Product: Trader Joe’s Polenta Provencale with Spinach & Peas in a Spicy Cream Sauce – $3.49+
It’s Friday, and despite getting paid today, I have no money. Which totally thwarted my plan to have gluten-free pizza away from home today. Seriously. The last thing I wanted to do after the day I had today was cook. I was having those, “I don’t want to be in that damn tiny kitchen any longer than I have to!” But, that’s not happening today. That’s not happening for a long time at this point.
But I burden you with things that have nothing to do with this blog or product. Sorry. Just a little anecdote to explain why I ended up with my head and arms in the freezer, trying to find something that was not labor intensive or requiring much else in the means of cooking. I had a few options…though not too many…but decided that since it had been in the freezer the longest, the Polenta Provencale I picked up at Trader Joe’s a long while back was going to have its moment to shine.
This is generally used as a side dish…but it was going to be a meal for my roomie and I. So, I cooked up the entire package instead of just two portions of it. Those would have been really small portions…but for a side, I suppose that’s what you need. HA!
Anyway…I put my pan on the stove and turned on the burner to a medium-high heat, as instructed on the bag of frozen product suggested. I cut open the packaging and peeked inside to see little orange balls of corn goodness with some greens. All clotted together by ice. Beautiful. I sighed…and poured it into the awaiting hot pan.
It took about a minute or so for the ice to melt in order for me to break up the clumps of polenta and vegetables, but once that happened…so did the magic of this dish. I went to get cups down for a drink to have with dinner…and when I came back to stir, while the polenta was still frozen, the spinach and the peas were now turning a gorgeous green and a sauce was beginning to show up in the pan. This gorgeous…orange sauce. It also was starting to smell really, really good. Okay…maybe this wouldn’t be so bad. I left it to cook some more and poured drinks, walking them out to the living room and setting them on the table. I returned and gave the dish another stir. The polenta was starting to soften, meaning it wasn’t all the way frozen now. Thank goodness. I could see tomato now in the sauce. And the sauce was getting thicker. It all finished up just as the roommate emerged from her bathroom from her shower. Perfect timing. I got down two bowls and split the contents of the pan evenly.
I delivered the dishes to the table and settled in to enjoy my little bowl of Trader Joe’s straight-from-the-freezer-to-your-stove meal…and hoped it was good. I had no Plan B today. But…I’d think of something if I had to. I’m good at that in a pinch…especially when I’m hungry and food is involved.
So…it wasn’t the pizza I was craving.
However…it was good. I think it’s a bit misleading to call the sauce “spicy.” Personally, if I wasn’t so comfortable in my seat, I would have added a touch of hot sauce or some red pepper flakes to kick up the heat a little. My roomie, who is a spice wimp…well…she didn’t say one word about any heat or spice…nor did she suck down most of her drink upon the first few bites. This, my dear foodies, means…it’s not spicy. The polenta gets soft, without getting mushy. And the vegetables are the perfect accompaniment to the dish. The spinach absorbs that sauce and the peas add to the texture. But it’s that sauce that ties everything together. That sauce…although not spicy…was fantastic. I devoured this…chewing and swallowing of course…but devoured. I savored it as long as I could, but it was, for a meal from a freezer, really good!
I want to try to make it on my own…like…from fresh ingredients. Not frozen. Hmmm…
Speaking of ingredients…this package of Trader Joe’s Polenta Provencale with Spinach & Peas in a Spicy Cream Sauce contains relatively few ingredients in the grand scheme of things. The ingredients in this dish include polenta (made from water, corn flour, salt, and dried skim milk), crushed peeled tomatoes, creme fraiche, spinach, peas, tomato, cow’s milk cheese, olive oil, salt, garlic, strong chili pepper, basil, modified rice starch, parsley, thyme, and modified corn starch. I, however, am not a fan of the two modified starch ingredients. GAH! That’s a bummer. This product is gluten-free and vegetarian, however.
As for nutrition, however, this isn’t so bad. A serving of the Trader Joe’s P0lenta Provencale with Spinach & Peas in a Spicy Cream Sauce is 1/3 cup, cooked. There are about 4 servings per package. But, since this was dinner, this became 2 servings…so these stats just double. If you eat a regular serving (1/4 of the package), you will be consuming 130 calories and 7 grams of fat. In addition, you will be taking in 20 mg cholesterol, 280 mg sodium, and 2 grams of sugar. In the grand scheme of things, for a frozen, packaged product…that is awesome. You will also be taking in 3 grams of fiber and 4 grams of protein. Not lying…this dish is filling!
If you really like things spicy, I recommend adding a bit of kick to the Trader Joe’s Polenta Provencale with Spinach & Peas in a Spicy Cream Sauce. But…it’s not bad the way it is. I loved the rich, creaminess of each bite…from the sauce to the polenta to the vegetables…it was a trio of deliciousness. One that I will definitely consider trying again when I need to have one of those “prepare it quickly” meals.
Nicely done, Trader Joe’s. If anything…try to get those modified starches out of your product. Then…this will get my full approval. Until then, just know that I found this one tasty little meal tonight. And I’m glad I had it in my freezer for the day I was having. The fact that it tasted good as well was the added bonus!
And this is why I love Trader Joe’s.