Saturday, April 11, 2015

Trader Joe's Kale Quinoa Salad

I saw this listed on Trader Joe's web site as a new product and decided to give it a try alongside a TJ's frozen pizza for a weekly dinner with Nina.

I kind of wish I hadn't.

As is typical of TJ's complete bagged salads, there are lots of ingredients: baby kale, shredded broccoli, shredded carrots, chopped red cabbage, radicchio, pumpkin seeds, quinoa, and dried cranberries, plus a packet of lemon vinaigrette dressing. But the leafy green stuff? All kale, all the time. Being "baby" kale, it's more tender than the "adult" variety, but it still packs a lot of bitterness--so much so that I was unable to taste, let alone enjoy, any of the other components. I honestly could not even taste the salad dressing. The signal my taste buds were sending was KALE KALE KALE KALE KALE KALE KALE KALE KALE.

I don't mind some kale. In fact, I'm a big fan of TJ's Cruciferous Crunch Collection tossed 50/50 with a bag of lettuce or spring mix. But that blending is cruciferously crucial, and it's completely absent here. This product badly needs balancing by replacing half of the kale with some type of lettuce or lettuce/spinach blend. Without that, as far as I'm concerned, the other eight ingredients might as well not even show up to the party.

Will I buy it again? 

No. It felt like a chore to make it all the way through one bowl of the stuff.

Nina's View

There's no disputing that there's a lot of KALE in this product. And that the additional items get lost in the shuffle. Except for the quinoa, which gets distributed on the damp KALE leaves and ends up looking like some sort of infestation. Not a particularly successful outcome. Bob is right that this salad would be improved by a significant dilution of the KALE quotient with other greens.

I feel, however, that there is one thing that this salad has going for it that the overwhelming majority of TJ salads do not: a very good dressing. The included lemon vinaigrette is most meritorious, and even makes the relentless KALE more tolerable (for me, anyway).


  1. Just found your blog last night and already LOVE it! Keep it up. You have a really unique voice and you review less junk than some of the other TJ's blogs. I like those blogs a lot, but it's better for me to get excited about veggies than more cookie butter, even if you didn't love this one!

  2. Thanks for the kind words. Always nice to have a new reader!

  3. Just ate as much of this as I could handle - the first Trader Joe's item I have actively hated - and decided to look it up on the internet. Hello, nice to meet you, stranger I totally agree with :)