Being gluten-free has its challenges…also being corn-free makes it even more difficult. Many items simply replace a gluten component with corn to become gluten-free, and pasta is no exception. For the past 3 years, we’ve tried a lot of different pasta options–and still try them–so I wanted to do a gluten-free pasta review of some of the ones we like, or don’t. I used 8 cups of clean water and boiled it each time for each pasta, and always rinsed the pasta after cooking. For normal pasta, you don’t typically want to rinse pasta because you’ll wash off all the goodness. For alternative ingredient pastas, you want to rinse it.
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Ingredients: Chickpeas, tapioca, pea protein, xanthan gum
Nutrition: As pictured, per 3.5oz serving, 23g protein, 8g fiber
Instructions: Boil 8 cups water, 8-10 mins, expect some foam
First up was the Banza Penne pasta made from chickpeas. Out of all the pastas we tested, this one had the highest amount of protein and fiber per serving. The packaging talks about “23g protein/8g fiber” per 3.5oz serving, but the actual serving size is 2oz. I thought 8 cups of water was a lot for a two ounce serving. There was some foam, but it didn’t threaten my 3qt sauce pan. If you used more than 2 ounces, I imagine you’d have to scrape the foam. From a taste/texture perspective, the texture is good and is close to regular pasta. 8 minutes was a perfect cook time, any more and it gets a little slimy.
POW! Black Bean Elbow Pasta
Ingredients: Black bean flour, brown rice flour, organic quinoa flour
Nutrition: 21g protein per 3.5oz, serving size is 2oz
Instructions: 4 QUARTS of water for 5-6 minutes, tasting after 4 mins
I don’t believe this product is available any longer. We’ve had some in the pantry for a bit but I could not find it on Amazon or on the Ancient Harvest website. Firstly, the instructions said to bring 4 quarts of water–16 cups!–to a boil. For a serving size of 2oz, this is rather much. I used 8 cups, which is still a lot, just to keep it standard. I found 4m30s to be a good cooking time. The taste of the pasta was like the skin of a black bean and was a little bitter. The texture was grainy, gritty, and a little “slimy.” Wasn’t a fan at all!
Great Value Brown Rice Elbows Pasta
Ingredients: Brown rice flour, monoglycerides
Nutrition: 4g protein per 2oz
Instructions: 4-6quarts per pound, 2oz. serving size. Boil 8-9 minutes
Great Value is the “generic” brand of Wal Mart. This was a 1lb bag for $2. I bought it solely for the purpose of this review, otherwise I simply would not buy it because it contains monoglycerides. Monoglycerides are used as binders, for strengthening things like pasta and bread, and can contain trans fats. After 8 minutes of cooking, the texture was good and it was neutral in taste and would be difficult to tell it from regular pasta. Yet another thing to look for when checking ingredients, and no wonder it was so cheap!
Ingredients: Sweet potato starch
Nutrition: None remarkable except carbs, serving 25g (> 1 oz)
Instructions: None for water amount, boil 6 minutes, used 8 cups
This gluten-free pasta is geared toward asian dishes, I believe. It recommends serving with sesame oil (which is quite good) but it also absorbs other flavors well. I have used it as a base for stir-fry. After 6 minutes, a drain and rinse, it wasn’t that appealing to look at, but the taste was neutral on its own. The noodles were perhaps a little chewier than a regular rice noodle.
Ingredients: Organic brown rice flour, water
Nutrition: 5g protein, 2oz serving size
Instructions: Boil 3 quarts of water, 11 minutes (still used only 8 cups)
Casarecce is a slightly twisted pasta that rolls back in on itself and is great for holding sauce. This was our favorite pasta out of the group, although the Banza brand has more protein and fiber. The Jovial gluten-free pasta closely resembles regular pasta and is not grainy or gritty. We’ve had the spaghetti and the egg tagliatelle as well, and each was good.
Brown rice pasta seems to be a good choice for gluten-free pasta, as it is close to regular pasta in taste and texture. We’ve also had red lentil pasta and green lentil pasta (neither reviewed here) and they aren’t bad, they just tend to be a little grittier than others. Be sure, as always, to check ingredients! If you are looking for an option with higher protein and fiber, go with the chickpea variety.