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Trader Joe’s Kung Pao Tempura Cauliflower (Hack for Extra Flavor)
I was craving Chinese food. I didn’t feel like making a huge meal or ordering calorie-heavy delivery, so I reached into our deep freezer for one of my favorite Trader Joe’s frozen meals – their Kung Pao Tempura Cauliflower. We almost always have one of these on hand. It makes a great main dish if you add rice and veggies, but it’s also fantastic appetizer, snack and side dish.
By itself, it’s good for a quick frozen meal. But with a few tweaks and special ingredients, it can be “WOW” – and you don’t even have to make a sauce from scratch – just add a few extra flavors for some oomph. It’s pretty guilt-free when it comes to calories – with these hacks it comes in about 170 calories per cup (six cups per bag).
- Prep Time: 10
- Cook Time: 25
- Total Time: 35 minutes
- Yield: 2-4 people 1x
- Category: appetizers, vegetarian
- Method: baking, stovetop
- Cuisine: Chinese
- Bag of Trader Joe’s frozen Kung Pao Tempura Cauliflower
- 1.5 – 2 Tablespoons organic sesame seeds
- 1.5 – 2 teaspoons of whole organic Sichuan peppers
- 1 teaspoon whole organic cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon organic Chinese 5 spice
- 1 teaspoon organic onion granules (or powder, whatever you have)
- 1/2 teaspoon organic garlic powder (or granules, whatever you have)
- 1/2 teaspoon organic ginger powder
- 2 Tablespoons sweet chili sauce (optional if you have it)
- 1 Tablespoon rice vinegar
- 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 Tablespoons toasted sesame seed oil
- 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch for thickening (optional if it you want/need to thicken it)
- Chopped peanuts (optional)
- Preheat oven to 450 and drop the packet of their Kung Pao Sauce in a bowl of hot water to defrost. Cut the frozen cauliflower into smaller bite-sized pieces (it makes a big difference with texture and sauce vs cauliflower ratio).
- Place cauliflower in one layer on a lightly greased baking sheet, bake for 20-25 minutes. I like it crispier, so sometimes I cook it little longer.
- Toast sesame seeds, Sichuan peppers and whole cumin seeds in a small pan (no oil) on “medium” for about a minute, stirring, careful no not burn. Remove from heat, set aside.
- Squeeze sauce from the bag into a large saucepan, set to warm on low. Add organic Chinese 5 Spice, onion granules, garlic powder, ginger powder, chili sauce (optional), rice vinegar, soy sauce and sesame oil. Stir to combine. Add in a little cornstarch at a time to thicken it to your liking. Cook on low heat until cauliflower is done.
- Add toasted spices to the sauce and toss in cauliflower to coat. Serve and sprinkle with (optional) chopped peanuts.
- Serving Size: 1 cup
- Calories: 170