The 8 Best Cheeses You Can Buy at Trader Joe’s
Cheese lovers have long known that cheese can have a positive impact on one’s mental health, so it was a big win this year when word got out that cheese “is much healthier than you thought.” Packed with protein, minerals, and vitamins — including the sometimes elusive vitamin K — there’s no reason that modest consumption of cheese, particularly artisanal cheese, shouldn’t be included in wellness-minded nutrition. What’s more, cheese is a fermented food, and joins other fermented foods such as yogurt, kimchi, and tempeh in the conversation about good gut microflora, and raw milk cheeses — those made without pasteurization — bring even more of that positive microbial activity to the equation. (Raw milk cheeses are permitted in the U.S. so long as they are aged for at least 60 days.)
Artisanal cheese will always factor higher on the wellness scale than industrial ones, however, but more good news is that you don’t have to necessarily go out of your way to a gourmet cheese retailer to find some of the really good stuff. Many grocery stores carry a decent stock of higher quality cheese, and in fact, one of our favorites — Trader Joe’s — has an especially worthy selection. Whether you’re already a bonafide quesophile, or are just now getting into fancier cheese, here are eight of the best cheeses you can buy at Trader Joe’s.
1. Le Gruyère AOP
Le Gruyère AOP, not to be confused with generic gruyere, is a full-flavored, semi-firm, raw cow’s milk cheese from Switzerland that TJ’s always has in their cheese selection. The herds used to produce milk for Gruyère are allowed to free graze on high Alpine pastures in the summer, meaning that the cheese takes some flavor from whatever the cows find to munch on, including wildflowers, herbs, and even alliums such as spring onion or garlic. A terrific melter due to the gentle heating of the curds during the cheesemaking process, Gruyère is great for quesadillas, mac and cheese, and especially French onion soup.
A mashup between Camembert and Gorgonzola, Cambozola is a German cheese that incorporates elements from both of its namesakes. Soft-ripened in the style of Camembert, the cheese has a delicate, bloomy rind with a rich, creamy paste. (The rind is both edible and enjoyable, by the way.) Blue-veined in the style of Gorgonzola, Cambozola is an excellent starter blue for snacking on or adding to salads. The combo of a bloomy rind cheese with blue veining produces a blue of a sweeter, less piquant character, but with just the right amount of salt to satisfy a craving.
3. Madame Chèvre with Fine Herbs
“Chèvre” simply means “goat” in French, and goat cheeses are among our favorites as goat’s milk is naturally lower in fat, and often easier to digest for those with lactose issues. This is no ordinary fresh chèvre though: fine herbs, (pronounced “feen,”) are a particular French combination of parsley, chervil, chives, and tarragon. Chervil and tarragon are harder to come by than other herbs in the U.S., and provide flavor akin to a floral basil. Toss this cheese with cooked noodles and blanched veggies for the easiest imaginable, instantly creamy summer pasta.
4. Unexpected Cheddar
The cheddar may be unexpected, but we are not at all surprised that, even in the cheese aisle, Trader Joe’s has a proprietary selection that’s a stunner. Made in Wisconsin by Italian cheesemakers, Unexpected Cheddar brings the tang of cheddar with the umami of Parmesan, and I would even argue a little sweetness of gouda. The result is a truly crave-worthy snacking cheese, bold in both flavor and texture, perfect for enjoying with crisp apple slices.
5. Parmigiano Reggiano
Parmigiano Reggiano is one of the best name-protected food products throughout the world, meaning that the name alone ensures both its quality and its provenance, and Trader Joe’s favorable pricing ensures that you never have to settle for less than the real thing. Raw, cow’s milk cheese collected twice daily is transformed over the course of at least a year into something robust and versatile, with a slight crunch from crystallized amino acids that form within the cheese. (Trader Joe’s Parm is aged for at least 20 months, doubling down on that desirable crunch.) A dusting of Parmigiano Reggiano is an instant flavor boost for soups, salads, and even vegetables, or easily make your own parm crisps for snacking and garnishing.
6. Le Délice de Bourgogne
If you’re looking for a cheese to convert those in your life that haven’t yet come over to the fancy cheese side, look no further. I’d argue that Le Délice de Bourgogne, a decadent, triple-crème cheese from France’s Burgundy region, is one of Trader Joe’s best-kept secrets. But also let’s be honest, Trader Joe’s doesn’t really keep secrets, since everything is priced to give it a try. You will be tempted to call this cheese “brie,” as that has become the catch-all for cheeses with similar rinds and structures, but brie isn’t the category heading, “bloomy rind” is. Délice is more decadent than brie, and as close as we can all come to eating butter straight from the knife.
7. White Stilton Cheese with Cranberries
Stilton is typically known as an English blue cheese, but a fun fact: it doesn’t have to be. Blue cheeses typically get their veining by being pricked with needles during the aging process so that air rushes in and allows the blue mold to grow. When that step is skipped, White Stilton is the result: a creamy and tangy version of its blue cousin without the peppery notes that can make blue cheese off-putting for some. A fruity element from the cranberries gives this Strawberry White Stilton even further lift. (In the summer months, look for the strawberries and pomegranate version.)
8. Mini Basque
The Basque regions of Spain and France are known for their sheep’s milk cheeses. While sheep’s milk cheeses are naturally richer than either cow’s or goat’s milk selections, a little goes a long way due to their distinctive flavor and texture. Consider this Mini Basque like a younger, more pliable pecorino, whose sharp tang and lanolin mouthfeel can give the Cacio e Pepe treatment to more than just noodles.
2 med. frozen bananas (defrosted, excess liquid from defrosting tossed)
1 15 oz can pumpkin puree
1 ¾ cup of gluten free flour (we used Bob’s Red Mill 1-to-1 GF flour blend)
½ cup and 3 tbsp pure maple syrup, separated
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¾ tsp salt
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice blend
1 tsp cinnamon
1 ½ tsp vanilla, separated
⅓ cup (about ⅓ block) of cream cheese, softened
⅓ cup of 2% Greek Yogurt (cold)
3 tbsp pepitas
Preheat oven to 350 degrees, rack in the middle.
Sift together GF flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, together in a small bowl and set aside.
Using a hand mixer or stand mixer, use the flat beater on defrosted bananas at medium-high speed. Once smooth, add pumpkin puree, 1/2 cup of the maple syrup, and 1 tsp of the vanilla until fully combined before beating eggs one at a time. Scrape the sides to ensure everything is fully mixed.
Add dry mix in two parts, mixing on medium speed until fully incorporated. Set aside.
Add the softened cream cheese to a medium bowl and whip with a hand mixer on medium for about 30-45 seconds. Add Greek yogurt and remaining maple syrup and vanilla, then continue to mix until the cream cheese mix is fluffy and a uniform color.
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