Dive into your Dinner in Minutes Pantry on any night and you can put a respectable stir-fry on the table in a half-hour or so. This one offers the ease of not-so-much chopping and a nice balance of sweet and heat, color and texture.

The asparagus you want for this recipe should be of a thin-to-medium thickness, so it will warm through yet stay crisp-tender during its brief time in the pan. Here’s a prep tip to reduce your food waste: Skip the “snap” method of breaking off the tough ends of the stalks, a technique that will have you tossing away too much. If the asparagus bunch you buy is bound by a rubber band near the bottom, slide that band down to about an inch above the white/woody ends, then use your sharp chef’s knife to trim them all at once.

Ground turkey is what’s in the pantry, so that’s what we’re using for the meaty bits. Once cooked, it has a somewhat softer texture than ground pork and more flavor than ground chicken, but either one of those can be swapped in here.

Serve on its own, or over rice noodles. Leftovers taste great cold.

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  • 2 medium carrots
  • 4 scallions
  • 1 pound asparagus (thin or medium thickness)
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil (toasted or not)
  • 1 pound ground light-meat turkey (may substitute ground dark-meat turkey)
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons apricot jam
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or more as needed
  • 1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves

Step 1

Scrub or peel the carrots, then cut them into thin matchsticks (about 2 inches long). Trim the scallions, then cut on the diagonal into thin slices. Trim the woody ends of the asparagus, then cut the stalks on the diagonal into 1-inch lengths. Mince the garlic.

Step 2

Heat the oil in a large skillet or saute pan until shimmering, over medium heat. Stir in the garlic; cook for about 30 seconds, until fragrant, then stir in the ground turkey, using a spatula as it cooks to break up large clumps.

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Step 3

Cook the turkey for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring often, until there’s barely a trace of pink left. Add the carrots and scallions; cook for about 2 minutes, then add the soy sauce, apricot jam and crushed red pepper flakes (to taste), stirring to form a sauce.

Cook for 2 minutes, then add the asparagus; cook for 2 or 3 minutes, tossing gently to incorporate, then remove from the heat. Those asparagus pieces should be crisp-tender, a more vivid shade of green and barely warmed through. Make sure the sauce is evenly distributed.

Step 4

Stack and roll the basil leaves, then cut crosswise into ribbons (or don’t cut at all, and just use small leaves). Scatter them over the stir-fry mixture and toss gently to incorporate. Taste, and add a sprinkling of crushed red pepper flakes, if desired. Serve right away.


Calories: 290; Total Fat: 15 g; Saturated Fat: 4 g; Cholesterol: 85 mg; Sodium: 410 mg; Carbohydrates: 17 g; Dietary Fiber: 4 g; Sugars: 8 g; Protein: 25 g.

Adapted from various online recipes.

Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick; email questions to voraciously@washpost.com.

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