Recipe Review

This 3-Ingredient Trader Joe’s Salad Is a Quick and Easy Summertime Dinner

published Aug 17, 2021
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Credit: Naomi Tomky

Trader Joe’s bagged salads tend to make a great side dish, but turning them into a more robust meal requires some extra work. Thankfully that is one of the specialties of the Facebook group Trader Joe’s Meal Ideas for Busy People: Social media accounts and groups like this one consistently find new and interesting ways to mix and match various TJ’s products to produce fun, flavorful dinners. When I was looking for a good salad to add to the table, I decided to give a recent recipe posted to the group a try. 

How to Make 3-Ingredient Trader Joe’s Salad

The original post, captioned “My new favorite salad,” included the A Za’atar Tango Salad Kit, Green Goddess Gouda, and Strawberry and Jalapeño Crisps. When I hit my local Trader Joe’s, though, the strawberry and jalapeño version of the crisps were nowhere to be found — I assume they had already updated for the next season, because my options were fig and olive or raisin rosemary.

The salad mix comes with a mix of green oak, green tango, and red oak lettuce, which gives just a hint of bitterness. It’s a nice counterpoint to the sweetness of the diced dates, which are in the topping package with toasted sesame seeds, salted pistachio pieces, and crispy strips of flatbread. It’s flavored with rosemary and their version of za’atar, which includes parsley, onion powder, garlic powder, and thyme. While not a traditional za’atar, it does match well with the Green Goddess Gouda cheese, which also has parsley and garlic along with basil. The cucumber yogurt dressing has a little tahini and white wine vinegar to tie it all together. I tossed in a few tomatoes from my garden since the original poster had tomatoes in her version. They turned out to be pretty key, as the acidity helped cut the richness of the cheese and dressing.

My Honest Review

Overall, the salad was good — it’s not going to blow your mind, but if you’re looking for a nice big salad, it works well and was delicious. It was just about the right size to feed my family of two adults and two preschoolers using half the cheese and half the box of crisps. (For older kids, I would use all of the cheese and crackers to beef the salad up a bit.) Mostly this inspired me to continue experimenting with this general formula (TJ’s salad plus flavorful toppings).

My Tips for Making 3-Ingredient Trader Joe’s Salad

  1. Add tomatoes. While the title promises three ingredients only, I encourage you to add another ingredient: fresh tomatoes. They add a hit of acidity that the salad needs. Cucumbers would be nice, too.
  2. Get creative. Try other flavored cheeses, salad mixes, and crunchy items to create your own favorite TJ’s salad. I’m going to try the Southwestern Chopped Salad Kit with the new Cheddar Cheese with Scotch Bonnet Chili and Red Peppers next.