Trader Joe’s Inspiration: San Marzano Tomato Salad

When I go grocery shopping, I almost always have a list.  There are a few reasons for this.  First, there are items we may be completely out of which I don’t want to forget.  Second, I like to make sure I always have certain staples on hand, like canned broth, olive oil, sugar, etc.  And finally, I often plan my meals in advance, so when I go to the store, I am also purchasing ingredients specifically for three different meals.

But sometimes I go rogue.  It’s often dangerous, because I end up buying more snack food than I should, and too much produce (which does not have a long shelf life) because it looks so good and fresh.  If my shopping list has “1 bottle of white wine” on it, I get one bottle of white.  But if I have no list and I’m in a Trader Joe’s, well, we all know how that goes down.  That said, I have learned over the years what works and what goes together, so those rogue shopping trips actually produce some tasty dishes.

This week, I popped into Trader Joe’s on my way home from the office.  I didn’t have a list, but I knew I needed to make three meals, I needed some wine, and I wanted some fresh flowers for the living room (because they always have beautiful, inexpensive flowers at TJ’s).  I grabbed 2 bouquets of yellow tulips and a loaf of my husband’s favorite gluten-free white bread (which just happens to be next to the flowers), and then told myself to focus:  you have a job to do here, Theresa!

I like to start with produce, because you can build a meal around what is fresh and what looks good.  I decided a spring veggie risotto would taste good, so I grabbed fresh peas, asparagus, a sweet yellow onion, and basil.  The green beans looked good so I decided to use those as a side dish for something, then I saw the San Marzano tomatoes.

If you’ve never had a fresh San Marzano, you’re missing out.  They are so sweet and crisp, I can just eat them out of the bag.  They are not as acidic as other tomatoes, and have a nice sweet flavor to them, and because they have a firmer skin they are not at all mushy or full of squishy seeds.  I prefer them over cherry or grape tomatoes simply because the flavor is so much better.  Even if you insist that you do not like tomatoes, I suggest giving these a try because they are not like others.  Since I already had the basil in my buggy, I decided that a tomato-basil salad was in order, and found a nice low-fat feta cheese to add to it instead of mozzarella, knowing that the saltiness of the feta would play nicely with the sweetness of the tomatoes.

IMG_3556

Spring Veggie Risotto with Shrimp

I ended up grabbing some frozen shrimp and a container of veggie broth for my Spring Veggie Risotto (check out my post all about Risotto for some recipes), some chicken thighs so I could make Sesame Chicken to go along with the green beans I picked up (those would become Ginger Green Beans), and some ground beef, marinara, and brown rice spaghetti for a gluten-free pasta night.  And of course I couldn’t forget to pick up some wine (for me), taffy (for my husband), cookie butter cookies (for my daughter), as well as some staples like balsamic vinegar and olive oil.  So, I mostly stayed on task, with just a few minor deviations!

I made the tomato salad tonight, and it was just what I was craving:  something fresh, sweet and salty, and light.  The salad takes less than 5 minutes to prepare and along with some crusty bread, made the perfect meal.

IMG_3573

All of the ingredients are from Trader Joe’s!

San Marzano Tomato Salad

5 to 6 ounces San Marzano plum tomatoes, sliced in quarters or in halves
1/4 cup shopped fresh basil
4 ounces low-fat feta cheese, cubed
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
coarsely ground black pepper

Toss the tomatoes, basil, and cheese in a bowl.  Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar; gently stir to coat.  Sprinkle with pepper and serve immediately.

*I basically used half a bag of the tomatoes, and half a package of the feta cheese, knowing that the salad really doesn’t keep well in the fridge.  Use the remainder to make another batch the next day!

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s