May 22, 2023

New Trader Joe's Foods Reviewed: January 2023

By Alex Beggs

Trader Joe's New Year's resolutions seem to be: Air-fry until there's no air left, give the people cabbage—so much cabbage—and invent snacks that confound and distract us from the tedium of modern life (or from investigative articles about how its dark chocolate was found to contain dangerous levels of lead). Have you tried the new corn ribs? I sure did! January's new products accomplish those resolutions and more.

Herbs de Provence Potato Wedges

Oh là là, what do we have here? Potato wedges are speckled with herbs that get near burnt in the air fryer as the wedges get crispy. Still, they’re fries, a perfect food. I added flaky salt (needed) and dipped in mayo (wanted), and I’m happy with the direction my life is headed.

Stir Fried Garlicky Cabbage

If inflation wasn't burning a hole in our collective American Kirkland blue jeans right now, I’d recommend this product because I enjoyed the sweet-savory stir-fry sauce (made with "yeast extract," whatever that is). It's a nod to the Thai dish Galam Plee Pad Nam Pla. However, it was probably ⅛ of a cabbage, and economically speaking, you’d be better off stir-frying cabbage with garlic and a splash of fish sauce yourself.

Sliced Korean Rice Cakes

Immediately bought three bags to stash in my freezer. Tteok have a texture no other food can replicate and always make me think of this great piece by Elyse Inamine about the allure of chewy foods. Rubbery and dense, with just enough give to surrender to the molars and the ability to soak up sauce like a champ. I used them to make this simple recipe with whatever veg and protein I have in the house and it always turns out chewy-fantastic.

Seasoned Corn Ribs

What are corn ribs? Apparently, they’re cobs of corn cut into quarters (lengthwise). Then TJ's Italian supplier precooks them so that they curve before they’re coated in an olive oil and cocoa butter mixture that makes them leak puddles of grease in the air fryer. If this is all sounding silly to you, it's because it is. Let it be silly! Have a silly snack! I slathered the ribs with miso butter, and thought about how corn gets to be the vegetable that has all the fun: popcorn, corn cheese, elotes, high-fructose corn syrup, and yes, ribs.

Tomato and Red Onion Focaccia

As dry as cement, and just as pleasant to eat.

Double Chocolate Wafer Cookies

On the plus side, these are tiny squares, which means you can pop ’em by the handful without leaving mice crumbs all over the couch. On the downside, they taste like crunchy dust. On the plus side, some people might like that because this snack is more of a texture thing. On the downside, those people aren't me.

Sweet Cannoli Dip

Imagine the inside of cannoli, but wetter, and that's what this adorably packaged dip is. I recommend dipping with either pretzels or strawberries. Then the thrill wore off like a new lipstick. I forgot I had it in my fridge, and I used it up by spooning it into a smoothie, which turned out to be pretty genius on my behalf.

Organic Brewed Ginger Beer

Sweet water, barely bubbled. Any hint of spicy ginger is a distant memory, long forgotten.

Coffee á Cocoa

This is just coffee ground with cocoa powder and opening the bag is like fixing to pour yourself a bowl of Cocoa Pebbles. The scent is stronger than the flavor, which is meh. If you want to make a discount mocha at home, either do like my mom and put chocolate milk in your coffee (TJ's organic chocolate milk is actually amazing), or give it a squirt of Hershey's and don't say I never did anything for ya.

Elote Chopped Salad Kit

While she's no competition for the Dill-icious salad kit, the elote kit gives a fighting chance. Really, this is just slaw. The dressing is creamy and vaguely chile-spiked, while one of the planet-ruining small plastic bags within this planet-ruining large plastic bag contains a cornbread crumb and dried corn kernel mixture that's a little sweet, a little crispy. I’m a fan.

Four-Cheese Ravioli

A crowd-pleaser, for sure, but two of the cheeses are provolone and mozz, so don't look for a lot of flavor. I make ravioli when I don't want to chop anything, so my sauce was going to be just brown butter. But then I found some rosemary in the fridge, so I added that to the foaming butter. And then I found some TJ's slivered almonds, plus a pinch of red pepper flakes, and you know what? It turned out gourmet as hell.

Italian Wedding Soup

If I wasn't paying my health insurance by writing these reviews, I would never buy this. Look at how cloudy it is. It tastes like sick-day canned soup, despite the investment in a nice glass jar. Mini meatballs float around, fuzzy blobs of fregola sink to the bottom of the bowl, and shreds of kale give a limp wave of surrender—and so did I.

Tri-Colored Mini Gnocchi

These look like pastel gumdrops and, gosh, have you ever seen cuter gnocchi? I tried to bake them in the oven like I would with normie gnocchi, but the small size made them cook faster so they dried out and ended up the texture of Big League Chew. Boiling is better, but the color fades and so does the novelty.

Non-Dairy Oat Beverage with Pea Protein

One of the downsides of oat milk is that it's not that high in much of anything, especially protein. So here it is, all bulked up with some pea protein to make you feel like SpongeBob when he buys the inflatable muscle arms and tries to fool everyone in Bikini Bottom into thinking he's a strong lad. They’ve added "natural flavors" and sugar, which make this taste like cereal milk.

White Miso Paste

A teeny-tiny pouch, less than a cup of miso. The size is only a con if you use a lot of miso, which you might, because you’re reading Bon Appétit and we put it in everything from mac ’n’ cheese to chocolate chip cookies. To make it pouch-able, there's added water that thins out the miso's texture. Still, it's salty and intense, as it should be.

Organic Apricot Preserves

Mildly flavored, mostly sweet. A perfectly fine jam for all of your jam needs. What's that? You’re going to hang it from a doorway and when an intruder breaks into your home, cover him with jam before a fan activates and covers him with feathers? I don't see why not.

Herbs de Provence Potato Wedges Stir Fried Garlicky Cabbage Sliced Korean Rice Cakes Seasoned Corn Ribs Tomato and Red Onion Focaccia Double Chocolate Wafer Cookies Sweet Cannoli Dip Organic Brewed Ginger Beer Coffee á Cocoa Elote Chopped Salad Kit Four-Cheese Ravioli Italian Wedding Soup Tri-Colored Mini Gnocchi Non-Dairy Oat Beverage with Pea Protein White Miso Paste Organic Apricot Preserves