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The Hand Off: Red Pepper Spinach Sesame Stir-Fry

2010 September 23

by Brianna Bain

This week’s recipe is an homage to the glorious Frittata. Inspired by Sarah’s Pepper and Tomato Frittata, I have transformed her dish into  a stir-fry, creating a meal that can hold it’s own. The result – a fun, easy recipe that can be built on a quick trip the farmers market, and takes less than one hour to make.  What sets this recipe apart from the frittata, beyond the composition of ingredients, is the addition of a few key condiments. I have used sesame seed oil and  sesame seeds as garnish to give this dish it’s delicious signature flavor.  An issue explored  here in the past at RecipeRelay, condiments can be a tricky thing to incorporate into your cooking while holding true to your value of eating locally and sustainably.  With this in mind I hastened a mini sesame investigation.

I was able to find an organic California sesame oil by Napa Valley Naturals, and  organic sesame seeds in bulk from my local health food store. Sesame seeds, native  to Sub-Saharan Africa, are now grown all over the world.   Lovers of warmer weather, sesame plants are grown primarily in regions across South America, India and the Southern United States. I was lucky enough to find sesame products that were produced here in California but this is not always the case with some of my favorite spices and beloved condiments. When access to a local source is not an option I choose something from the US that is organically farmed or sustainably sourced. If this is not possible I look for overseas products that are organic, from  small family farms, or supportive of the development of sustainable agriculture. It’s a vote for what I want to see more of in my grocery store, our food dollars are closely tracked and analyzed  for informing product development and target marketing. So if I want to see more availability of the foods I love, then I am willing to put in a little extra effort to make conscious choices while shopping.

This week Sarah found a gem of a resource for bulk herbs and spices that is located in Eugene, Oregon. Mountain Rose Herbs is an online company dedicated the health of the  environment and ethical business practices that leave you feeling rest assured in your purchases. Whether  the products are sourced domestically or overseas you are supporting  the utmost of integrity in the food industry.  As evidence of their high standards and superior product they have just received the  2010 Oregon Ethics in Business Award.

There is no getting around the use of spices in tasty cooking. A world without specialty seeds, oils, spices and condiments would  no doubt be bland.  It’s all too often that I take our easy access to these specialty items for granted.  So this week I took pause and  appreciated the availability and  delightful addition of the precious  sesame  seed to my stir-fry,  making it all the more satisfying.

Red Pepper Spinach Sesame Stir-Fry

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Total time: 40 minutes

Yield: 2 to 3 servings


  • 4 eggs
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 1 large or 2 small onions (white or sweet)
  • 2 bunches spinach (I used a combination of New Zealand and traditional)
  • 4 to 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce (use tamari or Bragg-Liquid Aminos for a gluten-free variation)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sesame seeds (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons peanut oil or grape-seed depending on flavor preference may want to use less depending on the volume of vegetables
  • dash sesame oil to finish

Cooking Directions

  1. Slice the red peppers into ~2 inch strips. Set aside.
  2. Clean and dry the spinach. Coarsely chop or tear it depending on the size of the leaves. Set aside.
  3. In a bowl beat the eggs to a smooth creamy yellow. Lightly salt and pepper (optional).
  4. Heat a large non stick pan until evenly hot, medium heat. You may need to add oil or butter depending on your pan. Pour the beaten egg into the pan, evenly coating the bottom, swirl if necessary to achieve a thin even layer of egg.
  5. Pop a lid on and let cook over medium-low heat for 1-2 minutes. Check often to be sure there is no burning and adjust heat accordingly.
  6. Swirl any uncooked egg to the sides and evenly over the cooked egg. With a soft flexible scraper, spatula or wooden utensil free the egg from sides and loosen from bottom. Turn off the heat and let the egg continue cooking from residual heat with lid on. Set aside.
  7. Heat oil in a wok, and sauté the garlic and onion until fragrant but not burnt.
  8. Add the cooking wine and soy sauce. When the mixture boils, add in the red pepper, let cook for ~3 min or until just tender.
  9. Add spinach and stir-fry, allowing the spinach to absorb all the flavors or until spinach is evenly wilted. Turn the heat off.
  10. Slide the egg pancake onto large chopping block and slice into thin 2 inch strips, add to veggie mixture and stir.
  11. Drizzle with sesame oil and sprinkle with sesame seeds, serve immediately.
  12. Enjoy!


If you are not a fan of sesame or have an allergic reaction to them,   choose some chopped cashews or  chopped tamari almonds. Either way, here’s to hoping you find this stir-fry as enjoyable as I did, and as always I look forward to your comments or any personal variation stories in your attempts with this stir-fry.