Sometimes too much of a good thing can be too much. Trader Joe’s Burrata, Proscuitto and Arugula Flatbread pizza is an exercise is decadent excess – not dissimilar to their Cookie Butter Cheesecake, or Caligula’s Rome. And like those forebearers, this flatbread tantalizes more than it delivers.
|What it is:||Cheese and prosciutto flatbread|
|Price:||$4.99 for a 12 oz. pizza|
|Worth it:||Yes, but take small bites|
On paper this flatbread sounds like it should be about the best thing ever – a hand-stretched, brick oven-fired crust, topped with mozzarella, fontal, Pecorino Romano, Parmigiano Reggiano, and burrata cheeses, atop a spread of mascarpone garlic cream sauce, topped with wild baby arugula and marbled slices of prosciutto.
The flatbread comes as a simple kit, ready to be warmed to a crispy golden hue in your own oven, then topped with two broad slices of prosciutto. It sounds perfect, basically.
Unfortunately, all this goodness run into the classic “more isn’t always more” quandary. I usually encounter this in terms of drinking. One drink, and I feel good. Two drinks, and I feel a little better. Three drinks, and hey this is really getting fun! Four drinks, however, and things take a rather unpleasant turn. Trader Joe’s is essentially taking the four drink approach to salty food with this flatbread. Those are some good cheeses, and good cheese sauce, and good prosciutto, but when you put them all together you end up with a flatbread that’s too overwhelming to really bite into.
However, that’s not to say this is a bad flatbread. There’s nothing wrong with the individual components – all of which are very tasty and decadent indeed. The problem comes when you try and eat it like an entree. The servings per container given on the package is 3 slices. I would suggest changing that to 30.
Sliced up into a few big bites, this flatbread is simply too rich with fat and salt to really savor – even if you’ve got a good beer at hand. However, cut it up into smaller, hors d’oeuvre sized bites and you’ve got an instant party classic. When you’ve sized it down to nibbling size, the tongue is given a chance to experience the richness of the soft white cheeses, the supremely savory prosciutto, and the spicy arugula.
Just as the cure for Trader Joe’s Cookie Butter Cheesecake was Cookie Butter Cheesecake Bites, this sumptuous pizza is better served by smaller servings.
Would I Recommend It: I would, just not very much of it.
Would I Buy It Again: I’d bring it to a potluck.
Final Synopsis: An overwhelmingly rich flatbread.
The full name of this product, listed boldy on its label, is “Trader Joe’s Trader Joe’s Roasted Butternut Squash Red Quinoa and Wheat Berry Salad with Baby Arugula, Cranberries, Toasted Almonds, Goat Cheese and Honey Sesame Vinaigrette”, which also doubles as an exhaustive list of it’s ingredients. I know that Trader Joe’s has a thing for compendious product names, but this one crosses the line from “a mouthful” to “ridiculous”. Honestly though? This time, I don’t even care – because this is the most delicious salad I’ve eaten all year.
I’m an inveterate salad diehard. You can count on me to eat salad, as a meal, between 5 and 8 times a week. Someday they’ll pass a law so you can marry salad, and on that day I’ll finally be a happy man – all the more so because I’ve finally met my fiancee. World, say hello to Mr. and Mrs. Roasted Butternut Squash, Red Quinoa and Wheat Berry Salad.
Every single ingredient in this salad works in sublime harmony with every other ingredient to turn a cheap, $4.99 salad into a taste sensation. I can’t imagine who it was who thought to mix wheat berry with butternut squash et al, but that man earns my heart-felt thanks.
Let’s look at this master piece, shall we? The spiciness of the arugula is balanced nicely by the mild, soft squash, which is supported by the crunch of the red quinoa, the chewiness of the wheat berries, and the sweet tang of the cranberries. And that’s not even getting into the goat cheese, which is a world of flavor in and of itself. Finally, the pairing of the honey sesame vinaigrette is a perfect match for the rest of the mix, neither too sweet nor to vinegary.
Even better, the salad boasts a healthy profile for such a hearty, savory meal – 290 calories (80 from fat), 41 grams of carbs, and 10 grams of protein (without dressing). As always, once the dressing comes on the fat goes up. In order to keep it on the healthy side, consider only going half way with the dressing – the flavors of the salad will more than makeup for the lighter drizzle.
While the nutritional profile may not satisfy a strict dieter, the salad also packs a potent nutritional punch in it’s healthy whole grains – wheat berry and quinoa. Wheat berry is the name for a whole kernel of wheat, minus nothing but the hull. In conventional processing the nutritious germ and endosperm are stripped from a grain of wheat. By leaving the whole grain, the kernel remains packed with fiber, protein, iron, vitamin E and magnesium. Red quinoa is another highly-regarded whole grain (or grain-like seed, to be strictly accurate) that has exploded in popularity recently for it’s high protein, iron and calcium content.
I could go on and on about how much I liked this salad, but this one is better experienced than described. The interplay of the flavors pleases the entire tongue from tip to heel in a way much more expensive restaurant salads often fail to, and takes more risks with it’s composition than most restaurants dare dream of.
That said, my sole reservation is that this may not be the best salad for your fly-by-night salad dabblers. It is a complex salad for people who are tired of simpler concoctions. The appearance of the salad, for example, is either gross or gorgeous depending on where you’re coming from in life. The countless beads of partially sprouted red quinoa spread throughout the salad, along with the mushy wheat berries and soft squash, give the salad a slightly intimidating or off-putting look. My rule of thumb would be this: If you don’t like big gobs of stinky cheese in your salad then steer clear, to everyone else – dive right in.
Would I Recommend It: To sophisticated adult palettes everywhere.
Would I Buy It Again: I’ll buy it weekly, if they can keep it in stock.
Final Synopsis: The best salad I’ve ever had at Trader Joe’s.