Maybe it’s just me, but I’m not a big fan of melanges in general. They’re a cut above medleys, to be sure, but I’ll take a combo, mishmash or salmagundi over them any time. Nevertheless, Trader Joe’s Grilled Eggplant and Zucchini Melange is a credit to the name – a tasty, tangy, cheesy mixture of two of the vegetable world’s least celebrated members.
You could not blame the average consumer for passing up this awkwardly named side dish. Eggplant and zucchini aren’t the world’s most popular veggies individually, let alone together, and a passerby could be forgiven for assuming this mixture of the two is aimed to please the health-food nut more than the mother of three. Such is not the case however. Following a brief jaunt in the microwave, the dish is surprisingly pleasing – hiding it’s big veggies in a thick tomato based sauce. Though not noted in the product title, a judicious helping of cheese, both mozzarella and parmesan, appear in the dish which gooifies the sauce without dominating the vegetables (unlike Trader Joe’s Chile Rellano).
Eggplant and zucchini, despite their frumpy reputations, actually serve very well in this dish. Both veggies have a mild taste that complement each other and the sauce they come in, while providing enough heft to make for a satisfying mouthful. That said, nothing is done to ameliorate the texture of the large, floppy eggplant slices, which remain, as ever, a bit mealy and soggy.
Overall, the result is a tasty and healthy side, that fills you up without laying on the fat. The downside, for me, were the relatively small portions. The bag, though quite ample, shares the same large bag problem of the cioppino. Though it promises you four servings, I found that it what you get after cooking is more realistically described as two.
Would I Recommend It: Yes, to all but the eggplant haters.
Would I Buy It Again: Absolutely, it’s a great side for many an entree.
Final Synopsis: A veggie side that takes the middle ground between steamed broccoli and fried potatoes.