Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Asian Blend Couscous - Aldi

Asian Blend Couscous Aldi
♪ ♫ It's just another meatless Monday♪ ♫  Well it's Tuesday now, but it was Monday when I ate this...so it still counts. 
I'm that person in the office that is always cold, and I can prove it with my icy death-like hands. All winter long I bundle up with scarves, hoodies and thick sweaters, and when summer finally rolls around...I'm still wearing hoodies and sweaters because the air conditioning vent goes right into my office. (Sadly no one wants to trade with me.) Even though we're having 80-90 degree weather and other people are eating cool refreshing salads for lunch, I am standing by the microwave heating up soup and other hot dishes to feed off their warmth like a heat-vampire. 
For todays' heat-stealing meatless Monday meal I have some microwavable couscous from Aldi!
Aldi has released a few flavor variations from this brand featuring either couscous or quinoa. There's been a southwestern versions, some Mediterranean mixes, and now we have an Asian blend! 
As far as frozen Aldi food product go, this design looks very name-brand-passing. If I saw this in the freezer I wouldn't think of it as a store brand or cheaper item because they put a decent amount of effort into it's layout. The food imagery is very appetizing, dynamic, and playful, with all those scattered veggies around the logo and added wood grain texture to the background there's a lot of visual interest, and the typographic choices are simple and clean. Awesome job, Aldi! Keep it up! 
This is a great lazy desk meal because all I have to do is toss it into the microwave, face down, for 5 minutes and BAM I have a hot lunch to help me fend off the freezing AC in the office. When it was all cooked up I poured my hot couscous concoction into a bowl for further inspection.
Mixed in you'll see some baby corn, edamame, carrots, peas, a tiny bit of broccoli, and some colorful rice. All of these mix-ins add color to this dish making it seem a lot fancier  and appealing than your typical freezer meal. (Or side dish.)
I'm not entirely sure what "Bento seasoning" is, since that isn't really a thing. I mean, bento is a term for a meal often contained in an adorable little box, a bento box, and it can be seasoned with anything. Furikake is a name for various seasonings made for rice and other dishes, but it's not a specific flavor either. In my pantry alone I have 3 different flavors of furikake, and that's not even scratching the surface of all the rice seasonings you can buy at the Asian Food Market or H-Mart.
I took a bite and the "bento" seasoning seems to be garlic, vinegar, ginger, and a bit of heat from something...maybe red pepper flake? Or some kind of pepper based seasoning or oil? Whatever this "bento" stuff is, it tastes great! The veggies add a lot of different textures which keeps this otherwise bland quinoa and rice dish from being boring. We have crunchy carrots and corn, lots of fluffy grains, and some added richness from the edamame. Plus the seasoning has just a hint of heat to keep my palette interested. Overall, this is a really satisfying and delicious dish! 
Upon further inspection the bag says it contains 3 servings...and I'd say that is a pretty big stretch. This is 2 at most, but being the freezing foodie glutton I am, I ate the entire bag for lunch. I found it to be really satisfying and definitely worth the 450 calories, but if I were sharing this with someone I don't think it'd be quite enough food on it's own. (Although I am fairly certain this is marketed as a side dish and me eating it all on it's own is probably weird.) 
I really loved this stuff, but badly, this is another specialty item, so I'm not sure if and when it'll ever return, but I hope it does because it's delicious! If it does return I'll be sure to grab a few bags to stock up. 
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