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Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Happy Food: Trader Joe's Kung Pao Tempura Cauliflower

So, here's something I never thought I'd say: "I'm really into cauliflower lately." Up until this year, cauliflower was in the same group as brussels sprouts, peas and lentils. I couldn't tolerate this vegetable. Several years ago I tried the whole cauliflower pizza crust trend and it wasn't bad, given enough cheese in the mix. Still, I never bought into the 'fauxtato' trend (sorry, mashed cauliflower with cream and butter still tastes like cauliflower).

However, a few weeks ago I roasted cauliflower with olive oil and it was sensational. It was warm and had depth. Eating it reminded me of the same cozy feeling I get eating French Onion Soup. Recently I was in Trader Joe's and I discovered their Kung Pao Tempura Cauliflower in the frozen department. I picked it up thinking I might try it sometime. One day, though, L was away in L.A. and I needed something warm and fast. I followed the package directions and heated up the cauliflower using our air fryer.  Then, I fed the baby and waited.

While I expected the kitchen to smell like sulfery cauliflower as it cooked, instead it smelled like a Sunday autumn afternoon. When I took the cauliflower out of the oven, it was perfectly crispy on the outside, tender and warm in the middle. The package comes with a packet of Kung Pao sauce. I don't prefer sauce so I didn't try it but if you're a Kung Pao person, this is when you would toss the cauliflower with the sauce (warmed in the microwave while the cauliflower cooked in the oven.)

Was it as good as my homemade roasted cauliflower? It was different. While homemade roasted cauliflower has its own earthy crispness, the tempura cauliflower felt more like an appetizer at a sushi restaurant. I loved it.

While it isn't terribly calorie friendly (1 cup = 150 calories, 6 grams of fat), Trader Joe's Kung Pao Tempura Cauliflower satisfied that take-out desire. Had I ordered take-out, the calorie hit would have been significantly greater.

I could see serving this as an appetizer at a party or even as an entree for vegetarians. I highly recommend this and it's a new Happygirl Essential in our kitchen.

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