Trader Joe’s GREEK CHICKPEAS with parsley and cumin


Absolutely great pantry item. For out of a can, this is really tasty. The flavors are good, they have lemon, parsley, cumin, garlic and black pepper and the seasonings have permeated the chickpeas so they are way more tasty than if you just poured on sauce. My only small complaint is they used cheap (soybean) oil instead of olive oil to cut costs. However this is easily fixed with your own EVOO. I poured off most of the sauce and added a glug of good Greek Extra Virgin Olive Oil, which improved it. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice too while you are at it, which will brighten it up so it tastes like you almost made it yourself. This would be great for say a picnic. We ate it as a side dish with some Falafel. Good match. Or add a can on top of salad to add some bean protein. Trader Joe’s describes this as kind of a “deconstructed hummus” as it has many of the same ingredients in it as hummus does. In fact I served it alongside some hummus and even put a bit of this on top of the hummus which is a typical serving style to put a few chickpeas on top.

A can is $1.99. PRODUCT OF GREECE.

I would buy this again.

https://www.traderjoes.com/home/products/pdp/greek-chickpeas-with-cumin-and-parsley-060205

TJ’s TZATZIKI Greek Dip / Sauce


Trader Joe’s TZATZIKI Creamy Garlic Cucumber Sauce / Dip

Tzatziki is a delicious creamy Greek sauce traditionally made with Greek yogurt, cucumbers, lemon, and a ton of garlic. Unless you are lucky enough to have a Greek Yaya (grandma) who makes homemade Tzatziki for you to take home, Trader Joe’s version is perhaps the next best thing. TJ’s version is quite good. I tried it and would buy it again. Tzatziki is a great sauce to have when you make chicken Shawarma .

It’s good with most anything grilled it would be great served even with grilled veggies. It can be served as a dip or can even be used as a salad dressing with some more lemon and olive oil. TJ’s Tzatziki has the first ingredient listed as cucumber, and you can really see this even in the pictures here. This gives it a very little crunchiness. TJ’s version next lists kefir cheese and sour cream (maybe instead of yogurt?) A bit different than if you made it yourself. I does have a bit of dill which I like. I got it for when I was thinking of making Shawarma which I served on top of TJ’s Garlic Naan and it was the perfect sauce for that. Its $3.49 for a 12 oz container.

Want to make Tzatziki yourself? Here’s a link to recipe if you want to try your hand

https://cookieandkate.com/how-to-make-tzatziki/

BTW, this matches well with Indian foods, as it’s a bit similar to Raita

Personally I add extra garlic to this; I am a garlic head.

The NY Times had a recipe for Tzatziki Potato Salad which sounds interesting. Here’s the link https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1022307-tzatziki-potato-salad

(registration might be needed)

Trader Joe’s AUTHENTIC GREEK FETA in brine


AN OUTSTANDING FETA CHEESE

RAVE

“You know how many kinds of feta exist? Thousands. Every place you go in Greece, they make feta” (Greek cheese monger in Astoria Queens)

TRADER JOE’S AUTHENTIC GREEK FETA in brine. Imported from Greece.

Though feta cheese can be made from many kinds of milk, it’s said sheep’s milk produces the best feta, which is what this is. 100% Sheep’s Milk. This has a wonderful aroma and tangy flavor of a sheep milk feta along with a firm texture but its not dry. The cheese comes in two large slabs in brine which is the way feta should ideally be sold as well as kept in your fridge in it, as the brine preserves the texture and flavor. I find this not overly salty but just right; You will eat it with other things in which you can use less salt.

There are a many types of feta cheese made in quite a few countries. It’s made from cow, goat and sheep milk. Feta made from sheep’s milk is produced in France, Bulgaria, Israel and of course, Greece. Greek Feta may be the best of them all though I honestly like feta from all of the countries I just mentioned for different reason. (French feta is creamy for example) TJ has an Israeli feta too, excellent though more expensive than this one. It has a creamier texture. Start with the Greek one, so you have a baseline.

One thing about this TJ Feta which is NOT good: the packaging meaning how hard this is to open. It’s a pain to open this! Examine it carefully. The very top part is a lid that comes off, once you have broken the seal by ripping a small plastic tab in one corner of the tub. Break this tab, then you can pry the top off carefully (on a counter, slowly so the brine doesn’t fly out everywhere). Use a butter knife if you have to, to get the lid off. Once you open it a few times, it gets easier so don’t give up, though you will curse whoever desiged this package. Anyway the feta inside is good and worth it! And by the way don’t throw out the brine when the cheese is finished (more on this later). Here’s just a few ideas on what you can do with feta cheese. I mean yes it’s delicious just by itself but it’s so versatile to have in the fridge to use with other things, like….

Greek Salad: Put a slab of feta on top of salad greens, chopped up cukes and tomatoes and voila, you have a Greek salad. Throw on some olives if you have them. Drizzle a good slug of very good Extra Virgin Olive Oil on and squeeze on fresh lemon juice. Grind on fresh black pepper. You can even vamp it up with more proteins like hard boiled eggs, drained canned tuna or sardines, or grilled chicken. Serve some good crusty bread and you have a lovely, super easy dinner in minutes.

Watermelon and Feta salad: Cubes of sweet watermelon with cubes of salty feta is a Genius combo. I’ve decided I don’t need olive oil on this, just the two ingredients and a grind of black pepper. But if you like with EVOO go for it. Fresh ground pepper is good with this.

Shakshuka and Feta: Use TJ’s frozen Shakshuka starter: add cubes of this feta as you cook it. Fantastic!

Feta cheese is often used in cooking: one of my favorite Greek dishes is “Garides mi Feta” (Shrimp with tomatoes and Feta) It’s fantastic!

The latest craze is that “Baked Feta Pasta” recipe that is making feta cheese hard to find so many people started looking for it, producers could not keep up!

As this feta is imported from Greece of course it costs more than the small pack of feta cheese TJ carries at $3 for 8 oz. which is pretty good if made from cows milk but it’s not great like this imported Greek one. This Greek feta is $6.49 for 10 oz (drained). So figure about $10/lb for a real “Product of Greece” feta, which is a decent price for real Greek feta. Honestly this stuff will make your meal or dish, so worth the occasional splurge.

Oh and remember I said keep that brine? You can actually use it. That milky feta brine actually has flavor. Melissa Clark in the New York Times put out a great recipe for chicken using brine, plus you can marinate chicken breasts in feta brine for 30-60 minutes;  Bake, broil, pan grill…! They will be SO juicy from the brining.

https://food52.com/recipes/69859-melissa-clark-s-feta-brined-roast-chicken

https://www.bonappetit.com/test-kitchen/primers/article/feta-guide

https://food52.com/blog/23031-how-to-use-feta-brine-water-salt-tricks-tips