The other day, one of our loyal followers contacted me to ask me if I could replicate Trader Joe's Vegetable Birds Nests to make them healthier. I said of course! I never had them before, so I picked up a box from TJ's freezer section and took them home to see what they were all about.
Trader Joe's Vegetable Bird's Nests are very tasty, loaded with mostly onions with a few shredded carrots and touch of kale.
I decided to make my own version of these vegetable bird's nests. First, I added more vegetables to balance out the flavors, zucchini was added along with some baby spinach.
Next, I had to figure out how to bind these nests, and after 2 attempts and 2 flops, I called my sister Liz for advise and some tips. She recommended I mix the vegetables with egg whites, but I realized that wasn't enough and needed to combine the eggs with something else. Parmesan cheese, flour and panko bread crumbs was added to do the trick, they worked very nicely.
I have to tell you, the outcome was fantastic, moist on the inside with crunchy edges on the outside. Another bonus to these vegetable birds nests, they're baked not fried. Since I made them without any butter or oil, they weren't greasy either.
They definitely burst with flavor! You can actually taste the zucchini, the carrots and even the onion, but neither are over powering. They're festive enough to serve at a party as appetizers or serve as a elegant vegetable side dish for a dinner party.
I bet the kids will enjoy them too!
To julienne the vegetables is a fun thing to do, especially if you own a hand spiralizer. Shaping the vegetables into little bird's nests is relative easy and not as difficult as you may think.
Just grab some veggies strands with a fork and swirl to form a little bird's nest. No need to make them perfect.
You can make them a day in advance and reheat in the oven for a few minutes before the guests arrive. I even had some leftover and ate them for lunch the next day, and they were still delicious!
You can enjoy these veggie filled nests alone or serve them with your favorite dipping sauce. Try a sweet soy sauce or sweet chili sauce for dipping to create a tempura-style eating experience!
Here's a tip: If you make these vegetable bird's nests a little larger in size, you can pop an egg in the center of them and bake them, turning them into a complete meal. Name it- "an egg in a bird's nest" - and call it a day! A perfect idea for meatless Monday's or even meatless Friday's during lent.
Enjoy and have a nice weekend!
Baked Vegetable Bird's Nests
- 2 medium-size carrots - peeled
- 1 medium-size zucchini
- 1/2 of a medium onion
- 1/4 cup baby spinach
- 1 whole egg, plus 1 egg white- lightly beaten
- 2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 Tbsp. all purpose flour
- 2 Tbsp. panko bread crumbs
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- fresh cracked black pepper, to taste
- organic olive oil cooking spray
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a large baking sheet with cooking oil and set aside.
2. Julienne both the carrots and zucchini in a large bowl with a hand spiralizer. Then thinly slice the onion and baby spinach and toss into the same bowl, along with the eggs, Parmesan cheese, flour, panko bread crumbs, salt and pepper.
3. Toss all the ingredients together using 2 large forks (or use your hands) until well combined. Using 2 forks, scoop a small amount and transfer onto the baking sheet. Try to swirl and shape the vegetables into a small bird's nest. Try to give each one some depth, adding more on top to avoid them looking flat, like pancakes.
4. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes, or until golden brown on the bottom and crispy around the edges. Keep in mind, if you under cook them, the nests will fall apart. Remove from oven and transfer to a serving plate. Serve them warm with dipping sauce near by.
Yields: 8 to 12 bird's nests (depending on their size)