Mark Bittman Does It Again – Three Recipes to Change Your Life

Photo: “Rice and Beans” – Carlos Porto,

Three recipes to change your life.  I originally came across the concept in this past Sunday’s New York Times. The Week in Review section contained a series of articles with the theme “Sustainable Life.”  In one piece, Mark Bittman offered a compelling argument for cooking at home (it’s cheaper, healthier, and sometimes faster than eating out), along with three recipes that he believes can change the way we eat and live.  It’s a simple premise – cook and eat real food.  And Mr. Bittman shows us how to start.

The three recipes are: Broccoli Stir-Fry With Chicken and Mushrooms; Lentils and Rice With or Without Pork; and Crunchy Cabbage Salad.

Each includes an extensive list of variations and substitutions so that, should decide to embark upon a cooking adventure, you’ll be able to stretch three meal ideas into a few dozen.

As Mark Bittman said to Meredith Viera on this morning’s Today Show, “What you need is not so much a diet as a way to eat.”

Amen to that.


Broccoli Stir-Fry With Chicken and Mushrooms

Published: December 31, 2010

Yield: 4 servings.

2 tablespoons good-quality vegetable oil

2 tablespoons minced garlic

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger

4 scallions, chopped

1 pound broccoli, trimmed and cut into bite-size pieces, the stems no more than 1/4-inch thick

8 ounces button mushrooms, cleaned, trimmed and sliced


8 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, cut into 1/2- to 3/4-inch chunks or thin slices and blotted dry

2 tablespoons soy sauce

Freshly ground black pepper.

1. Put a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat. When it’s hot, add half the oil, swirl it around, and immediately add half the garlic and ginger. Cook for 15 seconds, stirring, then add the broccoli, mushrooms and all but a sprinkling of the scallions. Raise heat to high, and cook, stirring, until mushrooms release their water and broccoli is bright green and beginning to brown, 3 to 5 minutes.

2. Sprinkle with salt; add 1 cup water. Stir and cook until almost all liquid evaporates and broccoli is almost tender, another minute or two more, then transfer everything to a plate.

3. Turn heat to medium, add remaining oil, then remaining garlic and ginger. Stir, then add chicken and turn heat to high. Cook, stirring occasionally, until chicken has lost its pink color, three to five minutes.

4. Turn heat to medium. Return broccoli, mushrooms and juices to the pan, and stir. Add soy sauce, sprinkle with more salt and some pepper; add a little more water if mixture is dry. Raise heat to high and cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid is reduced slightly and you’ve scraped up all the bits of chicken. Taste and adjust seasoning, garnish with remaining scallion and serve.


Stir-fries work with virtually any combination of vegetables; protein-dense food (meat, poultry, fish, tofu, etc.) is optional. Use pork (like shoulder), shrimp, beef (like sirloin), or tofu instead of chicken; slice the meat thinly or the tofu into cubes.

Use cabbage, cauliflower, asparagus, green beans, snow peas, carrots or spinach in place of either the broccoli or the mushrooms or both. Or use other mushrooms.

Use fish sauce instead of soy sauce and finish with a squeeze of lime to give it a Southeast Asian flavor.

Use olive oil, skip the ginger, use onion instead of scallion, and substitute 1 tablespoon chopped rosemary or thyme to give it a Mediterranean flavor profile.

Use coconut milk instead of stock; 1 tablespoon curry powder instead of soy sauce to give it an Indian flavor