Trader Joe’s Complete Salad – Baby Spinach with Cranberries, Candied Pecans, Miner’s Blue Cheese and Raspberry Vinaigrette.Posted: January 15, 2015
When I reviewed Trader Joe’s first entry in the Complete Salad series, the Harvest Blend Salad, I didn’t expect them to bring a second salad onto the scene so soon. No on could be more delighted than I, then, to see Trader Joe’s Baby Spinach Complete Salad sitting on the store shelves.
Their first, pumpkin intensive salad had it all – a hearty selection of green, seeds, interesting veggies, and pumpkin infused croutons all tied together with a good dressing. While that’s by no means unique for Trader Joe’s, what was new was the serving size – a mountainous 14 oz all packed up in one big bag. Ask anyone and they’ll tell you that I’m a man who enjoys a big, plate filling, entree-level salad, but even I declare these giant Complete Salads to be too big for a single sitting. It’s a true concession by Trader Joe’s to salad lovers who just can’t get enough of that Trader Joe’s goodness.
While the portion size is certainly equally impressive, the Baby Spinach salad attempts a much different flavor profile than the Harvest salad. The keywords here are “light” and “refreshing”. The tart cranberries, sweet pecans and tangy blue cheese all make up the grace notes to the huge bed of leafy baby spinach and light and zesty vinaigrette. The berries, nuts and cheese crumbles come in good sized portions, but not so much that they drown out the springy, leafiness of the spinach greens or high, bright notes of the vinaigrette. I’ve never been a big fruit vinaigrette fan, and if you aren’t either you might want to consider tossing the included pouch and using some of Trader Joe’s own Champagne Vinaigrette, or your own favorite, instead.
This Baby Spinach salad is of classic construction, but it’s not the most amazing salad you’re ever going to have. Between the two, I much prefered the bygone Harvest salad, with it’s richer nuttiness and pumpkin tones for an overall more substantial eating expereince. That was a meal, whereas this Baby Spinach salad is more of an accompaniment to a meal. This point is very much driven home by the fact that there is no protein of any sort included with the salad. It’s refreshing, a good palette cleanser, but not an entree in it’s own right.
And that’s just fine – taken as a side dish, this salad delivers on all accounts. It’s a strong, workman like salad that’s unlikely to offend anyone, and is even given a bit of needed elan by the addition of fancy candied pecans. If you’re having company over, or just want to serve something with your chicken, this salad can easily serve 3-4 in style. If you’re looking for a quick meal in and of itself however, (as suggested by TJ’s “Quick Meal” emblem on package) plan on bringing your own meat to the table.
Would I Recommend It: Yes as a side dish, no as an entree.
Would I Buy It Again: Sure – it’s perfect for dressing up a dinner.
Final Synopsis: A salad kit that has everything you need to feed a whole table – except for the protein.