Harvest Pasta Sauce {Trader Joe’s Copycat}

With an option for pressure cooker, slow cooker AND stovetop, there’s no reason not to make this amazingly delicious and simple harvest pasta sauce full of warm, fall, savory flavors. 

harvest-pasta3

Ever since the nice associate at Trader Joe’s talked me into buying the harvest pasta sauce on display there (let’s be honest, it doesn’t take much to talk me into buying literally anything at Trader Joe’s – I love that place), I’ve been dying to recreate it and post a recipe.

Incidentally, that same trip, I also bought a case of their semisweet chocolate chunks and another case of pickled beets (be still my heart), but that’s a story for another day.

No offense to my beloved TJ’s, but I think my homemade version of their harvest pasta sauce is better. That’s saying a lot, because I quite enjoyed the taste and flavor of the one I got talked into buying.

I snapped a picture of the ingredients before I tossed the jar. After a few variations, this is the one. It’s amazing.

Trader Joe's Copycat Harvest Pasta Sauce

Savory and creamy and full of all the flavors I love during fall, the deliciousness is unreal.

My husband and kids are undeniably good eaters (me, too!), but I haven’t heard rave reviews about a meal, like I did this one, for a long while. Everyone loved it.

From the 30+ (ok, 35+) mom and dad down to the often-picky 4-year old sister.

It doesn’t hurt that the nutritious vegetables (pumpkin! butternut squash! tomatoes!) are blended to smithereens after cooking so you’re left with the smoothest, creamiest, yummiest sauce ever.

I’m all about texture in some dishes, but silky smoothness of this sauce is dreamy.

Because I want everyone to have this sauce in their life, I’ve given options for making this in a pressure cooker, slow cooker or on the stovetop.

I’ve only ever made it in the pressure cooker (because it’s just so darn easy to set and forget the Instant Pot), but the cooking method is so simple, it’s a no-brainer to extrapolate this to a slow cooker or pot on the stove; all the cooking methods allow the incredible flavors to develop.

This one’s a keeper. (And bonus: the cooked and cooled sauce freezes beautifully.)

Trader Joe's Copycat Harvest Pasta Sauce

What To Serve
Divine Breadsticks
Autumn Salad with Maple Balsamic Dressing
Consider adding a protein like the meatballs from this recipe or simple, grilled chicken

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Harvest Pasta Sauce {Trader Joe’s Copycat}

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Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup chopped carrots (about 4 medium)
  • 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 15-ounce can cooked pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
  • 2 to 3 cups diced butternut squash (about 12 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth or stock
  • 1 tablespoon granulated or brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning (I used a Tuscan blend from Penzey’s)
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup half and half or cream (or try milk)
  • Hot, cooked pasta for serving
  • Parmesan cheese, for serving

Directions:

  1. Pressure cooker: Heat the butter using the saute function (in the InstantPot) or by heating the pressure cooker over medium heat on the stove (for stovetop pressure cookers). Add the onion, garlic and carrots, and saute for 2-3 minutes, until onions are translucent.
  2. Add the tomatoes, pumpkin, squash, chicken broth, sugar, salt, parsley, pepper, Italian seasoning, and cayenne. Stir to combine. Close the pressure cooker and bring to high pressure. Cook for 20 minutes. Let the pressure cooker naturally release for 10 minutes, then release the rest of the pressure.
  3. Use an immersion blender (or transfer the mixture in batches to a blender – taking care as hot liquids expand while blending) to blend until smooth. Stir in the half and half or cream. Thin with additional broth or cream/milk, if needed. Serve over hot, cooked pasta and garnish with Parmesan cheese.
  4. For the slow cooker: Combine all the ingredients, except the half and half or cream, in a slow cooker and cook on low for 4-6 hours until the squash is tender and flavors have combined well. Use an immersion blender (or transfer the mixture in batches to a blender – taking care as hot liquids expand while blending) to blend until smooth. Stir in the half and half or cream. Thin with additional broth or cream/milk, if needed. Serve over hot, cooked pasta and garnish with Parmesan cheese.
  5. For the stovetop: Heat the butter in a 4- or 5-quart pot (or similar size) over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and carrots, and saute for 2-3 minutes, until onions are translucent.
  6. Add the tomatoes, pumpkin, squash, chicken broth, sugar, salt, parsley, pepper, Italian seasoning, and cayenne. Stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a gentle simmer and cook, covered, for 50-60 minutes until the squash is tender, stirring every once in a while to make sure the sauce doesn’t stick (reduce the heat as needed). If it looks like it’s reducing while cooking, add another 1/2 cup of broth or so.
  7. Use an immersion blender (or transfer the mixture in batches to a blender – taking care as hot liquids expand while blending) to blend until smooth. Stir in the half and half or cream. Thin with additional broth or cream/milk, if needed. Serve over hot, cooked pasta and garnish with Parmesan cheese.

Notes:

Make sure the butternut squash is cut into small enough pieces so it doesn’t take an extra long time to cook through – I go for about 1/2-inch pieces. The cooking times given for each method are not only to cook the squash but mostly to allow the flavors time to blend.

I’ve only ever made this in the pressure cooker (in the Instant Pot), but I have included slow cooker and stovetop methods since the simple recipe is easy to modify. Keep an eye on the sauce to make sure that it doesn’t reduce too much using the stovetop (adding liquid as needed).

The leftovers of this sauce freeze great!

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Recipe Source: from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

Disclaimer: this post contains an Amazon affiliate link for the Instant Pot I bought there; feel free to shop around for the best price!