Hello. My name's Nathan, and I love Trader Joe's. My wife Sonia does too. She's a great shopper, has excellent taste and knows good value when she comes across it. As many of you know, Trader Joe's is unsurpassed in the world of good-value grocery stores, so we spend a lot of our time and money there. Although the store fairly consistently delivers great taste with its own unique line of food products, there are definitely some big-hits, and unfortunately, there are some misses...

After doing a couple of internet searches for reviews of TJ's food items, Sonia discerned an apparent dearth of good, quality reviews for the store's offerings. So, at her suggestion, we decided to embark on a journey of systematically reviewing every Trader Joe's product, resulting in the blog you are about to read...

A couple of months into our Trader Joe's rating adventure, an old college friend, Russ, who unbeknownst to me had been following our TJ's blog, decided that I had been slacking in my blogging duties (which, of course, I was) so he decided to contribute his own original TJ's reviews to the blog, thus enhancing it, making it more complete and adding to it a flavor of his own. He and his wife Sandy are also avid TJ's fans and, as you will soon discover, he is an excellent writer and is nearly as clever, witty and humble as I am.

Seriously though, Russ: You go, boy!

So here it is: "What's Good at Trader Joe's?"

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Monday, January 9, 2012

Trader Giotto's Butternut Squash Triangoli

What did one triangle ravioli say to the other triangle ravoli?

You have *acute* personality and I like your stuff!

Oh, goodness. My puns may have reached an all-time low. Believe me, that says a lot.

Assuming you're still reading this and not groaning any more, you're probably wondering about this particularly pointy pasta product and just good it may or may be, so let's bid arrivederci to the jokes and get on with the review of Trader Giotto's Butternut Squash Triangoli.

It's decent enough, I'd say. You'll find this in the fresh pasta section of the store (which for Sandy and me, it's too easy to skip over, which is a shame). Each bags yields a fair amount of the shapely shells for two pretty hungry adults, and cook up as fast as it takes to boil some water. The pasta portion is the yellow-kinda waxy and thin-semolina variety which is nether good nor bad - it's just kinda there to hold its supposed treasure, the butternut squash filling. And that part isn't bad either - it's texturally on par and lightly sweetened with crumbled amaretti biscuits (read: sugar and apricot) while remaining completely dinnertime appropriate. I kinda wish there was a little more than the dark little circle of it that remains throughout the bag-to-pot-to-plate process. Appearancewise, each triangoli is perfunctory shaped, with a roughly equilateral triangle of pasta dough filled with a perfect circle of filling right in the middle, kinda as if IKEA designed them (I still imagine they'd be called Triangoli, except with an umlaut somewhere). Regardless, they're pretty tasty and Sandy and I enjoyed them.

We could've liked them better, though. For one, they taste all exactly the same, which by the last few ones, the savory factor kinda wore off. This could've been remedied by some sort of good sauce to go with them, but the package doesn't really make any great recommendations: butter, olive oil, or "your favorite sauce." Well, Frank's Red Hot wouldn't be a good choice, methinks, and neither would any tomato-based ones, so Sandy and I opted for butter. Not a bad choice, but still pretty plain.

Regardless, for a Monday night dinner, the butternut squash triangoli weren't a bad option. Sandy chomped away on them while finishing up some work-y work nonsense for her job and I deliberately ate each one, slowly and carefully, as I continue to recoup from quadruple wisdom tooth removal. Ten year old me would have loved having nothing but milkshakes for a week...not so much when you're old enough to have a mortgage and emerging bald spot. Anyways, Sandy gave these Italian imports a "three, maybe three 'n a half....okay, three 'n a half" for their squashy pasta ways. I concur but, unlike the pasta itself, round down.

Bottom line: Trader Giotto's Butternut Squash Triangoli: 6.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons


  1. Sandy gave it a 3?? oh, oh... will have to pasadena on this...

  2. Hmm...they look delicious, but I wish you guys enjoyed them a tiny bit better...

  3. Next time you get anything butternut squash pasta-like, try brown butter with fried sage leaves. SOO GOOOD!

    1. Kerry's right...the perfect sauce...and some parmasan cheese.

    2. That's exactly what I did with them tonight - sautéed cooked ravs in browned unsalted butter, sage leaves, three or four grinds of fresh nutmeg and just a pinch of ground clove - and a few grinds of black pepper. It was delicious!

  4. That's so funny, I bought them this weekend and wondered if you had reviewed them yet. I had the same feeling about the sweet taste.

  5. I think the only reason I didn't like them more is because they needed something more than butter, and we only had chipotle evoo and red sauce...

  6. I agree with you about the sauce suggestions.It's like, "wow o.k. thanks, what help!" I buy these because I do like them, but EVERY SINGLE time I buy them, I re-read the directions. As if this time, Trader Joe's will have an actual sauce suggestion on the package. I have tried butter w/ nutmeg. Sundried tomatoes from TJ's, using some of the olive oil from the jar as a 'sauce'.

  7. Next time? Gorgonzola and browned butter or high end olive oil. Trust me.

  8. BookishBelle - you're so right! Although I'm not a fan of Gorgonzola, so I'd fry up some sage in the browned butter instead. TO DIE FOR.

  9. I love these with alfredo sauce.

  10. I love these and have discovered the perfect topping for them is lots of butter, a tiny sprinkling of brown sugar, lots of parmesan, and some toasted pine nuts. If I'm feeling fancy, I melt the butter and mix the brown sugar in, but I'm not convinced that makes it better. But bottom line: the brown sugar will pick up the sweetness of the butternut squash while contrasting delightfully with the savory salty of the parmesan and butter. And the pine nuts are just a luxurious little addition of creamy crunchy goodness. Mmmm...

  11. I read this after having purchased it, looking for ideas for a sauce! Because of your post, I did not go sweet with the sauce. I didn't have cheese, so I didn't go the parmesan route either. I made a butter sauce with lemon juice and lemon pepper. It's so delicious I wanted to let you know, even though I'm still mid- meal. Thanks for the hint! :)

  12. I tried these with a homemade tomato cream sauce and it matched perfectly. I thought the two together were restaurant quality and would give it a 5. Agreed that it would have been bland without a good sauce though.

  13. I believe amaretti is almond, not apricot. Almond is the flavor I get from these, anyway.

  14. Made these with homemade pesto and they were phenomenal!

  15. these were WAY too sweet for us! yuck!

  16. I've had fresh butternut squash raviolis and I have to say, these compared pretty favorably. Of course they weren't QUITE as good, but I have bought these several times and am surprised by your low rating. Are you sure you just don't care for butternut squash in pasta? Good recommendations for the browned butter/sage. Also a light Alfredo works. I like to serve this with a great butter lettuce salad. I'd give 'em an 8.

  17. We tried this tonight for dinner. They were way too sweet and did not taste like butternut squash at all. We topped them with alfredo sauce which helped a little bit but not enough that we would ever have these again. Disappointing.

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  19. After reading everybody's posts and seeing the complaints about the sweetness of the pasta, I decided to create a savory sauce that would complement it. I call it Toasted Butternut Squash Triangoli with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce.,

    2 jars Trader Joe’s Fire-Roasted Red Peppers
    2 Tablespoons Pine Nuts
    2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
    1 Medium Onion, Finely Diced
    2 cloves Garlic, Minced
    Salt & Pepper, to taste
    ¼ tsp. Garlic powder
    ¼ tsp. Cumin
    ½ tsp. Ground oregano
    1-2 tsp. Gourmet Garden Chili Pepper Paste
    5.3 oz. Trader Joe’s Organic Greek Style Nonfat Yogurt
    5-6 leaves Fresh Basil, rolled and julienned
    Fresh Parmesan, Shaved Or Grated
    8.8 oz. pkg. Trader Joe’s Butternut Squash Triangoli

    1. Lightly toast pine nuts in a skillet. Set aside.
    2. Puree roasted red peppers with pine nuts. Set aside.
    3. Heat water to boiling for the pasta.
    4. In a separate skillet or pot over medium heat, drizzle in olive oil. Add diced onions and garlic and cook until soft. Pour in pepper puree and stir together. Add at least a teaspoon of salt. Cook pasta according to package directions.
    5. Add Greek yogurt, fresh ground black pepper, garlic powder, cumin, ground oregano and chili pepper paste and stir to combine. Taste and add more salt or spices, if necessary. Pour mixture back into food processor and blend again until mostly pureed (will still have texture when done). Return sauce to pan and keep warm over low heat.
    6. Heat a large pan over medium heat. Spray lightly with cooking spray, and add 5-6 ravioli to the pan (depending on how many will fit). Lightly pan fry the ravioli on each side for a few minutes, until the outside becomes golden brown and a little crispy. Repeat with all the ravioli you have.
    7. Add cooked pasta to red pepper sauce, and then stir together. Add julienned basil and shaved Parmesan and stir.
    8. Place pasta into a bowl, top with more of the shaved Parmesan, if desired.

    Hubby says if using a five-star rating system, he'd give it seven stars! The perfect sauce to balance the sweetness in the pasta.