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Variety In Gluten Free Pasta Options

Andrew McQuiggen

As an individual living with a partner with dietary restrictions I’ve become pretty well versed in cooking according to said restrictions. In the last 10-15 years these dietary problems have been more seriously addressed by society and now there are many options for people living with dietary restrictions. Gluten sensitivity is one that I’ve been dealing with for a long time in my professional life and my home life. I’ll be looking specifically at gluten free pasta and the many options that you as a consumer can choose.

When I started cooking you were almost solely stuck with using brown rice pasta for people with gluten intolerance, the pasta usually has a naturally occurring starchy/slimy residue on noodles once they are cooked. The taste is pretty neutral however which allows it to be used in a variety of dishes. Since those times there is so much more choice; lentil, green pea, corn, corn/rice and ancient grains (quinoa, amaranth, etc.)

Green pea pasta: I recently made some of this pasta for dinner. It comes out with a nice consistency that isn’t either too firm or soft, but the taste is what got me. The green pea flavour over took any flavours that were in the sauce. It is a very healthy option though as it has about 25% of dietary fiber in one serving (1 – 1/4 cup) and 19 grams of protein. Lentil pasta is very similar to green pea pasta, I find the lentil flavour is not quite as strong and you get very similar nutritional benefits (high fiber and protein), although it is much more delicate when it is cooked and falls apart when overcooked.

Corn/Rice pasta: This is the blend you’ll typically find when out at major grocery chains. It is very close to the taste and consistency of traditional semolina pasta. It can be used in any pasta dish interchangeably. This is the usual option I have in my pantry and to be honest I don’t even have semolina pasta in my place as I really like this pasta. It isn’t nearly as healthy as the previously described, it often has similar nutritional breakdown as semolina flour pasta.

Corn pasta: This pasta is made with 100% corn flour. It has a bit more of a chew to it then the Corn/Rice blend pasta; also it is a more delicate product. Stirring too early will break it and leave you with little 4 inch pasta noodles. The taste again is very neutral and allows it to be used in any dish interchangeably. Pure corn pasta will usually be a slightly more expensive option then corn/rice.

Ancient grain pasta: Made with varying blends of ancient grains but the ones I’ve used at work have been amaranth and quinoa. The pasta itself has a nice consistency even though it looks like brown rice pasta you avoid the inherent starchiness, the flavour of the grains is a bit stronger than any of the above options. Also this option is by far the most expensive, but you also get the health benefits of ancient grains like higher fiber and protein.

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