It's dinnertime and everyone is starving. Open the refrigerator, and it's almost bare. Does this scene sound familiar? All is not lost if you have a stash of emergency rations. Check out your supermarket's freezer section and stock up on building blocks for a meal. Bags of trimmed vegetables and shrimp keep frozen for months, ready to use for impromptu and easily varied meals. For this fast and satisfying menu, we add spices, canned tomatoes, and shelf-stable couscous to give convenient ingredients a Moroccan flair. Experiment with your own favorite combinations to produce quick, hearty, and healthy dinners that belie their icy origins.
To accompany this quick, delicious Moroccan dinner of shrimp and vegetable tagine with couscous, offer purchased hummus with pocket-bread triangles and sliced cucumbers for dipping, plus a Sauvignon Blanc or sparkling water to sip. A plate of dates, dried apricots, pistachios, and cashews and cups of hot mint tea are an easy, gracious finishing touch.
When to choose frozen
Vegetables with a dense, firm texture hold up best when frozen. Good choices include artichoke hearts, asparagus, cooked dried beans, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, corn, green beans, pearl onions, peas, soybeans, sugar snap peas, water chestnuts, and winter squash.
Frozen vegetables with a high water content tend to collapse and turn mushy when thawed unless cooked before freezing. Avoid such choices as bell peppers, celery, mushrooms, chopped onions, and tomatoes. Leafy greens, such as spinach, can be good if liquid is squeezed out before use.