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Friday, October 2, 2020

Trader Joe's Southwest Style Sweet Potato Saute Bowl

Of course, there's any number of ways to mark the year 2020. Most of them, we won't go into here, and we think you appreciate that. 

Today, we'll keep it light and positive, and state that 2020 seems to be a year that my lovely bride and I have really gotten a lot of cool kitchen stuff, or at the very least definitely upped our meager supply from before. New KitchenAid mixer for her, that I'm afraid to touch. New nicer grill for me, that's she's afraid to touch. Just yesterday we had a new blender/food processor delivered from a Pampered Chef party Sandy hosted about a month ago, and as we've excitedly exclaimed several times, it can heat stuff while blending. Hello potato soup. Plenty more things coming from that party.

And most pertinent for this review, a great buddy of mine dropped off a carbon steel wok and bamboo handled spatula for my birthday. I love it, and use it as often as I can, although I'll admit I'm still getting the hang of it. 

So when Sandy brought home the new Trader Joe's Southwest Style Sweet Potato Saute Bowl, I knew it was time to wok and roll. Sounds like fun and deliciousness all in one. 

And boy, were we not wrong.

The label suggests it's a six serving container, which I suppose can make sense if treating as a side dish. There's plenty in there once it gets opened, kinda like it's all springloaded in there with all the potato spirals and whatnot. But treat as a main dish, it's perhaps more like a larger lunch for two hungry adults to share, and that works.

First off: lots of potato...noodles? If zucchini noodles can be called zoodles, what are these? "Poodles" is taken. Call 'em yams and yoodles? Maybe? I digress. There's a ton in there, enough that while cooking I wasn't there if there'd be enough of the other stuff to even make it's way and mix up the big ol' nest we had going on. Fortunately they do saute up well and "cook down" and untangle enough to get a nix mix on, though they do take longer to saute than stated on the package. There were a few grainy-ish bites, which yes, partially on me, but it's something to be aware of. 

But all the mix-in's, too: nice. There's jicama in there but honestly for us it got more or less lost in there so I wasn't always aware while consuming it. There was an occasional burst of freshness though, so that must be it. Ample chunks of poblano peppers are tossed in, which don't add much if any heat, but are maybe a slightly edgier bell pepper, like a pre-teen one who just went to Hot Topic. Get one with a little extra roast on it and it's yum. Corn, black beans, a lil' pico de gallo - all are good, could use a little more, IMHO. But what's there is nice. 

And then...the sauce. 

This is always the make it or break it component for any salad or similar kit. You gotta nail this. Here, TJ's went with an avocado cilantro one. I'd argue you don't have to like avocados to like this dressing - it's light and smooth with a little body to it, but is nowhere near guacamole, though for me that wouldn't be outta line for a piece of the meal here. Sandy generally dislikes avocado and had no issue with this particular one. But (and a big but) you absolutely have to like cilantro. There's a lot of that up in here. I'd say that makes sense - with all the yoodles (yup, I'm going for it) in there something has to cut through and add flavor to every bite. Cilantro is the overarching ingredient tying it all together. It's got bite. And it works. 

In all, the sweet potato saute kit works as a standalone dish that can likely be adaptable to however you may want to dress it up. Add some guac, sour cream/Greek yogurt, salsa, even a little more protein to make it a bit more of a meal and boost the serving numbers? Sure, all of that could work. It seems to be a good base for all sorts of creations...which I intend to do with my new fancy wok in all its rainbow-seasoned glory. Good stuff. Really good. I think between Sandy and I we can muster a near perfect score. 

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Southwest Style Sweet Potato Saute Bowl: 9.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons

 

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