Sorry Trader Joe’s! This DIY Bistro Salad is Better Than the Original

trader joes copycat bistro salad

I love me a quick trip to Trader Joe’s as much as the next person (hello cheap and yummy wine, grab-and-go healthy snacks, free samples…). But sometimes, I don’t always love the price you pay for the convenience of their healthy prepared snacks and meals.

One of my favorite options for a to-go lunch is the Trader Joe’s Bistro Salad: kale, garbanzo beans, chopped nuts, edamame, and dried cranberries. I’m such a sucker for dried cranberries! But paying a few too many dollars for a very DIY-able salad? Not so much.

bistro salad ingredients

I set out to create a similar salad, and came out with something that the tummies in my household believe to be much better! Not only for your wallet, but for your taste buds, too!

Start by mixing a simple dressing of lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, Italian herbs, sea salt, and pepper. Mix in a large bowl.

trader joes vinaigrette ingredients

Then add the kale first. This is an important and often forgotten step! Raw kale isn’t always the yummiest, and this is coming from the #1 kale lover I know (me). Plain kale leaves with dressing drizzled on top just doesn’t cut it. Give your greens some manual lovin’ by massaging the dressing into the four cups of kale. You’ll notice the leaves start to instantly soften in your hands after only about a minute or so. No fancy kitchen gadget can do that!


What I love about this salad is that there is such little prep time. I always have cans of garbanzo beans (aka chickpeas) in my pantry, a jar full of bulk dried cranberries, and bags of frozen veggies like edamame. This makes the DIY TJ’s salad an ultimate go-to in a pinch when you don’t have a real dinner plan. Have some greens and all of these stock items? Great, you have yourself an all-star meal.


I often skip the cooking and cooling step of the edamame beans and just toss them in frozen! By the time I’ve completed the rest of the steps they’ve usually defrosted and add a great crunch to the whole dish.

Add the rinsed and drained garbanzo beans, cranberries, and the cooked (or not!) edamame.


Chop up the remaining ingredients including the carrots, walnuts (I also love using almonds!), and fresh herbs then toss into the bowl.


*For the record, this was the salad that convinced my meat-loving fiancée that it was OK to eat vegetarian dinners! With all of the protein in the kale, edamame, and chickpeas, it’s sure to fill up even the hungriest of omnivorous bellies.

Thanks Trader Joe’s for your inspiration! And don’t think this means I will visit you less, unless you stop carrying the dried peas “Inner Peas” snacks. Then we’ll have to talk…

DIY Trader Joe’s Bistro Salad
serves 2trader joes diy bistro salad


3 Tbsp. lemon juice

4 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1 garlic clove, minced

3/4 tsp. dried Italian herb blend

1/4 tsp. kosher salt


4 cups finely chopped tuscan kale

1 15-oz. can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

2/3 cup dried cranberries

1 cup edamame beans, cooked and cooled

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1 cup carrots, chopped or shredded

fresh mint and/or basil, optional


1. Add all dressing ingredients to a large salad bowl and whisk until well combined.

2. Into that same bowl, first add the chopped kale, massaging the leaves with your hands until dressing has been distributed and leaves soften a bit. Throw in all remaining ingredients.

3. Toss well to combine. Serve immediately.


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2 Homemade and Fat Free Feta Salad Dressings

Recipe by Katie McGrath; Photos by Kacy Meinecke for

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