Monday, November 5, 2012

Trader Joe's Lust

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?


climbinvegan said...

I miss TJ's a lot... Boulder is supposed to get one.. hopefully soon!

Cadry said...

That's funny that you get constant TJ's rumors in your town too. There are Whole Foods & Trader Joe's rumors all the time around here, but Whole Foods is 5 hours away, and the closest Trader Joe's is two... :( And before that one came in, there were rumors about it for YEARS before. Luckily, we do have a couple of nice natural foods stores locally, but they are so freaking EXPENSIVE. A normal (not large) size of rice milk is five dollars! At Trader Joe's it's $1.60. Man, I miss TJ's...

Pam said...

I'm envious that you have easy access to a Whole Foods! I'm stuck smack between Memphis and Nashville, two hours from the nearest one. :( We have a tiny jok of a health food store here in town, but they don't carry anything that Kroger doesn't. I honestly believe that they shop at Kroger, mark up the price, and put it on their shelf.

amy said...

Whole Foods Memphis is expanding? Holy crap, best news ever!

Lesley Eats said...

I am way too TJ's dependent. It's made me very lazy in the kitchen. But it was a godsend when I was pregnant and had no energy. But nowadays, I mostly get a handful of things that I can get better and cheaper there than at my regular stores instead of buying all that prepared food.

Lauren said...

If you ever want some things from Trader Joe's let me know! I am serious!
The one in Philly kind of sucks, but they are supposed to expand soon. There was an AWESOME one near my old work that I would frequent.

Kris said...

Thanks for the review! You're definitely right, even if you don't have a TJ's close by, you can still make most of the dishes in the book. Yay!

Anonymous said...

Check out the 'Bring Trader Joe's to Memphis' Facebook FanPage. There are almost 6,000 of us that WANT a Trader Joe's (anywhere!) in our city!!