Hello. My name's Nathan, and I love Trader Joe's. My wife Sonia does too. She's a great shopper, has excellent taste and knows good value when she comes across it. As many of you know, Trader Joe's is unsurpassed in the world of good-value grocery stores, so we spend a lot of our time and money there. Although the store fairly consistently delivers great taste with its own unique line of food products, there are definitely some big-hits, and unfortunately, there are some misses...

After doing a couple of internet searches for reviews of TJ's food items, Sonia discerned an apparent dearth of good, quality reviews for the store's offerings. So, at her suggestion, we decided to embark on a journey of systematically reviewing every Trader Joe's product, resulting in the blog you are about to read...

A couple of months into our Trader Joe's rating adventure, an old college friend, Russ, who unbeknownst to me had been following our TJ's blog, decided that I had been slacking in my blogging duties (which, of course, I was) so he decided to contribute his own original TJ's reviews to the blog, thus enhancing it, making it more complete and adding to it a flavor of his own. He and his wife Sandy are also avid TJ's fans and, as you will soon discover, he is an excellent writer and is nearly as clever, witty and humble as I am.

Seriously though, Russ: You go, boy!

So here it is: "What's Good at Trader Joe's?"

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Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Trader Joe's Kale Quinoa Salad

Bacon chocolate bars. Fig cookies ...err ....cakes .... bars. errr... whatever you want to call them. Greasy Greece-y cheesy dough spiralsMega carrot cake cookies. Super-de-duper crunchy brownie bites, which apparently everyone in the world except me knew were Sheila's Brownie Brittle.

Is it any wonder that I could use a salad?

As fun as it would be to subsist on nothing but all of those aforementioned treats, plus any cookie butter confections and other assorted TJ's goodies, well, that's just not how it works. You need veggies, and in the hot hot heat and humidty of summer, some nights nothing but a cool, crisp, flavorful salad will do.

It doesn't get any easier than Trader Joe's Kale Quinoa Salad. As the package implies, it's a full, ready to go salad in a bag, ready to be rinsed off, dumped in a bowl, and served up. And there's a lot in here, too - crisp, fresh kale for the leafy green base, with some fresh shoestring carrot and broccoli for kind of a raw crunchy natural slaw to really fill the salad out. There's the typical red cabbage and radicchio shards intersparsed through out. All of that is well and good, but the toasted quinoa - man, that's a great addition, much better than any crouton. The itty quinoa bits (of which there are plenty) add a crispy, toasty, slightly nutty munch than makes a tasty accomplice to the rest of the kale, etc. The lemon vinaigrette is okay - somewhat light, a little citrusy, with a slight sweet tartness that plays off the natural veggie flavors well enough - but isn't terribly memorable, either. Of course, I say this as a non fan of most salad dressings, so take my opinion for whatever it may be worth. There's also a small package of pepitas and cranberries that add some textural variance and flavor, but it'd be nice to have more of them, especially the cranberries.

And this is one huge salad too. Sandy and I have bought it twice - the first time, we were extraordinarily hungry, so we plowed through the entire bag between the two of us for dinner, and that seemed to be pushing it a bit. The second time, we roasted some chicken breasts to cut up and mix in with the salad - man, that was filling, and though we ate to our hearts' content, there was enough remaining for a good leftover lunch for me. Really, not a bad value at all the for the $4.49 it set us back.

We're both fans, although strangely, me more than the wifey for once. Not tht she hated it, by any stretch. The first time we dined on it, she expressed some of her fullest love she could for a consumable good (non ice cream division). After the second...more of a "meh" reaction. Maybe it's because we knew what to expect. Regardless, Sandy said she'd probably still pick up the kale quinoa salad for a few lunches here and there, giving it a 3.5 overall. Me? it deserves better than that in my humble opinion. Not quite perfect (seriously, more cranberries, please) but I'll grade a little higher to give it the score I think it deserves.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Kale Quinoa Salad: 8 out of 10 Golden Spoons

1 comment:

  1. I really loved this! I added in some edamame and had two huge meals so it's a good deal since I can't make or buy something like this for that price. And vegan!
    The puffed quinoa is super easy to make- just toss quinoa in a hot dry saute pan and toss and toast a few min until it puffs a little and changes color. Great on salads and even yogurt