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Chow Mein – A Vegetable “Left-Overs” Recipe

By Joy Johnson, Master Gardener

Joy Johnson is a prolific vegetable grower. She has found this recipe for Chow Mein not only delicious but helpful in making use of the abundant vegetables in her cupboards. Whether using your own vegetable stash or those purchased at the grocery store, you will enjoy this recipe!

Chow Mein – A Vegetable “Left-Overs” Recipe

Are you buried in vegetables from your garden? Like me, can you not bear to weed out plants or seedlings? I am always sure that everything will fit in the garden and that not everything will grow and produce. I am usually wrong on both counts! I have a very full garden with the raspberries hanging over the broccoli and the beets, the cucumbers growing on the fence because there is no room for them on the ground and the tomatoes growing up and over the fence, with no room to walk in between the plants. And then I’m always sure I’m never going to get very many vegetables as they start out few and far between, suddenly I’m buried in bowls full of veggies on my kitchen table!


Here is a recipe that I’ve been making for years to use some of my mountain of vegetables.  Since the words “Chow Mein” actually mean “left-overs”, I have proven over the years that it turns out no matter what vegetables I put in it (don’t put in tomatoes though) and no matter what quantity of vegetables are used. You don’t have to put in the chicken, and if you want it spicier, you can add Italian sausage. If you need to add more sauce because of the quantity of vegetables, you can easily double that part of the recipe. I often serve it topped with the crunchy Chinese noodles and/or cashews.


Chow Mein


Prepare and have ready:

 1 lb pork, beef, chicken or shrimp. (I usually use chicken) cut in thin slices.

3 c. celery, sliced diagonally

2 c. onions, sliced lengthwise

¾ c. mushrooms, fresh or canned (drain)

3 c. fresh bean sprouts


Combine in a small bowl and set aside:


1 T. fresh ginger, chopped OR ¼ tsp powdered ginger

1 tsp sugar

3 T. cornstarch

5 T. soy sauce

¾ c. soup stock or reconstituted bouillon


Heat in a large skillet:


1 T. oil. Add meat and stir-fry just until done. Remove from heat. In another skillet, stir-fry in 1 T. oil each vegetable just until slightly cooked. Add each vegetable to meat skillet after stir-frying. Just before serving, reheat meat mixture and add sauce. Cook just until sauce thickens and clears. Serve hot with rice and enjoy!

Photo credits: Creative Commons (1), Joy Johnson (2)

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