The presence of corn (and absence of wheat) is great news for all you gluten-free folks. But for people like Sonia, it means an unusual texture that, in her own words, "feels like eating soap." I certainly see where she's coming from with that observation. The texture of the actual polenta balls is a little strange, especially if you're expecting it to feel just like traditional pasta. Now you've got me talking about balls and Russ chuckling about nut butter. I swear, people, this is a family-friendly blog.
Other than its lack of gluten and its vegetarian-ness, this product's other great strength lies in its vegetable medley, which includes peas, spinach, and tomato bits. The cream sauce is moderately spicy and lends a nice mixture of herbs to the dish, but its flavor certainly doesn't overpower that of the vegetables.
Flavor-wise, the polenta adds little. I found it to be very neutral in taste. There's a melodramatic spiel on the back of the bag describing Trader Joe's efforts to "liberate" polenta from its traditional Italian niche. So...if this isn't the way traditional polenta is served, then perhaps this entree would have been more successful as something entirely different? Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed it. But Sonia and I both agree the least appetizing part of this dish is the polenta itself.
Another surprise was the overwhelming soupiness of the product, as pictured above. The photo on the bag depicts a mostly-dry dish served on a plate. I'm not really complaining, but we wound up eating our "polenta stew" from a bowl.
Since it's something unique and new-to-me—and because it tastes good overall, I'm giving this polenta provencale a 3.5. Despite admitting that she really liked the veggies, Sonia can't get past the texture of the polenta balls. She gives it 2.5 stars.
Bottom line: 6 out of 10.