Trader Joe’s salads provide diverse options

Reviewing the wide variety of eclectic salad choices available at the local grocery store

Spring is finally here, signaling the revival of refreshing smoothies, various fruits and fresh salads. Of course, with Trader Joe’s just across the street and its wide variety of foods, a classic student lunch choice during this time of year is a refreshing salad for under the reasonable price of $5. However, once one has embarked on the five-minute commute, the greatest dilemma arises: which salad should I choose? From Chinese chicken to caesar to Moroccan salads, all possibilities offer tempting and intriguing combinations that embody specific flavors and textures unique to every salad.

Broccoli Slaw and Kale Salad with White Chicken Meat – $3.99 5/5

This salad consists of a simple slaw of chopped broccoli, carrots and kale paired with white chicken, sunflower seeds, red cranberries and a vinaigrette. From the written description, this salad seems to incorporate a variety of unique flavors and textures, many of which seem unsavory upon first introduction. The presence of bitter kale or crunchy broccoli is often an immediate turn off for many young teenagers looking for something savory or sweet, but this amalgamation of distinct flavors unexpectedly embodies a truly harmonious culinary experience. The fruity punch from the cranberries perfectly compliments the saltiness of the sunflower seeds and bring life to the initially bland chopped vegetables. The salad also provides a pleasant and crisp texture from the crunch of the broccoli slaw and the sunflower seeds and the sweet and spicy vinaigrette naturally ties the dish together. Overall, this salad provides a burst of flavor and each of the ingredients appropriately compliment one another.

Crunchy Slaw with Chicken, Crispy Noodles and Peanut Dressing $4.49 4.5/5

An all time favorite, the Crunchy Slaw with Chicken, Crispy Noodles and Peanut Dressing is a salad that can be eaten at nearly every occasion. The variety of ingredients all fit within a certain harmony of tastes and textures, and is sure to keep one well nourished until the next meal. The diverse greens, including romaine lettuce, green onion, cilantro and green cabbage, in addition to the carrot shreds, bring a fresh, crunchy spin. The chicken breast pieces, on the other hand, bring a slightly heavier component. Additionally, the pieces are on the larger side and are quite dry at the center. However, this benefits the overall feel of the salad, for it adds something more substantial to go along with the greens. To top it off, the crispy wonton noodles, a more carb-based component, add a perfect crunch to the salad. The peanut dressing leans towards a slightly heavier, denser dressing, and should be added to the consumer’s discretion. However, it really pulls the salad together, and is not too watery or too spicy.

Do take into consideration that the tasty meal comes with a price: both the fat content and the sodium levels reach around 30 percent of the daily values, all in just one meal. On the other hand, this salad is a rich source of protein, Vitamin A, Vitamin C and iron. Furthermore, the Crunch Slaw with Chicken, Crispy Noodles and Peanut Dressing salad is not to be confused with the Chinese Inspired Chicken Salad. The latter option may appear quite similar, but it contains a different variety of vegetables and a completely different dressing which do not come together to form the same overall taste the former option provides.

Lemon Chicken & Arugula Salad – $3.99 3.5/5

The Lemon Chicken & Arugula Salad is a Moroccan-based combination of greens, grains and meat. Though it is not a traditional Moroccan salad, it brings together many savory spices such as parsley, paprika and mint. Together, they make a balanced meal. Quantitatively  speaking, the sheer quantity of the couscous and red quinoa mix seemed to overwhelm aspects like the arugula leaves. Considering the grains’ large presence within the salad, it is a wonder that they did not make it into the title. The salad comes in a plastic container which includes a patterned bottom and sides, with the plastic alternating between some surfaces that stick into the salad while others stick out. Though this is not a big problem with other Trader Joe’s salads, it definitely was noticeable with this one. The couscous and red quinoa get stuck into the uneven surfaces with ease. Considering that, once the dressing packet is removed, there is not much salad left, the loss of grains to the packaging only makes it worse.

The spicy pimento dressing itself is quite a savory mix — however, it is heavy and it is definitely possible to enjoy the salad without utilizing every last drop of the dressing. Though it is a personal preference, keep in mind that a little bit of this dressing goes a long way. Also, while the small peppers are not overwhelming spicy, but their presence is notable. At the end of the day, the Lemon Chicken & Arugula Salad is definitely worth a shot, for it encompasses a very bold mix of flavors and ingredients.