Whenever I’m in a town with a Trader Joe’s, I like to stock up on my favorite items. Some of the things I buy are unavailable elsewhere, and other things are simply significantly cheaper than I’d find at my local grocery stores. It pays to fill my freezer and pantry and save some money down the road.
I thought it’d be fun to do a series of posts (listed intermittently) about the items on my must-get list from TJ’s – starting with the freezer. Depending on the location where I’m visiting, it can be tricky to get things back to my house still in a frozen condition. So I utilize a cool pack, and I stay away from things like ice cream that could turn into soy milk on my way home.
First up, Thai Vegetable Gyoza. This is my number one favorite. I have been buying these for years, and they are a huge hit with everyone who tries them. I’ve served them to grandparents, little kids, and everyone in between, and they are universally loved. For that reason, they’re very handy to have on hand when unexpected guests drop by.
Filled with cabbage, carrots, chives, white radishes, onions, ginger, garlic, and soy sauce, they have a great taste that isn’t too overpowering. I like to lightly fry them in a smidge of oil in a non-stick skillet until the bottoms are brown. Then I give them a flip, add a few tablespoons of water to the skillet, cover it, turn the heat to low, and let them steam until they’re hot throughout. (That usually takes just a few minutes.)
For dipping, I serve them with reduced-sodium organic tamari and Chinese hot mustard. The bag suggests that it serves 3 (5 gyoza per serving), and that seems about right.
In addition to being a really fun snack on their own, they also make an easy appetizer or side when making Asian Noodle Stir-fry with Kale & Bell Peppers or Pineapple Fried Rice with Eggy Tofu.
In the same appetizers realm, these Vegetable Pakoras are a satisfying addition for a dinner of Indian Fried Rice or this Down Home Curry with Tofu & Vegetables from Isa Does It. We often get pakoras with dinner whenever we’re at an Indian restaurant, and so it’s very convenient to have them at home. Plus, they’re not soaking in oil as is so often the case in restaurants.
To make them, they simply have to bake in the oven for 14 to 16 minutes while the tamarind sauce that comes with it thaws in a bowl of warm water.
The pakoras are made with potatoes, onions, chickpea flour, sweet potato, spinach, cilantro, salt and spices. According to the box, it serves 2.5 people, but we stopped inviting that half of a person around. (Just too gruesome.) And we’ve been happy polishing off the box just by ourselves.
Finally, whenever I’m at Trader Joe’s, I like to stock up on these Chickenless Crispy Tenders. They are exactly the same as the Gardein 7 Grain Crispy Tenders, but they cost a dollar or two less (depending on where you’re shopping for Gardein). Oh, there is one other difference. In the TJ’s bag, there’s one fewer strip. The crispy strips are addictively good, and so that is one small downside. (Once we run out of them, we get the Gardein Tenders at Target. They’re not quite as cheap there, but still much better than anywhere else in town.)
According to the bag, there are three servings inside, but I feel it happily serves two. (David would be even happier if it served just one – him!)
The delivery options where we live are uninspiring, and so on nights when neither of us feel like cooking, this is our favorite lazy meal. We just cover baking sheets in parchment paper, bake the strips on one sheet and potatoes cut into fry shapes on the other. Then I sauté some greens or steam broccoli, and dinner is served.
I usually eat my fries with ketchup and malt vinegar, but last night I decided to make the ranch dressing from The Chicago Diner Cookbook, which also made for a tasty dipping sauce for the strips.
Oh, the strips are also a delicious addition to Garlic Butter Noodles with Red Wine Mushrooms. I just bake them and then serve them right on top of the noodles and mushrooms. It reminds me of something I used to get at a certain chain Italian restaurant before I went vegan.
What are your favorite vegan frozen items from Trader Joe’s?