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New Citizen Chef Cooking Kits

How many of us race home after work, wishing we had an extra pair of hands to help get dinner on the table fast?

Yup, that would be all of us.

Citizen Chef aims to come to the rescue.

The new San Francisco company just introduced a variety of cooking kits that are designed to get a healthful, tasty meal ready in only 15 minutes.

The refrigerated kits include already chopped veggies, a tub of sauce, and quick-cooking grains. You just add your own choice of protein — chicken, fish, shrimp, beef, pork or tofu. You can even use the kit as is, without adding any protein at all.

Choose from: Thai Sesame Stir-Fry (carrots, cabbage, and sugar snap peas in a coconut milk-base sauce with brown rice), Tuscan Limone Garlic Saute (broccoli, carrots and onions with couscous), and Hawaiian BBQ Stir Fry (carrots, purple cabbage and sugar snap peas with brown rice and a sauce made of roasted tomatoes, ginger and pineapples).

Each $10 kit serves 2 to 4, depending upon what else you add to it and how much of it. They’re available at Whole Foods and Mollie Stone’s Markets in the Bay Area.

The kits are the brainchild of Salinas native, Drew Taylor, and Adam DeVito, a trained chef.

Recently, I had a chance to test drive the Hawaiian kit. The illustrated instructions were quite easy to follow. I boiled some water in a pot, as directed, and added the bag of brown rice along with a pinch of salt. After it came to a boil, I covered the pot and let it stand for 7 minutes, while I continued with the other steps. Into a skillet went some oil and some firm tofu (my choice of protein), which I had cut into batons. After getting a nice crust on them, I reduced the heat, added the bag of prepped veggies to the pan and covered it with the lid for a couple minutes. Then, I stirred in the handy tub of sauce until everything was heated evenly.

I mounded a scoop of rice onto a plate and topped it with the stir-fry.

The rice was fluffy and hearty tasting. The vegetables tasted very fresh and were cooked perfectly al dente. And the sauce was a nice balance of sweet and savory with a real pineapple presence.

All that — in hardly any time at all.

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