A couple of opened bags of frozen vegetables, an opened jar of black bean sauce, an onion+, some garlic, some pasta and a glass of wine. Take those ingredients, put them together in a heavy pot (getting back to the first sentence) add in a little luck and that’s all it takes to put together this potluck dinner and to also dispose of a few things from the freezer.
2 – 3/4 full bags of frozen mixed vegetables, maybe around 20 ounces total
1+ medium onion, sliced and diced
5 cloves garlic, diced
3 tablespoons prepared black bean sauce (or whatever sauce you have)
1/8 teaspoon milled black pepper (some crushed red pepper will spice it up)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 ounces uncooked pasta (spaghetti in this case)
Don’t have a sauce lying around? Make your own. See notes below.
Thaw the vegetables. Use a few paper towels to pat off any excess water from frost that may have accumulated from the freezer.
Break the pasta in half first. Cook the pasta according to package directions, but about 2 minutes less than directed.
Dice about 1/2 of the onions. Slice the other half into half circles.
Add the vegetable oil to a large frying pan, wok or similar cooking vessel over medium-high heat. Add the diced onions and black pepper. Stir fry for about 4 minutes. Add in the thawed frozen vegetables. Stir fry for about 2 minutes. Cover and steam for about 3 minutes. Add the sliced onions. Stir fry for about a minute. Cover and steam for about 2 minutes.
By this time the pasta should be about ready. Drain the pasta and add the pasta to the frying pan. Add the garlic. Stir fry about 2 minutes. Add the black bean sauce. Stir fry for about two minutes. That’s it.
Overall, it turned out edible. Nothing to write home about, but certainly better than some of the little frozen box dinners with similar ingredients. The black bean sauce did not overwhelm the other flavors. Visually however, it did sort of blah the dish. The black bean sauce added a sort of mildly earthy flavor. The individual flavors of the frozen vegetables could be identified. That was nice. Mission accomplished. The freezer is a little less cluttered for now. The stomach is a little fuller.
What’s a medium onion+? That’s a medium onion plus any partial onions you might have around that are still edible.
What’s a sliced and diced? I diced half the onion to add flavor to the oil. I sliced the other half thinly in half circles to add some different texture and a little more visual appeal. Of course the black bean sauce sort of overwhelmed any visual appeal.
What kind of frozen vegetables did I use? About 3/4 bag of plain mixed vegetables; cauliflower, broccoli florets, and carrots, plus, a little over 3/4 bag of Chinese Style Vegetables; broccoli, carrots, celery, green beans, onions, sugar snap peas and red peppers. Unfortunately, the chinese vegetables had some extra “flavoring” added. I didn’t especially want that, so I’ll read the package closer the next time I buy these. I picked these up for a dollar a bag. Well worth the price to have a few bags available in the freezer.
Just remember, this pot luck. What you have in your freezer or crisper is what goes into the pot. Whatever sauce you have sitting in your refrigerator or shelf is what goes into the pot. Have a few green onions lying around? Add them in. You get the picture.
Need to make your own sauce?
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons ketchup (that’s not a mistake)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
Mix sauce ingredients together in a small bowl or cup.