The New Trader Joe’s Ingredient I Wanted to Love but Definitely Did Not

updated May 24, 2019
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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

If you’ve been following along on my unofficial quest to eat every single thing at Trader Joe’s, then you are probably aware that there are not very many items that I do not rave about. You see, when Trader Joe’s take’s a high-flying risk — whether it be in the frozen, refrigerated, bakery, or snack aisle — they usually stick the landing.

So when I found this Gluten-Free Quick Cook Brown Rice Quinoa Pasta, which supposedly cooks in two to three minutes, I thought I was falling in love. For the cause, I had to try them before making my verdict known.

(Image credit: Lauren Masur)

While I boil a pot of salted water, I give them a visual assessment first. Observation #1: Interesting to note that the packaging deems these “mini elbow” shaped. I usually like my elbows curved in ballet first position arms, but these are definitely ballet second position arms, therefore inferior. For those non-ballerinas, these are more like opened, elongated elbow noodles.

I boiled them for exactly 2 minutes, no more, no less (because I like my pasta al dente), and then per package instructions stopped the cooking process with a flash of cold water. I usually don’t do that with my pasta because doing so makes my noodles cold and I like my food hot, but for some reason I followed the instructions.

After cooking, the elbows were even less elbow-y in shape than before. A disappointment! I put the drained pasta back in the cooking pot and threw in a pat of butter, some Parmesan cheese, and a few grinds of fresh black pepper.

(Image credit: Lauren Masur)

It’s hard not to love something when you’ve cacio e pepe-ified it, but the fact that I didn’t proves that these little gluten-free noodles are not for me. Even after cooking for the minimal amount of time that the instructions called for, these noodles were a mushy mess. Honestly, if I’m going to have a gluten-free pasta, I’d rather have Banza. At least Banza noodles are nutty and interesting. These tasted like, well, nothing. Even with the butter and pepper.

For all those gluten-free people out there still looking to give these a try, maybe cook them for a minute and a half? I guess it’s hard to beat a dinner that comes together in less than 120 seconds.

Have you tried this new TJ’s item? What’d you think?