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Fantastic stir-fry (or pasta) in a flash. August 27, 2014

Posted by ourfriendben in recipes.
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Silence Dogood here. I have a guilty little secret, and that’s that I just love the cut-up combos of vegetables that you can find in the produce section of pretty much any grocery store. Why is that, when I actually enjoy chopping vegetables? It’s because those packages of multi-hued veggies are so pretty, so colorful. Their siren song is impossible to resist. Poor our friend Ben tries, in vain, to pull me away from the prepared produce section when we’re out grocery shopping; after all, I’ve already bought several shopping bags full of fresh, whole produce by that time.

Needless to say, that precut, precombined produce isn’t out there just to show its pretty face. It’s there for those nights when you’d really enjoy something fresh and healthy but don’t have time to stand for an hour or so chopping vegetables. If you’re in that boat, here are two suggestions for absolutely luscious main dishes that take almost no time to cook.

Fast, Fantastic Stir-Fry

First, buy as many packages of pre-cut veggies as you think you’ll need, depending on how much you eat and how many of you there are. We like the ones with red onion, red, yellow and orange bell peppers, mushrooms, broccoli, and snow or snap peas. We love onion, so we buy an extra carton of diced red onion, and we also buy an extra red bell pepper to dice into the mix. Next, we get Iron Chef Sesame Garlic Sauce in the International aisle, and pick up a bottle of Frank’s RedHot Sweet Chili Sauce from the condiments aisle if we’re running low. Finally, we get a package of pressed smoked tofu from the health-food store next door. (You could sub extra-firm tofu from the grocery if your health-food store doesn’t stock pressed smoked tofu. In that case, I recommend pre-cubed to save time.)

Once you’re home, if you got the extra-firm rather than the smoked tofu, put the cubes (or cube it and then put the cubes) into a marinade of the sesame-garlic sauce and the Frank’s hot sweet sauce, adding salt and enough boiling water to just cover. As you prepare the other ingredients, turn the tofu cubes several times to make sure both sides are coated.

In a rice cooker or pot, make enough basmati rice so each person can have a full cup. While the rice cooks, heat up canola, olive or peanut oil in a wok or deep, heavy pan like a Dutch oven (I love my LeCreuset Dutch oven for this, since I can cook over much lower heat than a wok and it retains heat). When the oil is hot, toss in about half the container of diced red onion, then your diced red bell pepper, then a tablespoon of minced garlic or some garlic granules or garlic salt. Then add your veggies, making sure they’re coated with the oil. Finish by adding the tofu and sauce (if it isn’t smoked). If you are using smoked tofu, cube it while the veggies are cooking. Add the sesame-garlic sauce and the Frank’s RedHot Sweet Chili Sauce to the veggies, then slide in the cubed smoked tofu.

When the rice is done, spoon the hot veggie-tofu mixture over the top and enjoy! It’s actually not just the easiest but the best stir-fry I’ve ever had. (And to make things even easier, you can always just pick up rice from the local Chinese place on your way home from the grocery. Their rice is always perfect!)

Moving on, let’s look at the pasta:

Asparagus-Mushroom Pasta

Our groceries offer packs of cut asparagus, sliced baby Bella mushrooms, and red onion. On its own, one of these packs would probably be delicious roasted with olive oil drizzled over the top. But I’m always craving pasta, and I had a carton of whole button mushrooms and a couple of red bell peppers that needed to be cooked. So I heated some olive oil, diced a Vidalia onion, the carton of mushrooms, and the bell peppers, and sauteed them until the mushrooms cooked down and the onion clarified. Meanwhile, I heated up a big pot of water for the pasta.

Once the water was boiling, I added the package of asparagus, mushrooms, and red onion to the other veggies, then added the pasta to the pot of boiling water. When the pasta was ready, I added black pepper and salt (we like RealSalt or Trocomare) to the veggies, then stirred in shredded sharp white Cheddar and allowed it to melt. (You could sub shredded mozzarella or a Cheddar/mozzarella mix.) Finally, I used tongs to pull out the pasta and add it to the sauce, stirring to coat well.

Yum! This pasta was delicious. All we needed was a nice, crunchy salad to have a complete and luscious meal. OFB and I are now officially hooked on both dishes. So easy, so good! Try them and let us know what you think.

‘Til next time,

Silence

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