Trader Joe’s EGGPLANT GARLIC SPREAD


“A traditional Bulgarian recipe that pairs well with pita or flatbread. Use as a dip or as a spread on sandwiches, toast or crackers”.

Ingredients: Eggplant, red peppers, water, sunflower oil, tomato paste, sugar, sea salt, dried garlic….

This spread, which is made in Bulgaria, is absolutely delicious. I tried this as a vegetarian spread with some warm flatbread and it was a combo made in Heaven. Also I can also easily see this used in other ways besides being just a dip or spread. Serve this on top or on the side of some grilled chicken, or fish for a delicious accompaniment. Or you might use this with pasta. Add a few spoons to a pasta dish (or gnocchi or polenta) along with lots of garlic and olive oil. Inside an omelet? Sure thing. Now as yummy as it is, personally I would like more garlic. I have a feeling if your (Bulgarian) grandma made this spread it might actually have enough garlic in it to kill vampires. My late Jewish grandma (Romanian by birth) made a delicious roasted eggplant spread that had a ton – and I mean a ton – of garlic in it and it was fantastic. So just to see if more garlic would be a good addition with TJ’s spread, I mashed up a few cloves of garlic, mixed it in to this spread and let it sit for an hour to develop. OMG, it was now even better – if you love garlic of course. So I suggest doing that, and adding a slug of good olive oil too and mixing it all in. Now this spread tastes homemade. It will be better, but even just out of the jar, this spread is delicious, kind of an “Eggplant Caviar”. This spread is something I can easily see putting out for guests who suddenly showed up, along with some crackers, which would take all of 2 minutes of work, and would look impressive and have them asking you “yum, this dip is delicious; did you make it?”. If you put a few cloves of garlic in it, I would tell them with a straight face, yes I did.

$2.69 for a 12 oz jar. I would buy this again.

Trader Joe’s 10-minute FARRO (whole grain)


Farro is an Italian word basically meaning “ancient grain”, referring to ancient wheat varieties (emmer, spelt, or einkorn) forerunner grains to modern wheat. Farro is a very healthy food for you to eat, extremely nutritious and an excellent source of protein, fiber and nutrients like magnesium, zinc and some B vitamins. Its a much healthier alternative to some other refined grains for example white rice. If you’ve never had farro served on the side of a fancy Italian restaurant ( – it’s gotten a bit trendy – you should try this. You will probably like it’s very nutty taste. It’s delicious on its own even with just some butter, salt and pepper. You can cook it in water, or broth which will of course make it even tastier. This is a great and healthy product which we really like to make either as a side dish or even part of the main, say mixed with other veggies, maybe as the base of a protein bowl. A recipe for “Farro with Sausage & Apples” is written on the bag. Whole grains like this normally take about 45 minutes to cook however TJ’s “10 Minute Farro” obviously cooks faster in only about 10-15 minutes. I am guessing its been partially cooked. Trader Joe’s 10 Minute Farro sells for $1.79 for an 8.8 oz. bag. I buy this stuff all the time. Great for the pantry.

Trader Joe’s Korean Glass Noodles & Vegetable Stir Fry “JAPCHAE”


Trader Joe’s frozen JAPCHAE ; Korean Sweet Potato Glass Noodles & Vegetables stir fry

(update, march 2021: i haven’t been able to find this for some time. hoping its just a supply chain issue and not disco’d. Update2, may 2021: finally back! i just saw these again!

I had read about this new Trader Joe’s Korean frozen dish on offer. Reports on the internet were that it was good. I had to wait for it to hit our shelves in NYC so I could check it out, as I love Korean JapChae. Finally I saw it in our TJ’s here and got one to try. I was pretty impressed. It is indeed quite good. Even my (Korean) wife gave it her seal of approval with her comment “it tastes like JapChae” – it tastes authentically Korean. Lable does say it’s “MADE IN KOREA”. The noodles in JapChae are a clear vermicelli type noodle made from Korean sweet potato. These are called glass or cellophane noodles as that is what they resemble. Korean Chap jae or (Jap Chae) is a tasty noodle stir fry dish. TJ’s ChapJae is VEGETARIAN / VEGAN. Trade Joe’s sells it in the frozen Asian section, ready to eat. As well as being quite tasty it’s a pretty good deal at $2.99 (for 10 oz package). For the two of us, the container made 2 medium sized portions for a side dish. If you add things, it can become a dinner or main dish. We ate this with our dinner of potsticker dumplings. These two were a great combo together! We enjoyed the dumplings with this side dish of noodles with a bit of Kimchi too.

Carrots and red and green bell peppers round out the dish. Drizzle some more toasted sesame oil on just before serving if you have it. This dish is not spicy. Add something if you want it spicy. One can “beef up” the dish just by adding additional things: protein, more veggies. For example we put fried eggs on top which was a terrific addition. Top each portion with a fried egg, or you could make soft scrambled eggs and mix them into the noodles when they are ready to serve. You could also add in some BAKED TOFU or serve it on the side with this. So you can easily take this package of JAPCHAE and use it as the base for making a bigger fuller meal out of it. Add in to the noodles (or top when serving): cooked ground beef or ground turkey or pork, grilled chicken, shrimp, salmon or what have you. You can add more vegetables, too! Mushrooms, spinach, green beans…. Add stuff to this and you will have a delicious easy dinner for two, for way less than takeout. We liked TJ’s Jap Chae alot and will definitely buy this again.

One side note though: it does have a pretty high SODIUM CONTENT. If you eat this whole container yourself, note that you are getting a lot of Sodium (1120 mg) or almost half of the daily recommended level (2300 mg). Eating 1/2 the container as a serving brings the Sodium down to (560 mg) 24% of the recommended level, clearly much better for you. Always take a look the Sodium levels on any prepared / packaged food as many foods, can skew pretty high especially some Asian dishes. Get into the habit of checking the Nutrition labels when buying prepared foods, especially as it regards salt, something Americans eat generally way too much of.

TJ Mediterranean Style Hummus


Trader Joe’s sells SO many varieties of hummus. They may even have too many…. Don’t even get me started on “chocolate hummus” which I think is a crime against nature. Anyway this one is My TJ hummus. My “Go To” favorite. I think it’s their best one, one reason being that this “Mediterranean Style” hummus includes TAHINI in the ingredients. Incredibly, at least to me, is that some versions of hummus on offer at Trader Joe’s do not have Tahini in the ingredients. I don’t get this as Tahini (sesame paste) is an integral part of a hummus recipe and it is why it tastes good. I can only imagine some people don’t like tahini or its calories? Or an allergy? OK that must be why TJ sells hummus both ways, with or without it? Anyway their “Mediterranean Style” hummus is very tasty. It is a little fancier as on top they have a few pine nuts and spices. This is the way hummus is normally presented. When you serve it put it in a shallow bowl. A squeeze of 1/4 lemon would be good IMO (mix in juice). Run your spoon to make a circular groove all around the hummus and add a pour of your best EVOO. Sprinkle a bit of spice (Ajika for example, or ground cumin or zaatar) all around the perimeter attractively. Voila!

Serve with warm pita or naan or other flatbread.

The Mediterranean Style hummus costs about $4 for a 16 oz tub (it’s 50 cents more then the regular one with no tahini).

BTW, you can easily make hummus (which I occasionally do) Here’s a good recipe

https://www.themediterraneandish.com/how-to-make-hummus/

https://www.thespruceeats.com/our-favorite-hummus-recipes-4164898

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/food/what-people-get-wrong-about-making-hummus/2015/09/04/72c7c844-4dc5-11e5-902f-39e9219e574b_story.html

TJ Brown Rice Medley


Trader Joe’s Brown Rice Medley – “A delicious blend of long grain brown rice, black barley and daikon seeds”

This is both healthy and a bit different than plain brown rice and honestly just better I think. It’s a tasty mix of parboiled brown rice plus two slightly unusual additions – black barley and daikon seeds. Who knew you can eat daikon seeds? I didn’t, until now. We cooked up this rice blend and it got a seal of approval from myself my wife as making for an interesting nutty tasting side dish. However I found Trader Joe’s instructions need a tiny bit of modification regarding liquid amounts. I would reduce the amount of liquid they suggest on the package. So instead of the 2 1/2 cups they state I say try 2 1/4 cups of water or stock (to 1 cup of rice). For a ration slightly more than 2:1. Also if using just water, you should add a bit a salt. Butter is a good idea. Letting it sit (without peeking!) at the end for 10 minutes is important so all the liquid gets fully absorbed. Fluff up with a fork when done. Hitting this with a little more butter is a good too. Possibly some chopped parsley? Serve with your favorite main. Its $1.99 for a 1 pound bag. Worth trying. PS If you find it a bit too cooked for your tastes or mushy, the next time you make it reduce the cooking to 30 minutes (instead of the 35 mins written on the package). The brown rice in this has been par-boiled. Normally regular brown rice needs about 45 minutes.

UPDATE: DISCONTINUED !

RANT

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 Giant Peruvian Inca Corn (Choclo) Snacks


Trader Joe’s Giant Inca Peruvian Corn salted snacks.

JUST CORN!

I think these are just delicious. These are my new favorite snacks. Crunchy… we’re talking Super Super Crunchy. They are a “PRODUCT OF PERU”. From a variety of Inca Corn called “Choclo“. which has HUGE kernels, grown way up in the Andes Mountains. It says only three ingredients, CORN, oil, salt. OK, I wish the oil wasn’t palm oil but still very simple, with only 3 ingredients with the main one of course being just corn. That’s pretty Natural and probably way healthier snacks to munch on I think say compared to your potato chips.

Filled with corn-y goodness. $1.99 an 8 oz bag.

Gluten Free of course!

Envy Apples


I never heard of this apple before I saw them at Trader Joe’s. A hybrid developed in New Zealand, “Envy” apples are a hybrid of Royal Gala and Braeburn varieties. Both of those are excellent apples, and this hybrid, Envy, is well, just a terrific tasting apple. When I first tasted this Envy, my taste buds went pretty wild with “this must be one of the best apples I ever had”. Seriously this is just a great apple. Nice crunch, firm texture, sweet but with a hint of sour underneath? It’s a complex flavor, way more complex than just “sweet” like say a Honey Crisp apple or Red Delicious (yuck). Envy are a favorite pick of the Trader Joe’s crew, who I imagine taste everything they sell. I kind of trust those “crew picks”.

INFO

https://envyapple.com/en/about-envy#tab-1

These apples go great with just about everything. What about Envy with cheese? Yes, please. I knew they would match well with most any cheese, and frankly there is absolutely nothing better than to slice up these apples and put them on a plate with the Unexpected Cheddar. What a combo these make together. Seriously. Try either that or Cabot cheddar with these apples. I would imagine Brie would be great, or let’s face it any cheese you like. I love these just eaten out of hand on their own of course. I like them in the morning, diced up for my breakfast cereal. Your kids will love these paired up with some peanut butter. I know I do. Envy sell for $1.29 each. A bit more than the apples TJ sells for 79 cents but worth the little splurge every now and then. So if you haven’t ever tried these, try one for yourselves. You may get hooked on them. I know I have. I always buy one when I’m at TJ’s.

RAVE

Trader Joe’s DRIED BABY BANANAS


Over in the Dried Fruit section at TJ’s I’ve always liked the dried bananas (the full size ones). Recently this bright yellow package caught my eye for DRIED BABY BANANAS. I’m not quite sure if this replaced the bigger ones the used to see or I just never noticed these before. These stoked my curiosity. Well I really liked these DRIED BABY BANANAS, which are interesting looking. In fact some people might think they look a little scary as they look like little dried monkey fingers! Taste-wise they are just what they are bananas, which I am guessing are sun or air dried, and these are a bit moist, and a bit chewy and have an intense banana taste as the flavors are very concentrated from drying. And yes “baby bananas” are a different variety than your normal banana. So did I like them? Here’s one way to answer. After I tasted one, then another, I basically couldn’t stop eating them. They were quite tasty as-is right out of the bag. But then I had a bright idea, “Hmm, I wonder if they would be good match if I dipped them in peanut butter!?” Needless to say, they are a great combination. If you put some out with a little bit of PB to dip them in on the side I have a feeling kids would love these as a snack, though when they first see them no doubt they will say something like, “ewww gross, these look like dried baby monkey fingers ! The package says they come from Thailand and the INGREDIENTS list one thing: “DRIED BANANAS”. So I call that a pretty “natural” product. A package costs $1.99. The bag I got yesterday seems to have only 4 little bananas left when I just checked them…. so you could say they went down easy and way too fast. Next time I better buy 2 bags. By the way – I found out that Potassium is good for blood pressure and these have a lot of Potassium, a bit more than even regular fresh bananas. In short, another very good dried fruit snack from TJ, well worth trying so check them out.

RAVE

TJ’s Tea Tree Hand Wash Soap


(post written at the start of the Corona Virus pandemic)

Clearly these are trying times. So I have to say its nice to find something that seems to help during these times, and this soap actually helps, well me at least. Whenever I wash my hands with this soap,  which is often, the most lovely odor of tea tree oil hits my nose a second later, and I just find the aroma very comforting, and very calming. Seriously – This stuff is helping my mental state in some small way. Aromatherapy perhaps? And should I add I’m a straight male!? Seriously folks, this Tea Tree hand wash soap has the most amazing aroma. It’s a kind of “medicinal” smell, in a good way, that is wonderful and comforting every time you use it. Using this heavenly soap will no doubt make you feel slightly better and more relaxed as soon as that tea tree oil smell hits your nose. Plus the Aloe and oils in the hand wash will keep your hands from drying out from all the hand washing we’re doing! Tea tree oil has its own antibacterial properties. The soap is a “Product of New Zealand”, and that sounds good to me too. Label says “Cleanse and invigorates the senses” – it really does. The whole bathroom smells good after you washed up with this.

Seriously if you can find this in your Trader Joe’s, be sure to grab yourself a bottle (but just one please, leave one for the next person) It cost about $4.50 a bottle, and mine is seeming to last quite a while as a little squirt of this liquid soap goes a long way.

It says for hands but I have used it on my face too, as well as in the shower. Just be sure to dilute it a lot as tea tree oil can sting if you have very sensitive skin.

PRODUCT OF NEW ZEALAND

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