In case you didn’t know this about me–and if you don’t know me then how could you–I love fall. It’s my favorite time of year, my favorite season! So, you can imagine my disappointment when I found out that ‘fall’ in Texas really means it very slowly gets less hot. Basically, every once in a while it’ll be cold, nights will be a little colder. But really it’s only 80-degree highs instead of 90+. All things considered, that is quite the improvement. So, in my effort to create a fall-like atmosphere, I decided to create a fall-inspired stir fry.
Side note: It was cold in Austin last week. Well, Austin-cold. I told my Northern Virginia parents that it was 50-60 degrees here and I was freezing, and they basically laughed in my face. I admit it, I couldn’t believe how cold I was! That is nothing on the east coast. But once the temperature dropped below 70, my body went into a crazy Texas-like shock where hot was no longer the norm. At least I’m not at the point of donning my thickest, down-lined winter coats, scarves, and gloves quite yet. And believe me, I saw those people too!
Back to food. When I think of fall flavors, I think of pumpkin, sweet potatoes, squash, apples, cinnamon, and the like. For some, this whole season is pumpkin, pumpkin, pumpkin! I’m, gladly, not one of those people. Don’t get me wrong, I like pumpkin-flavored things. I just don’t seek it out in earnest like others do. Fall also makes me think of soups, hearty meals, and comfort food–things you yearn for when you are trying to adjust to the colder weather to come.
For this recipe, I chose to center it around two ideas: sweet potatoes and hearty meals. I’ve made stir fries before–one that’s a bit lighter and healthier and one that’s more veggie-focused. I love stir fries, as I’ve mentioned before. They’re just so quick and easy to pull together–the perfect recipe for a busy night or newbie chef. This one is no different. It’s got some prep–cutting veggies–and a quick fry in a wok. Truly the hardest part for me in preparing this whole dish was remembering to make the rice!
I wanted sweet potatoes to shine through–that’s where the fall-inspired part shines through! So I chose other ingredients that I knew would pair well with the potatoes–kale and red bell peppers. I used ground turkey, because, as I mentioned in my last post, my roommates really only eat poultry. While this wasn’t a Sunday dinner meal, I still like to share! I do think the ingredients would also go really well with ground beef, especially if you want to enhance that heartiness that makes this feel so much like comfort food.
I wanted the flavors to feel savory. Sweet potatoes are sweet, so that was pretty much poured in a bunch of things that would balance it out. Kale can be quite bitter at times, so that helps in balancing out the sweetness. As for the sauce, I chose to go with a Filipino classic–soy sauce and lemon juice. I added a little bit of oyster sauce to give it a little something extra. Trust me, a little bit goes a long way.
In the end, everything comes out tasting full-bodied and savory, salty and a bit of sweet. I have a tendency to do a little too much with recipes at times–trying almost everything just to get it right. But with this one, simple was best. Stir fries are great in that way. You don’t have to think about them too much for it to come out magical. This dish didn’t last two days in the house! And I can’t wait to make it again. It may not exactly be fall in Austin, but it sure is nice to make something fall-inspired.
What’s your favorite fall flavor? Also, if you try this with beef, definitely let me know how it turns out!
Fall-Inspired Stir Fry
- 1 large onion chopped
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 lb ground meat (turkey or beef is best)
- salt + pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 2-3 cups sweet potatoes chopped
- 2 medium red bell peppers chopped
- 1 tbsp oyster sauce
- 2 cups kale shredded
Heat oil in a wok or deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and onions and saute until soft and fragrant--about 3 minutes.
Season both sides of the ground meat with salt and pepper generously. Add it to the wok and saute until lightly brown. Pour in the soy sauce and lemon juice. Toss to coat.
Lower the heat to medium-low. Mix in the sweet potatoes. Cover and let it simmer until the meat is cooked through and the sweet potatoes are soft--about 15 minutes.
Add the red bell peppers and cover again. Simmer for another 5 minutes to soften the peppers. Pour in the oyster sauce. Toss to coat. Turn off the heat and mix in the kale while still hot. Serve over rice!