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Thursday, February 3, 2022

Trader Joe's Pesto Rosso

I'm not a fan of traditional pesto. For years, I thought it was one of the spices used in the mixture that turned me off, but some time ago, I realized that most regular pestos use pine nuts as a base. Pine nuts have always revolted me for some reason. Sure enough, every non-pine nut-based pesto I've tried since has been a thumbs up for me, this one included.

It's tomato-based, and there's parmesan cheese, cashew, and carrot puree in the mix. The spice blend includes basil, garlic, and lemon juice. It's an interesting flavor—sorta tangy, savory, and acrid, with hints of nuttiness and earthiness underneath. Goes well with pasta. There are some other serving suggestions on the jar that we haven't tried yet, including pizza and soup.

The sauce is thick and dense. Just a few spoonfuls are enough to coat a surprising amount of pasta. It's mostly smooth. No chunks of anything in there, although it's somewhat lumpy until you distribute it evenly across many pieces of pasta.

$2.49 for the jar. Would go great with crackers and cheese. We'd maybe buy it again to have on standby with a charcuterie board or something fancy like that, but I don't think it would ever be a day-to-day go-to kind of condiment for me. Although, I kinda wanna make grilled cheese with fontina, gruyere, or havarti and pair it with this. Maybe goat cheese?

Product of Italy. Three and a half stars a piece from Sonia and me.

Bottom line: 7 out of 10.

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Trader Joe's Cacio e Pepe Ravioli


For whatever reason, I've found myself watching a lot of Gordon Ramsey snippets recently, like little three or four minute blurbs from Kitchen Nightmares or whatever. Don't know why, but man, watching and listening to him rip and bleep something apart is so satisfying on some level at times. 

If at a subpar Italian restaurant that was likely to be visited by good ol' Chef Ramsey, if some Italian cheese and pepper stuffed pasta was on the menu, I'd suspect it'd be a lot like Trader Joe's Cacio e Pepe Ravioli.

Is it fair to compare a frozen prepared product to a dining out dinner? No, probably not...except when other TJ's products have risen to the occasion it's been pointed out, so here's the flip side. 

This...just isn't good ravioli. The noodles are limp, soggy and bland even by a noodle standard. There's nothing to them, at all. Just tasteless and there, and barely contain the namesake filling. The cheese tastes okay - mild, a touch tangy - with a nice little dose of pepper to season it up, but it's also kinda gritty and not as creamy as hoped. The end result is kinda a letdown. 

Ramsey would be tearing this up, bleeping up a storm, maybe some crack about diapers, and storm back to the kitchen or have the server dump them in the trash. Good thing he wasn't at my table the other day when I served 'em up, because even when it's not that great, that's not something we do in my house. I'd have to put his butt in timeout. 

But yeah...subpar, even by frozen pasta standards, Perhaps a little included sauce packet could help liven it up. As is, it's take a bite and shrug. Just meh to not quite blah. DOuble twos here. 

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Cacio e Pepe Ravioli: 4 out of 10 Golden Spoons

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