- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Bid farewell to the plethora of fresh vegetables now that fall is in full swing. Savor root vegetables and cold-loving broccoli and greens and turn your thoughts and energies to the freezer.

Don’t for a minute feel guilty that you’re pulling a package of frozen peas, green beans or chopped spinach from the freezer instead of cooking fresh. The quality of frozen vegetables is great; there is little waste; they’re convenient; and it’s all in the seasoning.

Take green peas. Frozen peas are a mainstay at our house, but I don’t just boil them in a pan of water. I add a handful of chopped onion or, better yet, create the following recipe my children adore. This peas-and-rice combination simmers while you set the table and carve turkey breast from the supermarket deli.

Add some sliced mango or melon, and you have a fresh, exotic and extremely satisfying supper. For a fancier dish, garnish the peas and rice with lightly toasted coconut.

Five time-shaving meals that start with frozen veggies:

• Make creamed corn by adding heavy whipping cream and a little cornstarch to frozen white or yellow corn. Serve with ham and biscuits.

• Toss briefly cooked French-style green beans with fried garlic.

• Layer drained, thawed frozen spinach in your favorite lasagna recipe.

• Fold thawed potato cubes into beaten eggs, then cook this as you might a Spanish potato omelet.

• Toss veggies into a pound of sauteed ground beef or turkey. Add canned tomatoes and seasonings, and simmer into a comforting soup.

Coconut-and-curry-scented peas and rice

The preparation time is 5 minutes, and the cooking time is 16 to 19 minutes.

1 cup long-grain white rice (basmati or jasmine)

1 10-ounce package frozen peas

1 13.5-ounce can light unsweetened coconut milk

3/4 cup canned low-sodium chicken broth or water

3 scallions, both white and light green parts, chopped

1 teaspoon curry powder

½ teaspoon salt

Place rice, peas, coconut milk, chicken broth or water, scallions, curry powder and salt in a 2-quart saucepan. Stir to combine, then cover the pan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and let simmer, covered, until the rice is tender and most of the liquid has evaporated, 15 to 17 minutes. Spoon peas and rice onto plates and serve at once. Makes 6 servings.


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