I am powerless to shiny new food products at Trader Joe's. So when I recently spotted a melange of grilled eggplant and zucchini in the frozen food aisle, I bought a bag without any idea how I'd use it.
One night, an ideal sandwich came together. Happily burdened with leftover pistachio-infused goat cheese from some yummy stuffed dates I made, I dreamed up another Trader Joe's sandwich special.
I heated the grilled eggplant and zucchini, which even from freezer to microwave tasted deliciously chargrilled. Then, I lightly toasted a Trader Joe's whole wheat pita and spread on TJ's black olive tapenade.
After stuffing the pockets with the grilled veggies and spinach, I slathered on some goat cheese and melted it slightly in the oven. The resulting Mediterranean-flavored pocket was warm, hearty, and worth repeating.
In creative condiments, Trader Joe's excels, and its Corn and Chile Tomato-less Salsa is a staple in my fridge. Sweet and zippy with just a touch of heat, this condiment complements not just Mexican cuisine but pretty much anything that goes with corn.
I put this stuff on everything. It's wet enough that it makes a fabulous salad dressing, especially with fresh tomatoes and cucumber. But it's also a delicious sandwich topping, adding texture and kick to conventional cold cuts, veggie burgers, and one of my favorite inventions, the Sloppy Jose, a Mexican Sloppy Joe made with carnitas and mole sauce.
Do you put salsa on sammies?
I am a sucker for new food products. Fortunately, I do most of my supermarket shopping at Trader Joe's — where I recently picked up these Mahi Mahi Burgers — and not Safeway, where I'd be tempted by new varieties of potato chips and Pop Tarts.
Truth be told, the fish patties were just OK, but the sandwiches we made with them were uniquely refreshing. Paired with Trader Joe's corn salsa and avocado and served on Acme green onion slab, the mahi made for a vaguely tropical, wholly novel treat.
No samosas were used in the making of these sandwiches, but the essence of the Indian appetizer came through in the yumminess. We started with Vegetable Masala Burgers and country-white rolls from Trader Joe's, then added tomatoes, sauteed onions, and avocado.
Made with potatoes and Indian spices, the patties tasted just like samosa filling, while the bread provided the crusty vehicle. Some sprouts and Dijon turned it into a handy package. If only we'd had some chutney.
In Louisiana, lagniappe is "a little something extra" — the 13th donut in a baker's dozen or the "soup meat" leftover from making vegetable soup. When we made gumbo a few weeks ago, we made a roux using vegetable oil with bacon fat. The lagniappe in this case? Leftover bacon. Of course, it made its way onto sandwiches.
To make the lagniappe-laden burgers, I combined two of my favorite Trader Joe's items: the roasted chicken patties and the honey wheat hamburger buns. We cooked the chicken in the broiler, then added the cooked bacon and cheese and put them back under the heat for a few minutes. Avocado provided the perfect finish; it's really pretty hard to go wrong with this combo. Check out more photos.
I love exploring the preprepared food universe at Trader Joe's, and I've been hankering for a good meatloaf sandwich. I never liked meatloaf as a kid. Actually, I don't think many people did, which is ironic considering its reputation as a family favorite.
But now, I'm strangely drawn to it, especially on sandwiches. This Italian turkey meatloaf was slathered in red sauce and full of seasonings. Delicious on its own, but even better in a sandwich with soft goat cheese and greens on some thickly sliced Acme bread.
See more photos of my weekend improv.
I've said before that I could write a whole blog about sandwiches I make with fodder from Trader Joe's. The grocer always seems to have some new sandwich-worthy ingredient, from naan to carnitas to this spicy ranchero egg white salad.
In theory, packaged egg salad may sound like a bad idea, but this was fresh, flavorful, and surprising — like a cross between good, old-fashioned Southern pimiento cheese and a lighter version of the egg salad you love. Here's more on how I made it.
I could write a whole blog about sandwiches I make with Trader Joe's ingredients, from the Sloppy Jose to the naanwich. Of course, I love leftover sandwiches, so after enjoying TJ's marinated ahi tuna steaks for dinner, I used the extra fish to make a gourmet tuna melt with olives and sprouts. The photos don't do justice to how delicious it was.