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In her own words, Gaby Dalkin started her blog, What’s Gaby Cooking, merely to “brag to my friends and family that I  learned to eat mushrooms and cook fish.” That was in 2009; now, 10 years later, she has a culinary school diploma, her very own cookbook celebrating fresh California fare, and almost half a million followers on Instagram. Suffice to say: Dalkin knows her stuff. Which is why we asked her to shed some light on her Trader Joe’s shopping picks.

Her approach is all about balance. Click through her recipes and you’ll find blackberry peach crisp and burrata-topped pizza along with multicolored salads. Her TJ’s pantry staples are similarly decadent and healthy. Read on for some serious meal inspiration. 

Photo Courtesy Gaby Dalkin | Image by Madeline Montoya

The Shopping List

  1. Roasted Red Peppers
  2. Organic Coconut Milk
  3. Port Salut
  4. Frozen Roasted Corn
  5. Traditional-Style Refried Beans

The Dishes

A Five-Minute Pasta Sauce

“Roasted red peppers are on hand in my kitchen at all times,” says Dalkin. She uses them as the base for an easy pasta sauce when she’s short on time. Simply zap them in the blender with some olive oil, red wine vinegar, and garlic—plus a little basil, if you have it. 

Curry Coconut Noodle Soup

The star of Dalkin’s herbaceous Thai soup? TJ’s coconut milk, which she frequently uses as a cow’s milk substitute. “Just sauté some garlic, onions, and curry powder, then add in the coconut milk for an instant hit of flavor,” she explains. “It’s incredible what you can do with it!” 

An Aperitivo Hour Staple

“Port Salut is the best soft and creamy cheese! You’ll find it on just about every cheese board that I make,” she shares. Build yours out with some fresh fruit and a selection of nuts for a light lunch or happy hour snack. 

Taco Tuesdays

Dalkin swears by the roasted corn, which you’ll find in the frozen aisle. She thaws it out before tossing it into some taco meat, which she then sautés and tops with a cilantro vinaigrette. “Adding some black beans is always encouraged,” she says. 

Cheesy Chicken Taco Chili Pasta

Pick up the refried beans on your next trip to the supermarket—they’re Dalkin’s favorite. “I’ll fold these into any number of recipes, like a Mexican pasta bake situation, to really up the ante,” she says. Pro tip: No need to drain them. 

See more Trader Joe’s shopping guides: Half Baked Harvest’s Tieghan Gerard Tells Us Her Trader Joe’s Must-Haves 5 Products a Foodie Buys at Trader Joe’s to Speed Up Meal Prep These Trader Joe’s Products Are a Chef’s Weeknight Dinner Savior