Any time I go to a Chinese restaurant, I always order vegetable lo mein. Mostly because I’m a vegetarian, but even before I quit the meat, I always ordered it. I’d take lo mein over fried rice any day (although I do love me some good fried rice – but that’s a whole ‘nother blog post.) But I’m not always a go-out-to-dinner kinda girl. Mostly because I like my PJs. And my comfy couch. And The Walking Dead. In other words, I’m a homebody. Oh – and also, I live 20 minutes from the closest Chinese joint – and they don’t deliver.
So what’s a homebody from the middle of nowhere to do when she constantly craves vegetable lo mein? Make it herself. And it’s even faster than if I went to get takeout because I can make it in under 20 minutes. But it took a LOT of trial and error before I landed on the perfect combination of ingredients to make the very best vegetable lo mein sauce that I have ever eaten. Even my friends agree – it’s the best they’ve ever had, too.
The best thing about this recipe is that it’s kind of a “clean out the fridge” kinda dish. Whatever veggies you have are up for grabs. Got some carrots? Broccoli? Mushrooms? Snow peas? Bean sprouts? Bell peppers? Green onions? Whatever you’ve got, it’s all up for grabs. So in the recipe below don’t feel like you HAVE to stick to all of the veggie ingredients. Use what you have or what you love and just pay attention to the sauce – because the secret is in the sauce.
BETTER-THAN-TAKEOUT VEGETABLE LO MEIN RECIPE
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
Vegetables – pick your favorites or what you have on hand
- bell peppers (any color but I prefer red)
- onions (regular or green)
- bean sprouts
- snow peas
- fresh green beans
- green peas
- fill in the blank with your favorite
2 packs Lo mein noodles (enough for 8 servings)
Vegetable Lo Mein Sauce ingredients:
- 1/4 cup of toasted sesame oil
- 1 cup of soy sauce
- 1/2 tablespoon grated garlic
- 2 tablespoons Thai sweet chili sauce <– this is the BIG secret!
Step 1: Using a cast iron pan (or a wok if you have one), bring the pan on medium heat.
Step 2: Bring a large pot of water up to a boil to cook the noodles. When the noodles go into the water, start cooking the vegetables.
Step 3: Cut vegetables into small pieces that will cook quickly. You’ll need somewhere between 2-6 cups, depending on how much veggie to noodle ratio you like in your lo mein. You’re in control, so veg out your way. Carrots need to be fairly small julienned to they’ll cook quickly, snow peas or bean sprouts won’t need to be cut at all. Just make the judgement call on how small you need to cut it so they will cook fairly fast.
Step 4: When your pan is up to temperature, add in the olive oil and the most dense veggies that will take the longest to cook. I start with carrots & broccoli, then a few minutes later add mushrooms and snow peans, a couple of minutes later add in bean sprouts, etc. You want them all finished cooking at the same time so you’ll be ready to go when the noodles are done.
Step 5: While the veggies and noodles are cooking, in a glass measuring cup (or in a bowl) mix together all of the ingredients for the sauce: sesame oil, soy sauce, garlic & sweet Thai chili sauce. Set aside.
Step 6: When both the veggies and noodles are done, drain the noodles & return them to the pan (but not back onto heat.) Add in the sauce and mix into noodles well, then add in the cooked vegetables and toss them into the noodles with sauce.
Step 7: Grab your chopsticks and chow down.
I know… I know…. my vegetable lo mein recipe makes 8 servings. But the only thing that’s better than my better-than-takeout recipe is leftover lo mein. It gives it even more time to soak up the delicious sauce. But, you’re welcome to half the recipe if you’d like – it works just as well. But then you’d miss out on leftovers. So just go all the way… you won’t regret it.
PS… want another way to use that bottle of Thai sweet chili sauce? Try these spicy grilled shrimp tacos! The secret is in the sauce there, too!
PPS – shared at Meal Planning Monday