Saturday, October 9, 2010

Add-ins and Vegetarian Cheats

I had a friend over on Thursday night.  We all met up at the apartment right after work and Eric and I didn't want to waste any time hiding in the kitchen.  So we did what foodie blogs say not to do and served stir fried vegetables with store-bought Golden Curry*.  We didn't even serve it Japanese-style: as a thick curry and vegetable gravy with rice on the side.  Instead Eric prepared the curry with a mixture of sesame oil, fresh chopped broccoli and onions, and then added soba noodles to the mix and simmered the whole thing until the noodles picked up the curry "gravy".   It was delicious.

Sometimes, when it's been a hard day at the office and you just want to focus on the company you have over, or even just zonk out to some old horror movie on  some obscure cable channel** while you sit in the dark alone in the house, nothing is better than just throwing some vegetables and seasoning into a pre-made sauce and slopping that sauce over some rice or noodles.  

Here are my two favorite types of pre-made sauce: 

Alfredo Sauce with Peas and Carrots 

(NB: peas and carrots and pasta or rice also go well with Discount Blue Eyed Curry, which you can make from scratch.) 

1 jar of alfredo sauce, any brand will do
1/4th cup milk 
2 diced carrots
2 cups of peas 
(frozen will do for either of these vegetables)
2 tbs of olive oil
3tbs curry powder
2 tbs Herbes de Provence 
2 cloves of garlic

Sauté the garlic, curry, and Herbes de Provence in the olive oil until they brown slightly.  Turn down the heat on the stove.  Gently stir in the milk and jar of alfredo sauce.  Add the vegetables and simmer for about ten to twenty minutes.  (You want the vegetables to pick up the flavor of the sauce.) Serve over a heavy type of noodle that can hold its own against a rich sauce: fettuccine or linguine or penne would be my choices. 

Store Bought  Tomato Sauce Alla Veggie Bologonese 

1 jar plain tomato sauce OR one can tomato paste
2 fresh tomatoes
1 diced pepper
1 can of beans (I know, I know!  Look, I keep meaning to try Anna Thomas's advice for cooking dried beans but then I go shopping and always forget to buy a packet of dried beans.) 
2 tbs curry powder
1 clove garlic
1 tbs olive oil

Again, sauté the curry powder and the clove of garlic in the olive oil until brown.  Then add the jar of tomato sauce, the peppers, the beans, and then the tomatoes.  Simmer ten to twenty minutes, depending on the kind of effect you want: if you want a great mid summer dish with crisp, incredibly fresh veggies, the less time you cook it the better.   

*A type of Japanese curry that was introduced to Japan by the British in the 19th century. I've had Japanese curry before, and before I started researching this blog I was convinced that it had come to Japan from India via some ancient trade route.  As a fan of both the East and the West, I get a kick out of the fact that the Japanese once considered curry to be a Western dish.  The world of culture is so wonderfully odd.  Heh. 

** Tis the season. 

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