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 ready as they’re so useful to have on hand. They are indeed “fire roasted”, you can even see little bits of char. You can use this just as-is on your tacos and quesadillas as a simple salsa or make a slightly improved one quickly in seconds by just adding a few things (ie, chopped onions, garlic, cilantro).

Use these 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 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 just tomato version too for $1.49 if you don’t want them with green chiles.

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 on the internet as one of the best new products that Trader Joe’s has come out with. In this case the hype about “BOMBA” is completely justified! This stuff is just incredible. I could say “its the bomb” but I won’t. I will say I love this stuff. It’s terrific.

BOMBA is made primarily from crushed fermented Calabrian chiles. You probably know that fermenting adds complex flavor elements to many foods. They become more complex and in this Bomba sauce the fermentation of Calabrian chiles adds that magical “fifth” taste, 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 pretty 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 and even a bit of sweetness. Depending on the amount you use, you can adjust the level of spiciness to your palate. If you add even just a little bit to dishes, I am talking a quarter of a teaspoon or the tiniest dollop it will still add 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? Controversial, but 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 into scrambled eggs and it was divine. A drop of it onto of my buttered toasted baguette. A small spoon mixed into 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 $2.99 a jar, which is frankly incredible. Oh and it’s really Italian, says “Product Of Italy”. I have found it sold out on occasion, as its a big hit at TJ. So if you like it, next time grab an extra jar to keep in the pantry like I do (but just one, 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 after I open it 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.

TJ’s Plain GREEK YOGURT


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This is one of those Trader Joe’s products that I basically like to have in my fridge at all times. Why? It’s so useful. I use it all the time, for one thing to make all kinds of tasty sauces in about a minute. You can use it as a substitute for Sour Cream but with less calories (not zero but lower)! Greek yogurt is thick, as it is strained yogurt containing less liquid than regular yogurt. You might say it can be though of as similar to and can be substituted for Sour Cream, or crema in Mexican cooking, or to creme fraiche in French cooking. You could use this anywhere Sour Cream would be used, or mayonnaise perhaps but this is lower in fat and calories. So I use greek yogurt to make creamy sauces or dressing by mixing it with another ingredient. It can be as simple as mixing greek yogurt with a few teaspoons of fresh lemon juice, a pinch of salt and grind of pepper. Boom you have a creamy lemony yogurt sauce. Very Greek! This not only makes for a nice salad dressing but is also a nice sauce that would go with grilled chicken or shrimp. Add something else to it and you get even more mileage. Certainly fresh crushed garlic, will make it yet more Greek still. Or mix in some Green Dragon Sauce. Or some Yemeni Zhough. Or Sriracha, as the milkiness of the yogurt tames all of these spicy sauces and makes them smoother and creamy. Along with garlic, chopped parsley, or arugula, or spinach makes a nice green dressing…. your only limits to find things to use this with will be your imagination. For dessert or with fruits, you can mix the yogurt with a pinch of sugar or maple syrup for a lovely sweet, creamy addition. Of course I can put this on my breakfast cereal, but it is richer than regular yogurt, so I keep the amount smaller.

Some more ideas

  • as a breakfast or dessert bowl with banana and blueberries
  • as a topping for chili instead of sour cream
  • as a topping for soups instead of cream
  • as a spread on crackers or bread (try mixing with some ingredients…)
  • as an addition to a pasta sauce instead of cream for extra creaminess

Trader Joe’s Whole Milk Plain Greek Yogurt. 16 oz. tub $2.50. A container lasts in my fridge for about a month, depending on how much I use it. So great stuff, try it.

TRADER JOE’S PESTO ALLA GENOVESE


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

Mentioned in an earlier post, Trader Joe’s Pesto (basil pesto) in the glass jar makes an extremely convenient item to always have in your pantry. Whenever you get the mood for a Pasta and Pesto dish simply open a jar of this and add it to pasta (with a little pasta water) and bingo, you made dinner or a side dish to put on your table in under 15 minutes with almost no effort and for very little dough ($3-4)! Add some fresh grated Parmigiano and EVOO and improve it. If you have a little fresh basil to sprinkle on top, even better.

Now if you have ever made pesto yourself, you know it takes a bunch of expensive ingredients (like pine nuts) and some effort but it’s truly amazing as the smell when you open up your blender and that pungent aroma of 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. Let’s be honest. Still, this jarred TJ’s Pesto is still quite tasty and the convenience of having it in your pantry makes up for a lot and you can (and should) Level Up this stuff with a few easy additions.

Value-wise this is a great TJ value at $2.49. Though you can tell by the fact that is says Sunflower Oil as the first ingredient and not extra virgin olive oil, they skimped on expensive ingredients. But even so this TJ jarred Pesto Genovese is decent and believe it or not, I prefer this glass jarred pesto to the “fresh” one TJ sells in the refrigerated section which costs more. In fact I was pretty surprised that I tried both and compared them and liked this one a bit more. You can, in fact should absolutely tweak this with good ingredients! Pour a nice glug of your favorite TJ EVOO plus a nice sprinkle of extra freshly grated Parmigiano and / or Pecorino cheese plus freshly ground black pepper on top of your finished dish. If you have a few sprigs of fresh basil you can tear over it, all the better. For $2.50, this is good value and really 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 quick tasty pasta dish a few times when I “had nothing to eat” in the house.

TJ’s SWEET CHILI SAUCE


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Apparently this is one of Trader Joe’s most popular products, and not without good reason. This is absolutely one of my favorite TJ products and on my “always have in fridge” list. As the name says, this is a delicious sweet chili sauce, that is pretty much an exact copy of the traditional Chinese sweet and spicy chili sauce you can find at any Asian grocery. It’s both sweet and spicy but not crazy spicy, with a perfect balance of the two tastes plus garlic of course. This sauce is typically served with chicken in many Asian cuisines. I had been buying Chinese brands of this stuff for years whenever I went to a special Asian grocery or supermarket but now Trader Joe’s make a version of it so even more convenient, as we put this sauce on many things though its terrific with most any chicken. If you bought a store cooked rotisserie chicken for dinner, serving with this sauce will that roast chicken 10x as tasty. What else can you use it for. Really anything… Chicken sausages? Yes. Fish? Yes (in fact you can put some on top of almost finished broiled salmon and put it back for a minute for a sweet spicy glaze). Grilled pork. Sure! Eggs? Yes. Get it? Seriously I think there is little this would not be good on, except may ice cream.

Easy dipping sauce for dumplings: a few tables spoons of this sweet chili sauce, a tablespoon of soy sauce, a little rice vinegar. Fresh grated ginger if you have it. Easy. Some extra garlic wouldn’t hurt either. Now you have a sauce for the pot sticker dumplings in the freezer. Dinner in 10 minutes.

A bottle used to sell for only $1.29. Last time I checked it went up to $1.49, still a bargain. I can’t live without this stuff. I always have a bottle in my fridge.

Trader Joe’s ZHOUG SAUCE (SPICY!!!!)


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Trader Joe’s ZHOUG SAUCE is a deliciously spicy traditional Yemeni / Middle Eastern / Israeli green hot sauce. When they describe it on the package as “very spicy” in this case TJ’s is not kidding! I repeat, this is “VERY SPICY” as in, practically knock-your-socks-off level spicy. So if you can’t take the heat, stay out of the kitchen –  however you can “tame” it a bit easily as I mention later.

Green, herbal from cilantro, spicy from jalapeno and red chile flakes, wonderfully seasoned with garlic, cumin and cardamon, this stuff is simply one of the the most bloody wonderful and unique condiments you may ever taste. I’ve put it on just about everything you can think of…chicken, tofu, eggs, fritattas, pasta, fish…. you name it. You can’t go wrong with this on just about anything you put it on, it will make you smack your lips, oh yeah, yum, oh wow. I suspect it would be good on shoe leather.

You will probably use this in small amounts, just a few dashes, as its so spicy, a little goes a long way, especially as-is out of the box. Frankly this was even a bit too spicy even for me, kind of a rare statement. So unless you are a total chile-head, capsaicin obsessed, death-head sauce freak, you might even want to “tame” this sauce a tiny bit, as I tried and did easily. I just added some olive oil and lemon juice to cut down the heat ever so slightly by volume dilution. It was still excellent this way. I also use it mixed into greek yogurt (or regular yogurt) with great success. Yogurt and Zhoug are a good combo and make a wonderful, easy creamy green Zhough variation. Adjust the ratio of yogurt to zhoug till its perfect for your personal taste. I actually like the Zhoug tamed a wee bit as I can use it more generously. As is out of the container just a few small dollops is enough to make your mouth on fire. Again if you’re a chile-head,  you will love it, pour it on.

You will find TJ’s ZHOUG SAUCE in the refrigerated section, in an 8 oz container which is $3.00. Frankly this is a steal (but don’t tell TJ’s lest they raise the price) Seriously you should try this. Its a Top-10 TJ product IMO.

ZHOUG matches wonderfully with some grilled SHWARMA CHICKEN!

And if you want to try your hand at making ZHOUG yourself here’s a DIY recipe for it I found online

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/diy-trader-joes-zhoug-sauce_n_5b96758ce4b0511db3e480d0

Trader Joe’s Organic Sriracha Ranch Dressing


This is one of those “only at Trader Joe’s” products, or at least I’ve never seen another type of product like this one.

I’ll start by saying one could say I am a little bit of a “Sriracha freak”. I mean I love the stuff, and in general I love “the Spicy” but in no way would I deem myself to be one of those chile-head types who go for sauces with “Death Head” logos on the label.  No thanks.

Me, I want a balance of heat AND flavor. Therefore I love – and I mean LOVE – the original Huy Fong Foods SRIRACHA sauce, which is one of the greatest food products on the planet. Its a product who’s fan’s are legion. I will put it on lots of different things. Still I never tried it on SALAD. So guess what? Sriracha Salad Dressing is actually a terrific idea! And Trader Joe’s Organic Sriracha Ranch Dressing  is a terrifically marvelous unique product.

Its a ranch-style salad dressing, which is very spicy. How spicy? Well in its original version, which Trader Joe’s has changed and toned down since I first tasted it, I would have to use this stuff sparingly, as mere dollops. It was actually far, far spicier than actual Sriracha or most hot sauces for that matter. I used to mix it with some yogurt or mayo to tone it down a wee bit, but that is no longer the case. I’m talking about when it originally came out – a year ago? Can others please confirm this change to tone down the heat? I have a feeling people complained it was just too spicy, and they reformulated it with much less of a heat level. Anyway I just bought a bottle and it doesn’t seem nearly as spicy as it used to be, though it is still spicy, and still very good! Not only is  this ranch dressing good on salad or greens of course but it has many, many more uses on all kinds of foods. You can put a little on the side as a sauce for most anything, for instance grilled chicken, or shrimp, or fish, or grilled tofu, or what have you.

In fact you can use this as an ingredient to cook with it. For instance, try brushing this stuff on chicken which you would bake, broil, or grill. Its awesome on hamburgers, mixed with some ketchup for some homemade spicy “special sauce”. Try a little on some asian style noodles… with some chunky organic peanut butter on top? In fact try this on just about anything you think might be better with some spice to it. You will come up with some interesting tests.

So congratulations on a fantastic product, Trader Joe’s. Some chile-heads might be disappointed that you toned down the heat a bit for mere mortals. (But folks, you can mix some Sriracha sauce with this, if you want it spicier still, or add some cayenne pepper and it will be like it used to be). It sells for $2.99 (16 oz. bottle) which is not bad since most TJ salad dressings are 8 oz bottles?

So try this, its one of those love it or hate it type TJ products! Do I love it? Yes, yes, yes!

I’m giving this product a:

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By the way, the story of HUY FONG FOODS SRIRACHA and it’s founder Vietnamese refugee David Tran, is one of the best American immigrant success stories there is!

ADDITIONAL LINKS

http://nextshark.com/sriracha-hot-sauce-david-tran-vietnamese/

https://www.thrillist.com/eat/nation/14-things-you-didnt-know-about-sriracha-including-its-proper-pronunciation

https://www.pri.org/stories/2013-10-22/story-how-one-hot-sauce-huy-fong-sriracha-got-so-hot

UPDATE: AUG 2020 – Reported as Discontinued, during Covid-19!!!