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Trader Joes
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Trader Joe's might be the everyday favorite for many of us, but did you know that professional chefs also love to do some serious shopping at Trader Joe's to stock their homes? Culinary pros everywhere know that TJ's is a great place to load up on some specialty items that make their home cooking and dining extra simple and still special. We talked to a few of them about their favorite Trader Joe's staples.

Thai Lime
Credit: Courtesy Trader Joe's

Thai Lime & Chili Cashews

Chef Samantha Fore of Tuk Tuk Lexington, whom you might have seen on television as a regular contributor to Christopher Kimball's Milk Street, swears by Trader Joe's products. She loves the blend of spice and sour on these crunchy snacks. "Excellent topper and texture for rice dishes. So much zip!"

Puff Pastry
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All Butter Puff Pastry Sheets

Chef and culinary educator Mary Kay Gill stocks her freezer with this easy-to-use pastry shortcut. "Their all-butter frozen puff pastry is a winner. I use it to wrap wine poached pears for an elegant dessert. Martha Stewart has a lovely stone fruit and frangipane tart and this pastry shines."

Berries
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Organic Freeze-Dried Berry Medley

Chef Fore loves these dehydrated fruits to help make desserts special. "My friend Stella Parks, author of BraveTart cookbook and contributor to Serious Eats, taught me that buzzing these with cream leads to the easiest fruit-flavored whip ever." The perfect topper for all your summer sweets. 

Red Peppers
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Fire-Roasted Red Peppers

Cookbook author Amelia Levin always has these in her pantry. They are an easy addition to everything from a charcuterie platter to a stir fry, but she especially loves to combine them with another TJ staple. "I make easy Romesco sauce with Trader Joe's jarred roasted red peppers and their unsalted roasted hazelnuts!"

Lentils
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Steamed Lentils

Registered Dietician and Nutritional Educator Raeanne Sarazen loves to have these vacuum-sealed, pre-cooked legumes on hand for healthy vegetarian entrees or delicious side dishes. A busy mom, Sarazen sneaks healthy plant-based protein into easy weeknight dinners by mixing these in with tomato sauce to create a perfect pasta sauce.

Spanish Cheese
Credit: Courtesy Trader Joe's

Spanish Cheese Tapas Sampler

Fore always grabs this variety pack of premium Spanish cheeses when shopping at TJs. "It makes things easy for entertaining, or even better, for a snacky cheesy dinner!"

Crushed Garlic
Credit: Courtesy Dorot Gardens

Frozen Crushed Garlic Cubes

Garlic is one of those ingredients that makes everything better but can sometimes be a bit fussy when you are trying to get dinner on the table in a hurry. Sarazen keeps a stash of the Dorot Gardens frozen crushed garlic cubes from Trader Joe's for those days when dealing with fresh is just beyond available bandwidth. They can be used straight from frozen or thawed quickly in just a few minutes at room temperature. Bonus? If anyone in your family tends to have a sensitive tummy where fresh garlic is concerned, the frozen stuff is often more easily tolerated.

Mango
Credit: Courtesy Trader Joe's

Frozen Mango Chunks

While these are an obvious choice for things like smoothies, pies, and other recipes, Chef Fore loves them for savory dishes as well. "They are the perfect ripeness for curries!"

Beets
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Steamed & Peeled Baby Beets

If you want the world's easiest elegant salad for entertaining, look no further than these vacuum-packed cooked beets. Sarazen buys them along with bags of TJ mixed greens and their chevre and makes a classic salad that is the work of moments but tastes like you spent hours.

Flowers
Credit: Courtesy Trader Joe's

Seasonal Bouquet

Flowers can often be an overlooked part of your shopping at Trader Joe's, but Chef Fore says to take another look! Whether you are hosting guests or just for yourself, a well-priced bouquet is worth picking up. "Flowers that are reasonably priced and beautiful add so much to my table."