Fresh From the Freezer

Little additions add up to big flavors in any successful dish, as it’s the subtle nuances that set apart a great meal from an adequate one. Sometimes that can mean just a few extra minutes at the stove, toasting garlic to the perfect shade of golden brown, or simply adding in an extra dose of ginger, heightening those bright, spicy notes right at the end of each bite. The same principle is true for simply getting food on the table in the first place; every helping hand counts, and reliable schemes for easing that process are not to be overlooked. I’ll swallow my pride and admit that sometimes, utterly drained from a day in the office, weariness penetrating straight through to my bones, I’ll reach for the old bottle of dusty, dried out garlic powder as my one and only seasoning, omitting dozens of ingredients out of sheer laziness- Not to mention a poorly stocked fridge, nary a fresh leaf of greenery to be found. Needless to say, these are not exactly meals to be proud of, let alone serve to anyone else with any taste buds.

Dorot has been my savior lately, providing the perfect culinary shortcut that doesn’t cut corners on quality. Offering myriad raw ingredients minced, frozen, and formatted into neat little cubes, it’s effortless to cook full-flavored delights, even when there’s no time to shop for fresh herbs or spices. Beyond the convenience factor, which does admittedly weigh heavily in mind as I snatch up a stockpile of crushed garlic and ginger, it’s especially handy for these cold winter months when nary a sprig of basil can be found. I relish eating seasonal, embracing the new flavors as they ripen and develop each month, but I still crave the herbaceous bite of pesto all year long. The frozen basil cubes have been the antidote to my autumnal gloom, adding the distinctive aroma of a summer’s garden to previously drab, dull meals. Even before the company offered me samples for a more in-depth review, I was already filling my freezer with these edible green gems in preparation for colder (and busier) days.

So with all of this aromatic ammo, locked and loaded in the chill chest, what does one do to bring out their full potential? Make a highly flavorful yet delicate curry, bursting with bold notes of that luscious basil of course, but assembled with finesse so that you taste far more than just heat. Easily falling on the mild side of the spectrum, my Green Garden Curry is all about soothing, warming, and invigorating tastes, and not so much the sheer spice level itself. The beauty of using Dorot’s ingenious frozen herbs and spices is that they turn this recipe into a truly season-less dish, equally delicious and accessible 365 days of the year. Though I had spring on my mind while composing the original, feel free to swap out vegetables to suit your own seasonal cravings. Green beans would be an excellent replacement for snow peas, and shelled edamame or lima beans could be gracefully slipped into the spot previously occupied by fava beans. As long as you have frozen herbs in your arsenal, there’s nothing stopping you from enjoying an equally savory, satisfying meal in no time at all.

Green Garden Curry

1 Tablespoon Coconut Oil
3 Medium Shallots, Diced
4 Cubes Frozen Minced Garlic*
3 Cubes Frozen Minced Ginger**
1 Medium-Sized Fresh Jalapeno, Finely Minced
1 1/2 Tablespoons Lime Juice
3 2-Inch Long Stalks Dried Lemongrass or 1 Stalk Fresh, Bashed and Bruised
1 1/2 Teaspoons Cumin Seeds
1 Teaspoon Brown Mustard Seeds
1 Teaspoon Ground Coriander
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Fenugreek
1/4 – 1/2 Teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
1 Cup Full-Fat Coconut Milk
1 Cup Snow Peas
1/2 Cup Frozen Green Peas
1 Cup Shelled and Peeled Fava Beans, Fresh or Frozen
4 Cubes Frozen Chopped Basil**
Salt and Ground Black Pepper, to taste

Brown Basmati Rice, to Serve

*1 cube is equal to 1 whole clove.
**1 cube is equal to 1 teaspoon.

Set a large saucepan over moderate heat and add the coconut oil in first, allowing it to fully melt. Once liquified, introduce the shallots, garlic, ginger, and jalapeno. Saute for 6 – 8 minutes, until the cubes have broken down and the entire mixture is highly aromatic, as the shallots begin to take on a golden-brown hue. Deglaze with the lime juice, scraping the bottom of the pan to ensure that nothing sticks and all of the brown bits are incorporated. Next, introduce your whole but bruised lemongrass along with the remaining spices. Stir periodically, cooking for 5 – 6 minutes until it smells irresistible.

Pour in the coconut milk, turn down the heat to medium-low, and bring the mixture to a simmer. Add the snow peas, green peas, and fava beans next, stirring to combine, and let stew gently for 10 – 15 minutes, until the snow peas are bright green and the fava beans are tender. Pop in the basil cubes last, cooking just until they’ve completely dissolved and melded seamlessly into the curry before removing the pot from the heat.

Season with salt and pepper according to taste, and serve immediately over brown rice.

Makes 3 – 4 Servings

Printable Recipe

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Cool as a Cucumber

Five months later, after languishing in the back hall closet unboxed and completely untouched, the spiralizer that I got for my birthday finally made its debut appearance. It’s not that I didn’t want it- I had put it on my wish list after all- But between a lack of time and a leaning towards heartier, simpler, cooked foods, such a frivolous contraption seemed utterly out of place in a winter kitchen. Amazing how things change! Now that the temperature is pushing 90, with humidity enough to swim through the air, the idea of raw vegetable noodles sounded too appealing to resist. Seizing the opportunity to finally play with my new toy, a cool and refreshing dish made almost entirely of cucumber sounded utterly perfect in the heat of midday.

Almost too simple to even mention, but absolutely too delicious not to, into my bowl went one spiralized English cucumber (peeled), a dollop of homemade walnut pesto, a handful of grape tomatoes, and a light drizzle of avocado oil to bring it all together. Lunch was ready in 5 minutes flat, and I was astounded at how satisfying my bowl of green was.

Replicating these noodles without a fancy gadget would be no sweat, too! Just use a regular vegetable peeler to make thin, flat noodles, or step it up a notch and break out a julienne peeler to make something more akin to spaghetti.

The secret to speeding through this dish is making the pesto in advance and freezing it in cubes. I use a really small tray of ice cube dots, so it’s very convenient to grab 3 or 4 for a dish of cucumber noodles, or just 1 to spread on toast. It’s nice to have the flexibility to use exactly as much as it takes to cover the job.

Though I hardly feel that the world needs yet another pesto recipe, just in case you’re curious, this is the way I do it. Forever petrified of getting pine mouth, I tend to avoid pine nuts, and thus lean on walnuts to take their place here. A tiny drizzle of olive oil might be necessary to get the mixture smooth, but just play it by ear; I found it to be the perfect consistency without any added fat.

Yield: Makes About 3/4 Cup

Walnut Pesto

Walnut Pesto

Homemade pesto that swaps traditional pine nuts with walnuts for an earthy, homey twist.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1/4 Cup Walnut Pieces
  • 1/4 Cup Nutritional Yeast
  • 3 Cloves Garlic
  • 2.5 Ounces Fresh Basil, Rinsed
  • Juice of 1 Lemon (About 1/4 Cup)
  • Tiny Pinch Ground Nutmeg
  • Salt and Pepper, to Taste

Instructions

  1. Toss the walnuts, nutritional yeast, and garlic into you food processor or blender first, and pulse for 30 seconds or so to combine. Make sure that no large chunks of garlic remain, and scrape down the sides of the bowl thoroughly before proceeding. Add in the basil, and pulse to break down the largest leaves before slowly drizzling in the lemon juice. Continue to pulse until the mixture is a fairly rough puree. Add in the nutmeg, salt and pepper as desired. Incorporate a tablespoon or two of oil if needed to achieve your desired consistency, or just leave as is.

Notes

Use immediately or freeze into ice cubes. Once frozen solid, transfer the cubes into a zip-top bag or air-tight container. Will keep in the freezer for 3 – 4 months.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

12

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 26Total Fat: 2gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 27mgCarbohydrates: 2gFiber: 1gSugar: 0gProtein: 2g