When I first went gluten-free about nine years ago, one of the things I missed most was the convenience and delicious taste of pasta. Back then, the only gluten-free pasta available on the market was made out of white rice (mushy, bland, translucent… gross!) and so I basically resigned myself to a future without it.
Luckily though, as awareness and interest has grown for gluten-free foods, many brands have stepped up to the challenge and filled this void. I’ve been testing a number of different gluten-free pastas over the past few months, and here are my reviews (in no particular order):
President’s Choice Organics Brown Rice Pasta
Ingredients: organic brown rice, water
Varieties: Fusilli (my favourite!), Penne (hubby’s favourite), Spaghetti
Pros: Certified organic, simple ingredient list, no corn or soy
Cons: Needs to be rinsed with cold water after cooking, or can get mushy. Only available at Loblaws and RCSS.
Verdict: EXCELLENT! Made from whole grains that have been certified to be grown without chemical pesticides or fertilizers, this full bodied pasta is definitely one of my favourites… and because it’s a private label brand, it tends to be one of the most affordable.
Life Choices Gluten-Free Macaroni & Cheese
Ingredients: Wholegrain rice flour, White Cheese Sauce Mix: Cheddar Cheese (milk, bacterial cultures, salt, microbial enzymes), salt, disodium phosphate, (a natural emulsifier), xanthan gum, citric acid (from lemons).
Varieties: Macaroni with white cheese
Pros: Fast and easy, soy-free and egg-free.
Cons: Unless I’m cooking the whole box, I’ve never really been a good judge at how much cheese mix I should be using/saving!
Verdict: When I received a sample of this product from Life Choices, I admit that I was at first a little skeptical about the product, since the first thing that came into my mind was the fluorescent orange stuff that I used to eat as a student… Fortunately I was very pleasantly surprised to learn that not only is it really delicious, it also comes with a simple ingredient list and is made of whole grain rice flour. This is a wonderfully nostalgic treat!
Catelli Gluten-Free Pasta
Ingredients: White rice flour, brown rice flour, corn flour, quinoa flour, monoglycerides
Varieties: Fusilli, Penne, Spaghetti
Pros: Only gluten-free pasta I’ve tried that doesn’t require the post-cook rinse. Probably the truest textured pasta on the market, great if you like you pasta al dente.
Cons: Contains corn (for those who are allergic), although it is non-GMO.
Verdict: I picked up a sample of this pasta at the recent Gluten-Free expo in Toronto. For the people who are real pasta aficionados, I would recommend Catelli’s gluten-free pastas. This is ultra easy to cook, and as I mentioned above, does not require the “post-cook rinse” in cold water which many other gluten-free pastas need in order to not turn into mush. You will definitely fool all your family and friends with this great gluten-free pasta!
Rizopia Organic Brown Rice Pasta
Ingredients: brown rice flour, water
Varieties: Fusilli, Penne, Spaghetti
Pros: Organic, whole grain
Cons: Needs a post-rinse, or can get mushy
Verdict: I’ve been enjoying this brand of pasta for years. It’s a little more tempermental to cook and if you don’t get the timing just right it can be a bit chalky or mushy. The trick to cooking this brand is to remove it from the heat just before it reaches your desired softness, then drain it, rinse it, and pour a bit of oil over it as it rests. This, by the way, is the general trick I use for all gluten-free pastas, not just this one. Overall, I am still happy to recommend this brand.
There you have it! This is just a roundup of some of my favourite gluten-free pastas. Are there other brands of pasta that you’ve enjoyed and would recommend?