Strong Women and Summer Vegetable Chow Mein

Today felt like the first day of summer here in Dublin and I came home on a high after taking part in the Irish Tatler Business Academy organised by that dynamo Norah Casey. It’s a long time since I’ve spent the day in the company of 450 women and I came away buzzing from the positive energy in the Dublin Convention Centre and the extraordinary openness and honesty with which the panellists spoke about their personal adventures on the road to leadership. Women are good at revealing their hearts and inspiring energy and positivity in those around them. Passion with purpose is what I saw today.
And I loved the time I got to spend in the “green room”,  (now doesn’t that sound posh), with such special women as Clodagh Higgins Online Marketing Specialist, Marie Chawke of Aghadoe Heights Hotel, Margaret Nelson CEO of FM104, Ros Hubbard casting director, Aubrey Tiedt, Vice President of Etihad Airways, and Emmeline Hill, Co-founder and Chair of Equinome Ltd.

Twitter pic posted by @Tamso at last session of #irishtatlerbiz

Now passion and positivity is all very well but as the in-domnitable Ros Hubbard said “what’s the point of being beautiful and fabulous if you’re broke,” to which I might add “what’s the point of being in high good humour if there’s not a thing in the house to eat.”
I arrived home to a near empty fridge and tried to figure out what I could rustle up with some vegetables left over from earlier in the week. Back last September, on one of those miserable Mondays that heralded the onset of winter (and what a long winter it has been) I had posted an impromptu recipe for winter vegetable chow mein. You can check it out here. So I searched for it on the blog, dusted it off and recycled it in a summer dress. Here goes.

Summer Vegetable Chow Mein
Summer vegetable chow mein

Ingredients (serves 3 -4)

  • 4 nests of whole wheat noodles
  • 4 spring onions
  • Piece of ginger – about 4 cms
  • 2 – 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 whole fresh red chilli
  • 2 large or 3 small carrots
  • 8 baby sweetcorn
  • 2 sticks of celery
  • 1 red, yellow or orange pepper
  • 10 stalks of tenderstem broccoli
  • 10 – 20 mangetouts
  • Groundnut oil
  • Salt and white pepper
  • A pinch of sugar
  • 2 – 4 tbs light soy sauce
  • 2 – 4 tbs Shaoxing rice wine
  • Heaped tsp of Chinese 5-spice powder


  1. Prepare the vegetables first. Thinly slice the spring onions, Peel and finely dice the ginger and garlic. De-seed and finely chop the chilli.
  2. Cut the carrots into thin batons and the pepper and celery into thin slices.


  1. Cook the whole wheat noodles as per packet instructions – about 3 minutes in boiling water.
  2. Meanwhile heat a few tbs of oil in a large wok over high heat. Add the spring onions, garlic and ginger and stirfry for 1 minute to release the aromas. Add the chilli and stir for another few seconds to release the chilli flavours.
  3. Add carrot and sweetcorn and cook for a few minutes keeping them on the move all the time with the back of your ladle, then add all the other vegetables and stirfry for a couple of more minutes until they are heated through but still crunchy
  4. Season well with salt, pepper, sugar and scoop out of the wok and set aside in a dish.
  5. Drain the noodles. Reduce heat under the wok to medium and add a small amount of oil. Add in the cooked noodles and 5-spice powder. Season with soy sauce and rice wine to taste.
  6. Cook, stirring for a minute or two. Return the  vegetables to the wok and toss the lot together over heat. Adjust seasoning with soy sauce and rice wine.
  7. Tip into a serving bowl and serve. Drizzle with home made chilli oil if you have any. I’m addicted to this homemade condiment and we have it with everything, even pizza! Wok to table in 15 to 20 minutes.

Verdict and Variations:
This hit the spot on a Thursday evening – really tasty and crunchy and a satisfying vegetarian meal. I had a glass of Prova Régia Arinto from Portugal with it, a wine Elaine Cassells introduced me to. Thank you Elaine!
Every element of this recipe is just a guideline and I didn’t  measure anything. Just use whatever vegetables you have to hand. Mushrooms, chinese cabbage, sugar snap peas would all work well. Experiment and enjoy.
In the context of  the Irish Tatler Business Academy, Matt Cooper had a panel discussion on women and leadership on The Last Word on Today FM yesterday and I took part with Anne Marie Graham of Health Force and Orlaith Carmody, CEO of Media Matters. If you are interested, you can listen back to the podcast here.