I Tried Trader Joe’s Ingenious New Side Dish Kit

published Oct 10, 2018
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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

When I woke up this morning, an idea for a perfect on-the-go sandwich came to me in a flash. So, I took to Twitter and shared what I thought could be the Next Big Thing in breakfast: two freshly baked cookies (chocolate chip) hugging a nice, thick, breakfast-y layer of butter, completed with a slice or two of bacon.

( … What?)

As you can tell, I have a something of a sweet tooth, and poor concern with food logistics (the butter would melt, Joe). That’s when I decided to get healthy (for the day, at least) and make a sharp left turn into the fresh veggie section of my local Trader Joe’s.

Ever the flavor innovator, offering unique twists on usual hum-drum supermarket offerings, Trader Joe’s recently started stocking a veggie sauté kit that stars none other than the Brussels sprout with a few topping and dressing friends along for the ride in one bag that takes less than 10 minutes to prepare.

As you may have guessed, Brussels sprouts aren’t really a part of my diet. While I do eat veggies (promise), I was reticent to try this kit in particular since butternut squash, yams, and peppers give way to any green veggie hanging low on my list of faves. That, and I’m more of a broccoli person if I have to, Mom.

(Image credit: Joseph Lamour)

I Tried Trader Joe’s Ingenious New Side Dish Kit

The Brussels sprouts kit includes chopped hazelnuts, shaved Parmesan cheese, and a lemon vinaigrette, which sounds quite unique but in a way that feels like a safe bet. So, I picked up my very own Brussels Sprout Sauté Kit and headed to the Hawaiian shirt-clad employees operating the registers.

(And, obviously, I made a pass through the spreadable section and picked up a jar of their cookie butter on my way out.)

The fixins come packed in with the Brussels like a prize in a box of breakfast cereal, so after removing the hazelnut pouch, setting the other two aside, and toasting the nuts for a couple of minutes, I moved on to cooking the Brussels.

(Image credit: Joseph Lamour)

By then, the sprouts were looking mighty appetizing to me. Me, cookie sandwich dude! There’s something about the golden-brown color of toasted hazelnut that goes well with the verdant green of these particular veggies. (I’m feeling very healthy at this point, like, not spin-class-healthy, but perhaps brisk-walk-to-my-local-Cinnabon healthy.)

(Image credit: Joseph Lamour)

I added the small bag of lemon garlic vinaigrette to the pan, which nicely coated the Brussels. Once removed from the stove, adorned with the toasted hazelnut and sprinkled with paper=thin slices of Parmesan cheese, this dish looked like a picture.

But How Did It Taste?

This sauté kit is remarkably easy to make — and an extremely quick prep time at four to seven minutes. Honestly, this would be worth it for the dinner parties I could take it to alone, but there was one final step: tasting it.

Well, reader: I ate them.

(Image credit: Joseph Lamour)

I took a bite, and then another, and another, and then about two of the four-and-a-half servings included were gone. (They’re 140 calories per, by the way.)

The dish is quite flavorful on its own, and the hazelnuts go well with the Parmesan and dressing, but on the whole, the kit definitely needs a bigger kick than it offers. The vinaigrette was much more lemony and a lot less garlicky than I was expecting. So much so, they probably should call it “Lemon (Garlic?) Vinaigrette” on the bag. All the flavors that remain are very Sunday-after-a-baptism: nice, pleasant, safe, but without the pep a stronger flavor would add to the proceedings.

So, while I’m not ripping up my takeout menus and going full veg over this kit, I didn’t hate it, which a part of me was fully expecting. I even would venture to say I’m much more in the “like” column with this dish. But since this was so simple to make, pretty to look at, and (with a little salt, which I’m pretty sure there’s almost none in there) delicious, I’ll be making more visits to my leafy green friends on my trips to Trader Joe’s.