, stirring, until the mushroom liquid has evaporated and the mushrooms begin to brown, about 10 minutes. Scrape them into the bowl. Return the skillet to high heat, add 1 tablespoon oil, and heat until shimmering. Add the broccoli and cook, stirring occasionally, until bright green, browned at the edges, and nearly tender, about 10 minutes.

Adjust the heat to medium, clear the center of the pan, add the remaining 2 teaspoons oil and heat until shimmering. Add the ginger-garlic mixture and cook, stirring and mashing it, until fragrant, about 40 seconds. Whisk the soy sauce mixture to recombine, add it to the skillet, and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 45 seconds.

Add the peanuts, peppers, and mushrooms and cook, stirring constantly, until heated through and glazed with sauce, about 1 minute. Add most of the scallion greens and stir to mix. Adjust seasoning with additional sriracha sauce, if desired. Transfer to a serving platter, sprinkle with the remaining scallion greens, and serve at once.

STIR-FRIED BRUSSELS SPROUTS WITH SHALLOTS, HAZELNUTS, AND SHERRY

Makes about 6 cups

As with most any stir-fry, even cooking depends on evenly sized ingredients, so try to cut all the sprouts the same size. I like the sprouts to retain some texture, but if you prefer fully tender, cover the skillet and cook to your liking before adding the sauce mixture, probably about 3 or 4 minutes.

½      cup amontillado sherry

1½    tablespoons soy sauce

2        teaspoons light brown sugar

1         teaspoon Asian sesame oil

1         teaspoon cornstarch

3        tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil

5 or 6 medium-large shallots, peeled, sliced about ¼ inch thick, and separated into rings

Salt and pepper

2½   pounds Brussels sprouts, preferably about 1½ inches in diameter, trimmed and quartered through the core

1         tablespoon pressed or grated garlic

¾      cup hazelnuts, lightly roasted, cooled, skinned, and roughly chopped

In a small bowl, mix the sherry, soy sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil, and cornstarch to blend, and set aside.

In a 14-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, heat 2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil until shimmering. Add the shallots and ¼ teaspoon salt, toss to coat, spread into a single layer, and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and browned at the edges, about 6 minutes. With a slotted spoon, scoop the shallots onto paper towels to drain, leaving as much oil as possible in the skillet.

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Return the skillet to high heat and heat until the oil is shimmering. Add half the Brussels sprouts and ¼ teaspoon salt, toss to coat, spread into a single layer (with as many cut sides down as possible), and cook, undisturbed, until well browned on the bottom, about 4 minutes; toss and continue to cook for 3 minutes longer. Scrape into a bowl and set aside. Return the skillet to high heat, add 1½ teaspoons oil, and heat until shimmering; repeat to cook the remaining Brussels sprouts.

Adjust the heat to medium, clear the center of the pan, add the remaining 1½ teaspoons oil, and heat for a moment. Add the garlic and cook, stirring and mashing it, until fragrant, about 40 seconds. Return the first batch of Brussels sprouts to the skillet and stir to combine. Whisk the soy sauce mixture to recombine, add it to the skillet, and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 45 seconds.

Add the shallots, hazelnuts, ¼ teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste and cook, stirring constantly, until all the vegetables are glazed with sauce, about 40 seconds. Transfer to a serving platter, if desired, and serve at once.

TIP: REMOVING SKIN FROM HAZELNUTS

To easily remove skin from toasted hazelnuts, place them in a folded, clean kitchen towel and use your hands to roll the nuts around. Most of the skins will come right off.
Adam Ried
To easily remove skin from toasted hazelnuts, place them in a folded, clean kitchen towel and use your hands to roll the nuts around. Most of the skins will come right off.

THAI-INSPIRED RED CURRY SWEET POTATOES AND KALE WITH CASHEWS

Makes about 7 cups

Many recipes suggest a very small amount of red curry paste, but as you can see from the 2 tablespoons I use here, I like to amplify that flavor to make a richly aromatic dish (which still didn’t strike my tasters as overly spicy). Here the scallions function as a vegetable more than a seasoning, so use the thickest ones you can find. The sweet potatoes provide a built-in starchy base, so I don’t usually serve rice or another grain on the side, though you certainly can if you’d like.

2 tablespoons red curry paste, or adjust to taste

1 tablespoon light brown sugar

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 tablespoon fish sauce (nam pla or nuoc mam)

1¼ cups coconut milk

1 tablespoon minced or grated ginger

1 tablespoon minced or grated garlic

¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Salt and ground black pepper

3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon peanut or vegetable oil

¾ cup roasted, salted cashews

16 medium scallions, trimmed, whites cut into ½-inch pieces and greens cut into 2-inch lengths, reserved separately

1½ pounds sweet potatoes, peeled if desired, halved lengthwise (or quartered if large), and each half cut crosswise into ½-inch slices

Salt and ground black pepper

1 pound black kale (also known as lacinato or Tuscan), stemmed, leaves chopped, washed, and spun dry

In a small bowl, whisk the desired amount of curry paste, brown sugar, lime juice, fish sauce, and ¾ cup of the coconut milk to blend, and set aside. In another small bowl, mix the ginger, garlic, red pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon ground black pepper, and 2 teaspoons oil to blend, and set aside.

In a 14-inch nonstick skillet over high heat, heat 1 teaspoon oil until shimmering. Add the cashews, a pinch of salt, and ground black pepper to taste, and cook, stirring, until glossy and spotty brown, about 1½ minutes; transfer to a bowl and set aside. Return the skillet to high heat, add 2 teaspoons oil, and heat until shimmering. Add the scallion whites, toss to coat, and cook, undisturbed, for 40 seconds. Add the scallion greens, toss to coat, and cook, undisturbed, until spotty brown and just beginning to soften, about 1 minute longer; scrape into the bowl with the cashews.

Return the skillet to medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon oil, and heat until shimmering. Add the sweet potatoes and ½ teaspoon salt, toss to coat with oil, arrange in a single layer as much as possible, and cook, undisturbed, until spotty brown on the bottom, about 4 minutes. Add the remaining ½ cup coconut milk and ¼ cup water, partially cover the skillet, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sweet potatoes are starting to get tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Adjust the heat to medium-high and add the kale by handfuls, stirring to soften. Partially cover the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until the kale is wilted, about 4 minutes longer.

Clear the center of the pan, add the remaining 2 teaspoons oil, and heat until shimmering. Add the ginger-garlic mixture and cook, stirring and mashing it, until fragrant, about 40 seconds. Whisk the curry-paste sauce mixture to recombine, add it to the skillet, and cook, stirring, until the sweet potatoes and kale are fully tender but not mushy and sauce is warmed through, 4 to 7 minutes longer.

Add the cashews and scallions and cook, stirring, until heated through and coated with sauce, about 40 seconds; transfer to a serving platter, if desired, and serve at once.

Adam Ried appears regularly on “America’s Test Kitchen.” Send comments to cooking@globe.com.