The Best Pastas at Trader Joe's, According to Employees
This story originally appeared on EatingWell.com by Karla Walsh.
By the looks of the 9 best Trader Joe's products of 2021, according to customers and the 21 products Trader Joe's employees can't live without, you might guess that TJ's fans are not so fond of pasta. The fan list includes zero noodles, and the crew member one features just two (Vegetable Pad Thai and Joe's Diner Mac 'n Cheese). And none of those are the pastas alone; they're more about the sauces, if you ask us!
But when it comes to noodles, Joe does know jack — and loyal fans' and employees' shopping carts showcase why their shelves are stocked with such a wide variety.
On the latest episode of the Inside Trader Joe's podcast, Jasmine, the category manager of grocery at Trader Joe's, reveals that they currently sell between 20 and 30 different types of pasta.
"The majority of our pastas are made from wheat semolina. So those are kind of the traditional pastas. And then we have a number of other products that...fulfill the dietary needs of some people who might be gluten-free or [are] doing a paleo diet or something like that," she says.
Read on to learn more about the brands current #1 best-selling pasta variety, plus four soon-to-be-released additions to the pantry aisle that Jasmine and her crew can't wait to share with shoppers. (Related: The 5 Best Salad Dressings from Trader Joe's, According to Customers)
The 5 Best Pastas at Trader Joe's, According to Employees
Hearts of Palm Pasta
As proven by the popularity of the brand's cauliflower gnocchi, broccoli and kale pizza crusts and vegetable tots, it's clear TJ's staff and shoppers adore veggie-boosted carb alternatives. The same holds true in the noodle world, Jasmine says: "Our number one selling pasta isn't really a pasta. Our number one selling pasta is the Hearts of Palm Pasta, which is actually made from a vegetable. We can't even keep it in stock because that's how much people love it. And we have an amazing, amazing value. I think a lot of people are kind of doing the low-carb thing."
This "pasta" is harvested from the center of Ecuadorian palm trees. It's sliced into thin, tender, mild-tasting, linguine-like strands, and the result is a 20-calorie-per-serving, gluten-free option that staff members love to toss into chicken soups or use as the base of a pad Thai or an Italian marinara dish.
"We have, I think, five different types of spaghettis. We have a whole-wheat, we have a semolina, we have a yellow lentil and rice one for people who are gluten-free and then we have, oh goodness, for the semolina one we have a conventional and organic...and now we're going to have a third one, which is a tri-color," Jasmine says."I think when the tri-color comes out, we'll have six spaghettis!" (Related: The Best Trader Joe's Foods In Stores Right Now, According to the Foodies Behind TJ's Fan Accounts)
This coming-soon product that Jasmine adores is actually inspired by "some of our more successful pastas. We have this radiatori of many colors [that's] shaped like radiators...that one is the same shape in four different colors," she says. "So we're kind of looking at some of our pastas to see where we could draw inspiration from and we said, 'Wait a minute, we don't have anything multi-colored for long cuts.'"
Just like their classic spaghetti, this new red, green and orange spaghetti should be stellar with Joe's Italian-Style Meatballs and a scoop of your favorite steamed or roasted vegetables for a well-balanced, low-fuss, 3-ingredient Trader Joe's dinner.
On the heels of the bucatini shortage of January 2021 (thank goodness that's passed us!), you'll soon be able to find a box of the tubular, long-cut pasta at Trader Joe's.
"We have a bucatini coming in as a limited opportunity because we have that really, really amazing Limone Alfredo that we introduced during the winter," Jasmine says. "So we thought this would be a really, really great pasta to eat it with."
We're also wild about bucatini served puttanesca-style!
Fusilli Corti Bucati
While all those spaghettis, and now, bucatini, too, take up quite a bit of shelf real estate, Jasmine says, "our customers are kind of gravitating towards more unique cuts. So we have some really fun shapes coming in."
That includes fusilli corti bucati, which podcast co-host Matt Sloan describes as "like a telephone cord if anyone knew what telephone cords still were."
It's like a strand of bucatini that's twisted into a curlicue shape that's "like a spring, like curly hair," Jasmine adds.
This one would be dreamy in our One-Pot Tomato Basil Pasta!
Last but not least, the most popular pasta cut of the pandemic: Cascatelli. Wait, you missed the Sporkful podcast series about the development of this "best-ever" pasta shape that maximizes "forkability" and "sauceability," according to cascatelli creator/Sporkful host Dan Pashman? Our friends at Food & Wine have a recap, and Jasmine reveals on the podcast that Trader Joe's will soon stock their own version.
"The cascatelli kind of looks like beautiful waterfalls. The ridges are really thick and it eats really, really well," she says. (Related: 7 Things Trader Joe's Newbies Need to Know, According to the Biggest Trader Joe's Fans)
Snag any or all of the above pasta cuts the next time you make a Trader Joe's run, then put them to delicious use in our 31 easy pasta dinners you'll want to make forever.
This story originally appeared on eatingwell.com