By the time we arrived home from the Christmas concert matinee, it was dinner time. We needed a quick, easy, family-friendly veggie meal. As I began pulling things from fridge and freezer, I laughed… Every item–fresh, frozen, and condiment–came from Trader Joe’s!
I don’t have hard-and-fast recipes for the items on this menu, mostly because I change it up based on what I have on hand (for example, you could add bell peppers, broccoli, or onion to the fried rice). Feel free to use the below as a template for your own creativity. I call it California-Asian because nothing I prepared is traditional. Other than the gyozas, I wouldn’t expect to find these on a restaurant menu. I cook the way I like to eat: lots of veggies–raw and cooked, brown rice, low oil/salt.
The menu began with one of our fav quick-and-veggie freezer foods: TJ’s Thai Vegetable Gyozas. Prepare according to package directions (I have done step 1 with no oil, but they get crispier with oil). I regularly add these to soups and stir fries and serve them either as appetizer or side dish. If desired, serve with a simple sauce of low sodium soy sauce (2 Tbsp), garlic chili paste (1/2 to 1 tsp), and a few dashes of sesame oil.
The Tempura Cauliflower were an impulse purchase, but oh-so-yum! They couldn’t have been easier to prepare and tasted like spicy fried clouds hot out of the oven.
Once those were going, I decided we needed a bright, fresh accompaniment:
Thinly sliced cucumbers
Thinly sliced red onion
1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
1″ nub of ginger, sliced thin and diced
Unseasoned rice vinegar
Sesame oil (optional)
Add veggies to a container that can be secured with a tight lid; rough rule of thumb: mostly cucumbers, some carrots, a touch of onion (or 3 parts cuke, 1 part carrot, 1/2 part onion). Add garlic and ginger, a few generous splashes of vinegar and, if desired, a couple of drops of oil. Secure lid and give your salad a shake. Shake occasionally as you prepare the rest of the meal.
Next I grabbed cooked brown rice from the fridge, my go-to TJ’s Brown Basmatic Rice (it cooks in 20 minutes and–bonus–smells like popcorn!).
Fried Brown Rice
2 c cooked brown rice
1/2 c chopped carrots
1/4 c each frozen peas and edamame (add water to defrost while cooking rice/carrots, then drain)
To taste: soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic chili paste
Optional: toasted cashews or peanuts, sesame seeds
Heat a wok or large pan over medium-high heat. Add rice, and stir until warmed through and beginning to crackle. Make a well and add chopped carrots; cook, stirring often, for 3 minutes. Add drained peas and edamame and cooked until warmed through. Add soy sauce, sesame oil, and garlic chili paste to taste.
Today is Guy’s birthday. He’s spending the day on an outdoor adventure with friends, so we’ll stay in tonight for a warm and cozy family meal. We’re having White Bean and Pasta Soup with Orchard Crumble for dessert. Whatever you’re eating, I hope you eat intentionally, surrounded by love. Happy New Year!