Kitchn Love Letters

This $3 Freezer Find Is the Secret Shortcut to Incredible Pasta Sauce

published Jun 13, 2023
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Freezer section of Whole Foods.
Credit: Kelli Foster

As a busy mom I’m constantly on the hunt for grocery items — shortcuts, if you will — that minimize prep, and make getting dinner on the table faster and easier. And as someone who likes eating really delicious food, I also want those grocery shortcuts to add flavor to make whatever I’m cooking taste a little more special, if not fancy. Basically, I want to check all the boxes.

If you think it sounds like I’m asking too much, I assure you I’m not. These items exist, friends! And one of my absolute favorites is a frozen vegetable blend from Whole Foods: the European Greens with Basil & Garlic Sauce. Yes, the freezer aisle does it again! I discovered this veggie blend right after coming across my favorite frozen protein blend (they live on the same shelf in my Whole Foods). The versatility of this frozen mix is unmatched, and for the past two years I’ve been using it for side dishes and a huge variety of dinners for my family.

Credit: Kelli Foster

What’s So Great About Whole Foods European Greens Vegetable Blend?

This is way more than just a bag of mixed frozen vegetables. Frozen alongside and around the blend of broccoli, peas, romanesco, and green beans are nuggets and shards of garlic and basil sauce. It doesn’t look like much straight from the freezer, but as the vegetables cook, the makings of the sauce thaw and melt into a rich and silky sauce that expertly coats the vegetables — and anything else it happens to touch on your plate. The combination of vegetables and the light, herby sauce is positively delicious. 

What I love most of all is that, ringing up at just over $3, this green vegetable blend is way cheaper and so much faster (my chef’s knife can stay where it is, thank you very much), than if I was making this on my own with fresh vegetables. That is, if I could even reliably find fresh romanesco, which I can’t. Plus, anything that helps me get more green vegetables on the table is a win. 

Find it in stores: European Greens Vegetable Blend, $3.29 for 12 ounces at Whole Foods

Credit: Kelli Foster

What’s the Best Way to Serve Whole Foods European Greens Vegetable Blend?

The thing I adore about this frozen vegetable blend is the endless number of ways to use and serve it. It doesn’t get any simpler than steaming it in the bag (or on the stovetop) for a lightning-fast side dish that’s easy to partner with just about anything you’re cooking. Heat and toss with hearty grains or rice, like farro, barley, freekeh, or wild rice for a warm grain salad. Bake alongside fish, like cod, halibut, tilapia, mahi-mahi, or even salmon. Spoon the cooked green veggies over pork chops. Or, if you love a foil-packet dinner, try spooning the frozen veggies (no need to thaw) in with the protein before heading to the grill or oven.

If you love a good low-effort, high-reward meal as much as I do, you’ve got to use this veggie blend in my favorite one-pot pasta recipe. It’s fresh, bright, and summery, and feels just as much about the green vegetables as it does about the pasta.

Credit: Kelli Foster