Trader Joe’s Grecian Style Eggplant with Tomatoes and Onions


All the tinned eggplant a man could want!

I’ll admit it, I find something strangely alluring about tins of food. I can’t really enunciate exactly what it is that draws me to large, sealed metal tins, but whatever it is Trader Joe’s Grecian style Eggplant with Tomatoes and Onions has got it. There’s just something of a mystique to them something, that aura of the unknown that surrounds the Mystery Box, and would lead me to trade it all for what lies behind Door Number Two.

Surely that’s an impulse that we all share – even if it might be a touch harder to understand how that translates over to tins of food in my mind. After all, tin are clearly labeled aren’t they and – what’s more – generally cheap, low-quality, packed with preservatives and otherwise the last resort of cut-rate food producers everywhere. Isn’t the tin, after all, the receptacle of choice for the $0.49 can of tuna fish, the repugnant anchovy, and Armour Brand Potted Meat Food Product?

Yes, indeed – but whether its a sensory addiction to the feeling of gripping the ring tab and slowly prying back the lid or something even stupider, I can’t resist the siren song of a mysterious tin of food.

The last time I was lured down this path was for Trade Joe’s Dolmas, which I found off-puttingly oily but which many readers rose to the defense of as laudably authentic.

Trader Joe’s has here returned again to the Grecian well with this stewed eggplant product, even going so far as to use the exact same type of tin – namely the upside down one with the tab on the bottom. This still twirks my mind unpleasantly. Wouldn’t it be just as easy, maybe even easier, to put the label on in such a way that you could read it and open the canister at the same time?

Well,whatever the reason for it, once you’ve pried open the top/bottom of the tin you’ll find a densely packed stew of the eponymous eggplant, tomatoes and onion – more of a gloop actually. All the constituent parts seem as though they were cooked gently enough to preserve much of their shape and texture, but then crammed into the tin under sufficient force to blur the boundaries between one vegetable and another.

Disappointingly, to me anyways, what you get is exactly what is advertised – a mixture of the three vegetables (plus parsley, garlic and red pepper) that tastes like… well, those three vegetables. There’s no ineffable alchemy that takes place here, no whole greater than the sum of its parts – the three veggies mingle but don’t enhance each other in any remarkable way. The overall result is exactly what you’d get if you decided to stew up the same three ingredients in a pot yourself. Sure, Trader Joe’s is conveniently saving you the trouble with this tin, but the question is why? Who feels particularly compelled to get these particular ingredients in this form? That seems like a rare enough demand to me that I don’t necessarily need it on my shelf, ready to go at any moment.

If I did feel the urge to have some stewed eggplant, I’d probably just cook some up myself instead of going for an oil-packed can like we have here. For a dish that’s all veggies, you wouldn’t think it would be able to pack in 250 calories of fat (70% of all the calories in the dish!).

Trader Joe’s boasts that you’ll be “enchanted by the soft, melt-in-your-mouth texture and the smooth, almost squash-like, eggplant flavor.” If oily, stewed mush is something you have to have from a can, then this tin will suit you just fine. For me, I’ll be heading on to the next mystery tin without a backward glance.

The Breakdown

Would I recommend It: Not in very strong terms, no.

Would I Buy It Again: I don’t see any reason to.

Final Synopsis: Stewed eggplant packed in oil. About as good as it sounds.


18 Comments on “Trader Joe’s Grecian Style Eggplant with Tomatoes and Onions”

  1. This doesn’t actually sound or look very tasty :-O Though I will say you should try their frozen Eggplant Parmigiana imported from Italy. It’s pretty darn good! and I’ll definitely get it again to eat. p.s. not to be mixed up with their Eggplant Parmesana, they’re two different pre-made dishes 😉

  2. Michelle says:

    I just get their frozen breaded eggplant, and make my own eggplant parmigiana with some sauce and cheese in the toaster oven… 😉

  3. Ttrockwood says:

    Oh no! You can’t just eat it as is from the tin. I found it works great as a pasta sauce, was great smeared onto a sandwich, and a bit on toasted baguette as an app was nice.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Layer on top of zucchini and add balsamic vinegar and oil. Put on the barbecue for about 15 minutes, delightful!

  5. Anonymous says:

    I loved this one. It really was yummy cold or warm. I especially liked it paired with meat as the topper.

  6. Elena says:

    I was googling the ingredients of this canned product so that I could make it myself, and I found this blog.

    I’m delighted TJ’s carries this item so I can keep it on my shelf. It’s very like the version available at my international store, that I get to less often. That one is imported from Greece, this one is from Bulgaria.

    The TJ’s tin of eggplant above is downright sublime, esp. if you are familiar with the context. “Who feels particularly compelled to get these particular ingredients in this form?” Well, besides some of us here in the comments: Greeks. Lots and lots and lots of them. Add some feta on the side and you have a typical Greek dish, except they would use plenty of olive oil. The amount of oil in the can is appropriate for this dish. Greeks aren’t known for being fatties, either. Using it as a pasta sauce as someone else mentioned would also be an authentically Greek idea.

    I don’t see extra virgin OO used much in canned foods. I wonder if the canning process does something unpleasant to oils with lots of phenols?

    In reviewing recipes of other nations, it would really be helpful to get your opinion on TJ’s versions compared to the authentic recipes. If you aren’t familiar with the originals, that’s hard to do.

  7. J. S. Kaplan says:

    I mix it with cottage cheese. Mm-mm good!

  8. Lissy says:

    I ate it with falafel and some feta. Can you say amazing? (They had actually sampled it that way at my local store – so good and a perfect lunch!

  9. AM says:

    This is so yummy!! Clearly the original poster does not have much experience with authentic Greek food. As a foodie, cook, New Yorker, and 1/2 Greek 1/2 Italian, I’d like to say I’ve been around good food my whole life. This reminds me of both an appetizer I had while in Greece as well a traditional Italian eggplant caponata. Love it as spread, a dip, and a sauce. Delicious when paired with trader Joe’s Greek 5 Cheese spiral. I hope people don’t miss out on this based on this inaccurate review!

  10. Anonymous says:

    I had it cold last night and a little minced garlic helped. I will try it today with that and also some lemon juice.

  11. Anonymous says:

    It’s so delicious!

  12. Anonymous says:

    I recently had homemade eggplant caponata, and it was so delicious. I have this tin in the hopes that it can be as good. Until I’ve opened it, the dream is alive…

  13. […] had bought a can of Grecian styled Eggplant from Trader Joes and have been thinking about what recipe I would add it to as a special ingredient.  I know what […]

  14. Liz says:

    I love this over hummus eaten with pita chips

  15. Anonymous says:

    The writer missed the mark here.

    – lightly stirred and dolloped on toasts with broiled cheese, great bruschetta
    – Italian sausage, more onion and garlic and a tin for pasta
    – lightly tossed in a wok full of stir fried veggies
    – 2 cans and some stock for chicken thigh braising liquid.

    So many wonderful things to do with this. I will keep 3 or 4 of these in the pantry at all times.

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