Trader Joe’s Kale and Edamame Bistro Salad

Trader Joe's Kale and Edamame Bistro Salad

There’s the sad bastard now.

Well, it happened – a fall from grace I never saw coming. After and unending streak of not just good, but down right delicious salads, Trader Joe’s has finally served up a stinker.  A salad that’s not just kind of bad, or hard to get down, or somewhat unpalatable. No, I found Trader Joe’s Kale and Edamame Bistro Salad actually inedible. Inedible! There’s almost nothing from Trader Joe’s I’ve found inedible – and that’s coming from the guy who actually finished off Trader Joe’s gelatinous Shrimp Nuggets. I’ve even managed to finish of things I don’t like (like that tub of marinated beets). But with this salad I just couldn’t do it, and it wasn’t for lack of trying either. I really wanted to like this salad. Salad is one of my favorite foods in the world. For me, discovering a new salad is like unearthing a small, rare treasure. How could this have happened?

Before I launch into my criticism here, I’m perfectly willing to admit that it’s probably my fault that I didn’t enjoy this salad. Trader Joe’s has such a stellar record with their salads that it’s hard for me to accept that they could put out one so completely unpalatable. The far more likely scenario is that I’m an uncultured heathen whose crude taste buds failed to appreciate the higher art the salad was devised by. I’m fully expecting to see some resounding condemnations of my review in the comment section and, frankly, I welcome them. I’d rather live in a world where I’m a confused nitwit than a world where Trader Joe’s puts out lame salads.

Okay, so on to the salad.

It’s awful, guys. Nothing in it really seems to work. I should have maybe been tipped off to this by the name – a combination of kale, soy beans, and sweetened cranberries just sounds like trouble. On the other hand, there’s nothing about roasted squash, quinoa and wheatberries that sounds like they’d be particularly delicious and I enjoy that salad so much that I’m actually eating it now, as I type this.

The first problem with the Kale and Edamame sald is, I think, the kale. There’s no other green in the salad but kale. I like me some kale in my salad – I loved TJ’s Cruciferous Crunch for exactly that reason – but kale needs to be used sparingly. It’s wonderful for texture and body, but when you make your salad out of nothing but kale, like TJ’s did here, it feels like you’re eating a pine tree from the tip down.

If you can get past the kale, you’ve still got to deal with the gangs of edamame soybeans, cranberries, grape tomatoes and scallions. These tastes just simply did not go together well for me.  The sweetness of the cranberries fought against the waxiness of the beans, and the scallions practically reeked, overpowering the other tastes. The big, button-sized beans and whole tomatoes didn’t help either, it just made it so I had to take lots of giant mouthfuls.

Finally, and perhaps worst of all, was the salad dressing. The package bills it as a lemon herb dressing, and I had hope for it. The dressing looked thick and creamy perhaps, I reasoned, it would have just the right flavor to balance the rest of the salad’s intense elements. Sadly, it did not. The lemon herb dressing lacks sweetness, or tanginess or depth. What it delivers seemed more like mustard to me than anything – harsh and astringent, clashing with everything else in the bowl.

It was after the addition of the dressing, when I found myself sitting there chewing a huge mouthful of chopped kale covered with lemon juice and pungent herbs, that I simply put the fork down. I couldn’t go on. I need at least one good element in a food to muscle my way through it, one ray of light. In the case of Trader Joe’s Kale and Edamame Salad I couldn’t find any.


The Breakdown

Would I Recommend It: No, just no.

Would I Buy It Again: It was such an unpleasant experience that I might have to get it again, just to convince myself it was real.

Final Synopsis: Trader Joe’s worst salad.

Trader Joe's Kale and Edamame Bistro Salad - Nutrtion Facts

Trader Joe’s Kale and Edamame Bistro Salad – Nutrtion Facts


24 Comments on “Trader Joe’s Kale and Edamame Bistro Salad”

  1. adanelz6 says:

    Oh no! 😦 and that sounds so good to me!

    • I’d say try it and let me know if you agree with me or not. I’m still half-way convinced that I must be crazy.

    • hsticht says:

      I actually happen to like this salad. It’s very filling and I find the contrast of flavors and textures quite pleasing. I just happened upon your blog though because I was looking to see if they changed something in the dressing since I’ve last had it (honestly about a year ago now)…it seemed a little off but I still like it!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Just ate this and i must agree it was really hard to finish. The only reason i ate most of it was because i packed this for lunch today and it was either force down the salad or starve. Not a winner.

  3. Ryan says:

    This was so shocking to read.. I literally go to trader joes just to get the kale edamame salad for lunch. A couple of my coworkers do the same. It may be a personal preference but I really like salads with just kale as the base. One suggestion (if you didn’t already do this): put the salad dressing on the salad and shake the container around to really coat everything, then let it sit for 10 minutes.. it helps the kale soften up 🙂

    • That’s a really good suggestion! I didn’t consider letting the kale soften up. If I can work up the courage to buy it again, I’ll give that a try.

      Out of curiosity, where do you work that everyone eats so many kale salads? You must all be in violently good health!

    • Billy Mack says:

      love that salad—my new favorite salad

  4. Sadie says:

    Well. . . I actually enjoy the taste of this salad at first. The pieces of kale are a bit ungainly, but it tastes good. BUT – don’t ever let it get warm. I travel for work and left it in the car for a few hours on a 70 degree day. It smells like something died, I’m not even kidding. It was atrocious.

  5. Jan Whitebear says:

    I LOVE this salad! In fact, I wish TJ’s would bottle that dressing! This is the only way I will eat kale, is in this salad!

    Well…everyone to their own tastes I guess!!

  6. Billy Mack says:

    just ate the kale salad at trader Joes in Hyannis–loved it—delicious healthy and fresh—love the combination of kale tomatoes dried cranberry and edamame —-the dressing was excellent—my new favorite salad—–can’t wait to get another—–please don’t listen to the negative comments—I LOVE IT—the others can buy something else

  7. Anonymous says:

    Really? I personally adore this salad

  8. Heather says:

    I absolutely love trader joes salads. Almost all of them I have enjoyed. However, I had this salad today and when I opened the package (which had been refrigerated prior to opening), it just reeked! It tasted fine, actually good…but the smell was so horrible that I could only eat a few bites. I’m assuming that this is the combination of kale and scallions, but it was unbearable.

    • Anonymous says:

      My coworkers and I call it Fart Salad! It stinks up the whole office when someone eats it. I personally think it’s tasty, but it’s hard to get over that smell…

  9. Girl says:

    Author has no taste. Salad is delicious!

  10. sheila says:

    I loved it

    • sheila says:

      I found the kale salad delicious! ! A combination of sweet and slightly sour. The kale was crunchy, preferable to a wilted mixed green salad. The edamame gave it a chewy texture along with the slivered almonds. I loved everything about this salad and I’ve had them all.

  11. tyler f. says:

    please be aware that trader’s fresh foods, in order to offer them in all regions that they have stores, have to be produced by a number of different manufacturers….hence the dressing in particular can differ. ditto the kale: bought locally.

  12. Anonymous says:

    This is my favorite salad at TJ!! I love the dressing, the flavor is strong so I only need half the packet.

  13. Anonymous says:

    This is actually my favorite salad at TJ! I add a little bit of feta to mine but wow, it’s so good!

  14. I was so sad to see that you did not like it. It is my new favorite! We do not eat the salad dressing due to additives/allergies, but otherwise, this is a winner in our family.

  15. Anonymous says:

    This is my absolute favorite salad of all time. I go to Trader Joe’s (which is not close) specifically for this salad and when they are sold out my heart breaks. Must disagree, I recreate this salad at home regularly and recommend to everybody I know lol. Interesting to see how different people feel so differently about the same thing.

  16. Anonymous says:

    This is my favorite salad from TJ!!!! In fact, it’s the ONLY salad I buy from them. The only change I do is to replace their dressing with a bit of yogurt, or just use a spoon full of the TJ dressing and add some yogurt. I would also supplement the salt. Sometimes TJ uses less cranberries, sometimes more, I personally like it with more cranberries. It has quite a lot of calories to be honest for a salad, but this is why I substitute their dressing. LOVE IT!!!

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