Trader Joe’s Now Has Its Own Cascatelli Pasta — So, of Course, I Had to Try It
Last October, Trader Joe’s leaked information about four new pasta shapes hitting stores … “soon.” Excitement ensued. (New colors? New shapes?) I wrote a whole thing about it. And then the launches, admittedly, faded into the back of my mind.
Then last week, Dan Pashman shared this post to his Instagram account. (For those who are unfamiliar with Pashman, he is a modern-day multi-hyphenate — podcast host-slash-pasta inventor — who created cascatelli, the waterfall-shaped noodle with the weeks-long wait.) He posted a picture of a hand, presumably his, holding a bag of pasta with the all-caps caption: “NOW ON SALE AT TRADER JOE’S AHHHH!!!!” This pasta, he adds, is the store’s “own version of cascatelli made in Italy, different from Sfoglini’s version, made with my permission. Can’t wait to hear what you think!”
So I did what any Grocery Editor within walking distance to a Trader Joe’s would do: I called the store. (Past experience has taught me there can be a lag in inventory of new items at East Coast locations.) An enthusiastic employee answered the phone and told me, I’m paraphrasing, that, yes, he checked this morning at 6 a.m. and the new pasta had just arrived. Also, he didn’t know how long it would be in stock. Translation: I should put my shoes on.
I did. And I walked over and bought a few bags. The ingredient list includes two things: organic durum wheat semolina, which is sourced from the Puglia region of Italy, and water. When Pashman designed the original cascatelli, he did so with three criteria in mind: forkability (how easy it is to get the shape on your fork and keep it there), sauceability (how readily sauce adheres to the shape), and toothsinkability (how satisfying it is to sink your teeth into it). The front of the TJ’s package calls out the same attributes, with a slight variation on the wording: “Forkable, Sauceable, Tooth Sinkable.”
Find it in stores: Trader Joe’s Cascatelli Organic Italian Artisan Pasta, $2.69 for 16 ounces
I boiled the first bag of pasta for 10 minutes; the directions say 11 or until just al dente, and I like my pasta on the firmer side. My first impression was, I could eat an entire bowl of this stuff as is. The texture is chewy, but firm — very tooth-sinkable — and the noodle, somehow, has a buttery flavor to it. (As we all now know, butter is not in the list of ingredients.)
Instead of eating a strainer full of noodles over the sink with my fingers, I opted to test out the two other criteria listed on the label. I used it as my base in a baked macaroni and cheese, along with some top-notch butter and two kinds of cheddar from our friends at Truly Grass Fed. The sauce gave the pasta a glistening melty coating, and baked up nicely once in the oven. Very sauceable! Once spooned onto a plate (a plate! Not a bowl!), nabbing the noodles with a fork was the most delightful game of Operation. Very forkable! I enjoyed it so much, I went back for a round two.
I’ve already eaten my second bag: I ate the pasta (this time boiled for slightly longer than nine minutes) with a chunky marinara for lunch. It was just as sauceable and forkable as the creamy cheese sauce. As for the more al dente batch, I found it even more tooth-sinkable.
Have you tried the cascatelli pasta from Trader Joe’s? Tell us about it in the comments.