It's no surprise that if I was stranded on an island, I'd survive if there was a Trader Joe's.. seriously. Besides for the Whole Foods-esque shopping experience (without the steep prices), the food is always fresh & the people are NICE. There are never expired products on the shelves (a problem that I encounter sooo many times in a certain store in the neighborhood), and if I ever have a problem with any product, I bring it back, no ifs ands or buts. When some people hear that I love shopping at Trader Joe's, they say "wow but it's soo expensive" - so, I challenge you to prove that argument! The prices are always the same, they never fluctuate (ex: romaine hearts are always $2.99. Not on sale for $2.50 one week, and $4.99 the next), and the only things that I find higher in cost are way higher in quality, or organic, deserving the slightly higher price tag. I can pretty much fill my entire pantry & fridge, from an assortment of breads & pastas, to nuts, snacks, produce, wild salmon, & Kosher meat (they carry organic and regular chicken, & ground turkey), even 5 lb. bags of flour and sugar, as well as packages of yeast, which are- cheaper than Fleischmanns. They have the best chips and snacks, cheaper tofu than Nasoya, $1.79 marinara sauce, extra virgin olive oil, canola oil, sesame oil, you name it. Obviously I swoon over certain products that I wish would be Kosher, but I take what I can get!! I'm not a coffee drinker but my parents can't live without the TJ dark roast coffee that you grind yourself in the store. Never mind the dried cereals (ex: Barbara's Shredded Spoonfuls & Puffins, TJ's O's) healthy snacks (ex: cereal fruit bars, snickerdoodles, animal crackers) for Rosie- all natural, nothing with crappy dyes or chemicals and I can actually read the ingredients on the boxes. I never stress out shopping at there, even if the lines are long. Onward from my love rant, I decided to go yesterday right when we got home from Florida because I had nothing in the fridge- not even an egg or milk for Rosie. So I ventured out at 3:30. When I got home, I couldn't imagine what I would throw together for dinner- needless to say, I was wiped. Early morning-> plane ride-> unpacking-> food shopping... Luckily, without even realizing it, I had everything I needed to put together a healthy yet filling meal in literally under 20 minutes & with only a handful of ingredients- and the entire meal, "head to toe," (down to the salt), was all from Trader Joe's finest. Here goes:
Seared "Sausage" & Kale with Sundried Tomato & Basil Orzo
-Canola oil spray & canola oil
-Tofurky sun-dried tomato & basil sausage
-Kale (pre-washed and chopped)
-Garlic (ok, ok, I didn't get the garlic from TJ, though I could've!)
-Sliced sun-dried tomatoes
-Basil, chiffonade (click here to see what chiffonade is)
-Prepare the orzo as per the packages directions (add sea salt & a little oil to the water)
-Heat a saute pan with canola oil spray over medium-high heat
-Slice the sausages on a bias, and add to the pan when it is hot (don't add too early or it won't sear). Let them cook for a few minutes on each side. If the pan gets dry, drizzle a little more canola oil (not olive oil- burns faster). When done, transfer to a bowl and set aside
-Add a little more canola oil into the pan, mince the garlic & add to the pan over medium heat, sprinkle some sea salt.
-When the garlic is fragrant, but not yet brown, add the kale, spray with canola spray or a drizzle of oil, and sprinkle more sea salt. Toss with tongs so the garlic gets incorporated into the kale. Add just a tbsp. or so of water and continue to toss until just slightly wilted.
-Add the sausage back into the pan to stay warm.
-Season the orzo with salt (& pepper) if needed, and add the sun-dried tomatoes, chopped, and the basil.
It was the first time I tried the Tofurky brand sausage, which was from TJ (TJ actually has their own brand of tofu sausage but I didn't like it as much as this one). It's a little spicy and I HATE spice- but it was totally manageable, and that's saying a lot coming from me.
If you've never been to Trader Joe's, well then I'm not sure how to talk to you. .. Just kidding. Just take the ride!
P.S. For dessert, I popped my own -organic- popcorn the old fashioned way (in a pot). Where from? You guessed it...