What's for Lunch? & Trader Joes


I want to start this post by talking about what I don't like buying from Trader Joe's, and 2 products that I can't live without...

First off, I NEVER buy frozen fish from Trader's (it's mostly from China, Vietnam, Bangladesh.....), and I don't like their produce at all. I don't like it because it's not fresh, it's always in a bag, which is great in a pinch, but TJ's produce seems to always be soggy or wilted or on its way out. I recently had to throw out a bag of their onions and sweet potatoes, since they were rotten in less than a few days, and the lettuce is always slimy.

Just my opinion and my experience, you are allowed to disagree.

However, I do go to Trader Joe's for my nuts, chocolate, frozen veggies, less expensive Kelly Gold butter and Vermont Creamery creme fraiche, which is always in my fridge.

But the 2 products I must have on hand is their corn salsa (in the chip aisle)...........it is amazing in chili, w/ chips and in omelets. I love it.

The other item is their OLIVE TAPENADE (in the refrigerated section).

Whenever a recipe calls for a cup of chopped kalamata or manzanilla olives, I now use their olive tapenade.
It is excellent on fish or chicken, or on crostini with some warm goat cheese and it's all natural.

I use it on my roasted cauliflower with some raisins tossed in and it's the best.

Ok, enough talking about product endorsements (which, by the way, I do not get paid for).

I woke up craving this salad, so I made it for breakfast and ate the eggs warm.

This salad is sort of a Salade Nicoise minus the potatoes.
It is best served when the eggs and beans are warm and good olive oil is a must.

White Bean Salad w/ Trader Joe's Tapenade & Tuna: (serves 4)

1 can of small white beans (Goya makes a tiny, firm white bean, perfect for salads)
1 can of good tuna, packed in oil (I like Tonnino brand), drained
1/2 cup of chopped mixed olives (kalamata & manzanilla w/ pimentos), or pre-made tapenade
1 lb. of haricot vert (skinny French style green beans)
4 hardboiled eggs, peeled & sliced in half
good olive oil for drizzling
squeeze of a lemon
Maldon salt

Cook the eggs in boiling water for about 12 minutes. Peel and set aside.

In the same boiling water, cook the green beans (skinny beans only take about 2 minutes). Drain and refresh under cool water to keep them crisp and bright green.

In a bowl, mix the rinsed beans with the tuna and mix with the olive tapenade.

Arrange everything on a platter and drizzle with good olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Season with flaky sea salt and enjoy.


The Food Hunter said…
great recipe and post!
Becka said…
I don't like Trader Joe's produce either, it's awful, always looks rotten to me. Fresh is much better than bagged, and read the ingredients first, because a lot of their stuff is not "organic" and is from other countries that don't have the same guidelines as we do for food safety.

Elizabeth said…
I'm like you, Stacey. Never buy their produce except in a pinch. I've consistently been unhappy with it.

Also, I've bought cottage cheese on more than one occasion only to find it green with mold when I open it up at home (and it was still sealed and well before the sell-by date). Of course they're happy to refund or replace but I'm kind of leery now. Lots of other items I do like them for though.
That is a shame that your Trader Joe's does not have good produce. The one where I shop seems fine, although I must admit that I have only gotten produce there a few times because we have a Produce Junction much closer to our house than TJ's! In any event, this salad looks good, and now I simply must try that TJ's Olive Tapenade. Thanks for the tip!
Arlene said…
I think it depends on each Trader Joe's.
We live in Arizona during the winter and their produce and flowers are spectacular, as is their liquor dept.
However, when I come back to the east coast, the flowers are lousy, the produce blah, and some of the products are not there (they are regional).
and my east coast store has no booze. :(
I don't buy much produce there either. But I have bought the frozen cod before and it was pretty good. The salad looks delicious and for some reason the eggs look giant.
Susan said…
My experience with TJs in California exactly. But the haricots verts, for some strange reason, are always in good condition.
Anonymous said…
I have had very good luck with pomegranate seeds, black berries, avocados, tomatoes, endive, bananas, lemons and limes from Trader's . Favorite products to add to recipe's include--the frozen grilled corn (off the cob and has a great grilled flavor. Always in my freezer.), tomatillo salsa (in the refrigerated section), and nuts & dried fruit. My family has there favorite frozen after school snacks as well. We love their chocolates as well. Can't wait to try this recipe--looks wonderful!
Up here in the boonies there's no Trader Joes....I don't miss it except for the goodies you mentioned. Next time I'm around one I've gotta try the corn salsa. Sounds yum.
Lisa in Indianapolis said…
Hate to say it, but I've had similar experiences @ TJ's. And it's with newly purchased items! Green cottage cheese, their wonderful gazpacho goes bad if you don't eat it asap, and the WORST was a package of Empire kosher brand chicken - smelled very bad when opened. My friend also had a bad one she bought when shopping with me. TJ's response: "oh, our delivery truck door was open for several hours unloading the chicken" UGH! It was horribly hot that day. So much for following the "cold chain" to keep food and US safe. Another time I "saved" a shopper from buying a container of hummus which had an obviously "bubbled up" lid. The only things I buy @ TJ's are their tuna fish and bruschetta. No probs w/produce.
Nana said…
I don't understand TJ's and their produce. Limes and lemons are good and cheaper than other stores. I love the corn relish, it brightens up many dishes. I do buy cheese, nuts and dried fruit there. They do take anything back, but what is the point of that? Also, I think their organic chicken products are tough. But, I still love enough products there to make TJ's my main grocery store. I'm very glad to read your comments on it.
Stacey Snacks said…
Funny, I'm running there right now, I am out of tapenade and I need butter, and yes, lemons and limes, much cheaper than my grocery store. Also, their avocados are less expensive too......I guess you just have to pick and choose!

KC said…
My son loves Clif Bars, and they are a dollar cheaper at TJ's! I go there just for that and Belgian chocolate bars, in and out!

I never buy their frozen fish or rarely produce except I love those baby zucchini. I pick and choose but I always end up spending 50 bucks or so.
Love their greek full fat yogurt, have you tried?
Ann said…
cooking from your blog on this stormy weeknend but where would you recommend I find meyer lemons? Whole Foods?