TJ’s TUSCANO MARINARA SAUCE (discontinued)


“Trader Giotto’s” Low Fat Tuscan Marinara

RANT

Ode to yet another discontinued Trader Joe’s product, a classic rant about a very good Trader Joe’s product, which got discontinued!

Some people thought this was the best marinara sauce on the market. Many were bumbed to learn TJ’s Discontinued their favorite tomato sauce! The other day I happened to be clearing out my pantry and found I still had a can of this Marinara way in the back. I opened it and tasted it. Yes, this is, or should we say was, a terrific tomato sauce. For one thing it’s not smooth, it’s full of chunks of tomatoes like a homemade sauce you had put together yourself. Unlike the current jars of Marinara sauce that Trader Joe’s replace this with, which are puréed and smooth. I made a pasta dish using this Marinara Sauce, and the dish turned out great. I made a pizza with it too, which also turned out great. So yes, it’s a crime TJ’s got rid of this great and very useful sauce. So just posting this as a Rant, sorry, as you won’t be able to find this anymore at Trader Joe’s. Mind boggling. This was a great product. A least they still sell large 28 oz cans of crushed tomatoes. I always have some canned tomatoes in our pantry as well as tomato paste (can and/or tube) So if you are inclined to make your own sauce, which is not hard and I think is worth the little effort it takes, here’s an easy homemade Marinara sauce recipe from Natasha’s kitchen, link below.

TIP (1) IMO adding a tablespoon of tomato paste at the start will make it even better (2) If you double the recipe you will have a batch all made for another meal. You can freeze it.

Pizza from scratch; made using this terrific marinara sauce

Trader Joe’s BREADED FRIED RAVIOLI


RAVE

Breaded deep fried ravioli? Doesn’t that sound a bit over the top? Still when I saw these, I was intrigued and thought I would give them a try. Well I have to say they are quite good, better than I expected them to be. First I should say we almost always try to “eat healthy”. I rarely eat fried anything. So frankly deep fried breaded ravioli is not something I normally eat or buy on a regular basis but hey this is the job, and reviews have to be done 😉

Having now tried them, I can tell you these fried ravioli are actually pretty yummy. The two of us totally enjoyed eating these, as a rare treat. I could see these as something you could serve once in a blue moon in small portions, say 4 or 5 ravioli, as a side or as an appetizer? They might be even be a tasty and easy treat to serve up as an hors d’oeuvre for company. One recommended method to make these is to Pan Fry them which is what I did. I used less than a tablespoon of olive oil, where as the directions say, oil a 1/4 inch deep. I don’t think you need more than a tablespoon or two of oil in a non-stick or cast iron pan. TJ’s says they are good done in an air fryer too. Once the ravioli looked crispy and golden brown, I drained them on a paper towel. The breaded ravioli were delicious, a little crispy on the outside and when you bite into them, full of soft melted cheese inside (5 kinds of cheese). Naturally these will be perfect with a bit of your favorite tomato sauce (fresh basil if you have), and they were delicious when I served them with some sauce and a sprinkle of Parmesan. So give these a try if they sound good to you. A package (1 lb) is $3.99. They can be found in the frozen section…. Trader Joe’s says…

https://www.traderjoes.com/home/products/pdp/breaded-fried-ravioli-066183

“Each Breaded Fried Ravioli starts as a stately square of semolina pasta, filled with a mouth-watering mix of five kinds of cheese: creamy ricotta, mild Monterey Jack, rich mozzarella, savory Asiago, and piquant Parmesan. These Ravioli are then battered and deep fried to perfection, then flash frozen for you to finish the job at home. Once prepared (we find an air fryer to be particularly suited for the job), they’re everything a cheesy appetizer should be: warm, gooey, and phenomenally cheesy, with a crispy, savory exterior—a little like a breaded mozzarella stick, taken to the next level.”

Trader Joe’s PESTO ROSSO (Red Tomato Pesto)


PESTO ROSSO – “Red, tomato-based pesto sauce, rich umami flavor, including Parmesan and cashew nuts”.

Trader Joe’s recent addition, PESTO ROSSO, is kind of interesting. “Rosso” mean “red” in Italian. Now one usually thinks of pesto as the green Pesto Genovese which is made from basil leaves, (pine) nuts, Parmesan cheese, and olive oil. Trader Joe’s Pesto Rosso is a red version made from tomatoes, (cashew) nuts, and Parmesan, which is a Southern Italian pesto. I got a jar to check out. I made a pasta dish with it and the dish turned out quite tasty. So TJ’s Pesto Rosso is pretty good too, Like the other jarred TJ green pesto if you fix it up a bit it will better. In this case, some fresh garlic, maybe some chopped up TJ’s Sun-Dried Tomatoes in Olive Oil, and naturally a generous amount of freshly grated cheese (Parmesan, Pecorino, Rosemary Asiago or Canestrato Pepato. Extra Virgin olive oil at the end is a must, as they made this with bland sunflower oil to keep the cost down of course.

USAGE: Cook your pasta two minutes less than al dente, drain it (saving some pasta water). Add the pasta to a pan with the Pesto Rosso and finish cooking the pasta adding a few tablespoons of the pasta cooking water as needed. Cook about another two minutes until the pasta becomes al dente and nicely coated with sauce. I added some fresh garlic. I also added a tablespoon of Tomato Paste (optional) to intensify the tomato and umami flavors even more. When ready, plate it up and drizzle with good EVOO and a nice sprinkle of freshly grated cheese on top. Fresh or dried basil on top would be nice if you have it.

Now one can use the Pesto Rosso in other ways besides pasta. You can spread it on fresh or lightly toasted bread or a baguette for a kind of bruschetta, again with maybe a few additions (a little olive oil, fresh black pepper and some Black Garlic…. or a little on some crackers topped with a slice of Rosemary Asiago cheese. Pizza? That might be good. So get creative.

Pesto Rosso is worth checking out, and I love yet another convenient fast pantry item to have on hand in the cupboard for those times when “there’s nothing to eat in the house”. The 6.7 oz jar is $2.49. You can get some more ideas about Pesto Rosso from the link below plus even a recipe to make some yourself!

TRADER JOE’S says

Our Pesto Genovese has long been a customer favorite. While this style of pesto comes from Genoa our Trader Joe’s Pesto Rosso brings the tradition of red, Sicilian pesto to our grocery shelves.

Our Italian supplier uses tomatoes as the foundation, with sunflower oil, Parmesan cheese, garlic, and some basil—though not as much basil as one would find in green pesto. Pine nuts, typical of Genoese pesto, are exchanged for cashews in our Pesto Rosso. Carrot purée pumps up the red-orange color, while also adding some subtle sweetness.

Pesto Rosso has a saucy, spreadable texture that is great for topping a toasted baguette, or a homemade pizza, or even a French bread easy pizza. Use some spoonfuls to enhance the flavor of your minestrone, or vegetable soup. Of course tossing some in with your favorite hot pasta is a must.

https://www.traderjoes.com/home/products/pdp/pesto-rosso-068135

INGREDIENTS include: Tomatoes, sunflower oil, tomato powder, Parmesan cheese, carrot, cashews, salt, basil, balsamic vinegar, garlic)

TJ’s CANESTRATO PEPATO (Sardinian Cheese with Peppercorns )


Trader Joe’s CANESTRATO PEPATO Sardinian Sheep’s Milk Cheese with Black Peppercorns

I discovered this terrific cheese not too long ago in Trader Joe’s cheese section, and it’s become one of our favorite cheeses they sell. It’s fantastic and we adore it. “Pepato” refers to the cheese being infused with whole black peppercorns, as you can see in the pic. It’s produced in Sardinia, Italy by “an award winning cheese maker” ; The combination of peppercorns and a great sheep’s milk cheese is super. Up till seeing this I don’t think I ever encountered a cheese having whole peppercorns embedded in the cheese when they make it. It’s quite an interesting sheep’s milk semi-hard cheese that is both terrific grated onto pasta or just eaten on it’s own, cut into very thin slices. served with good bread or crackers. If you put this on a cheese board you will get comments. A piece is around $4-5 (its $12/lb)

Great Stuff! You can put this on your Cacio e Pepe dishes! Or even make it from scratch with this.

TJ’s Italian Style Meatballs


Trader Griotto’s (frozen) Flame Broiled Italian Style Fully Cooked Meatballs

First, let us be completely honest. Are these Trader Joe’s frozen meatballs anywhere as good as my own homemade meatballs (which in all modesty are pretty damn good?) No, of course not. However, making meatballs is kind of a lot of work. So I wanted to try these Trader Joe’s “Meatballs Italian Style” to see if they are any good. We did enjoy eating them with my own tomato sauce for a pretty easy dinner. So these might be worth giving them a try to see what you think. The dish I made with these beef meatballs turned out tasty. Now I made an easy quick sauce, a huge tablespoon of tomato paste, olive oil, garlic, onion, can of diced tomatoes, grated pecorino cheese and basil – a recipe is below). Of course you can just use a bottle of sauce too, lazy bones, thats fine too. I put the meatballs in the sauce and simmered them for 30 minutes to get them flavored from the sauce. They turned out pretty well, my biggest complaint being they had a slightly rubbery texture. Honestly I don’t know if they always do or it was my fault defrost them (or not). I would usually thaw something like this in the fridge overnight as I usually recommend, but this was last minute dinner idea and I thought maybe I could just put the frozen meatballs into the sauce and slowly defrost them on low in the sauce (which the package does kind of say). Is that why they were slightly rubbery? Next time I’ll defrost them slowly and see. Anyway I served the meatballs and sauce and some of that fantastic Country Loaf bread I had found at TJ and we did kind of a “meatball sub” with them which was was actually really tasty. A few night’s later, I made Ziti with the leftover meatballs & sauce which was also very tasty. So my take is these are worth giving a try, either with your own sauce or your favorite TJ sauce. I do suggest doing a proper defrost (put in fridge night before) which I promised myself I will do next time. Also I will brown the thawed meatballs up more in olive oil before adding them to the sauce. Browning meat gives lots of flavor. I recommend one simmer them in sauce for at least a 1/2 hour to absorb flavors. These ITALIAN MEATBALLS were about $4.50 for a 1 lb bag when I got them. FYI – TJ sells other versions of meatballs, one made with Turkey and one Meatless version, all of which you will find in the frozen section.

FAST EASY TOMATO SAUCE and MEATBALLS: Take 2 tablespoons of tomato paste and sauté that in a few tablespoons of olive oil for 30-60 seconds. Add a good amount of sliced garlic and a little diced onion and cook 5 minutes on low stirring occasionally till onions are translucent. Add a can (or two) of Diced Tomato, rinsing out the can with a little water (or wine) to get it all. Simmer on low 45 minutes, with the thawed and browned meatballs. Add Italian Seasoning to taste. Optionally add capers, and some Bomba. When serving, add grated Parmesan, Pecorino, Asiago or Grana and if you have some fresh basil, lovely. Serve with either pasta, gnocchi, or warm fresh Italian bread for a meatball hero.

Despite all these options they list I think the best one would be the thaw in fridge (1/2 day?)

TJ’s Rosemary Sfoliette Italian Crackers


Trader Joe’s ROSEMARY SFOGLIETTE, Thin and Crunchy, Italian Rosemary Crackers

Not too fancy, a bit even on the plain side which is sometimes just what you want in a cracker to set up whatever topping you are putting on the cracker. I really like these. Product of Italy. Delicate rosemary flavor. Top these with TJ’s Rosemary Ham and a slice of Rosemary Asiago cheese and I don’t know about you but that puts me in heaven. A bargain too at $1.69 a package.

https://www.traderjoes.com/home/products/pdp/070151

“Our Italian supplier makes thin, hexagonal biscuits using wheat and rice flours, along with a combination of olive and sunflower oils. The crackers are seasoned with dried rosemary & sea salt and baked until they possess the ideal crunch. They’re thin and crisp, but not overly fragile. And they present the wonderful aroma and flavors of rosemary and olive oil. As you could imagine, Rosemary Sfogliette make great snack crackers—with or without cheese. They’re also a formidable companion for your favorite bowl of soup!”

TJ’s Cacio E Pepe Pasta Sauce


“A creamy, cheesy pasta sauce made wth Pecorino Romano and Black Pepper”

Trader Joe’s Cacio e Pepe pasta sauce has been getting a lot of buzz since they released it, so I had to give it a try. You know what? It is pretty good. The fettucine cacio e pepe dish I made with this sauce turned out quite tasty. Cacio e pepe means “cheese and pepper” and making a dish with this could not be easier. Boil some pasta, open this jar and combine. The sauce right out of the jar is very thick. A few spoons of it go a long way, meaning obviously you would not say use a whole jar to make 2 or even 4 portions of pasta. The Nutrition label suggests a jar makes 7 servings so use that as a guide. My suggestion is basically use a nice huge heaping 2 tablespoons of sauce per portion of pasta, which you will thin a bit with some of the pasta cooking water to get a consistency you like to coat the pasta, but not drown it. TIP: I suggest making this with one of TJ’s excellent Artisan Pasta varieties (spaghetti, fettuccine, radiatore…) Of course shaped pastas, like ziti, are wonderful as well with this type of creamy sauce. You could even do a pan fried Gnocchi. They made the sauce “bulletproof” with the addition of a little starch (cornstarch) which prevents separation. They are saving a bit on some of the ingredients for example listing sunflower oil not olive oil. Don’t worry you will fix it up so when you plate it.

Cook your pasta, a minute under al dente, drain it, saving a 3/4 cup pasta water. Finish the pasta in a pan with a little saved pasta water, a nice grind of black pepper, adding in the sauce and mixing it all up with tongs to incorporate pasta and sauce adding a few tablespoons of pasta water as needed till you get your desired consistency. Plate it up and dress it with additional cheese and pepper.

I added a nice hit of fresh Pecorino on top, freshly ground pepper, and a drizzle of your best olive oil (optional). I topped it with a wee bit of chopped arugula for color and taste. Yes, I know a Roman would loudly protest any addition to the 2 basic ingredients. If you wanted to use a little grated Parmigiano or Grana, they will be delicious additions (but again don’t tell your Roman friend). So be sure to buy or have a piece of Pecorino as well as peppercorns in your larder. These few additios will help make this jarred sauce taste homemade.

It says on the jar, that once opened, use it within 3 days. I didn’t want to have it again so soon so I figured I would just put the jar in the freezer. The following week I did an overnight defrost in the fridge and that worked fine. Naturally you can do other things with this sauce besides using it on pasta. You could use some on vegetables (brussels sprouts, potatoes?) or even mix some into scrambled eggs….

https://www.traderjoes.com/home/products/pdp/070650

So while this sauce is handy I am all for making a real Cacio e Pepe from scratch once in a while. Cacio E Pepe is only those two ingredients and that’s where the magic happens getting it to emulsify (and not become gloppy). You may have to make it a few times to get the hang of it but once you do, you will really get a great deal of pleasure from making it yourself no doubt. I liked this guy’s take on making it (tip don’t use very hot water to mix with the grated cheese to make the emulsion though and don’t let the cheese boil, just get it warmed up so it doesn’t break) TIP: A few teaspoons of a corn starch slurry makes this foolproof BTW. In fact the Trader Joe Cacio e Pepe sauce has corn starch to make it foolproof.

A 14.5 oz jar of TJ’s Cacio e Pepe sauce costs $3.50.

If you get into Cacio E Pepe and want to try to make the sauce yourself yourself, watch these two pro’s, absorb some of their ideas and I bet you will end up with a terrific authentic Cacio e Pepe.

TJ’s Organic Fire Roasted Tomatoes with Green Chiles


We start with vine ripened tomatoes, then we fire roast them to a subtle smokiness before adding organic green chiles… They’re ready to use in salsas, sauces, soups and stews….”

Ingredients: Organic fire roasted tomatoes, organic tomato juice, organic green chili peppers, organic vinegar, sea salt, citric acid, calcium chloride”

These excellent organic diced tomatoes are a great pantry item, and in fact I always keep a few cans in mine as they are such a useful ingredient. They are indeed “fire roasted”, you can even see little bits of char and smell a little smokiness. You can use this as-is on tacos and quesadillas as a simple salsa, or make a slightly improved one quickly in seconds just by just adding a few things (ie, chopped onions, garlic, cilantro). Use this as an ingredient in sauces, stews or soup as you would any canned tomatoes, but these will be tastier than plain ones. These make the base of terrific rices dishes, say cooking some Mexican rice or what have you, mixed in for some of the stock or water. And its great for lots of other cuisines too… I made a delicious Italian Ariabiatta / Puttanesca style pasta with a can of this, olive oil, a spoon of tomato paste, lots of garlic, capers, olives, a spoon of Bomba and some grated Pecorino over the finished pasta (or try this with Gnocchi). It only took about 5 minutes to come together and the finished pasta dish with Gnocchi was delicious. We devoured it.

$1.69 for a 14.5 oz can. There is a plain only tomato version too for $1.49 if you don’t want any green chiles.

GREAT PANTRY ITEM

TJ’s POTATO GNOCCHI (& recipe ideas)


TJ’s Pasta Emporium Gnocchi. Made in Italy. “Autentico Italiano”. Shelf stable package.

These gnocchi are one of my favorite TJ items and I almost always pick up a pack every time I go. Available in the dried pasta section, these packages of TJ’s POTATO GNOCCHI are terrific and a bargain at just $1.69 (1.1 lbs). They’re shelf stable and can last months in your pantry (you could store them in your fridge if you like but you don’t have to). I probably usually use them within about 1-3 months? They have a pleasantly chewy texture, which you can accentuate even more by pan frying them (see below)

COOKING: You can simply toss these into boiling salted water for about 3 minutes and they’re ready to serve with your favorite sauce. Perhaps even better I’ve found is one can boil them for 1 minute, drain, them throw them in a non-stick or cast iron pan with 2 tablespoons of EVOO and pan fry them until they are golden brown. The crispier texture from this is terrific. Actually an even easier way which I discovered and clearly others have figured out too, is you don’t have to boil them at all. You can just pan fry them with no boiling. The even chewier crispy texture is great.

PAN FRIED GNOCCHI: Just toss these gnocchi right into a pan with 1-2 tbl. of olive oil and pan fry them until browned on all sides, stirring occasionally. I do a variation on this. I put 2 tbls of EVOO (or even nicer, a mix of half oil and half butter) in a black cast iron (or nonstick pan). Get the oil hot on med. heat until it shimmers. Toss in these gnocchi and stir till coated. COVER THE PAN. Cook covered 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally. They kind of pan fry & steam at the same time for the best of both worlds. After 5 minutes or so, take off the cover and continue pan-frying till Golden Brown and Delicious, maybe another 5-10 minutes.

What to serve with them for a sauce? Almost anything you can think of which you would do for pasta. Of course great with with your favorite TJ tomato sauce. TJ’s jarred Pesto works quite well with these. It can be as simple as just butter and grated cheese plus some black pepper, a simple Cacio E Pepe. Or get inventive. In the photos below you will see I cooked them with greens (swiss chard but you can use any greens like kale, spinach, arugula…) I used lots of garlic and lots of grated Rosemary Asiago *. The gnocchi were delicious with greens. Of course any Italian cheese works Parmigiano, Pecorino, Asiago) even some Mozz cut into cubes to melt in. I had these last week with some leftover Bolognese sauce I had in the freezer and they were simply amazing with Bolognese sauce. TJ’s even has a vegan bolognese sauce.

Are these better than the frozen Kale and other Gnocchi? For me actually they kind of are and frankly these are half the price of the frozen gnocchi which I feel don’t have the same textural integrity when cooked this way (pan fried) though I could experiment some more.

Anyway if you never tried these packaged Gnocchi, check them out. I can’t tell you how many times when we “had nothing in the house to eat” I found we had a package of these in the pantry and then had a dinner ready in 20 minutes for a few dollars.

Pan fried Gnocchi with Swiss Chard and Asiago

*RECIPE : PAN FRIED GNOCCHI with Swiss Chard & Rosemary Asiago Cheese – Separate leaves and stems from Swiss Chard. Cook the cut stems with 3 cloves of garlic smashed until tender in olive oil. Remove greens from pan then into same pan, toss in a pack of gnocchi with a tablespoon of EVOO and 1 tbl butter. Cook covered as discussed above till browned all over. Now add back the swiss chard plus chopped up leaves. Cook and toss around in pan till leaves are cooked till your liking. Toss in some chopped parsley or arugula. Season to taste with a little salt, sprinkle of lemon juice and lots of black pepper (optionally – a spoon of BOMBA) Grate a few ounces of Asiago, Pecorino or Parmigiano over all and drizzle with good EVOO. Serve 2 as dinner or 4 as a side.

(Can substitute Kale, Arugula, Spinach or any green)

SEARCH : Pan Fried Gnocchi Recipes – IDEAS

https://bit.ly/3hIZLHo

TJ’s ASIAGO CHEESE with Rosemary & Olive Oil


“Rosemary and Olive Oil intensify the rich nutty Asiago flavor”. Yes, it does! TJ’s Asiago with Rosemary is an excellent, very delicious cheese. I was really impressed when I tasted it. Compared to the regular Asiago that Trader Joe’s carries, which frankly is just OK, this is way more flavorful (and costs a bit more). In this version the added flavors, especially that of rosemary which the cheese is liberally coated with all over, greatly benefits and expands the cheese’s flavor. This cheese is excellent on its own, sliced thinly, and it was great on crackers. It was great with wine. Obviously this cheese will be a great match with almost any Italian dish. I grated this up, then tossed a generous amount over sautéed gnocchi and it was absolutely delicious on them. If you try this with almost any pasta dish you will like it. This is great as a second or third cheese on a Pizza. I did one with it and people scarfed it up! Rosemary Asiago would be great on a cheese plate or charcuterie plate, especially with grapes or other fruits, and some nice crackers. Wine too, naturally! TJ sells this cheese for $9/lb a decent price for a premium cheese like this. Try this, you will love it.

RAVE

Previous Older Entries