Since I walk to/from the grocery store for my San Francisco stock ups, it’s rare that I buy heavy non-perishable items (e.g. weighty glass jars or aluminum cans). I only have so much arm power and time to get the goods from my go-to markets, so I use it wisely. My basket is usually weighing my arms down with fruits, vegetables, eggs, nuts, almond milk, fish, and chocolate. I’ve nailed down my priorities and bags I can walk home with before my shoulders give out. But when there’s a little extra space in there, I also have my go-to “extras” that may make my cooking life a little bit easier. (And by “cooking” I mean not cooking.)
Exhibit A: convenient salads.
Exhibit B: things that make soup.
Trader Joe’s Pre-made Kale & Edamame Salad
It’s worth noting that not all of the TJ salads are worth your money. Check the ingredient lists and you’ll see quite a range of “quality” here. But there are a few gems, such as the Kale & Edamame Salad. I’m not kale’s biggest fan, but it happens to be the base for this salad that I happen to enjoy. The toppers include grape tomatoes, edamame, dried cranberries, scallions, and almonds. I like the lemon herb dressing, but only use about half of it. This is my lunch salad for work on Monday, which means I have one less food-prep thing to do on Sunday, but I still have a pretty inexpensive + mostly fresh lunch packed. I put the dressing in and shake it up the night before so the kale isn’t quite so rough and unpalatable, and add some variation of the following: pumpkin seeds, avocado, cooked sweet potatoes, hard-boiled egg, and salt/pepper.
The Vitamix* Soup Setting
We’re now excited but inexperienced owners of a Vitamix, and as of last night I’ve discovered its most magical power: SOUP. There’s actually a soup setting that goes strong for about seven minutes (or so I’ve been told; measurements & timing while cooking aren’t my thang). When you take the lid off you literally have a steaming hot bowl-ready soup. Seven minute soup! Whoever came up with this must be awarded a life-hack prize STAT. Someone get on that.
I’m generally not a soup-maker because of the pureeing and the long simmering and the mirepoix and it’s just a lot of THINGS. So I think I’ve made it clear that this Vitamix setting is a game-changer. My first experiment was a complete kitchen improv and definite palate-pleaser. Job well done, me. Give this mix** a try: 1 jar roasted red peppers (drained), 1 cup fire roasted diced tomatoes, 1.5 cups cooked garbanzo beans, 1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth, salt, and cayenne pepper (to taste). Turn to “soup”, flip it on, and watch in wonder with your bowl ready. Or steam some broccoli on the side. Your choice.
*Any power blender will do, but have a small pan ready to heat it up for a few extra minutes.
**These measurements are a guess; you could just throw the whole can in if you find no use for an extra fraction of a cup of chickpeas and/or diced tomatoes. I hear ya.