Trader Joe’s PAPPARDELLE egg noodle pasta (RECIPE)


“Pappardelle is a hearty noodle with many uses. Traditionally this hearty noodle is served with high-flavor chunky sauces made from game or pork… We like it with a robust Bolognese. It’s perfect for soaking up the flavorful juices of a pot roast and an ideal noodle for soups…”

Trader Joe’s Pappardelle noodles are good, hearty Italian egg noodles. These are especially perfect with robust chunky sauces, like a ragu Bolognese. A bag is $1.99 (8 oz). Here’s what I learned from making these a few times. To bring out the best of these noodles I suggest you don’t just cook them and put them on a plate and top with sauce. If you are just serving these with butter and cheese that’s OK to do. But if you are serving with a sauce (Bolognese maybe?) these will taste best if you finish cooking them in the sauce for a minute or two at the very end. Meaning pull them out of the water at about 4 or 5 minutes, drain (but not too thoroughly) and finish cooking them with 1/2 your sauce till they are al dente (save a little of the cooking water, which you can add to get the sauce consistency you want). Again grab them after about 4 minutes of boiling, throw them into a pan with about 1/2 cup of sauce per portion, cook and toss gently for a minute or two, until the noodles are cooked to your liking. The noodles will absorb the sauce and all the flavors, and make for a very hearty dish (see my dish, served with some asparagus as a side). Top with a bit more of your (reserved) sauce and a little grating of Parmesan.

Pappardelle with Bolognese sauce is made for each other so that’s definitely a combo you should think of for these noodles. If not a homemade ragu Bolognese you can easily use Trader Joe’s TURKEY BOLOGNESE “just sauce”. I can’t say it’s great, but it’s decent if you don’t want to make your own (see my easy turkey ragu bolognese recipe below)

RECIPEFAST & EASY TURKEY BOLOGNESE: Brown up a pound of ground turkey (optionally you can use ground beef, or mix of 1/2 pound each ground beef and pork, or Impossible meat for that matter). Sauté on high heat in a tablespoon of EVOO. Once the meat is browned nicely add 4 cloves of crushed fresh garlic, 1/2 a chopped onion (optional: a grated carrot) and turn down to medium heat. Add a spoon of wine, balsamico or just water to deglaze the bottom of the pan scraping up any bits. Saute on low covered for about 3 minutes then add a can of ROASTED TOMATOES (with or without chiles). Rinse out the the can 1/4 to 1/2 way full with milk. Add that in. Season to taste with salt, pepper and Italian herbs. Simmer on low for 20 minutes. Serve the sauce with a hearty noodle like Pappardelle.

TJ’s ORGANIC ITALIAN ARTISAN GIGLI PASTA (with recipe)


Trader Joe’s Artisan Organic Italian Pasta

This shape, “Gigli” is sometimes also called “Campanelle” (tower) a twisty corkscrew shape with a frilly edge. This is one of TJ’s premium pastas that go for a bit more than the regular Organic pastas they carry. This one goes for $2.99 for a 1.1 lb bag, a premium price but its a premium pasta. This is a high quality Organic Pasta made in Italy by a premium manufacturer. You can note by the closeup of the pasta, it has that rough exterior indicating it’s bronze die cut and the lighter color indicating it’s slow dried, like the best Italian pastas you might find at a specialty Italian grocery – and which probably sell for double or more than this.

The cook time is only 5-7 minutes and I would stop it at a minute under Al Dente for finishing with a sauce (which means maybe around 4 minutes). I cooked this pasta with a sauce of sautéed fresh cherry tomatoes, garlic, olive oil and feta cheese and everyone seemed to love it. My only minor complaint is when it was cooked some of the frilly edges detached into little stringy things, which look a bit weird but again this a very minor complaint. Taste wise this is another excellent quality pasta from Trader Joe’s. This corkscrew shape will be good with any sauce especially any sauce that will get into every nook and cranny of this shape. Though I haven’t tried it yet for CACIO E PEPE, I have a feeling they would be good with each other

RECIPE – EASY CHERRY TOMATO AND FETA CHEESE PASTA

Put up a large pan of salted water to boil for the pasta. In a large sauté pan, cook about 12-16 oz of cherry tomatoes (sliced in half) in a good amount of olive oil on med-high heat until the tomatoes start to soften up, about 5-7 minutes. Throw in about 4-5 cloves of minced garlic and cook for another few minutes and at the same time, I push the tomatoes to the side and put a good amount of FETA cheese cut into cube on the other side of the pan and cook on medium heat until they start to brown a little bit. Turn off the heat. Cook the pasta; check it for about a minute under al dente and toss the drained pasta into the pan with the sauce adding about a ladle of the pasta water. Cook for one minute until al dente and mix it all together. Top with a bit of more grated cheese (Parm, Pecorino, or Asiago), some fresh ground pepper and plate it up. Enjoy!

TJ’S LINK

https://www.traderjoes.com/home/products/pdp/organic-italian-artisan-gigli-pasta-060942

TRADER JOE’S SAYS:

Traditional Italian pasta is made with only two ingredients, durum wheat semolina flour and water—a small amount of softer wheat flour is allowed by law, but Trader Joe’s Organic Italian Artisan Gigli Pasta is crafted with 100% organic durum wheat semolina sourced from farms in Puglia. Our supplier has been producing artisan-made pasta for more than 35 years. Most dried pasta are made in huge batches and dried quickly, from three to 12 hours. This Artisan Pasta is made in small batches, and dried at much lower temperatures for up to 24 hours, resulting in a more rustic texture that cooks to a delightfully al dente texture. Gigli, also known as Campanelle (translates to “bellflowers” or “little bells”), has a ruffled edge and hollow center, so it holds any sauce extremely well. Marinara? Carbonara? Just a bit of olive oil and shaved Parmesan? Any of these will do, deliciously.

Trader Joe’s BREADED FRIED RAVIOLI


RAVE

Breaded deep fried ravioli? Doesn’t that sound a bit over the top? Still when I saw these, I was intrigued and thought I would give them a try. Well I have to say they are quite good, better than I expected them to be. First I should say we almost always try to “eat healthy”. I rarely eat fried anything. So frankly deep fried breaded ravioli is not something I normally eat or buy on a regular basis but hey this is the job, and reviews have to be done 😉

Having now tried them, I can tell you these fried ravioli are actually pretty yummy. The two of us totally enjoyed eating these, as a rare treat. I could see these as something you could serve once in a blue moon in small portions, say 4 or 5 ravioli, as a side or as an appetizer? They might be even be a tasty and easy treat to serve up as an hors d’oeuvre for company. One recommended method to make these is to Pan Fry them which is what I did. I used less than a tablespoon of olive oil, where as the directions say, oil a 1/4 inch deep. I don’t think you need more than a tablespoon or two of oil in a non-stick or cast iron pan. TJ’s says they are good done in an air fryer too. Once the ravioli looked crispy and golden brown, I drained them on a paper towel. The breaded ravioli were delicious, a little crispy on the outside and when you bite into them, full of soft melted cheese inside (5 kinds of cheese). Naturally these will be perfect with a bit of your favorite tomato sauce (fresh basil if you have), and they were delicious when I served them with some sauce and a sprinkle of Parmesan. So give these a try if they sound good to you. A package (1 lb) is $3.99. They can be found in the frozen section…. Trader Joe’s says…

https://www.traderjoes.com/home/products/pdp/breaded-fried-ravioli-066183

“Each Breaded Fried Ravioli starts as a stately square of semolina pasta, filled with a mouth-watering mix of five kinds of cheese: creamy ricotta, mild Monterey Jack, rich mozzarella, savory Asiago, and piquant Parmesan. These Ravioli are then battered and deep fried to perfection, then flash frozen for you to finish the job at home. Once prepared (we find an air fryer to be particularly suited for the job), they’re everything a cheesy appetizer should be: warm, gooey, and phenomenally cheesy, with a crispy, savory exterior—a little like a breaded mozzarella stick, taken to the next level.”

TJ’s Cacio E Pepe Pasta Sauce


“A creamy, cheesy pasta sauce made wth Pecorino Romano and Black Pepper”

Cacio e Pepe means “cheese and pepper” and is a classic Roman pasta. Trader Joe’s Cacio e Pepe Pasta Sauce has been getting a lot of buzz since they released it, so I had to give it a try. You know what? It is pretty good. The fettucine cacio e pepe dish I made with this sauce turned out really tasty. Making a dish with this could not be easier, just combine this sauce with your cooked pasta. That does not mean just dump a ladle of sauce on top of the pasta though. Americans seem to serve pasta like this, which makes Italians cringe. Italians always finish cooking pasta with the sauce together for the last minute or so to blend the flavors. As it comes right out of the jar TJ’s C&P sauce is really, really thick. A few big spoons go a long way. So would not even think of using say the whole jar to make just 2 portions – or even 4. The Nutrition label suggests this 14.5 oz jar “makes 7 servings” so you use that as a rough guide, but let’s round it out and say a jar will make about 6 portions. My basic suggestion is try maybe 2 or 3 heaping Tablespoons of sauce per portion of pasta, which you will thin later with a little pasta cooking water to get the consistency you like to coat the pasta but not drown it in sauce, Italian style. Italians never drown pasta so it’s swimming in sauce, it’s coated generously, in just the right proportions of sauce to pasta. Italians also finish cooking pasta, with some sauce and never just pour it over naked pasta. TIP: Try making this with any of TJ’s excellent Artisan Organic Pasta varieties (spaghetti, fettuccine, etc) Of course any shaped pasta such as Ziti or Farfalle will work well with this type of creamy sauce too. You could even do a pan fried Gnocchi perhaps with this sauce. TJ’s made the sauce “bulletproof” with the addition of cornstarch which prevents separation. Sure they are saving on some of the ingredients for example using sunflower oil and not olive oil. Don’t worry you will fix that when you plate it with some Good Stuff.

Be sure to have a piece of Pecorino cheese, as well as fresh black peppercorns (grinder) on hand. These few additions will help make this jarred sauce taste way better. Have a pan big enought to hold the pasta ready with your C&C sauce in it. Boil the pasta, and drain it when it’s about a minute UNDER al dente (save 3/4 cup pasta water). Finish cooking the pasta with the C+C sauce for one minute or until the pasta is cooked perfectly al dente. While you are tossing it to coat, add pasta water a few tablespoons at a time as needed, mixing it all up with tongs to incorporate pasta and sauce until you get your desired consistency fully coating pasta generously but not swimming with a lot of extra liquid. Plate it on warm dishes and quickly add a few touches. Some freshly grated Pecorino, a few grinds of black or rainbow pepper, and a drizzle of good EVOO. I topped it with a wee bit of chopped arugula for color. I know a Roman would protest that or any addition to the 2 basic cacio and pepe ingredients of cheese and pepper. If you wanted to use a little grated Parmigiano or Grana Padano, they will be delicious but again don’t tell your Roman friend who will so “only Pecorino Romano is allowed” on Cacio e Pepe! It says on the jar, that once opened, use it within 3 days. I didn’t want to have it again so soon so I figured I would simply put the jar (carefully ) in the freezer. The following week I did an overnight defrost in the fridge which worked fine keeping this sauce intact and I then made another meal with the remainder.

As far as what shape and kind of pasta to use with this sauce TJ’s has so many good ones including the ORGANIC and ARTISANAL pastas. You pretty much can’t go wrong with any of your favorite pastas.

Now you can even use this sauce for other things besides pasta. You could use it on vegetables (perhaps roasted brussel sprouts, or potatoes, or on top of asparagus?) Or with eggs, on top or even mixed into some scrambled eggs or on an omelette….

https://www.traderjoes.com/home/products/pdp/070650

A 14.5 oz jar of TJ’s Cacio e Pepe sauce costs $3.49.

So while this sauce is handy I am all for making a real Cacio e Pepe from scratch once in a while. Cacio E Pepe is only two ingredients and that’s where the magic happens getting it to emulsify (and not become gloppy). You may have to make it a few times to get the hang of it but once you do, you will really get a great deal of pleasure from making it yourself no doubt. I liked this guy’s take on making it (tip: don’t use very hot water to mix with the grated cheese to make the emulsion and don’t let the cheese boil, just get it warmed up so it doesn’t break) A teaspoon of cornstarch slurry makes this foolproof BTW., and in fact the Trader Joe Cacio e Pepe sauce has cornstarch in it to make it bulletproof as well. If you get into Cacio E Pepe and want to try to make the sauce yourself yourself, watch these two pro’s, absorb some of their ideas and I bet you will end up with a terrific authentic Cacio e Pepe. Buon Appetito!

TJ’s POTATO GNOCCHI (& recipe ideas)


TJ’s Pasta Emporium Gnocchi. “Autentico Italiano”. Made in Italy. Shelf stable package.

These gnocchi are one of my favorite TJ items. They are so handy. I almost always pick up a pack every time I go so I have one in the pantry. Available in the pasta section, these packages of TJ’s POTATO GNOCCHI are terrific and a bargain at just $1.69 (1.1 lbs). The package is shelf stable and can last months in your pantry (you could store them in your fridge if you like but you don’t have to). I probably usually use them within about 1-3 months? The cooked gnocchi have a pleasantly chewy texture, which you can accentuate even more by pan frying them (see below), one way I recommend cooking them.

COOKING: Simply toss these into boiling salted water for about 3 minutes and they’re ready to serve with your favorite sauce. They will float to the top of the water when done. Perhaps even better I’ve found is one can boil them for 1 minute, drain, them throw them in a non-stick or cast iron pan with 2 tablespoons of EVOO to pan fry them until they are golden brown. The crispier texture from this is terrific. Actually an even easier way which I discovered and clearly others have figured out too, is you don’t even have to boil them at all. You can just pan fry them without the boiling. The even chewier crispy texture is great.

PAN FRIED GNOCCHI: Just toss these gnocchi right into a pan with 1-2 tbl. of olive oil and pan fry them until browned on all sides, stirring occasionally. I do a variation on this. I put 2 tbls of EVOO (or even nicer, a mix of half oil and half butter) in a black cast iron (or nonstick pan). Get the oil hot on med. heat until it shimmers. Toss in these gnocchi and stir till coated. COVER THE PAN. Cook covered 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally. They kind of pan fry & steam at the same time for the best of both worlds. After 5 minutes or so, take off the cover and continue pan-frying till GDB (Golden Brown and Delicious) maybe another 5-10 minutes.

What to serve with them for a sauce? Almost anything you can think of which you would do for pasta. Of course great with with your favorite TJ tomato or marinara sauce. TJ’s jarred Pesto works quite well with these. It can even be as simple as just butter and grated cheese plus some black pepper, a kind of Cacio E Pepe. Speaking of which – In TJ’s C&P sauce! Or get inventive. In the photos below you will see I cooked them with greens (swiss chard but you can use any greens like kale, spinach, arugula…) I used lots of garlic and lots of grated Rosemary Asiago *. The gnocchi were delicious with greens. Of course any Italian cheese works Parmigiano, Pecorino, Asiago) even some Mozz cut into cubes to melt in. I had these last week with some leftover Bolognese sauce I had in the freezer and they were simply amazing with Bolognese sauce. TJ’s even has a vegan bolognese sauce.

Are these better than the frozen Kale and other Gnocchi? For me actually they kind of are and frankly these are half the price of the frozen gnocchi which I feel don’t have the same textural integrity when cooked this way (pan fried) though I could experiment some more.

Anyway if you never tried these packaged Gnocchi, check them out. I can’t tell you how many times when we “had nothing in the house to eat” I found we had a package of these in the pantry and then had a dinner ready in 20 minutes for a few dollars.

Pan fried Gnocchi with Swiss Chard and Asiago

*RECIPE : PAN FRIED GNOCCHI with Swiss Chard & Rosemary Asiago Cheese – Separate leaves and stems from Swiss Chard. Cook the cut stems with 3 cloves of garlic smashed until tender in olive oil. Remove greens from pan then into same pan, toss in a pack of gnocchi with a tablespoon of EVOO and 1 tbl butter. Cook covered as discussed above till browned all over. Now add back the swiss chard plus chopped up leaves. Cook and toss around in pan till leaves are cooked till your liking. Toss in some chopped parsley or arugula. Season to taste with a little salt, sprinkle of lemon juice and lots of black pepper (optionally – a spoon of BOMBA) Grate a few ounces of Asiago, Pecorino or Parmigiano over all and drizzle with good EVOO. Serve 2 as dinner or 4 as a side.

(Can substitute Kale, Arugula, Spinach or any green)

SEARCH : Pan Fried Gnocchi Recipes – IDEAS

https://bit.ly/3hIZLHo

Trader Joe’s ARGENTINIAN RED SHRIMP


“Trader Joe’s Argentinian Red Shrimp are caught off the southern coast of Argentina. They have a sweet lobster like flavor and texture. Grill, barbecue or sauté. Serve with pasta, on salads or as an entrée…” (Wild, Raw, Peeled, Cleaned and Deveined Frozen Shrimp)

RAVE

Trader Joe’s frozen Argentinian Red Shrimp are quite good, both very tasty and very convenient. I buy these regularly as trying them once I found them to be good value (*editors note: price increased a bit since I wrote this). If you are at Trader Joe’s looking for shrimp, this is the best one they sell by a mile.

These frozen red shrimp are large, meaty and actually do have a sweet “lobster-y” flavor and texture. A big plus is they are Wild caught. Wild shrimp are said to have better flavor than farmed. These Argentinian Red Shrimp are fished in the icy waters off Argentina’s coast in Patagonia. They’re quickly individually flash frozen, all cleaned and ready to use. They’re a decent size (20/25 count aka “Large”). Called “the sweetest shrimp in the world”… well even if some marketer came up with that, they actually do taste sweet and yes even have a “lobster-y” taste and texture. (If you are interested in learning more about them here’s detailed info about “Patagonian Red Shrimp”) Use these Red Shrimp the same as any other shrimp. If I’m not using the whole package I just take out as many as I need, then close it up super tight with a twisty, then double bag that inside a Ziplock freezer bag to keep them fresh as possible. So first things first, best defrosting method(s).

DEFROSTING : The best way is the traditional overnight thaw in the fridge in a covered bowl. If you didn’t plan ahead the next best option is put them in a bag, and submerge it in a bowl under a light stream of cold running water (weight down with a plate). They should be defrosted in 20 minutes. The last method works OK in a pinch – I’ve simply put the frozen shrimp in a bowl, covered them with an inch of very cold water, and stirred them every 5 minutes or so, which should take maybe 30 mins. I would not cook them from frozen! They will shrink a lot and lose a lot of juice. Nor personally would I nuke them to defrost them.

Cooking: Cook them as you normally cook any shrimp. However these do cook a wee bit faster. Be careful not to overcook them. If you are say using a sauce, you can simmer the (defrosted) shrimp slowly in the sauce at the very end cooking them in the sauce for maybe 2 minutes (turning them over once). As soon as they are no longer translucent and look firm these are cooked, and/or at least should be removed and then added back to your dish at the end. Not over cooking will keep them plumper and juicier. When you overcook shrimp they become chewier and shrink up.

TIP: If grilling them, you can marinate them for 15 min in lots of TJ’s CUBAN SPICE BLEND. Or any spices of your choosing. Ajika blend also is terrific as is TJ’s Peri-Peri Sauce. These shrimp are terrific simply sautéed in olive oil with lots of garlic, scampi style. You can blot them with a paper towel, optionally sprinkle them with a little seasoned flour and sauté them in oil and butter. One trick I saw on MilkStreet recently was to pan fry shrimp on one side only, then take them out of the pan and finish them in your dish for 30 seconds at the end. This is a great idea. These shrimp are of course great grilled / sautéed and used in a pasta dish. You can put them on a skewer and broil or grill them (oil them). They are equally great gently poached 3 minutes, which is a good way to make them for cold cooked shrimp or for the top of a salad.

If you try these shrimp you will probably like them as much as we do. I find them super convenient to have in the freezer. TJ’s sells these Wild Red Shrimp (1 lb. bag) for $9.99

*UPDATE-1 (Feb 2021) price increased to $10.99. UPDATE-2 (Apr 2022) price went up again, now 11.99!

There are so many ways you might use shrimp. Some ideas…..

More cooking ideas follow.

I made a nice Thai Shrimp Curry with shrimp, veggies and TJ’s Thai Red Curry sauce – adding the shrimp during the very last 2 minutes (a no-recipe recipe follows below).

THAI STYLE SHRIMP CURRYSauté some onions, garlic, and chopped ginger in oil for 4-5 minutes. Throw in chopped up carrots, celery, potatoes (optional add ins: mushrooms, peas, sweet potatoes, scallions) …sauté everything for 5 more minutes, then add 1/4-1/2 cup liquid (water or broth (Option: Add a 1/2 cup Coconut Milk for the liquid)) Simmer for 10 minutes, then add in a jar of TJ Thai Red Curry sauce and simmer another 10 minutes or until all the veggies are just tender. The last 2 minutes of cooking, you add your shrimp and simmer gently in the sauce, stirring occasionally. Serve the curry with jasmine rice and add chopped scallions on top.

Shrimp Roll on Brioche Bun

Here’s one more: As these shrimp are “lobster-y” they are perfect to make a New England style Shrimp Roll (aka Poor Man’s Lobster Roll). Gently poach shrimp 90 seconds or so. Remove and let cool, split or cut them up and mix with a little mayo and lemon juice, then put them in a lightly toasted buttered Brioche bread or Brioche Bun (spread with a little mayo) If you have it sprinkle a little Old Bay seasoning or dill seasoning) on top. Easy and delicious.

RECIPE: RED SHRIMP WITH HONEY ALEPPO SAUCE – https://www.traderjoes.com/home/recipes/honey-aleppo-shrimp

(NB: TJ’s recipe here says cook the shrimp for 5-10 mins; I suggest just ignore this unless you want really overcooked shrimp! Cook these shrimp no more than 2 minutes)

Ramen? Yes. I used the shrimp in (“Roy Choi style”) instant ramen with a slice of cheese and butter.. (crazy but it works, see video below). For this dish which was a dinner, I made a veggie stock instead of using the included packet of seasoning* and added some fresh mushrooms. I added the defrosted shrimp at the very end of cooking, and only cooked them about a minute or two. See they look juicy (not overcooked)? TIP: That little flavor packet included with instant ramen is just loaded with Sodium (like 50-70% of daily recommended level)? Bad for you, so better to use your own stock or a low sodium stock and maybe just add a pinch of the flavor packet. Worst case, use only half the packet and if it tastes too flat, add something to flavor it up without adding much sodium (a dash of low sodium soy sauce or a few drops of Nam Pla (fish sauce).

ROY CHOI’S INSTANT RAMEN WITH CHEESE

Another idea? Vietnamese style rice paper shrimp rolls (search Asian markets for the rice wrappers) https://justasdelish.com/vietnamese-shrimp-rolls-peanut-hoisin-sauce/

One more idea? Fried rice with shrimp.

Vietnamese Shrimp Rolls with Peanut Hoisin Sauce (Gỏi Cuốn with Nước Lèo)

TRADER JOE’S PESTO ALLA GENOVESE


TRADER GIOTTO’S (TRADER JOE’S) PESTO ALLA GENOVESE

Mentioned in an earlier post, Trader Joe’s Pesto (basil pesto) in the glass jar makes an extremely convenient item to always have in your pantry. Whenever you get the mood for a Pasta and Pesto dish simply open a jar of this and add it to pasta (with a little pasta water) and bingo, you made dinner or a side dish to put on your table in under 15 minutes with almost no effort and for very little dough ($3-4)! Add some fresh grated Parmigiano and EVOO and improve it. If you have a little fresh basil to sprinkle on top, even better.

Now if you have ever made pesto yourself, you know it takes a bunch of expensive ingredients (especially the pine nuts) and some effort but the end product is truly amazing as the smell when you open up your blender and that pungent aroma of basil, cheese and garlic hits you and permeates the kitchen. The smell is so heavenly it may knock you off your feet. So having said that I won’t tell you this jar of pesto is as good as if you made your own, let’s be honest, however this jar of TJ’s Pesto is still quite tasty and the convenience of having it in your pantry makes up for a lot and you can (and should) Level Up this stuff with a few easy additions.

Value-wise this is a good deal for $2.49. Yes though you can tell by the fact that is says Sunflower Oil as the first ingredient and not extra virgin olive oil they skimped there to keep it cheap. So fix it up with your own EVOO. This Pesto Genovese is quite decent fixed up, and believe it or not, I kind of preferred this jarred version to a “fresh” one TJ sells in the refrigerated section which costs more. In fact I was pretty surprised that I tried both and compared them and liked this one. You can, in fact you should absolutely tweak this with good ingredients! Drizzle a nice glug of your favorite EVOO plus a nice sprinkle of extra freshly grated Parmigiano and / or Pecorino cheese plus freshly ground black pepper on top of your finished dish. If you have a few sprigs of fresh basil you can tear over it, all the better. For $2.50, this is good value and really worth keeping a jar or two in your pantry as a go-to item to always have on hand. I certainly do, its made us a quick tasty pasta dish a few times when I “had nothing to eat” in the house. Pairs with pasta of course and it’s great with GNOCCHI (frozen or dried).

TJ ORGANIC RED LENTIL PASTA



Trader Joe’s (Giotto’s) ORGANIC RED LENTIL PASTA

 

Normally we eat pasta in my house at least once if not two or more times a week. My wife and I adore pasta. I’m good at making it. Or I should say “we used to” eat it that often! Recently my wife decided to try going “Gluten Free” and that has changed things not just for her but for “Us”. To keep life simple as far as eating and cooking, whats happened is basically we stopped eating pasta, much to my chagrin as you could say I’m a bit of a pasta freak. As Italians usually do, I could eat pasta almost every day. Really, I could be happy as a clam eating pasta every day, in fact I’d be super happy eating Linguine with clams!

So I really wanted to try something in the pasta department that we both could eat together, meaning I would give “Gluten Free Pasta” a try.

So I saw this Red Lentil Pasta at TJ. Unfortunately I was not impressed with this for cooking as a substitute for regular pasta. For me at least – that is someone who can eat gluten and wheat products – this lentil pasta would not be something I would willingly sub in for my “normal” pasta.

TJ Red Lentil Pasta is made from “red lentil flour”. Its even made in Italy! (I can imagine them rolling their eyes at making this stuff for all those crazy Americans) Uncooked, it looks quite nice, like a beet colored pasta. It has an interesting shape I was not familiar with, “sedanini”, a ridged, curved long ziti type shape.

When I cooked this, well this gluten free pasta just didn’t do it for me. This could never replace pasta for me, but again I don’t have to be Gluten Free. I had made a nice meat sauce sauce to go with this, a kind of Ragu for the lentil pasta, and cooked it up a bit with some some sauce just as I would normally prepare regular pasta. When we ate the finished pasted with the sauce we both kept commenting on that it was just not the same as eating pasta. Honestly we didn’t really enjoy it due to the somewhat odd texture we found. It didn’t have the chew of pasta. It seemed to get kind a bit grainy or granular when chewed, not smooth like real pasta.

To top things, the GF pasta’s at TJ are a bit expensive as well. A 12 oz package goes for $3. This is about 2 to 3 times the cost of TJ’s extremely good “regular” pastas made with semolina flour.

So I wanted to like this but didn’t, as I don’t have to eat this. it was a choice. On the other hand, my “gluten free diet” wife, found it to be not great but OK as in it was kind of “acceptable” if you can’t eat normal pasta but you want to eat something like pasta. If you HAVE to be on a gluten free diet, then you may find it OK too. I can’t think this will fool anyone as an excellent substitute for real pasta. For me, its kind of fake pasta frankly. A knock off.

Still I will try some of the other gluten free pasta products TJ sells, and see if they work better than this one made from lentils. TJ does have a few gluten free pastas: a black bean ziti, and a spaghetti made from brown rice and lentils. So if you must be gluten free, try all three and see which you like best out of what they have to offer. So just saying if you must be gluten free, then there are a few choices. Everyone raves about the Cauliflower Gnocchi (frozen). Again I tried it. I found it pretty good, but I still prefer TJ’s regular gnocchi. If you don’t need to be GF, like me, I find regular pasta and related products are superior to any GF ones.

If you are not gluten free and want an excellent pasta, get TJ’s Organic Spaghetti or Ziti. That is excellent high quality pasta, made in Italy, and is the equal to top Italian import brands sold in the US for 3-6 times what TJ’s sells it for, $1.29 for 1 lb, which is an excellent value.

If you are GF then this may be OK for you with a lot of sauce.

 

Black Squid Ink Spaghetti (For Halloween!)


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Black Spaghetti!?!

I just saw this new offering on the pasta shelf at Trader Joe’s, and thought, hey, Halloween is coming… This black spaghetti might be fun to have on Halloween, right?

I plan to make this black squid ink pasta then with some seafood: either squid (with lots of tentacles) if I can find it and some other seafood like grilled shrimp, which would look orange!

Casa Milo Black Squid Ink Spaghetti

(ingredients: durum, semolina, squid ink)

Imported from Apulia, Italy $2

Will review after I make it. My wife suggested an orange side dish with it (sweet potato? butternut squash?)

Meanwhile… want to get some more ideas about what you might make with this stuff yourself for Halloween? Check out some of the pictures and links from this Google Search I did which will show you lots of images + recipes for “Black Halloween Pasta”! Many look fabulous. Have fun!

GOOGLE SEARCH RESULTS: BLACK HALLOWEEN PASTA


HERES WHAT I MADE FOR HALLOWEEN DINNER (a seafood pasta with squid and shrimp, garlic, olive oil, yellow peppers, cherry tomato….)