Trader Joe's has a lot of fun baby vegetables in their produce department. This post will highlight those and how best to cook them including air frying! We end with a recipe for a stir fry featuring baby zucchini, baby corn, baby cauliflower, and baby broccoli. Yum!
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My kids love everything baby. They loved it when their sister was a baby. They love baby cows, baby horses, the back chicks you find every spring at Tractor Supply.
Everything is fun when it's small, although I prefer King Sized candy bars over the fun size ones!
Trader Joe's knows that baby veggies are fun. If they didn't they wouldn't offer so many. In this post we are going to talk a look at those and give you some ideas of how to cook them.
👶 Baby Vegetables
Here is the list of baby veggies I found at my most recent trip to Trader Joe's. These were all found in the fresh produce aisle in the refrigerated section of the produce department, where you find the salads.
- Baby Cauliflower
- Baby Corn
- Baby Broccoli
- Baby Bok Choy
- Baby Carrots
- Baby Zucchini
Are these veggies actually baby versions of the full size or are they just a big as they are going to get. Some yes and yes no! We are going to go through 4 of them here in a moment.
While they don't have the words "baby" in them you also could consider the Haricot Verts or French Green Beans as a baby since they are smaller than the standard green beans.
⚪ Baby Cauliflower
In this case, the baby cauliflower isn't just small heads of cauliflower, it's a certain type of cauliflower called Fioretto (that name appears on the back of the packaging). This is what you would call flowering cauliflower. The plants doesn't produce a big, central head, it produces a bunch of shoots.
The tops or floret are white while the stems are green. The back of the bags says "colour variation is natural". They were grown in Guatemala. A lot of our produce is. Pretty much all of the snap or snow peas you find in the grocery store are from Guatemala as well as the french beans.
How do you cook baby cauliflower. Here are some methods:
- Air Fried
- Stir Fry
Sautéed and air fried are my most common cooking methods. Since it's more tender than regular cauliflower you really don't need to steam it as it cooks quick enough in a pan with some oil (this would be a good time to break out a flavorful oil, like toasted sesame). Add some freshly squeezed lemon at the end.
Air frying it is amazing. The florets get crispy, which is my favorite part. Here are my instructions for air frying:
🌬️ Air Fry Instructions - Cut into equal sized pieces with the stems and florets attached to each other. Air fry at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. Then reduce the temperature to 350 degrees and cook until the stems are tender enough, about 5-7 minutes. Reducing the temperature keeps the floret from burning before the stems are tender enough.
👅 What does it taste like? It tastes like a sweeter, more tender cauliflower. It has a nutty flavor especially when roasted or air fried.
🥦 Baby Broccoli
While baby cauliflower or Fioretto is relatively new on the produce seen, baby broccoli has been around for a while now. It is also known as Broccolini. Same thing as baby cauliflower is that it grows stalks instead of a baby head.
Here are some methods for cooking it:
- Air Fried
- Stir Fry
Trader Joe's baby broccoli is grown in Guatemala. The bag has instructions on it to microwave. It says to remove the cardboard, cut a corner in the bag to vent, and then microwave for 2 to 3 minutes until cooked.
Baby broccoli will cook a bit faster than baby cauliflower, so keep that in mind if you try to cook them together.
🌬️ Air Fry Instructions - Cut into equal sized pieces with the stems and florets attached to each other. Air fry at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. Then reduce the temperature to 350 degrees and cook until the stems are tender enough, about 3-5 minutes. Reducing the temperature keeps the florets from burning before the stems are tender enough.
👅 What does it taste like? It tastes like a sweeter, more tender broccoli. It does have a stronger, and more bitter flavor. Because of that my kids don't really like it.
🌽 Baby Corn
Unlike the previous two veggies we talked about, baby corn is actually what is sounds like. It's immature corn that was harvested before it was allowed to grow into a full size ear.
Baby corn is often found in stir fry dishes at Asian restaurants. Most of the time you find it in a can. It's not often found fresh. The first time and the only time I have seen it fresh is at Trader Joe's.
A stir fry dish is the most common way you see it used. You can also microwave it while adding salt and butter. The microwave instructions from the bag itself say to to remove cardboard and cut a corner to vent. Then microwave for 2 to 3 minutes until tender.
🌬️ Air Fry Instructions - Keep the baby corn whole. Spray it with oil and season with salt. Cook at 400 degrees in your air fryer for 5-8 minutes until it begins to brown.
👅 What does it taste like? Baby corn can be eaten whole. It's extremely tender. It doesn't have a ton of flavor. It's more mild than full sized corn. It has more of a grassy flavor. I believe air frying it brings out more sweet notes and make the baby corn taste 10 times better than other methods.
🟢 Baby Zucchini
Baby zucchini is just zucchini harvested when it's really small. In my opinion it's the best size for zucchini unless you are making zucchini bread! When it's small it's ridiculously tender.
Two ways I like to cook it. First cut into slices/coins and pan fried along with some fresh garlic and good olive oil. It only take a few minutes for it to cook.
I don't recommend steaming them as I think they cook so quickly it will just turn to mush. Definitely don't boil!
Trader Joe's gives instructions on the package that say cut lengthwise, place in a heated grill pan for 2-3 minutes per side with olive oil and herbs or spices
🌬️ Air Fry Instructions - Cut the baby zucchini length wise. Add to the air fryer basket, cut side up. Then season with salt, freshly cracked black pepper, and garlic powder. Cook for 5-8 minutes until the zucchini is fork tender.
👅 What does it taste like? It has a more mild zucchini flavor but it so extremely tender you could cut it with a butter knife.
🥢 Stir Fry
If you want to enjoy all these veggies at once, then just make a stir fry. You can cook all the veggies together if you cut them right. The baby corn can remain whole but everything else you will need to put a knife to.
When your veggies are done cooking, I add in a simple to make sauce that combines:
- ¼ cup low sodium soy sauce
- 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil or use regular sesame oil
- 1 tbsp mild vinegar
- 1 tbsp honey darker honey is best
- ½ tsp ground ginger
- ½ tsp garlic powder
You just mix these ingredients together and pour them over the finished veggies.
Why not fresh garlic or fresh ginger? Yes those would be amazing. I am lucky enough to have on hand the best garlic powder and the best ground ginger from Burlap & Barrel. The garlic powder is better than most of the fresh garlic you find in the store that you often cut into and it's already sprouting. They source their spices directly from the farmers that produce them, giving you flavor that can't be matched. For sure worth looking into if you use a lot of ginger or garlic in your cooking. Or you want to use more and don't want to deal with the fresh stuff.
But if you want to use fresh, then add them when you are cooking the vegetables, not just in the sauce.
- 1 bag Trader Joe's Baby Corn
- 1 bag Trader Joe's Baby Cauliflower
- 1 bag Trader Joe's Baby Broccoli
- 1 bag Trader Joe's Baby Zucchini
- 2 tbsp high heat cooking oil
- kosher salt to taste
- Cut the zucchini into coins.
- Remove the florets from the cauliflower and broccoli. Cut the stems into small pieces.
- Leave the baby corn whole.
- Add the oil to large pan or wok. Wok would be best if you have one.
- Once the oil is shimmering, add all the vegetables.
- Stir every so often. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes until all the vegetables are tender. Remove from the heat.
- Mix together all the ingredients of the sauce and drizzle it over all the veggies. Serve as a side with or without rice. You can add in some chicken to make it a full meal.