TJ ORGANIC RED LENTIL PASTA



Trader Joe’s (Giotto’s) ORGANIC RED LENTIL PASTA

 

Normally we eat pasta in my house at least once if not two or more times a week. My wife and I adore pasta. I’m good at making it. Or I should say “we used to” eat it that often! Recently my wife decided to try going “Gluten Free” and that has changed things not just for her but for “Us”. To keep life simple as far as eating and cooking, whats happened is basically we stopped eating pasta, much to my chagrin as you could say I’m a bit of a pasta freak. As Italians usually do, I could eat pasta almost every day. Really, I could be happy as a clam eating pasta every day, in fact I’d be super happy eating Linguine with clams!

So I really wanted to try something in the pasta department that we both could eat together, meaning I would give “Gluten Free Pasta” a try.

So I saw this Red Lentil Pasta at TJ. Unfortunately I was not impressed with this for cooking as a substitute for regular pasta. For me at least – that is someone who can eat gluten and wheat products – this lentil pasta would not be something I would willingly sub in for my “normal” pasta.

TJ Red Lentil Pasta is made from “red lentil flour”. Its even made in Italy! (I can imagine them rolling their eyes at making this stuff for all those crazy Americans) Uncooked, it looks quite nice, like a beet colored pasta. It has an interesting shape I was not familiar with, “sedanini”, a ridged, curved long ziti type shape.

When I cooked this, well this gluten free pasta just didn’t do it for me. This could never replace pasta for me, but again I don’t have to be Gluten Free. I had made a nice meat sauce sauce to go with this, a kind of Ragu for the lentil pasta, and cooked it up a bit with some some sauce just as I would normally prepare regular pasta. When we ate the finished pasted with the sauce we both kept commenting on that it was just not the same as eating pasta. Honestly we didn’t really enjoy it due to the somewhat odd texture we found. It didn’t have the chew of pasta. It seemed to get kind a bit grainy or granular when chewed, not smooth like real pasta.

To top things, the GF pasta’s at TJ are a bit expensive as well. A 12 oz package goes for $3. This is about 2 to 3 times the cost of TJ’s extremely good “regular” pastas made with semolina flour.

So I wanted to like this but didn’t, as I don’t have to eat this. it was a choice. On the other hand, my “gluten free diet” wife, found it to be not great but OK as in it was kind of “acceptable” if you can’t eat normal pasta but you want to eat something like pasta. If you HAVE to be on a gluten free diet, then you may find it OK too. I can’t think this will fool anyone as an excellent substitute for real pasta. For me, its kind of fake pasta frankly. A knock off.

Still I will try some of the other gluten free pasta products TJ sells, and see if they work better than this one made from lentils. TJ does have a few gluten free pastas: a black bean ziti, and a spaghetti made from brown rice and lentils. So if you must be gluten free, try all three and see which you like best out of what they have to offer. So just saying if you must be gluten free, then there are a few choices. Everyone raves about the Cauliflower Gnocchi (frozen). Again I tried it. I found it pretty good, but I still prefer TJ’s regular gnocchi. If you don’t need to be GF, like me, I find regular pasta and related products are superior to any GF ones.

If you are not gluten free and want an excellent pasta, get TJ’s Organic Spaghetti or Ziti. That is excellent high quality pasta, made in Italy, and is the equal to top Italian import brands sold in the US for 3-6 times what TJ’s sells it for, $1.29 for 1 lb, which is an excellent value.

If you are GF then this may be OK for you with a lot of sauce.

 

Italian Tomato Paste (in a tube!)


u·ma·mi (pronunciation: u -ˈmämēe)

A category of taste in food (besides sweet, sour, salt, and bitter), corresponding to the flavor of glutamates.

What genius invented this product? No, really I’m serious… whoever thought this up is a bloody genius. Putting tomato paste in a tube like toothpaste might be the greatest invention since the napkin. You might think of this as a minor advancement of our civilization but honestly this is so practical and useful. How many times have you needed perhaps just 1 tablespoon of tomato paste to add to something and thought, “Jeez, I don’t want  to open up that whole little can of tomato paste for a spoonful. I’ll just end up throwing most of it away”. Well, now when you need a spoonful or two you don’t have to open a whole little can of tomato paste. You just squeeze out what you need from this tube, and keep the rest in the fridge for the next time. It will last at least a month or two in your fridge. Actually a few months (even though they say on the box, use within 2 weeks…my experience says it lasts for a few months once opened). So for practicality this is a great item. Every cook should have this in the cupboard/fridge, always. This wonderful little item is only a little over a buck!

Tomato paste, which has a great deal of glutamates present = UMAMI

Tomato paste, dried mushrooms, Parmesan cheese, soy sauce, miso, seaweed – these are just a few food items that, as they contain natural glutamates, and bring UMAMI (aka the 5th taste) to what your cooking. A spoon of tomato paste will add a depth of flavor to many things. Unlock its secrets! See some of the links below.

Having said all that, when you need a can of paste and will use up the whole thing, or most of it, get the little can, which is cheaper in the long run, and thats only about 89 cents.

LINKS

https://www.bonappetit.com/story/what-is-tomato-paste

https://www.brit.co/how-to-use-tomato-paste/

https://www.today.com/food/chef-s-secret-how-use-tomato-paste-right-way-t75761

TJ Fresh Mozzarella Log


I think I can get this review in just in time for End of Summer when one can get excellent tomatoes. The perfect thing to pair with some perfectly ripe, juicy farm fresh tomatoes is this Trader Joe’s Fresh Mozzarella Cheese. Unlike the firmer, drier “pizza” mozzarella, fresh mozzarella is a milky soft fresh cheese. Fresh mozzarella is perfect for pairing with tomatoes, basil and good virgin olive oil for a super easy and delicious classic: a “Caprese Salad” (Insalata Caprese) Caprese Salad is the simplest of Italian salads, with sliced fresh mozzarella, tomatoes and fresh basil leaves, dressed with olive oil. Like Pizza Margherita, it features the colors of the Italian flag: green, white, red.

This mozzarella is shaped as a log and is pre-sliced into rounds which makes this super convenient and easy. Open it, and put some mozz on a plate with sliced tomatoes. You can arrange them artistically, alternating tomato and round of cheese if you want to impress, but even just cutting the slices into quarters and tossing with cubed tomatoes is fine! Douse with some good extra virgen olive oil, of course! Sometimes I add a few capers and a little of the caper liquid. With some good bread you have a super easy dinner or lunch and a small slice of heaven ready in minutes -especially if you can find some great tomatoes. Serve this salad to guests and they will love it. And its also good of course just eaten as is, put on a cheese plate, or making a terrific sandwich.


A 1 lb package is $4.99, which for fresh mozzarella is as usual, a pretty good deal chez Trader Joes.

NO-RECIPE RECIPE CAPRESE SALAD (INSULATE CAPRESE): Layer alternating slices of tomatoes and mozzarella. Tear up a good number of fresh basil leaves and sprinkle them all over everything,  arranging the salad on a large, shallow plate or platter. Drizzle the salad with good extra-virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. (OPTIONAL: some jarred capers with some of their juice, or a very small amount of a vinegar) Serve with a nice crusty bread.

(Post Summer) If you can’t get great tasting beefsteak tomatoes get the small cherry egg shaped Italian tomatoes Trader Joe’s carries. They are a little expensive but are really tasty, cut in half, and mix up with cut up mozzarella …..

RAVE

Trader Joe’s SAUERKRAUT with Persian cucumbers


SAUERKRAUT – German for “sour cabbage”

If like yours truly, you love sauerkraut then you will find that this TJ product is probably the best sauerkraut you ever tried. According to Trader Joe’s website they say even if you don’t like it now, this may change your mind about SAUERKRAUT. Now, that’s confidence in your product, huh?! Unlike commercially made mass-produced sauerkraut which is cooked and has vinegar added to it, this sauerkraut is a raw, fermented product. TJ says its made by a small batch producer in the traditional way, which is simply cabbage treated with salt, left to ferment for a period of time. So Old School. This is the real McCoy in Sauerkraut. It has pickled Persian cucumbers in it too, which are nice and add a little more crunch and variety. This Sauerkraut goes perfectly with hot dogs, of course, and sausages and would especially be great of course with the German made BAVARIAN BRATWURST previously reviewed, with a Rave. As we know now, fermented foods are very good for your digestive system, gut health and overall health in general. It’s considered healthy to eat something fermented on a regular or daily basis. A spoonful of this – or kimchi or kefir – and your gut will be aces.

Trader Joe’s Sauerkraut with Persian cucumbers is $3.99 for a 14 oz. container. Ingredients:, Cabbage, Persian Cucumbers, Salt, Garlic.

TJ Organic COLESLAW KIT


This is a super easy to prepare, organic Cole Slaw Kit. Just dump the contents into a bowl, fish out the packet of dressing, and squeeze it out and mix everything up together. That’s it, done.

With slaws its best if you do this at least an hour in advance (and keep in the fridge, to keep crisp). You could let it rest more, for 4 or 8 hours or even make it the night before. Everything will become all nice and cole-slaw-y when the cabbage has “pickled” a bit and the flavors meld together.

The package contains shredded green and red cabbage plus carrots, all organic. The organic dressing is a tangy, slightly sweet & sour dressing in the mayonnaise/ thousand island vein with lots of poppy seeds which add a nice flavor. Everything blends up well to make a nice, tasty fresh “homemade” cole slaw. Could you make this yourself easily with some cabbage, some carrots a hand shredder and some dressing? Of course, and I do many times during the summer especially, but if you don’t feel like doing “all that work” this kit makes it super easy. It doesn’t make a huge amount of cole slaw, about a pint of finished slaw after you let it sit for at least an hour when it will “shrink up” a bit as it marinates. A package is 10 oz and costs $2.69

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Trader Joe’s AUTHENTIC GREEK FETA in brine


MADE WITH SHEEP’S MILK

Imported, authentic Greek feta cheese. Though feta can be made from any milk, sheep’s milk produces the best feta and this one has the wonderful aroma and tangy flavor along with a nice creamy but firm texture. I don’t find it overly salty, but just right. It is packaged with two large slabs covered in brine which is the way feta should be sold and kept in your fridge because brine preserves the texture and flavor.

There are a many types of feta cheese made in many countries 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 those countries I mentioned. TJ has on occasion carried an Israeli feta (it came in a plastic bag, and was only available for a year or so. It was excellent! UPDATE: The Israeli feta TJ now sells in a dark blue plastic tub is not quite as good as this Greek one to me, but it’s quite good.

One thing the design of the plastic tub ain’t great. It’s tricky to open! Look at it carefully and you will see 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 the tab, then pry the top off carefully (on a counter so brine doesn’t fly out). 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. The feta cheese is worth it. And by the way don’t throw out the brine – 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

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 SHAWARMA CHICKEN THIGHS


Trader Joe’s SHAWARMA SEASONING BONELESS & SKINLESS CHICKEN THIGHS

RAVE

I almost never buy meats that come premarinated in a package, as I can easily make whatever marinade I would want myself, however when I first saw TJ’s Shawarma Chicken Thighs they caught my attention. Because I so love Shawarma, I decided to give it a try. In short not only did I like TJ’s Shawarma Chicken way more than I expected to, the fact is I have bought it, again and again. These are really super tasty. So if you don’t want to read this whole piece and just want to know if these are worth buying, the answer is yes. If you want to know more, read on!

TJ SHAWARMA CHICKEN THIGHS are extremely flavorful, imbued with all the Middle Eastern Shawarma spices they use which include: “Onion, garlic, sea salt, cumin, cinnamon, coriander, paprika, turmeric and parsley…”

This chicken is quite easy to make into a tasty dish and convenient to have as an unopened package easily stays for a week in the fridge (they state much longer but I think the “good until” dates on the package are way too generous). Naturally one can also freeze it (defrost it overnight in fridge).

How easy is this to make into dinner? Pretty much just toss the chicken into a pan, and in maybe 20 minutes you have a tasty dinner, with the addition of a few sides (rice? veggies? naan?).. Upon cutting the bag open, you will immediately smell all the nice “Shawarma” spices in the marinade. Be warned, the tumeric and anatto used will stain your fingers and everything it touches an orange red color. I recommend using tongs or a fork, and if your cutting board gets stained orange just wipe it later with diluted bleach. Once removed from the package blot the chicken a bit with a paper towel of excess liquid. Any little fat that you may see will melt off during cooking and keep the meat moist, so I don’t trim it. Put a few shallow slashes in the thickest parts of the thigh to help it cook evenly. Our kitchen smelled wonderful from all those nice Middle Eastern spices during cooking. The chicken is imbued with spices having been marinated for some time but even so I do hit the chicken with a sprinkle of additional spices (smoked paprika, TJ’s Everyday Seasoning, etc) as more dry spices will make it brown up even more.

Shwarma Chicken Cooking with added onion and garlic

COOKING: I usually grill this in a black cast iron pan (or just use non-stick pan). I add about 1-2 teaspoons of oil (and butter mix, as the butter adds great flavor and browns wonderfully). Cook on medium heat for 7-8 mins, till nicely browned. TIP: I let them cook without touching or moving them (important!) so they really get a good sear. I added sliced onion too and sliced garlic, which go great with the chicken.

When one side is done, turn and cook about another 6-7 minutes. So in about 15 minutes you have can dinner, with some sides, say basmati rice and veggies or a salad. If you have the option to grill these on a real grill with wood or charcoal or course they would probably taste even better. Baking in the oven can work too for 20 minutes on high. You could even bake it as a Sheet Pan Supper with veggies, for an easy one-pan dinner.

Of course you could add even more spices (more cumin, Ajika, or something spicy…) I almost always add spices like Spanish smoked paprika which helps with browning and especially fresh garlic. The marinade is not spicy so if you want some heat just add something of your choosing. TJ’s Zhough Green sauce goes especially well with these, with a bit brushed on at the very end, and/or on the side after cooking. A little Peri-peri hot sauce can be great! Cook veggies in the same pan (onions, peppers, cherry tomatoes…) and they will be really tasty.

Sliced and put back in the pan with some arugula

What about cooking these under the broiler? When I tried cooking the thighs this way they gave up a lot of liquid that collected at the bottom of the pan so I kind of keep my grilling in a pan method as best to stay juicy.

Thighs are good because they are almost impossible to overcook – unlike boneless breasts which are easy to overcook and dry out (side note – here’s my secret for cooking juicy boneless chicken breasts –) : (juicy chicken breasts)

When the chicken is done, take the thighs out of the pan and rest them 3-5 minutes before slicing (resting meat keeps it juicier). I slice the thighs pretty thinly, then put everything back in the pan including any juices to keep warm before assembling the shawarma. Chopped fresh cilantro or fresh parsley or arugula if you like some green taste and color. Maybe a squeeze of lemon. Assembly; warm your flatbread, place some chicken mixture down the center, top with sauce, some optional veggies, and serve. To eat, fold gently and eat like you would a taco.

Shawarma chicken, served on TJ’s Garlic Naan with Tzaziki, and veggies. Super yummy!!

As mentioned, I find these go great with TJs’ “ZHOUG” Yemeni green hot cilantro sauce which is spicy and matches well with Middle East spices. Or Greek Yogurt and Zhoug mixed together. TZAZIKI sauce is pefect.

If you wanted to, you could even cut these up into chunks and thread them on skewers (with onions and peppers) and grill them as KABOBS.

You can serve the chicken many ways but sure a great way of course would be as a SHAWARMA wrap perhaps with TJ Naan or other flatbread. Slice up the chicken, put it on flatbread, warm pita or TANDOORI NAAN (yes!) or even TJ HABANERO LIME TORTILLAS…. add a few chopped veggies (tomato, cukes, shredded lettuce, scallion, parsley…) Top with a sauce, a tahini or yogurt garlic sauce (tzaziki sauce worked great). YEMENI ZHOUG SAUCE if you like spice! Or a little BOMBA. Voila, you have Chicken Shawarma. A little messy to eat with your hands but oh so good. Your family will love them. Basmati Rice on the side, or as a bed, would be a great match with this.

You will love these!

Shopping notes : Shawarma Chicken Thighs, Tzatziki, Frozen Naan, onion, garlic, veggies…..

The second dish I made with these chicken thighs was to use them in Chicken Tacos and Fajitas. Despite the slight cultural melange, they were actually terrific used as Tacos. Well, you did know that Lebanese migrants had a big part in Mexican food culture and created the famed Tacos Al Pastor, right? It’s true. Some Green Dragon hot sauce with it’s tomatillo and cilantro flavor made them perfectly Mexican on our tacos.

The SHAWARMA CHICKEN THIGHS cost $4.49 a pound* (note price has increased!) The 1.5 lb package I bought was just over $6 and I got two meals out of it, with sides, so more than if you just bought plain chicken but not a bad deal. These are excellent to also use as the Chicken part of a dish, say a Chicken and Rice (brown the meat with onions, throw in rice, add broth…) I made an Arroz Con Pollo another time with these and it came out terrific! So TJ’s SHAWARMA CHICKEN THIGHS are a good product and worth trying. These are a TJ hit.

If you want to save money, naturally you could buy chicken thighs and add your own blend of “middle eastern style” spices for a marinade and leave it for a few days in the fridge.

(LINK) TJ’s ARCHIVED INFO PAGE FOR SHAWARMA CHICKEN THIGHS

  • UPDATE 1- * The price of these have increased since I originally wrote this from 4.49 to $4.79/lb. (Jan 2021) Wow, yet another price increase! These have gone up again to $5.99/lb!! (Sept 2021)! May be higher when you see them due to rampant Inflation now! Since I wrote this, the package I had bought for $6 is now $9. A 33% percent increase. Sticker shock.
  • UPDATE 2 – TJ now sells two other varieties of marinated thighs: HARISSA and LEMON & HERBS. I think these versions are not as good as the SHAWARMA one. For one thing, they are too wet)! I didn’t like them.

(LINK) Here’s A Recipe I found on TJ’s site with these for Shawarma Chicken Rice Soup

A sheet pan supper using these? Why not? Just cut up the chicken and roast with veggies

THIS IS AUTHENTIC CHICKEN SHAWARMA COOKING ON A HUGE ROTATING SPIT. MEAT THEN SLICED OFF. If you ever get the chance, try it!

TJ’s CINNAMON ROLL BREAD


TJ’s CINNAMON ROLL BREAD

The name of the bread is a wee bit of Hyperbole if you expect this to ooze like a Cinnabun. However this is very, very good raisin bread with lots of cinnamon flavor. I love this Cinnamon Bread. It’s another of my “Must Have Always on hand” things from TJ’s (yes there are so many of those). The package says it’s “ooey, gooey…” well,  its not really that ooey gooey it’s just a tiny bit gooey which is fine if you want to put this in your toaster…which you absolutely should!  While it’s not bad as is untoasted, to get the full potential, do toast this bread up as by toasting it, the heat brings out the maximum cinnamon and raisin flavors. Don’t they sell Cinnabuns just out of the oven for this reason, so the smell wafts in the air? This bread toasts up to yummy perfection, however be careful and keep your eye on it and don’t let it burn or you’ll be sorry. Its a fine line from perfectly toasted, to burnt toast, i mean a few seconds.

TIP 1: I go Full Monty Maximum Cinnamon… after its toasted, I put on some butter and a sprinkle of a wee bit more ground Cinnamon and Brown Sugar on it…Heavenly! Really try it.


To die for.

Or try: Cream Cheese instead. Cream Cheese and chopped Dates (or dried cranberries)!

Or just by itself with some butter. Even thats very good. You can’t go wrong with this excellent product at breakfast time. Your family will go nuts for it when they smell it. A 24 oz loaf goes for $3.49.

(UPDATE = WENT UP TO $3.79 since this was written)!

I would recommend you freeze the bread to keep it as fresh as possible, and take it out as you need it to toast it up.

TIP #2  Sunday I woke up thinking hey this would be great to make French Toast with. I made it. Yup. It was fantastic for French Toast! Try that yourself.

RAVE

 

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TJ’s WHOLE WHEAT COUSCOUS


I always keep a box of this TJ Whole Wheat Couscous in my pantry as it’s incredibly fast and easy to make staple, quicker to make than for example rice or even pasta. It’s versatile, healthy, and tasty. Couscous (“koos-koos”) is a pasta-like grain made from wheat that is a staple in the North African cuisines of Algeria and Morocco. It’s even part of Sicilian cuisine!

Couscous is generally made out of semolina wheat. Trader Joe’s sells this whole grain version made from whole durum semolina. The box says PRODUCT OF FRANCE (yeah baby!) The French love couscous. I have lived in Paris where they have couscous restaurants almost like we have pizza places as there are so many people of Algerian and Morrocan origin.

One of the reasons I love couscous, is it its so fast and easy to make. It is ready in 5 minutes. Here’s the basic method: Put a cup of water in a pot. Bring it to a boil. Add Salt and Butter (or olive oil) Dump in a cup of this couscous (1-1 ratio). Turn off the fire, cover the pot, and let it sit for five minutes, then fluff it up with a fork. Thats it, done!

You can use couscous as a side dish, as you would rice or pasta. It really soaks up sauces or stews. Use it as a “bed” for your Main and add a bit of sauce on top. It’s a great base for a “protein bowl”. You can do other things as well with it like serve it as a salad or make a super healthy couscous tabouli salad hot or cold. A box of Trader Joe’s French imported Whole Wheat Instant Couscous sells for only $1.99 for 500 grams, (a bit over a pound). This is an excellent product to always keep on hand in your pantry and tryHere are some links related to peruse.

https://www.thespruceeats.com/simple-couscous-recipe-2355404

http://www.chefday.com/couscous-merguez

http://www.cliffordawright.com/caw/food/entries/display.php/id/58/

https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/232205/whole-wheat-couscous-tabbouleh/

https://food52.com/blog/22956-sicilian-couscous-alla-trapanese-recipe-history-behind-it

RAVE

Trader Joe’s Thai Green Curry Simmer Sauce


“Trader Joe’s Thai Green Curry Simmer Sauce is a delicate blend of coconut milk, shallots, lemongrass, garlic, galangal, coriander seed, Thai lime peel, ginger, turmeric, cumin and basil”

I should start with the fact that I actually can make a decent Thai curry from scratch, having been taught by a Thai friend. It’s pretty easy actually IF you use a pre-made Thai canned curry paste like MAESRI brand from Thailand, sauté that, and add in coconut milk.

But when I saw this jar of “Thai Green Curry Simmer Sauce” which says “Made in Thailand” on the label at TJ’s I wanted to try it for a taste test.

Here’s a link to TJ’s own Fearless Flyer post about this simmer sauce so you can see what Trader Joe’s themselves have to say about it.

My review is : well TJ’s “Thai Simmer Sauce” is not bad – in fact I like it. However I do need to  warn you, if open this up and expect to get as I did at first, an authentic, powerful Thai-level SPICY Green Curry, you will be disappointed. Lets be honest, this classifies (to me) as barely spicy. This sauce fits into a mild baby-level Thai spicy level I can easily imagine a Thai Mom feeding this to their two year old ! I’m saying: MILD. Which is why TJ describes its as a “delicate blend” – yes it is a delicate blend, exactly. A not spicy, mildly seasoned coconut-milk-based green curry sauce with a very small level of spiciness. But again, I do like it. Though mild in spiciness this is actually VERY TASTY. It is full of nice Thai flavors. It can be the base for cooking a “Thai inspired” dish very quickly, just by opening up the jar of this and adding some ingredients as the label says:

“SAUTÉ ABOUT A HALF POUND OF YOUR FAVORITE PROTEIN. ADD AN EQUAL AMOUNT OF VEGETABLES AND SAUCE AND SIMMER”.

Now if like it spicy and you happen to have a can of some authentic Thai curry paste (which you can find online at Amazon) you could add a spoonful or two of that paste to this, and make it into a more powerful tasting Thai curry. If thats too much trouble just add a few tablespoons of Trader Joe’s GREEN DRAGON HOT SAUCE if you want to turn up the heat some, this will add some nice cilantro and chile flavors and spiciness.

Last night I used this sauce to make a Thai Seafood Curry and it turned out very tasty. (My “No-Recipe Recipe”: I sautéed some celery, carrots, onions, garlic and cubed potato for 10-15 minutes, then added a jar of this sauce and simmered for about 10 minutes till all was barely tender, then added some shrimp and simmered it for another 2 minutes, serving with some white rice. Yummy!)

You could use just about any protein to make your Thai Green Curry: Chicken, fish, beef, pork or tofu, plus a slew of veggies. Experiment. Pair the finished curry with rice or rice noodles.

TIP: The label says “add a 1/2 pound” of your main ingredient. So figure this jar is for about 2 servings? So for 4 people, I would double everything: a pound (or more) of the main ingredient/protein, equal amount of veggies, and 2 jars of sauce.

A 12 oz. jar costs $1.99. “INGREDIENTS – Coconut milk, water, green curry paste, sugar, rice bran oil, food starch, green chili, salt. Product of Thailand.”

This is worth a try if you like Thai flavors. Its a good thing to have in the cupboard for whenever you get in that mood.

 

RAVE

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