Memphis doesn't have a Trader Joe's. But I think I can speak for most Memphians (or at least Midtowners) when I say, there's nothing we'd like to have more. For years, there have been Trader Joe's rumors. So-and-so development is going up, and so-and-so heard a Trader Joe's was moving in. But they're always rumors. Sigh.
Sure, we have a Whole Foods. And it's nice. It's about to expand into the massive old Office Depot space next door, and it'll be a super Whole Foods. And that will be awesome. But that's all we have. No indie-owned health food shops. And no Trader Joe's. I know, I know ... first-world problems.
But the lack of a TJ's didn't stop me from reviewing Kris Holechek Peters' new cookbook, The I Love Trader Joe's Vegetarian Cookbook.
I've been following Kris' Nom! Nom! Nom! Blog for years, so I knew the recipes in this full-color book would be delicious. Now, because the book is for Trader Joe's, it's a "vegetarian" cookbook. But since Kris is vegan, every recipe has a vegan version. And since it's written from a vegan perspective, the vegan versions are never that far from the original. Even in the vegetarian recipes, you won't find any super cheesy or overly eggy recipes.
Because it's a Trader Joe's cookbook, each recipe calls for specific TJ's brand items. Some are items you can't find anywhere else, but you'll likely be able to find something similar elsewhere. Other items are pretty basic, like cans of chickpeas or firm tofu. Any brand will substitute just fine.
Since I don't have access to TJ's brand products, I picked a recipe that would work with any brand — the BBQ Bowl:
There's chickpeas sauteed in BBQ sauce, quinoa cooked with veggie broth, and roasted brussels sprouts, and it's topped with Parmela vegan aged Parmesan. I love bowls, and this one really takes the vegan cake. It combines my favorite grain, my favorite bean, and one of my fave veggies (I can't ever pick just one). Plus, that Parmela is some amazing stuff. If you haven't tried it yet, get some. Tastes exactly like dairy Parmesan.
I wanted a simple salad on the side, so I made the Massaged Spinach Salad:
It's like a massaged kale salad but with baby spinach. The simple olive oil and lemon juice dressing is worked into the spinach, wilting it into a tender, tasty green. I added garlic to this recipe because garlic is awesome.
Everything in this book looks amazing, and most can be made with substitute brands if you're not lucky enough to live by a TJ's. Next on my list is Roasted Carrot Risotto, Olive My Love Pasta (spaghetti with assorted olives!), Tahini Broccolini (tender baby broccoli with tahini sauce), the East Meets Midwest Breakfast Bake (a breakfast casserole with tofu, peppers, coconut milk, hash browns, and cucumber raita!), Tuscan Tomato Soup, and the Amazing Everything Cookies (peanut butter, chocolate chunk, walnuts, and banana chips).
Memphis may never see a Trader Joe's, but at least I can use this book and pretend. Right?