Published on March 17, 2019

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Imagery by Aaron Bengochea

As any regular Domino reader will note, our love for Trader Joe’s runs deep. A place for both discovering surprising new staples and indulging in cult favorites, it has everything one would ever want in a supermarket—including a podcast. It’s hardly a surprise that the grocery store is a go-to for food experts, too, including everyone from a nutritionist to a keto professional. The latest culinary pro to lend his stamp of approval to Trader Joe’s? Laurence Edelman, head chef at NYC’s Left Bank restaurant.

Situated in the heart of Manhattan’s West Village, Left Bank is a contemporary eatery serving entrées like a three-cheese burger and broccoli rabe gnocchi. Suffice to say, we implicitly trust the insight of anyone who advocates layering Cheddar, Gruyère, and goat cheese in one singular dish—so we tapped Edelman for his Trader Joe’s shopping list. If it’s good enough for a seasoned pro, it’s definitely going in our carts the next time we’re at the store.

The Pantry Essentials

  1. Frozen pineapples and mangoes—“the best for green smoothies”
  2. Almonds, walnuts, and pecans
  3. Organic avocados—“the right size for breakfast”
  4. Frozen chicken and cilantro pot stickers
  5. Kimchi
  6. Frozen protein (cooked shrimp and steak)
  7. Boston lettuce and radicchio
  8. Spanish olive oil
  9. Purple and red winter tomatoes
  10. Frozen spinach and broccoli

The Unexpected Winners

Frozen Chicken and Cilantro Dumplings: “They’re a special treat for me,” says Edelman. “I grabbed them one day on a whim and ate them weeks later—I was surprised at how delicious they were!” Either steam or pan-fry the tiny dumplings for a quick appetizer or lighter dinner. Pro tip: TJ’s Soyaki makes an excellent dipping sauce.

Kimchi: This Korean cuisine staple is a favorite of Edelman’s, who says he gets it all the time. It will elevate almost any meal with an added kick of spice.

Canned Hearts of Palm: The biggest thing we learned from speaking to Edelman is not to turn our noses up at canned or frozen foods—that is, when they come from Trader Joe’s. Another prepared favorite of his, the canned hearts of palm are a discovery he now frequently keeps on hand. “Trader Joe’s has taught me to buy canned and frozen items, because they’re usually really good and not perishable,” he says. “If I take a chance like that at another market, I’m usually disappointed.”

Green Dragon Hot Sauce: Have a penchant for the spicier things in life? Opt for this flavorful condiment. Just be warned: The chef says it’s “crazy hot.”

The Easy Weekday Recipes

For when you have a little extra time in the morning… Elevate your scrambled eggs with shrimp and avocado. A slightly unexpected combination, the dish combines two of Edelman’s must-have Trader Joe’s products for a breakfast that feels totally gourmet.

For when you want to elevate your leftovers… “Top your leftover rotisserie chicken with Trader Joe’s kimchi,” recommends Edelman. The one-ingredient addition may seem simple, but since the fermented vegetables are packed with flavor, it will transform last night’s chicken into a whole new meal.

For the antithesis of a sad desk salad… Edelman has a foolproof recipe for an easy lunch. Mix Trader Joe’s Boston lettuce and radicchio with tomatoes, peppers, sardines, tuna, avocado, and onion—the multifaceted dish will be super-filling. “It’s a great salad made in five minutes that’s perfect for lunch or dinner,” he says.

For a fast dinner… Need a quick meal? “Warm up chopped spinach and riced cauliflower with some chopped leftover chicken, canned artichoke hearts, and chili flakes,” says Edelman. Finish it off with a drizzle of olive oil, and you’ve got yourself a filling dinner that takes next to no time to prep.

See more Trader Joe’s stories:
4 Unexpected Ways to Use Trader Joe’s Umami Seasoning
Every New Trader Joe’s Product Launching This Month
The Best Trader Joe’s Products You’ve Never Heard Of

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