Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Off the Shelf

It's not often that I get excited about weeknight convenience cooking, and for good reason. Seldom is it "clean" of added sugars, food starches, and additives so it doesn't often sit right with one or the other of us. Another reason is that it is not often beautiful when considered in the light of the design elements I so want to employ in our food presentation. Colors are often weak, textures (especially of vegetables) leave much to be desired, and often, taste is mediocre.
That said, there are those weeknights on which no one in the house is either available or motivated to cook a masterpiece in three courses. On those nights it's important to have a few good stand-by ingredients sitting on the pantry shelves or tucked in the freezer to whip together at the last minute. Sadly, I've had some of the same old pantry ingredients on my list of must-haves for years. No, they're not the exact same things-after all, I learned about the F.I.F.O. method of inventory control back in my banking days, and freshness dating of food is something I take seriously. But we all tend toward the familiar, and you can do so much with ingredients you understand and trust.
To mix things up, I've enjoyed making a point of trying different products at in-store demonstrations, new product launches, or with coupon promotions. Lately, the stars kindly lined up and within the same week I read a recipe for Thai chicken in green curry sauce AND tasted Trader Joe's eggplant curry AND discovered World Foods Green Curry Sauce on the shelf of our local supermarket. So, this evening, when I had a leftover grilled chicken breast in the fridge and these other wonderfoods in freezer and pantry, we had a quickie Thai dinner in under 20 minutes. It wasn't as lovely as the picture here, but at the end of a frustrating day I vote for taste and texture.

To get the best of both worlds, convenience and freshness, I started with the trusty rice cooker and set it up to cook a cup of jasmine rice in 2 cups of water. While it was doing its thing, I got busy on the curried chicken:

1/2 red onion, roughly chopped

10-12 sugar snap peas, washed

1 C. mini carrots, sliced into "coins"

1 Tbs. canola oil

3 Tbs. green curry paste

1 14-ounce can coconut milk (light is fine)

1 C. cubed, cooked chicken meat

Heat a 9- or 10-inch skillet on medium/high heat. Add oil and swirl to coat. Add onions, stirring constantly until they begin to release their fragrance, about 1 minute. Add carrots and pea pods, stirring constantly, continuing to cook about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium. Add remaining ingredients and heat through, about 5 more minutes. Serve with the rice.

The eggplant comes right out of the freezer and is done in the microwave in a total of about 5 minutes. This meal is so tasty and is on the table in under 25 minutes. Now, that's beautiful on nights like this.

1 comment:

Quicksilver Spirit said...
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