June 9, 2014 at 3:52 PM ET
Summer is the ideal season for stir-fries: It’s far too hot to fire up the oven, and stir-fry recipes typically need less than 10 minutes of cooking time. Plus, stir-fries are the perfect way to use the seasonal produce you found at the market (or whatever lingers in your crisper). It's easy enough to just chop up the colorful vegetables and toss them in a wok or skillet with your favorite stir-fry sauce. But to elevate your dish from a time-saver to a treat, try one of these 10 simple, flavor-packed recipes.
Creamy avocado and crispy fried rice are so delicious together, the combination deserves to be as popular as hot dogs with ketchup, or meatloaf and mashed potatoes. It’s even more exquisite when splashed with soy sauce, spiked with sautéed garlic and tossed with crunchy green beans—as in this recipe.
Bottled stir-fry sauces are often laden with sugar and artificial flavor-enhancers—and tend to hang around for months after just a few uses. This fried rice comes with a gingery from-scratch teriyaki sauce that takes only five minutes to make.
A staple at Thai restaurants, traditional pad thai is way too complex to attempt at home, especially on a hot night. This crunchy, tangy chicken version of the noodle stir-fry requires far fewer ingredients, most of them easy to find at major supermarkets. Once they’re assembled, the dish doesn’t even take 10 minutes to cook.
Fresh basil and mint are two of the best things about summer, and this spicy stir-fry recipe includes both. Thai basil, a spicy and lemony variety sold at Asian and farmers’ markets, is perfect here, but a combo of mint and Italian basil also works beautifully. While the recipe calls for chicken and tofu, this stir-fry is just as good with one or the other.
In less time (and money) than it would take to order the Chinese takeout version, you can enjoy this stir-fry of wok-seared, soy-marinated skirt or flank steak, combined with broccoli and slathered with ginger, garlic and oyster sauce.
Tangy-sweet hoisin sauce is best known as the flavoring behind Peking duck and mu shu pork. But it’s terrifically versatile as a dipping sauce, barbecue glaze or even stir-fry sauce. Hoisin sauce isn't spicy—the beef dish here gets its heat from fresh chiles—but as counterintuitive as this sounds, spicy food in the summer actually cools a body off.
Even the tofu-averse will find a lot to love in this easy vegetarian stir-fry. The tofu takes on a meatier texture with a hands-free pre-bake. Sweet bell peppers help balance the zingy sauce. Where the recipe calls for green beans and carrots, try any number of seasonal vegetables like eggplant, zucchini and corn.
Who says every stir-fry needs to come with rice? In this Middle-Eastern-inflected vegan dish, summer veggies are stir-fried in toasted sesame oil, then tossed with meaty, protein-rich lentils. Try it with lentils of almost any color—green, black or brown. Just not red: Those tend to get mushy when fully cooked.
Flowering Chinese garlic chives are sturdier and more pungent than their ordinary chive cousins. In the summer they should be easy to find at any Asian market. And they’re wonderfully crunchy and fragrant in stir-fries, like this simple Thai version. The recipe calls for pork, but works with pretty much any protein, even shrimp or squid.
A trifecta of the season’s finest vegetables form the backbone of this nourishing stir-fry recipe. Oyster sauce makes the vegetables savory-sweet, though it also disqualifies the dish as vegetarian. Serve the dish alongside your favorite in-season protein, from grilled steak to soft-shell crabs.