Trader Joes

I have a serious thing for Trader Joe’s.

Their food is amazing, not much of it makes me feel guilty, and a weekly trip down their aisles costs me way less than a weekly trip to the big-name grocery stores.

Unfortunately, Trader Joe’s could not be more inconvenient for me to get to.  Nor could it be more crowded on weekends, when I do the bulk of my shopping.

So now, when I make my weekend plans, I google the closest TJ’s, and make a stop there before I head home.  When we were in Charlottesville for AGOMYR’s wedding, we hit it up before our 3 hour ride back to DC.  That’s how inconvenient it is to go to the TJ’s around me.  I would rather keep their frozen food in the trunk of my car for 3 hours, than drive into the heart of the city and park my car in a space that’s too small, all the while fighting off my Lululemon-clad peers, just to get my hands on their pre-made salads.

bbq chicken salad

Oh, their pre-made salads are good.  But they’re one of the few grocery items at Trader Joe’s I’d call expensive.  And one in particular happens to be laced with a mayo-based dressing. It also happens to be amazing and hard to resist.

tossed salad

Lucky for the world, Tracy freshened the dressing up with a combination of yogurt and barbecue sauce, making it less fattening, while keeping it oh-so-tangy.  I took a couple liberties with her recipe, based on what was in my fridge, and put together a huge bowl of Trader Joe’s Barbecue Chicken Salad for dinner last night.  I ate the whole thing, guilt free.

Then I started dreaming of a vegetarian version, plus black beans and quinoa, sans chicken.

To make a giant bowl of salad, that is probably too large for you, but doesn’t intimidate me in the slightest, you will need:

  • A mixing bowl
  • Romaine lettuce, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 slices of tomato, small diced
  • 1 ear of corn, cooked, kernels removed (about 3/4 C if you’re using canned or frozen)
  • 1/2 avocado, diced
  • 1 scallion, diced
  • 2 oz. chicken breast, cooked, and chopped into bite-sized pieces (I buy bags of pre-cooked chicken breasts from, you guessed it, Trader Joes.  They are always in my freezer when the need arises.)
  • 1/4 C shredded cheddar (Which is in TJ’s version, but not in Tracy’s.  And I’m with her, it doesn’t need it.)
  • 1 T barbecue sauce
  • 1 T plain yogurt (Greek is fine)
  • a squeeze lime juice
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 5 or 6 tortilla chips, crushed

Place a heaping amount of lettuce in the bowl.  Add tomato, corn, avocado, scallion, chicken, and cheddar, if using.  In small bowl, combine barbecue sauce, yogurt, and lime juice.  Pour over salad and toss till combined.  Add a nice helping of salt and pepper, and toss again.  Top with chips.  Serve immediately.

This salad is pretty much this salad.  And so you might be reading it, wondering why I’d post something so closely related.  It’s the dressing.  The dressing is everything.

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