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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Thursday, September 17, 2015

Trader Joe's Harvest Blend

*Sniff, sniff* Hrmm, what's that smell in the air? Let's see...very late summer, not quite the autumnal equinox, warm days but cool nights, kids back in school...ah yes, must be the beginning on the annual onslaught of what I call "Pumpkin Everything!" season. Ugh. Annual disclaimer time: It's not that I'm anti-pumpkin stuff. I'm just anti- the overabundance of quite literally everything stinkingly possible having some nutmeg and cinnamon tossed on it and it be called a pumpkinpumpkin somethin'somethin'. I get it: basic capitalism. Supply and demand. But still. Let's get a hold of ourselves, people.

Of course, TJ's is no exception. I don't have the time in the day to individually link to everything pumpkin we've ever reviewed, nor the resources to hire an intern to do that menial labor, but there's several dozen, at least. Click here and go scour around if so inclined - chances are, if it's Trader Joe's, and if it's pumpkin, we've done it, or soon will. Thanks, Nathan, for doing most of that.

Despite my gourded enthusiasm about most pumpkin stuff, though, got to admit, I was a little intrigued by one of the newer salad-in-a-bag deals, Trader Joe's Harvest Blend. Maybe it was the success of the kale quinoa deal a little bit ago that whet my appetite, but I can get behind pumpkin seeds, and pumpkin cornbread croutons sound good, and...what the....

Pumpkin vinaigrette? I'm not a big salad dressing guy, but a nice light Italian or regular vinaigrette is okay every once in a while, but is this really something that oughtta be crossbred with anything big and orange that grows on a vine?  I tell you the truth: your entire perception of this salad hinges nearly completely on how you feel about that question.

For me: not sold. Not abhorred either. But...it's kinda weird. As a plus, from what I can tell from perusing the ingredients, there's no cinnamon or nutmeg or any pumpkin-pie like spices added to the dressing itself - it seems to be straight up pumpkin - imagine that! The flavor was kind of uneven - some bites tasted like normal dressing, others tasted like "pumpkin pie on lettuce" to use Sandy's description. Sometimes it even was sharply discordant with the natural greeny bite of the kale and other leafy greens. It's odd, and I probably would have been happier without it, but that'd be disservicing you all.

As for the rest of the salad, it was pretty solid. Good, crisp greens, with some broccoli and carrot slaw for a crunch much like the aforementioned quinoa salad. There weren't quite enough raisins, seeds or chopped dates for my liking, as those added some texture, variety and sweetness, but I didn't feel cheated either. As for those pumpkin cornbread croutons - good enough I'd probably buy just a straight box of them for a snack. They tasted just like a good cornbread, with a little smooch of pumpkin pie taste - I can buy into that. Absolute highlight of the salad right there, though they do get soggy and spongy if you save any for leftovers.

Overall, it seems like a good deal for the $4.49. It's big enough for a dinner salad for two hungry folks, or if used as a side (like we did with some pulled pork using my favorite barbeque sauce), expect leftovers. I'd probably get it again but pitch the dressing - if I'm going to drizzle something on my otherwise perfectly good dinner, I don't want to be indecisive about it. Same with Sandy, who said it could really use some other type of dressing, but other than that, the salad was great. She could only muster about a 2.5 when taking the whole package into consideration. Hrmmm...salad without dressing would be about a 4, with it was about a 2 for me...so let's call it a 3.

Trader Joe's Harvest Blend: 5.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons

2 comments:

  1. I picked this up the other day and was so glad i had read your review first! I tried the dressing on a few test bites and really didn't like it- weird for salad, so it went by the wayside and i added my own dijon vinegrette that really worked well. Loved those croutons!
    Ttrockwood

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  2. Oh no! I'm sorry to hear you didn't enjoy it (sad pumpkin face)...

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