Y’all, I have a big surprise for you. I’m in love with another Trader Joe’s product. Shocking, I’m sure, but it’s true. Trader Joe's Zhoug Sauce is the condiment you didn’t know you needed, til now. Gone will be the days of you Googling recipes for chicken or steak. This sauce is dang near guaranteed to change your life.
I had never heard of zhoug (pronounced ZOOg) before, but when I first encountered it’s bright green hue in the refrigerated sauce aisle of TJ’s, I had to pick it up. When I did, I was extremely pleased to read that its two main components were jalapenos and cilantro*, which are two of my very favorite flavors. It's basically a pistou (read: nut free pesto) made from jalapeno, cilantro, garlic, chili flakes, cardamom, cumin and oil, and y’all, it is this girl’s version of heaven on a plate. It’s bright and fresh tasting with a punch of heat. It’s what I always want chimichurri to be, but it never is.
This little tub of deliciousness has become a staple in our household, and it’s a true workhorse. We use it to marinate chicken and steak, we slather it on cooked fish, we stir it into rice for the EASIEST green rice ever, use it as a pasta sauce when we’re tired and don’t feel like cooking, we mix it into yogurt and dollop it on baked potatoes and tacos like sour cream, we mix it with mayonnaise to spice up our sandwiches, we use it in quesadillas and grilled cheese sandwiches and we toss it into plain hummus to doll it up. Anything pesto can do, Trader Joe's Zhoug Sauce can do better.
Can I make my own? Sure. Would it save me some money to do so? Maybe about $1-1.25 depending on where I get my cilantro. But at $2.99 for an 8oz tub, I’m happy to pay for the convenience of knowing it's resting in my fridge for whenever a moment of inspiration strikes. Next time you’re visiting your local Trader Joe’s (a.k.a. grocery mecca), do yourself a favor and pick up a tub (or three). You won’t regret it.
To kick off your inspiration for how to use this magical product, I have two easy recipes for chicken lined up for you: 1.) Mediterranean Chicken Tostadas, and 2.) Zhoug Chicken with Mediterranean Veggie Salad and Turmeric Rice. Enjoy!
Mediterranean-Inspired Zhoug Chicken Tostadas
- 2 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts or Thighs (I prefer thighs because they’re juicier, but hubby prefers breasts because they are less likely to remind him that he’s eating something that was once alive. Your choice.)
- hefty sprinkling Mrs. Dash Original
- Italian Dressing of Choice to cover chicken
- 1 C Dry White or Brown Rice of Choice
- ¼-1/2 tub TJ's Zhoug Sauce to taste
- 2-4 Tostada Shells or sub home fried tortillas
Toppings of Choice
- Hummus of Choice (TJ's Cilantro Jalapeno is a favorite in our household)
- Chopped Tomatoes
- Crumbled Feta
- Sliced (or Better Yet Pickled!) Red Onions
- Tzatziki Sauce
- Chopped Cucumbers
- Sliced Kalamata Olives
- Shredded Romaine
- In a small, lidded container marinate chicken breasts or thighs by sprinkling liberally with Mrs Dash Seasoning, and covering with Italian Dressing. Let marinate at least 2 hours, or up to overnight.
- Cook chicken to internal temp of 165F. If you’re doing thighs, they’d be great on the grill. If you’re doing breasts, they have a tendency to dry out easily so I’d recommend baking at 425F on a lined baking sheet for 18-22 mins. Once your bird hits about 162F, you can pull off the heat and let it continue to cook as it rests. Note: Make sure to rest your chicken for at least 5 minutes before cutting. If you don’t, you’re likely to have dry meat. 🙁
- While chicken is cooking, make rice of your choice according to package directions. We’ve used brown rice, basmati and jasmine, and they are all lovely options. When all water has been absorbed, stir in TJ’s Zhoug Sauce, depending on your heat tolerance.
- Pan fry tortilla of choice until crispy. Definitely cook it on both sides to achieve this effect.
- Top fried tortilla with toppings of choice, and enjoy!
Zhoug Chicken (or Steak!) with Mediterranean Veggie Salad and Turmeric Rice
- 4 pieces Protein of Choice (chicken breasts, thighs, skirt steak, pork chops, etc)
- ½ tub TJ's Zhoug Sauce
- 1 small Yellow Onion finely chopped
- 5-6 cloves Garlic chopped
- 1 C Jasmine or Basmati Rice
- 1 ½ teaspoon Ground Turmeric
- 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
- 1 ½-2 C Vegetable or Chicken Stock, or Water according to rice cooking liquid ratio on package
- Marinate your protein (Chicken Breasts/Thighs/Pieces, Skirt Steak, Whatever Floats Your Boat) by slathering it in TJ’s Zhoug Sauce. Let rest for at least 2 hours, or overnight.
- Cook protein on grill, in oven or pan. If it’s chicken, make sure it hits 165F. If it’s steak, 145F. AND FOR GODSAKES, REST YOUR MEAT BEFORE YOU CUT IT.
- While meat is cooking, make your rice. In saucepan, sautee onion with garlic. Add in rice, kosher salt and ground turmeric. Stir to coat rice and lightly toast it. Add in vegetable/chicken stock or water depending on package directions for liquid ratio. Add bay leaves, cover and simmer until water is gone.
- Make a simple chopped salad by tossing together salad ingredients in a ratio you and yours will enjoy.
- Plate food with rice on bottom, protein and chopped salad over the top. If you have some, Tzatziki makes a fine topping here! Note: TJ's regular Tzatziki is far superior to their Avocado Tzatziki in my opinion!Also, if you have any Na'an or Garlic Na'an on hand, it would make a lovely accompaniment. Trader Joe's and Aldi both carry Na'an, although Aldi's is cheaper and just as good!Enjoy!
*If you’re one of the unfortunate souls that has a palate that makes cilantro taste like soap, I am so sorry. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. I’m on the opposite end of the spectrum where I’ll buy a bunch of cilantro, pick off all the leaves to use as my salad greens, and then blitz the stems into a green sauce. I LOVE CILANTRO.