October Dinner Challenge: TRADER JOES

by Sharon Scott

I never get tired of this dish.

Because Trader Joe’s is one of my favorite grocery stores, and because I was looking for a real treat for the family, I decided to handle this dinner challenge differently than past ones. Instead of trying to get the most for my pennies, I decided to see just how upscale I could go for my $20.

For my family, that means steak. Our favorites? Filet mignon, tenderloin, or ahi. And Trader Joe’s had The Best Ahi. While we used to serve it at home the way most restaurants do (peppercorn or sesame seared with soy sauce and wasabi), we have developed a family favorite of coating it with freshly crushed coriander and green peppercorns.

One of my favorite spices.

Green peppercorns – which are the immature “fruits” of the black peppercorn plant – have a milder flavor than their black counterparts and create an amazing sisterhood with the lemony herby-ness of coriander (coriander, if you don’t already know, is the seed produced from the cilantro plant).

So, what to serve with that will feel special, be nutritious, and can be prepared in less than 45 minutes? I browsed the aisles and came across TJ’s Harvest Medley, a generous blend of dried couscous, lentils, orzo, and quinoa. Low fat, no cholesterol, high protein… wonderful texture and flavor, and a great “base” to add more flavors to.

And it feels upscale somehow.

Great added flavor (and color).

In the past, I have made a warm, dressed couscous salad that is a big hit with my friends. I usually add haricot verts (and tomatoes) to it, but the edamame looked so bright and fresh, I swiped those up instead.

The menu: Coriander-Green Peppercorn Crusted Ahi over a Warm Dressed Israeli Couscous Salad.

The success of this meal definitely rested on my having the many staple ingredients necessary to make the dressing, and in particular, the chicken that I use to prepare the couscous (though you could use water instead).

Takes all of about 4 minutes to cook.

In the end, we had a gourmet meal that cost $21.43 to make, and took all of 20 minutes to prepare.

I have so many more dishes to share with you. I look forward to TJ’s coming back around on the Dinner Challenge again…

Until next time, eat well, my friends.

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  1. jeanie Says:

    Wow, your recipe/artical made me wish I was there for dinner. Great read.. sounds wonderful for so little.

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