Friday, September 07, 2012

Garlic-Lover's Vegetable Stir Fry Recipe with Eggplant, Zucchini, and Yellow Squash (Low-Carb, Gluten-Free)

This simple Garlic-Lover's Vegetable Stir-Fry is a perfect way to use garden vegetables!

Garlic Lover's Vegetable Stir Fry with Eggplant, Zucchini, and Yellow Squash found on

(For Phase One Fridays I highlight Phase One recipes from the past that have been my personal favorites.  This Garlic-Lover's Vegetable Stir Fry that I first made with late-season garden veggies is something I'd never get tired of eating.)

Even if you don't have a wok, stir frying is a simple way to turn out great-tasting meals from very few ingredients. I learned how to stir-fry years ago by taking a Chinese Cooking class taught by a visiting professor from China, and once you master the basic technique, you can get good results with many different combinations of ingredients. This stir-fry dish was inspired by the last few vegetables I picked from my garden. I used a combination of eggplant, zucchini, and yellow squash, but you can easily make this with just one of those ingredients.

In that Chinese Cooking class I learned Five Principles of Chinese Cooking that have helped me make many different stir fry dishes through the years:

Principles of Chinese Cooking
  1. Preheat the wok (before you put the oil in).
  2. Season the oil (with whole pieces of garlic and sometimes ginger root, which you often remove when you add the food to be cooked).
  3. Symmetry of cut (all pieces must be cut the same size and shape).
  4. Have all ingredients cut and sauces mixed before you cook.
  5. Use very high heat and cook fast.
The only thing that's slightly different in this recipe is the use of minced garlic, which is left in the finished dish. I used a lot of garlic (!) but if you're not such a garlic lover, you can use a bit less. The use of Oyster Sauce with vegetables in this recipe was inspired by Cooking from the Heart: The Hmong Kitchen in America, a great cookbook that I received as a review copy from the publisher.

These are the very last vegetables from my garden, and this is actually a tiny colander, so some of these were baby veggies, perfect for stir-frying.

If you make this with bigger zucchini or squash, you should cut away some of the inside where the seeds are, and then cut the vegetables into strips. Starting in back, cut the zucchini into fourths lengthwise, then cut away the inner part of each strip, then cut into strips about 1/2 inch side.

"Symmetry of cut" in Chinese Cooking means that the food should be cut into pieces that are approximately the same size and same shape so everything cooks in the same amount of time.

I also cut the onions so they were a similar size and shape as the other ingredients. Before you start to cook, have all ingredients cut, have the oil, garlic, oyster sauce, and salt on the counter, and have measuring spoons ready.

If you don't have a wok, use the largest heavy frying pan you have. This recipe doesn't need a lid. Start by heating the wok or pan for 1-2 minutes, until it's too hot to hold your hand over it. Add 2 T peanut oil, let the oil heat for about 30 seconds, then add the minced garlic and sliced onion and stir fry 20 seconds, stirring the entire time.

Then add the vegetables and salt all at once and continue to stir-fry about 4-5 minutes, stirring every 20-30 seconds. Cook until vegetables are just starting to soften.

Then add Oyster Sauce and stir to coat all vegetables with sauce. Cook about 2 minutes more, stirring a few times.

Garlic-Lover's Vegetable Stir Fry with Eggplant, Zucchini, and Yellow Squash
(Makes about 4 servings, recipe created by Kalyn with inspiration from Cooking from the Heart: The Hmong Kitchen in America.)

1 1/2 lbs zucchini, yellow squash, and/or eggplant, cut into same size pieces (use any combination of these vegetables)
2 T peanut oil or canola oil (or possibly a little more if you don't have a non-stick pan)
2 T finely minced garlic (or less)
1 onion, sliced top to bottom in strips about 1/2 inch wide
1/4 tsp. salt
3 T Oyster Sauce (look for it by the Asian foods in any supermarket. If you need gluten-free, be sure to get Gluten-Free Oyster Sauce.)

Cut vegetables into pieces that are the same size and same shape, cutting away the inner seeds from squash and larger eggplants before you cut them into short strips about 1/2 inch wide. Get oil, oyster sauce, salt, and measuring spoons out and have ready on the counter near the stove.

Put wok or frying pan on the stove and heat 1-2 minutes, until it's too hot to hold your hand over it. (You should be able to almost see the heat shimmering up from the wok.) Add the oil and heat about 30 seconds, then add minced garlic and sliced onion and cook 20 seconds, stirring constantly.

Add the rest of the vegetables all at once, add salt, and cook 4-5 minutes, stirring every 20-30 seconds, or until vegetables are barely starting to soften.

Add oyster sauce, stirring gently so all the vegetables are coated with sauce. Cook about 2 minutes more, stirring a few times. Serve hot.

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South Beach Diet / Low-Carb Diet Suggestions:
This low-glycemic vegetable dish is perfect for any phase of the South Beach Diet and most other low-carb eating plans. If your store has several brands of Oyster Sauce, choose the one with the lowest amount of sugar. (If you need gluten-free, be sure to get Gluten-Free Oyster Sauce)

Nutritional Information?
I chose the South Beach Diet to manage my weight partly so I wouldn't have to count calories, carbs, points, or fat grams, but if you want nutritional information for a recipe, I recommend entering the recipe into Calorie Count, which will calculate it for you.

More Stir-Fry Recipes You May Like:
(Recipes from other blogs may not always be South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)

Stir-Fried Green Beans with Lemon, Parmesan, and Pine Nuts from Kalyn's Kitchen

Stir-Fried Tofu with Scallions, Garlic, Ginger, and Soy Sauce from Kalyn's Kitchen

Stir-Fried Shrimp with Snow Peas and Ginger from Kalyn's Kitchen

Peanut Chicken Stir Fry from Karina's Kitchen

Broccoli Stir-Fry with Ginger and Sesame from Simply Recipes

Chicken and Basil Stir Fry from Nook and Pantry

Stir-Fried Baby Bok Choy with Garlic from Delish

Smokin' Summer Stir Fry from Cheap Healthy Good

(Want even more recipes? I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.)

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  1. Stir-fry can save your life. Seriously. It's the one dish I can manage even if I'm bone tired. And it's always tasty. And I always think, Why don't I make stir-fry more often?

  2. Excellent., I LoVe trying new dishes....thanks for the details on the stir fry, it is good to be reminded...

  3. I have never mastered stir-frying. I gave up years ago, but you've inspired me to try again!

  4. Karina, I agree completely! I think it keeps the fresh flavor in the food compared to so many cooking methods!

    Kara, hope you like it.

    Lyn, it really is something where the technique is so important. I'm excited that I've encouraged you to try again. Such a great way to cook, once you've mastered it you can whip up something tasty in no time.

  5. I am going on a hill walk this afternoon and was looking for something quick and healthy to throw together afterwards...this is it!

  6. It's been a long time since I've stir-fried - it's one of the reasons I'm switching to a gas stove. A wok and an electric range just don't work! This is a beautiful dish, and the tips you've included are great.

  7. I always have basic Chinese condiments in my pantry, and with those -- soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil, chili paste with garlic -- I can stir-fry almost any combination of ingredients. Throw some rice in a rice cooker before you begin to prep your stir-fry ingredients, and a whole meal comes together in minutes.

  8. thanks for the rules on stir fries! I love how you combined my favorite summer veggies with my favorite herb. There is no why this can be bad.

  9. This looks delicious and sounds wonderful and fresh. I haven't had a good stir fry in months. I'll have to put it on the calendar. Thanks for the recipe.

  10. I always love learning something new. I wish I had viewed your recipe yesterday. I stir fried large yellow squash with the seeds intact and it turned out a mushy mess. The zucchini was fine. I still have half the yellow squash left for tonight...thanks for the tip, Kalyn.

  11. I love everything about this dish.

  12. This is such a simple recipe and I like that it really lets the ingredients shine. Great tips on stir-frying!

  13. Waw ! It would be useful for food lovers, of course for me too. Thanks for the

  14. I could eat things like this for every meal! Beautiful Kalyn!

  15. Looks like what I fry up for breakfast. Great combo of veggies.

  16. I keep saying how tired of eggplant,I am and I keep finding these great recipes that are tempting me so I am using your blog to announce, I am not really tired of eggplant. It is too good to get tired of.

    Love this stir fry.

  17. As soon as I find Japanese eggplant at the store, I'm making this with all eggplant. The eggplant was teh best part!

  18. Kalyn,
    Your beautiful and delicious stir-fry is very tempting. Having moved to Australia, I started to love eating zucchini (we seldom have it in Hong Kong), that goes really well with minced garlic indeed. Yeah, I'm a big garlic lover. I'd add minced garlic in every stir-frying dish. :P

    Your 5 principles of Chinese stir-frying are very helpful that would definitively ensure the best result.

  19. All meals are rich in vitamin a garlic flavor and adds a natural antibiotic and he is good in my swine flu

  20. Wow! I tried this today, and it was incredibly tasty! I've never stir-fried before either, and it came out incredibly well. I will definitely be making this again soon.

  21. Anonymous, that's great. Glad to hear you liked it.

  22. I loved this dish, we had it for supper tonight, and it was delicious. It was a great way to use the veggies I am getting from a local farm. Thanks!

  23. So glad to hear you liked it, and that it's working out as a way to use your veggies!

  24. Is there any substitute for the oyster sauce that you can recommend?

  25. I'd look in the Asian section of the grocery store for things labeled "Stir Fry Sauce" and then check labels to find one that doesn't have ingredients you don't want.

  26. I always love stir fry vegetables easy to prepare and can be cooked without a sweat. I'll try this tonight. Thanks!

  27. I know you're not paid to endorse products, but I'm curious as to what kind of wok you use. My large frying pan has a nonstick coating, and I'm wary of heating it up without anything in it -- based on the reports of the health danger it poses.

  28. I have a carbon-steel wok that doesn't have a nonstick coating, but the one in these photos is from Costco, and does have a nonstick coating. I don't think heating for a few minutes is a problem, but if you do you could heat with oil in the pan.

  29. I tried this for lunch yesterday. It was delicious! You come up with the best recipes. I love that they often are gluten free and low (or no) sugar.

  30. Thanks Debbie, so glad you're enjoying the recipes!


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