7 Not-to-Be-Missed Trader Joe’s Groceries, According to a Former Employee
I’m a sucker for novelty and surprise. I love not knowing if a jelly bean will be hot, sweet, sour, or a bizarre combination of all three; if a movie will have Timothée Chalamet in it (it usually does); or if an episode of “The Bachelor” truly is “the most dramatic yet.”
And wouldn’t you know, Trader Joe’s offers that rare, chocolate-box variety I seek — you really never know what you’ll get as you stroll the aisles. Birthday Cake Popcorn? Lemon Ricotta Cheese? Dill Pickle Hummus? I’ve never met anyone on the product development team, but it’s hard not to imagine the staff as a bunch of Indiana Jones types, traveling the high seas searching for the next vehicle for Everything Bagel Seasoning. (Is it a croissant? A hummus? A candle? Body butter?)
Trader Joe’s always delivers (in terms of cool, new groceries; they don’t actually do door-to-door delivery), and this month’s lineup of new products is no exception. Of all the new offerings, these are the ones I’m most excited about.
Green and Red Hatch Chile Flakes, $3.99 for 1.9 ounces
“Red or green?” is how you’ll be most often be greeted in most New Mexican enchilada joints (fun fact: It’s actually the “official state question”). Hatch chile preference is a geographical litmus test on where you’re from: north (red) or south (green)? But you don’t have to choose with this savory blend of chile flakes, combining sweeter red chiles with the more herbaceous, vegetal green. Add a hearty dash to your burgers or pizzas, steep in honey to top fried chicken, or, of course, use some in an enchilada sauce.
Organic Cacio e Pepe Puffs, $1.99 for 4.9 ounces
I believe we are in the midst of the Great Cacio e Pepe Enlightenment; the creamy-salty-peppery flavor is everywhere these days and we are all the better for it. These puffs take on a truly Everlasting Gobstopper effect, feeling like a nearly complete meal in each bite. They’re perfect to set out for a game night or as a crunchy accompaniment on a charcuterie board. I’ve been tossing them on top of a Caesar salad in lieu of croutons, crushing them to bread chicken, and storing them passenger-side for a higher-brow road-trip snack.
Pesto Rosso, $2.49 for 6.7 ounces
If you shop regularly at TJ’s, you likely know the heartbreak that happens when a product is discontinued (RIP Walnut Pesto), and the thrill of the hunt for a worthy replacement. Enter: Pesto Rosso. A rich Sicilian condiment made with sun-dried tomatoes, Parmesan, and roasted cashews, Pesto Rosso might lack traditional amounts of Genovese basil, but it doesn’t skimp on that signature bright pop of flavor. I love to swirl it into a soup or shakshuka for added depth; use it to top pasta, pizzas, and marinated roasted vegetables; or spread it on a Caprese sandwich.
Organic Pappardelle Pasta Nests, $3.49 for 17.64 ounces
I use food as a way to travel without having to buy sample-size toiletries. Maybe I need a vacation, but these pasta nests truly transport me to a Neapolitan trattoria, Sangiovese in hand and the sun on my face. Imported by a highly regarded Italian pasta maker, these Organic Pappardelle Pasta Nests are made from locally milled semolina durum wheat that will elevate your pasta game. Pappardelle, being a wide noodle, begs to be slicked with a hearty Bolognese, or even a rich wild mushroom Alfredo.
Okie Dokie Non-Dairy Dessert, $3.99 for 16 ounces
Whether you’re vegan or just dairy-averse, you should say a hearty okie-dokie to Trader Joe’s newest non-dairy dessert. Inspired by the New Zealand “Hokey Pokey” ice cream, which traditionally combines rich vanilla ice cream and honeycomb toffee, this vegan version swirls decadent oat milk ice cream with crunchy-creamy sponge candy and caramel. I like to add a light dusting of flaky pink sea salt to balance the sweetness of the Dalgona-esque candy bits.
Kalua Pork Spring Rolls
Trader Joe’s frozen food aisle is a veritable candy shop of meals I barely have to cook that taste like my favorite takeout. Now that their new sweet-yet-smoky Hawaiian-style pork spring rolls have entered the chat, I have a new favorite. Each spring roll is full of Kalua-style roasted pork, glass noodles, cabbage, and carrots, and it’s hard not to dip each one into Trader Joe’s Sweet Chili sauce or, my favorite, a barbecue sauce cut with a bit of pineapple juice.
Chhurpi Dog Chews, $4.99 for 5 ounces
The thought of “Yak Cheese” never fails to bring to mind the infamous Meet the Parents dinnertime dialogue, so I’m here to tell you: Yes, you can milk a yak. And also yes, your dog will flip out over these Chhurpi chews (mine certainly does). These long-lasting chews made from dried Himalayan yak’s cheese are perfect for any size dog, help to massage your pet’s gums, and even clean their teeth as they chew. A long-lasting alternative to rawhide bones, Chhurpi chews are made from an ancient recipe used by Himalayan and Nepalese communities for thousands of years and fit perfectly in my pup’s favorite treat dispenser toy.
Have you spotted anything you’re excited about at Trader Joe’s recently? Tell us in the comments below!
This post originally ran on Kitchn. See it there: 7 Not-to-Be-Missed Trader Joe’s Groceries That Just Hit Stores, According to a Former Employee.