How to make the easiest (healthy) weeknight vegan dinner? Chop everything up, throw it in one pan, and dig in. I always recommend fried rice for beginner vegans because it’s hard to mess up and can be customized to even the pickiest palate. This pineapple fried rice recipe takes all of 20 minutes to cook, and offers up such a nutritious plethora of healthy vegetables, what could be simpler? Or more delicious?
Doesn’t pineapple just remind you of summer time? They’re in peak season from March through July, meaning now is the perfect time to snag a juicy fresh pineapple at the market (okay or use canned if coring a pineapple scares you) so you can get on it and whip up this recipe. Date night anyone?
Yes, this dish has a bunch of ingredients, but it’s mostly fresh produce. Only 3 spices plus salt, pepper, and a smidge of oil, I mean come on, what more could you ask for? Plus all of the veggies in a stir fry are so versatile, so you can mix and match the ones you like and skip the ones you don’t. This is such an easy dish with a huge flavor payout and healthy to boot. Plus it’s a pretty easy lunch idea if you meal prep. Simply double the recipe, and pop into individual glass containers to take to work throughout the week.
If you’re making rice, that’s the first place to start since rice takes longer to cook than your veggies and tofu. Here are the steps to boiling it on the stove top, but you can also make large batches of brown rice in an instant pot or pressure cooker to keep on hand. I believe I made two quarts of brown rice earlier in the week in my instant pot, and kept it in the fridge for all sorts of purposes ranging from this pineapple fried rice to falafel balls and Indian curry. I find that keeping both proteins and starches premade in relatively large batches makes cooking recipes way easier and quicker. Without having to boil rice, this is a quick 20 minute dinner, and barely heats up your kitchen.
Bring 3 cups of water to a boil, and add in 1/4 teaspoon salt. Add in 1/4 tsp garlic powder if desired. Boil 1/2 cup dried brown rice for about 25 minutes; this will double in size to 2 cups. I used brown rice, but you can use black rice or white rice. Brown rice has a nutty flavor that I think works really well in stir fries, but I’ve also been known to use leftover white rice from take out so as not to let it go to waste. Be sure to stir often. Let cool slightly in pot before serving.
While rice is boiling, cut skin off of pineapple, and then slice the flesh off of the core. Cut the pineapple into 1″ chunks and place in a large frying pan with cubed tofu, sliced onion, and olive oil. Alternatively, air fry the tofu to avoid soaking up oil.
If you’re not sure which kind of tofu to pick, or you need some help figuring out if you even want to put tofu in any dish now or at any point in your life since you had it that one time years ago and it was gross but maybe you don’t remember and maybe you should give it another try (okay breathe here), you can check out my Beginner’s Guide to Tofu.
If you’d like to air fry the tofu, cut into 1-2” cubes, toss a mixture of the spices into a large bowl, add the tofu, and toss to coat it in the spices. Air fry at 400° for about 20 minutes. This creates a crispy texture without using any extra oil.
Allow the contents of your frying pan to cook on medium heat for about 7-8 minutes, until the onions and pineapple begin to brown and caramelize around the edges. Slice bell pepper into long strips or 1/2” inch chunks. Shred about 3-4 leaves of purple cabbage coarsely with a knife, and chop small florets of broccoli. Frozen broccoli will do well here too if you have that instead of fresh.
Add each of these veggies to the pan. Check substitutions below for other veggie ideas if you don’t have some of these on hand. Cook for about 5 more minutes.
At this point, add in sesame oil and the spices, then stir. If you don’t have sesame oil on hand, no worries, simply use a dash more olive oil. But I do realllllly highly recommend investing in some sesame oil, because it comes in handy (seriously!) and creates a big flavor impact. We just have the Trader Joe’s kind, and it kills it. It’s so good.
Salt and pepper to taste. Chop collard greens (or any green you’d prefer to substitute), and add in with frozen or fresh peas. I find that adding in large amount of greens keeps me full without needing too much rice. I serve this dish with maybe a few spoonfuls of rice mixed in for texture, but very little is actually needed since the veggies provide so much fiber and nutrition. Cook about 5 more minutes. Drain rice, and serve over rice.
Side note: This dish could be even cuter if you served it in a pineapple bowl. Simply cut the pineapple in half, scoop out the inside, and save the shell for serving dish.
To cut down even further on carbohydrates, sub in chopped cauliflower in place of rice. Simply pulse in a food processor or chop with a knife until “riced.” Toast in an oven or toaster oven for about 10 minutes at 400°.
Most vegetables in this dish can be swapped. Sub in carrots, bok choy, etc. to suit your palate.
Even sub in quinoa if you are looking for a vegan protein punch. Cook it the same way you’d cook the brown rice, either stove top or in an instant pot. The flavors of the stir fry re easily absorbed by any of these delicious grains.
I used tofu for this recipe, but chickpeas would be an awesome sub in or addition if you aren’t tofu’s biggest fan just yet.
You can also check out my Pinterest page for more easy weeknight dinner inspiration! If you liked this recipe, you might also enjoy these other easy dinner ideas: