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Friday, February 23, 2018

Trader Joe's Mexican Style Corn & Quinoa Salad

One of the best parts of being in an intercultural marriage is coming to understand and appreciate the other culture just a little deeper than one might have been able to otherwise. I still don't embrace things like feeding dead relatives on Dia de los Muertos—but then, Sonia never did either. But the food? Mexico has some of the greatest culinary traditions on the planet. And in Sonia's own words, "Mexicans don't eat bland food." She's not claiming that every dish has to be scorchingly spicy, but that it should at least boast bold flavor.

We see plenty of ingredients here that one might find in dishes from south of the border: cotija cheese, corn, cilantro, poblanos, jalapeños. But the overall effect? Not particularly flavorful.

The salad was fresh, and there was a good mix of cabbage, quinoa, rice, and corn. They were a bit stingy with the cotija cheese, as we've seen in at least one other TJ's product.

There was a narrow tube of dressing included with the salad. It was thick and green, quite similar in appearance to the Green Goddess we just looked at. It tasted like creamy cilantro, so...if you like cilantro, I guess that's not bad—but for a dressing that supposedly included poblano peppers, jalapeño peppers, green onions, and garlic, it was shockingly tame. Not only was there no detectable heat, but there was very little flavor overall. I understand poblanos aren't super hot, but jalapeños have a bit of kick to them. Onions? Garlic? Not even enough in there to sully your breath before a business meeting—which could be a good know, if you had a business meeting...

Five bucks for this salad, which allegedly includes four servings. 560 calories and 28 grams of fat in the whole container—significant, considering the subtleness of the flavor. And one more complaint: I found it very difficult to mix the salad around in the container without spilling elements out of the tub in every direction. It's not the end of the world, particularly if you're eating this at home. But on the go? At work? Might be a little inconvenient.

There's plenty of roughage and fresh, quality ingredients in this product. There's nothing particularly wrong with it. This salad's just not tasty enough to call "Mexican Style" or to warrant a repeat purchase. Two and a half stars from Sonia. Three from me.

Bottom line: 5.5 out of 10.


  1. Too bad, this sounded really promising! I don’t understand the packaging- obviously that’s a silly suggestion this would serve four people (as what...?? A condiment? Four toddlers??) and i also learned from the abc +k packaged like this that mixing it is impossible.
    Glad i read your review before buying it myself!

  2. Yeah, the packaging is not at all conducive to eating on the go. You really need a bowl. I haven't tried this one but my sister, who works at Trader Joe's, did. She said it needed more flavor.

  3. So I bought this despite the review with the intention of doctoring it. Because I didn’t buy it for on the go eating but as part of met meal prep for the week it actually works well if you add a little more cheese some chili powder and Mexican mayo. It’s a little pricey but I’m happy because next time I will try to make a cilantro dressing and do this all on my own.

  4. I bought this on a whim at the recommendation of someone at TJs, and I really like it. No, it's not hot (and I didn't have that expectation since I picked it up on a whim), but I think it's hearty, nutritious, and tastes great.

  5. I really love this. I do agree it makes a mess. The dressing is so good! Love it!! sorry you didn't enjoy!

  6. In a jumbo-sized salad bowl, I mixed the entire container with about 3-4 cups arugula (or any greens will do, like spinach, kale, or spring mix), a half bunch of scissored cilantro leaves, extra lime juice, and the entire package of dressing. Add red pepper flakes to taste, and what a great fresh-tasting meal. I think this may have been the salad one of the Today show hosts says she buys in large quantities because she eats it almost every day.

    CONS: After I wrote my first review, I read the label. YIKES! the entire box has 760mg of sodium, which is about half of our daily allowance. I didn't read the label when purchasing because I erroneously, and hurriedly, thought "produce" wouldn't need to be checked for sodium. How on earth do the healthy, natural ingredients in this salad total up to 760mg of sodium? I cook whole grains with no salt, and then add just a pinch when serving.

    CONCLUSION: This salad could be made with less than a third to a half of the sodium contained in this pre-packaged and delicious salad. I will make my own hack so I can cut the sodium. Excess sodium causes all kinds of health issues. Bummer!!

  7. Not bad, but nothing I'd crave. I split this into two servings and agree, the container does not lend itself to easy splitting. I topped each serving with grilled chicken and the dressing, which I am sure is the source of most of the calories. There were 3 large stalks of kale that were inedible -- I assume this product should only include the leafy portion and the stalks were thrown in by mistake. Nothing I'd go out of my way to get again.

  8. I actually like this but would say it yields 2 servings not 4. I added some pepper ranch dressing, carrots, fresh spinach, more tomatoes, and romaine lettuce. I never realized the claim of poblano peppers until I saw this blog but the cheese adds a nice flavor. I also never would of thought about mixing the ingredients in its actual container either because to me it is obvious that is just sold in its original container to create the smallest, stackable form factor for shipping and displaying purposes. It definitely needs 2 tubes of dressing. It has a very nice flavor. I like the green color from the cilantro. It tastes really fresh and the different textures from the crunch of the cabbage, the grit from the brown rice and quinoa, and the chewy sweetness from the roasted corn make it a delight for me.


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