Italian Fried Rice with Basil, Peas and a Poached Egg

Tony writes: I have always loved the practicality of fried rice: you take a very unsexy leftover ( rice) and pair it with things you really should have hanging around your kitchen: peas (freezer), eggs (fridge), and some sort of ham or smoked pork product (Vermont Smoke and Cure ham steaks are my go-to these days…). The end result is homemade and special and even kinda sexy in a weeknight sort of way. In spite of my  affinity for jasmine, I have started subbing sturdy, short-grain brown rice into the preparation (part of my new, healthy-at-40 regimen); I also have been directing my fried rice excursions in worldly directions, beyond the standard Asian take (toasted sesame oil and soy). My favorite is an Italianish version – sun-dried tomatoes, basil, Parmigiano, and a poached (or sunny-side up) egg. You’ll notice from the jumble of photos, I’ve tried a number of different pairings – broccoli in place of the peas, a sunny side up egg instead of the poached – and they’ve all been really good; here’s how:

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The recipe; Serves 4

1. Get prepped: Crumble 3 cups cooked brown rice; use your fingers to separate the grains more or less. Set out 1 1/2 cups frozen peas to thaw at room temp. Slice 6 oz. ham into 1/2-inch dice (about 1 1/4 cups). Chop 3 sun-dried tomatoes, thinly slice 4 scallions (both white and green parts), and wash and pat dry 10 basil leaves.

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2. Stir-fry the ham (and or vegetables): Set a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 1/2 Tbs. sunflower oil (or canola oil) and the ham and cook, stirring occasionally, until the ham browns, about 3 min. If you like, add green vegetables (like 2 cups broccoli florets or 1 cup diced zucchini or thinly sliced asparagus), sprinkle with salt, and saute until lightly browned, 2 to 3 min; note, hold off on the peas until later.

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 3. Add the rice and flavorings: Add the rice and cook, stirring, until it heats through, 2 to 3 min. Stir in the peas, sun-dried tomatoes, scallions, and basil and cook, tossing so everything mixes and melds, about 1 min.

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4. Serve: Spoon onto plates, top with poached eggs, sprinkle with Parmigiano, and serve with fresh lemon and Tabasco.

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