Shaved carrot chips? Alright.
Crushed almonds? Ok.
Shredded Parmesan cheese? Yup.
What do all of these have in common, aside from being the base of the new Trader Joe's Lemony Arugula Basil Salad Kit?
A couple things, really, that are pertinent here. First, there's pretty literally nothing I can say about any of them. These ingredients, presuming they are fresh, are darn near impossible to mess up, and nearly as difficult to stand out in any way, shape or form. I mean, I suppose an exceptionally good Parmesan could, but when's the last time you had a noteworthy bite of straight up plain ol' arugula. I'll take the under on "never." So we're not gonna talk about them, because the second thing they have in common is I can almost guarantee that not a single of those ingredients is the reason why anyone would buy this salad. Nothing exotic. No fancy fixings. No nothin', really.
Nah, it's all about that basil lemon vinaigrette.
C'mon now, that just sounds good, doesn't it? Sounds light and fresh and summery and just perfect to drizzle atop on otherwise uninspiring heap of greens and stuff. If you're like me and like to see what's in something before eating it, you'll notice a lot of funky ingredients, too - lemon and basil, sure, but also white grape juice, honey, garlic, cayenne, turmeric, white wine, and so on. Sounds intriguing, and visually, if I didn't know what it was, I'd think it'd be a slightly soupy avocado dressing kinda deal.
Take a bite of the salad without it? Meh. Get some mixed in. Even just a light coat changes that to an "ooo." It's surprisingly light with it's medium-ish consistency, bright, and helps lighten up everything. There's the lemon hit, yet with it there's a taste of almost everything else, so there's a wee bit of complexity going on. If you're concerned about spice level because of that aforementioned cayenne, worry not - it's there but only slight, just enough to give the smallest hint of an edge but not much more. I mean, my kids devoured it, so it can't be that bad. It even made mouthfuls of arugula sound like an appetizing idea. Nothing against arugula per se, as it is a fine leafy green, and certainly above regular ol' iceberg lettuce, but it's definitely lower than spinach and kale in the cruciferous power rankings.
Yeah, yet another TJ salad where I'd imagine most of us wish they'd just sell the dressing separately.
Life gives you lemons, so make lemonade. Or you can make lobster. Or maybe now you can say a basil lemon vinaigrette for a side salad. Oooh all that sounds like a tasty dinner. Good stuff, good salad, good value at $2.99 for a large bag.
Bottom line: Trader Joe's Lemony Arugula Basil Salad Kit: 8 out of 10 Golden Spoons.