Asiago Cheese with Rosemary & Olive Oil


“Rosemary and Olive Oil intensify the rich nutty Asiago flavor”. Yes, it does! This is quite a lovely, tasty cheese and I was really impressed when I first tasted it. Compared to the regular Asiago that Trader Joe’s has, which is just OK, this is a way more flavorful and interesting cheese. In this cheese the added flavors especially that of rosemary which the cheese is liberally coated with, really benefit and expand the asiago’s flavor. It’s excellent just on its own, sliced thinly. Obviously this cheese will be great and match well with almost any Italian dish. I grated this Rosemary Asiago and tossed a generous amount over sautéed gnocchi and it was an absolutely delicious match. If you try this with almost any pasta dish you will no doubt like it. This would probably be great as a second or third cheese on a Pizza as well I think. Rosemary Asiago would be great on a cheese plate or charcuterie plate, especially with grapes or other fruits, and some nice crackers. TJ sells this cheese for $9/lb a decent price for a premium cheese like this.

RAVE

Trader Joe’s ITALIAN BOMBA HOT SAUCE


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Since it was released Trader Joe’s Italian “Bomba” Hot Pepper Sauce has blown up as one of the best new products that Trader Joe’s has come out with. Once again in this case it’s not unjustified hype…. all the hype about TJ’s “BOMBA” is completely justified! This stuff is just incredible. I could say “its the bomb” but I won’t!

BOMBA is made primarily from crushed Calabrian chiles which in this product are also fermented. You probably know that fermenting foods adds complex elements to flavor, expanding them more. They become deeper and more complex, and in this Bomba sauce the fermentation of Calabrian chiles adds that magical “fifth” taste.. yup you got it. UMAMI. Now of course this Bomba hot sauce is spicy but it is really not knock your head off spicy. It’s spicy and full of flavor at the same time. I just put a small spoonful in my mouth and while I got “yes this is kind of spicy”, it didn’t want to make me want to drink a glass of milk or anything. I got something beyond “spicy”, there is a kind of funkiness (oh, thats the fermentation and umami) even a tiny bit of sweetness. Depending on the amount you use, you can adjust the level of spiciness. If you add even just a little bit to dishes, I am talking a quarter of a teaspoon or a few drops, it will add a level a flavor that may surprise you. How to use Bomba sauce? Of course this is going to be great added to tomato sauces, say on pasta or pizza or what have you. But what about other pasta dishes? A little bit in your Carbonara? Yeah baby. A spoonful mixed into your Spaghetti Aglio e Olio? Yes. And all those Gnocchi you love?! Regular, cauliflower, kale, or what have you… OMG folks, this stuff and some very nice olive oil will make your gnocchi soar.

But Bomba is for more than for “just Italian”. I put some on my scrambled eggs and it was divine. A drop of it onto of my buttered toasted baguette. A small spoon mixed into my avocado toast or guacamole. Add some to your next marinade. Dips and sauces? Perfect. You can mix this up with some Greek yogurt (or mayonnaise for that matter) for an instant wonderful sauce, to top some cooked Chicken Breasts, Shrimp, or Tofu as well. Or try that mix as a dip for some chips. Drizzle some with olive oil and garlic on your roasted veggies. Add a spoon of this to your soup or most any sauce to give it some jazz. I love it on cottage cheese (seriously). On my sardines on toast. Add garlic to Bomba, and of course these two go into the stratosphere. The list is endless and I promise you, you will discover uses on your own exploring that you will come up with (and if they’re good, please share some with us in the COMMENTS below).

TJ’s Bomba is truly a premium gourmet offering. Amazingly Trader Joe’s sells this for $3 a jar, which is frankly incredible. Oh and it’s really Italian, says “Product Of Italy” on the label. I have found it sold out on occasion missing on the shelves as its a big hit at TJ. So if you like it, next time grab an extra one to keep in the pantry like I do (but leave some for the next guy!) Ingredients are: Chilies, Sunflower Oil, Olive Oil, Basil, Salt, Ascorbic Acid, Citric Acid. I generally add some very good Extra Virgin Olive Oil down the road to “seal the top” off and help keep it fresher for longer as well. Honestly even if you are not really the “hot sauce” type I suggest you get a jar of this to try. Calabrian chili’s are not super hot; they are in the “medium” spice level. People can pop them in their mouths easily. Personally I can’t live without having a jar of Bomba in the fridge now and if you try this, you may feel exactly the same.

RAVE

TRADER JOE’S PESTO ALLA GENOVESE


TRADER GIOTTO’S (TRADER JOE’S) PESTO ALLA GENOVESE

Mentioned in an earlier post, Trader Joe’s Pesto Genovese (basil pesto) comes in glass jar which makes it a great pantry item so extremely convenient to always have on hand. You can open up a jar of this pesto and add to some pasta and bingo, a hot dinner or a side dish is on your table in under 15 minutes with little effort and for very little dough ($3-4)! What’s not to like?

Now if you have ever made pesto yourself, you know it takes a bunch of ingredients and some effort but in the end its truly worth it as the smell when you open up your blender, when the pungent aroma of fresh basil, cheese and garlic permeates your kitchen. The smell is so heavenly it may knock you off your feet.

So having said that, I won’t tell you this jar of pesto is as good as if you made your own pesto. How could it be? Still TJ’s Pesto is actually very tasty and the convenience of having it in your pantry is fantastic, for whenever you get a craving for pesto. This is a great TJ value at only $2.50! Though you can tell by the fact that is says Sunflower Oil as the first ingredient and not olive oil, they skimped a bit on the most expensive ingredients. But even so, TJ’s jarred Pesto Genovese is good and believe it or not, I prefer this one they sell to the “fresh” one TJ sells in the refrigerated section which costs a bit more. I was pretty surprised that I tried both and liked this one better!

Now you can, and should absolutely, tweak and improve your plated past with a nice splash of very good quality EVOO plus a nice sprinkle of extra freshly grated Parmigiano and / or Pecorino cheese plus freshly ground black pepper on top of your finished pasta dish.

For $2.50, this is a good buy and good value and worth keeping a jar or two in your pantry as a go-to item to always have on hand. I certainly do, its made us a dinner a few times when I “had nothing to eat” around!

GNOCCHI WITH PESTO -A NO-RECIPE RECIPE, FIVE MINUTE $3 DINNER


The other night I came home tired and hungry. I looked in the fridge and saw nothing really to eat.

I wanted something hot and delicious that would not require any time at all.

I looked in the cupboard and saw 2 things, a package of TJ GNOCCHI plus a jar of TJ PESTO ALLA GENOVESE.

Aha, dinner!

(NO-RECIPE RECIPE) FIVE MINUTE GNOCCHI with PESTO SAUCE

STEP 1 – BOIL WATER

STEP 2 – THROW IN THE GNOCCHI (ADD A PINCH OF SALT IF YOU LIKE) BOIL GNOCCHI THREE MINUTES

STEP 3 – DRAIN GNOCHI (NB: RESERVE A 1/2 CUP OF THE PASTA WATER!) TOSS THE DRAINED GNOCCHI BACK IN THE POT TO KEEP WARM

STEP 4 – ADD PESTO (I ADDED ABOUT 1/2 THE JAR). ADD A FEW TABLESPOONS OF THE SAVED PASTA WATER BIT BY BIT STIRRING GENTLY TILL YOU HAVE A SAUCE OF YOUR DESIRED CONSISTENCY. KEEP WARM WITH A TINY FLAME UNTIL READY TO PLATE

DONE

FANCIER? A drizzle of a great EVOO…. Freshly grated Parmigiano or Pecorino (or Mozz?) Fresh ground black pepper. Optional: Green it up with some chopped arugula (or parsley or baby kale). I added in some Arugula to the pot and stirred for about 45 seconds until it wilted a bit into the pesto. YUMMY! With 2 slices of toasted bread, some greens and dressing, a glass of wine…we had a full nice dinner that took almost no effort and very little time.

TIME (under 5 minutes not counting the water boiling)

COST – TJ’s Gnocchi (1 lb) costs $1.69.  A jar of the Pesto Alla Genovese costs $2.49 (so figure 1/2 jar’s $1.25) So the dish costs less than $3 with 2 nice servings as a dinner, or about 4 as a side-dish.

So its a good idea to keep these 2 handy items on hand in your pantry! The Trader Joe’s Gnocchi is in the dried pasta section, and come in a shelf stable sealed plastic package that is good for many months at room temp. The Pesto once opened lasts a few weeksin the fridge. Covering the pesto with some olive oil will help it keep a bit longer.

I also see TJ’s has another fresh PESTO they carry in the refrigerated section. Must try that one too.

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RAVE