It's time to revisit a Fall Seasonal item that likes to appear on store shelves in the Fall. And yes, this is one of several seasonal kinds of pasta that like to show up on store shelves. In a typical year, you'll see the appearance of the colorful Trofie Colore and the Winter Snowflake Pasta. But at the end of the day, while they may look different, the taste is similar.
I had passed this item several times but didn't pick it up when I saw it. In typical shopping at Trader Joe's style, the next time I went in, it wasn't there and did not reappear until this year. While this does make its annual appearance in time for fall, this is something that made my inner child get excited (like being an adult and finding the stuffed animal in the store excited).
Excitement aside, these are some really cute pasta. I've seen a number of pasta shapes, but the actual little pumpkins are a new one. They're closed on one side almost like someone had hollowed out a pumpkin for carving. Since I have a toddler, he thought they were pretty good. They looked different from what he is used to. Best of all he can pick these up fairly easily.
These are supposed to taste like butternut squash. But aside from the color here, they still just taste like regular pasta. So while these are adorable, they aren't without problems.
In fact, the biggest problem is the directions.
While this said it takes 7-9 minutes, I was starting to approach 14 minutes to get to al dente.
So you might want to test your pasta before draining it. And test and re-test. Otherwise, they cooked up fine but did not quite hold on to their shape as much as I had hoped. With the small pinhole at the bottom of each pumpkin, some of the mine opened right up and created some flattened pasta. Some just broke into pieces.
While that's no deal-breaker, the butternut squash flavor wasn't very strong or assertive in any way beyond color. So, you are basically getting average pasta that takes a very long time to cook. It's also double the price.
Now, to be fair if this helped a kid eat their dinner then the $1.99 price tag is worth it. I don't feel like I need an excuse to eat pasta, but I could have put dinner on the table in half the time. For me, this is a buy-once product. If I had kids, my answer might be different.
Until then, this seems to reappear year after year but be prepared for it to disappear as well.
Would I buy this again? While Trader Joe's Fall Zucchette Pasta was fun and whimsical, the taste was ok, it took too long to cook and it did not really taste like butternut squash. It just tasted like, well, pasta. This is a one-and-done for me.
Where to buy
If you can't live without this product, then this item is available during the Fall, usually after Labor Day in most Trader Joe's. If you don't live near Trader Joe's then you can find this product on Amazon through third-party sellers. If that is sold out then ZPasta sells a pretty close product that seems like it pretty much the same.
The bag of Trader Joe's Fall Zucchette Pasta:
Calories, ingredients, and directions
(however, I would absolutely recommend testing the pasta rather than relying on the directions. Mine needed about 4 more minutes beyond the recommended cook time on this):
After being cooked you get:
Want to see more items I've reviewed from Trader Joe's? Click on Thoughts & Reviews of Trader Joe’s for a searchable list.
The Bottom Line
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Trader Joe's Fall Zucchette Pasta
Product Name: Trader Joe's Fall Zucchette Pasta
Product Description: Pumpkin shaped pasta that is seasonal.
A fun, seasonal pasta that is shaped like pumpkins and even has the natural coloring of butternut squash.
- Trader Joe's Fall Zucchette Pasta is whimsical and seasonal pasta.
- My inner kid couldn't wait to get these home.
- I think they need to check the cooking directions. I needed an addition 5 minute to reach al dente.
- So if you make this, please test before draining.
- It still just tastes like pasta.
Catherine of VegCharlotte says
Thanks for this post. I bought a bag but haven't tried it yet. The lack of squash flavor doesn't concern me, wasn't really expecting it would have much. Planning to make a curried pumpkin sauce to go with, just as a Halloween thing. I REALLY appreciate your tip on cooking time! Thanks for another great Trader Joe's review.
You are welcome. Let me know how long yours took to cook. I would be curious to see if you find the samw thing.
If you got the extra time I think these would make a fun twist on stuffed shells. Mini shells.
That's a fun suggestion! Thanks for sharing!
Can someone give me a recipe for a suitable pasta sauce for this zucchette pasta? I don't want a red sauce for it. Any suggestions? Thank you!
Hey Deborah! Honestly, I hardly noticed the butternut squash in the zucchette pasta. This would hold any sauce well (any sauce you really like). The shape of the pasta is going to act like a little spoon holding in more sauce that you might realize. I had Trader Joe's Autumnal Harvest Sauce with it (however, there are tomatoes in that). So feel free have this with a pesto, alfredo, or pink sauce. Here is a link to a page with lots of suggestions. I hope this helps and inspires you! https://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/slideshow/pasta-sauce-ideas
Thank you so much! I think I will try the Autumnal Harvest Sauce. 🙂 I just didn't want to do a marinara, etc. And thanks for the link!
No problem. I have the same dinner issues in my household too. Let me know how everything turns out!
Thank you for the post as I’d lost the directions as I took out a handful to see how well they cooked. Time for cooking seems to depend on so many variables and just how “al dente” one would like. The handful that I cooked, also took longer, and, I realized after the fact, that since I used a very heavy SS pan, that the boil was very strong and I should have turned it down as I cooked it seeing that some of the pasta feel apart during the process, even with a bit of an al dente texture. Using this for a salad with roasted tomatoes and either a grated parma or goat cheese feta with an evoo s&p,cinnamon/nutmeg, and fresh garlic dressing. Since adding the roasted tomatoes, I will not likely put in the lemon I used earlier. Tried it w/some roasted butternut squash, however, the squash was not as ripe as it should have been and had very little flavor and little color at that. Cannot wait to try it at home with my favorite sauce! Love sauce and yes, as you say, those little cups will hold so much more of that lovely sauce. Will do one marinara, one of the TJ’s Autumnal Harvest Sauce and maybe a bolognese. Hmmm and maybe…. ?
Betty, welp, the pasta is one product I do NOT need to buy again. It was fine – but NO TASTE of butternut squash. It was just like any other pasta which I can get for a LOT cheaper. ? And you were right – the cute little pumpkins do not maintain their shape so it ends up just looking like a bunch of torn up pieces of pastal LOL! For the sauce, I used this wonderful and tasty one: https://www.thespruce.com/spaghetti-squash-with-bacon-cream-sauce-3062198 YUUUMMMOOO! Betty, I hope it’s ok I used this link. Please remove if it violates your page or something. ? Thank you!
Hey Deborah! I agree with you. And yes, a lot of their seasonal pastas were basically nothing notable other than shape and size. Thanks so much for your thoughts and for sharing a recipe for a yummy looking sauce!
Heidi M says
Well I made the pasta and because it took longer to cook I don’t know what happened but all the little pumpkins fell apart and out looks really lame.
Definitely will not buy again .
Bummer. Did you test them as you went along? I know some of mine were less than picture perfect.
I had the exact same problem. Unfortunately, I drained it after cooking for 9 minutes and put sauce on it. I tried heating it in the sauce to soften it, but none of us could eat it. The sauce was good, but the dinner wasn’t edible. So I wasted the money on pasta and sauce plus the time to make dinner. It was also flavorless.
Hey Linda! Did you have the problem before or after reading my review? At the end of the day, it primarily tastes just like plain pasta, but with a really neat shape to it. Which sauce did you pair with it?
I was diligent about checking for doneness, definitely took longer than usual, and i agree they lack an identifiable flavor. I would rebuy to bring as a pasta salad to a party, or as a fun easy meal for kids, but once was enough for this year
Hey Ttrockwood! I couldn't agree more! Thanks so much for always stopping by!
Gah, SAME!! I tested them and thought they were done, so drained, put on the sauce, and served it. It was wayyyyyyyy too al dente so I ended up throwing out almost everything. Such a bummer.
Hey Teresa! Sorry to hear this and wish you had a different experience. Thanks for sharing
R G says
Just stopped by to say thank you for posting this review. I haven't made it yet, and would have followed the cooking instructions on the bag. I would have been very disappointed if they were undercooked.
Hey R G! Glad I could help!