Trader Joe’s STONE GROUND GRITS


“There are grits and then there are stone ground grits.”

Up here in the Yankee North of NYC, most of us are probably not as familiar with grits as folks in the South are. I tried these Trader Joe’s Stone Ground Grits and guess what? This damn Yankee loves me some Grits! Maybe its not such a surprise as I have always enjoyed and made Italian Polenta, and let’s face it grits are almost the American version of polenta, right? OK not exactly as grits use a different kind of corn.

Anyway these TJ’s stone ground grits are much better than commercially mass produced grits you see at the supermarket kind which are not stone ground. Stone Ground Grits are milled from the whole kernel of corn including the healthy tasty germ. They have a coarse, varied texture, as you can see in the picture and have more corn flavor than the supermarket kind. Think of these as “gourmet grits”. Grits take about 25-30 minutes to cook, stirring them every 5 minutes or so. You can just follow the recipe on the package and you will get good grits. I like to cook them using more milk (half milk/half water) which makes them even creamier. Shredded cheddar cheese at the end makes them even better if you like them savory (Unexpected Cheddar perhaps!? Oh yeah). I like to use grits as the Base for a dish, such as the base for sautéed GREENS or especially the base for SHRIMP AND GRITS, which is terrific and typically Southern. You can even do it a super simple version of Shrimp and Grits: just grill up some red shrimp with lots of seasoning and serve them on top of cheesy grits with the pan juices. Yum!

Cook grits low and slow in a thick bottomed pan and stir them often so the bottom doesn’t burn. They may be even better with another 10-15 mins of cooking (ie 40-45 minutes total). If they get too thick, just add a little more water. TJ’s Stone Ground Grits are $2.29. Grits are GLUTEN FREE of course.

TIP: Double up the recipe when you make some grits; then you have leftovers which you can use to make pan fried grits, kind of the way you might make pan fried polenta, which I just love.

Here’s a few recipes for shrimp and grits:

https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchen/lemon-garlic-shrimp-and-grits-recipe-1973610

https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchen/the-best-shrimp-and-grits-7448205

TJ’s POTATO GNOCCHI (& recipe ideas)


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

These gnocchi are one of my favorite TJ items. They are so handy. I almost always pick up a pack every time I go so I have one in the pantry. Available in the pasta section, these packages of TJ’s POTATO GNOCCHI are terrific and a bargain at just $1.69 (1.1 lbs). The package is 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? The cooked gnocchi have a pleasantly chewy texture, which you can accentuate even more by pan frying them (see below), one way I recommend cooking them.

COOKING: Simply toss these into boiling salted water for about 3 minutes and they’re ready to serve with your favorite sauce. They will float to the top of the water when done. 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 to 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 even have to boil them at all. You can just pan fry them without the 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 GDB (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 or marinara sauce. TJ’s jarred Pesto works quite well with these. It can even be as simple as just butter and grated cheese plus some black pepper, a kind of Cacio E Pepe. Speaking of which – In TJ’s C&P sauce! 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 GREEK YOGURT with HONEY


This is what I have started to buy at Trader Joe’s pretty regularly. It’s very lightly sweetened from the honey and I find perfect especially for breakfast with some fruit and my granola in the morning. But I also find other uses for it. I use it like “creme fraiche” or whipped cream as a topping for desserts with a bit lower calorie count than either of those. TJ sells it in a big 32 oz container for $4.99 or small cups for $1.29. It’s quite yummy.

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