But I don't exactly get the point of these overall. Now, I'm not that dumb. These are obviously meant more as a snacky hors d'ouevres than an actual dinner dish. I get that. But even in that regard, that kinda fall a little bit short. It's not that they taste terrible, because they don't. It's kinda of everything else.
For a few small bites, the preparation is kinda silly. You have to take them out of the package, let them thaw out for 20 to 25 minutes, bake them for about 15, then let them sit for a few before eating them, leaving a small window of time before they get cold and not as appetizing. Maybe that doesn't sound that bad. But let's talk about that, with the theoretical happenstance you're making these for a shindig at your house. Perhaps you're much different than my wife and I, but the last few minutes before any guests arrive, we're usually shoving plates, pots and random doodads into the dishwasher and tossing all of our dirty socks down to the basement and out of sight. There's not much time to be spared for panini prep time management, assuming we'd want these on the menu.
Plus, kinda the whole point of a panini, at least to me, is having a big ol' oversized sandwich. The piccolo squares are teeny little bites, maybe two midsized nibbles each square. It just doesn't have the same kind of satisfaction. Maybe that sounds like a silly thing to say, in light of the fact we purchased them, knowing what they are and their size and all, but while eating these, we just became that much more aware of that fact.
Buuuuttttt....they tasted okay enough. The bread got nice and reasonably toasted and crispy on the outside, and while the pesto and red pepper spread were nothing special, they weren't terrible by any means either. They made a good enough side dish for some orzo and peas. The panini bits even made a decent enough leftover lunch, even though the bread got noticeably chewier and denser overnight. But all in all, they're just very much in the middle - nothing that bad or too wonderful to say about them. Sandy's reaction summed it up about perfectly when I asked for her opinion: "Mmmmeeehhhhhhhh...". I interpret that as a three. Mark me down for that too.
Bottom line: Trader Joe's Piccolo Panini: 6 out of 10 Golden Spoons