Once upon a time, if you wished to eliminate gluten from your diet, pasta was simply off the menu. But today there are oodles of gluten-free pasta brands and types to choose from.
We checked out a few of the more creative gluten-free pasta offerings — a noodle made from an ancient grain, an organic red lentil penne and a funky-colored spaghetti made from black beans — to see how they compare to traditional pasta.
Gluten-Free Pasta Options
Superfood Teff Penne
When you’re craving real Italian pasta, nothing else will do. Or will it? I do not restrict gluten in my diet, but I’ve had plenty of occasions to use gluten-free products when entertaining, and this Superfood Teff Penne is pretty close to the real deal.
Created by a couple of Italian sisters, this superfood penne is made from teff, which is a tiny ancient grain. Naturally gluten-free, it is nutritionally similar to regular pasta, but with a bit more protein and fiber. Teff contains resistant starch, a type of fiber that research shows may aid in weight loss management and help control blood sugar.
This pasta alternative comes frozen and cooks up in a flash — under two minutes! The flavor is neutral and the texture remains firm when tossed with your favorite sauce.
The makers of skinnypasta™ invite you “to love pasta again.” We think this penne with a superfood bonus will do just that!
Organic Red Lentil Penne
Explore Cuisine has a whole a new generation of colorful pastas made from beans and pulses. Their Organic Red Lentil Penne is made from a combination of red lentil flour (73%) and brown rice flour. It’s low fat, ranks low on the glycemic index scale and offers a decent amount of protein (11 grams) per serving.
When cooked, the pasta remains firm, but the texture is a little mealy and the color fades considerably. The slight lentil flavor is easily disguised once incorporated into your recipe and would make a good choice for a cold pasta salad.
Buyer beware: if lentils give you gas, you may experience the same excessive bloating with this product.
Organic Black Bean Spaghetti
If you want to get the most bang out of your protein food buck, look no further. A serving of Explore Cuisine’s Black Bean Spaghetti contains only 215 calories, but a whopping 25 grams of protein and 50% of your daily fiber requirement! And its ingredient list is short: black beans, period.
When cooked the color of the spaghetti was an unappealing charcoal gray and resembled shredded rubber tires, but it did hold its shape remarkably well. Unfortunately, the texture was pretty rubbery.
Although neutral in flavor, it didn’t seem to go well with traditional Italian sauce and might be better suited to one of the unique recipes found on the Explore Cuisine website. Great for plant based diets.
Do you have a favorite gluten-free pasta alternative? Out of these three I’d choose the teff penne, but then again, I’m a traditionalist! —Karen