Leftovers after a big holiday like Thanksgiving and Christmas are a wonderful thing. Not having to do more than re-heat containers of food and not even bothering to dirty up a plate for days on end? Count me in on being a huge fan of that. But after three or four days of endless potato salad, broccoli casseroles, sweet potato casseroles, green beans, and other very traditional American foods, one’s palate can get tired of it after a while. A few days after Christmas I felt myself dreading seeing the tupperware containers still lined up in the fridge, and decided that I needed some spice in my life.

On a recent trip to Trader Joe’s in Mount Pleasant I picked up the masala simmer sauce, excited to re-create an Indian dish I’d had at Punjabi Dhaba and loved for its complex flavors and simplicity.

I pulled out this simmer sauce, and some vegetables from the freezer, fridge and pantry and slapped the following in a large frying pan:

  • cubed potatoes
  • frozen peas
  • bell peppers (green or red, but greens are cheaper!)
  • cauliflower florets
  • julienned carrots
  • diced onion
  • minced garlic
  • other great additions: lima beans, chile peppers if you like it hot, broccoli, sweet potato cubes, turnips…

Then I added enough simmer sauce to cover halfway up the vegetables, then the same amount of water, and covered the pan over medium high heat. Stir it frequently to make sure the vegetables are getting their fair amount of time bathed in the glorious sauce, and when the potatoes are soft enough to pierce with a fork, these bad boys are done. This should take about 15 to 20 minutes. Serve on a bed of rice (or quinoa if you’re feelin’ fancy). Pro tip: start the rice or quinoa in a rice cooker when you start chopping the veggies and it’ll be done when the veggies are, if not before!

I am in love with Trader Joe’s simmer sauces and cannot wait until the Columbia location opens in the late spring (according to the closest approximations we can get, anyhow!)