Thursday, December 11, 2014

Trader Joe's Baby Spinach With Cranberries, Candied Pecans, Miner's Blue Cheese & Raspberry Vinaigrette

If nothing else, this item may win the prize for the longest name of an item to become a blog post title.

This is not--repeat, not--the kind of bagged salad that I normally bring home. I don't mind when spinach is in a blend with various lettuces, as in the "spring mix" that many companies sell. But I'm not a fan of it being the star of the show. I do not like pecans, candied or otherwise. To the best of my knowledge, I've never had any kind of blue cheese before. (It's on the long list of things that in my infinite wisdom I can tell just by looking--or even just by the name of the thing--that I won't like.) The cranberries and raspberry vinaigrette were the only parts of this that sounded good.

So why was this going in my basket instead of another bag of lovely herb salad mix? I dunno, except that in that moment I had an inkling that it might be an interesting combination of tastes and textures.

And you know what? It was. My first reaction was, "This isn't as bad as I feared it might be." I finished my bowl of it. But then I had it again the next day--and the needle moved from a roughly neutral position on the "love-hate" scale into the "like" section. A good part of the overnight change may have been that I omitted the pecans. Still don't like them.

I just now finished having it for a third time, and it wasn't quite as good this time, probably because there wasn't enough blue cheese in the bag to last (everything except the spinach is in a separate small bag inside the big bag); I had finished that on Day 2. Do you know what that means? It means that I can like at least some blue cheese in at least some circumstances. This is a small but quite amazing revelation.

I'm not sure how Day 4 will go, because I polished off the cranberries today, meaning that tomorrow it will be down to spinach and dressing. That could be a problem, even though I like the dressing very much.

To wrap up: On the plus side, I genuinely surprised myself by liking this, and it definitely is an interesting mix of ingredients. On the minus side, the way the parts are portioned doesn't work out well for how I'd like to balance them. I may well end up throwing away a third of the spinach.

Will I buy it again? 

Maybe sometime if I'm having enough people over for dinner that I can mix up the whole batch in the proportions that TJ's intends, and try a bit of it again that way. Otherwise, I think it's going to feel too wasteful. However, I well might try experimenting with making some comparable mix on my own terms, now that this stuff has piqued my interest.

Nina's View

I object to salad kits on principle. Having said that, I admit that this is pure prejudice and I should just get over myself. Bob's review demonstrates quite clearly why they can be a very good thing.

The spinach leaves could have been younger and tenderer and better trimmed. Since they weren't, it would have been more enjoyable had there been a variety of greens, but it wasn't outright unpleasant.

I don't care for 99% of blue cheese, so I was pretty sure I wouldn't like the one included here. I tried it anyway. (Always try! More than once! I know my taste is capable of changing.) Still didn't like it at all. So I had several large helpings of this salad omitting the cheese. I would have a sharp chevre or even feta by preference with this.

The pecans are good—I have yet to figure out why Bob likes the occasional type of nut but not others (to be fair, I can imagine why he doesn't care for walnuts: they can be bitter). And I actually prefer the raspberry vinaigrette in this mix to the regular TJ's bottled kind that Bob adores. Less sweet. 

That said, I'm just not ever buying a salad kit. I generally have a mix of dried fruits, nuts, seeds, and dressings available when I want to tart up a salad.

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