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Food: Desperately Seeking Spaghetti

December 2, 2011

I’m not sure I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m Italian. And as an Italian, I could, would, and have eaten pasta every day, with pleasure. I eat every shape, but my favorites are penne, fusilli, pappardelle, and plain old spaghetti. I make sauce, I buy sauce, I go out for sauce. Pasta is my religion. I’m a Devout Italian, a Marinara Catholic.

If I see an interesting looking noodle in my travels I’ll spend good money to try a new shape or color, but for every day use I like the brands De Cecco or Barilla, which typically run between $1.99 and $2.39 per lb (uncooked). These are traditional pastas, made with semolina or durum flour, and eggs. But while generations of Italians would probably disagree, it seems that this kind of pasta isn’t very good for you. Something about very little nutritional value and refined carbs being too easily digested/stored as fat.

I know, it’s really upsetting.

But for the sake of my health, I thought I’d try some alternative pastas and see if any could pose as a substitute – if not all the time, at least occasionally. Note: I told my Italian family about this experiment and was met with looks of sheer, unadulterated disgust.

Now, have you looked at the pasta aisle lately? Are you shocked by the amount of alterna-pasta choices there are? The below group of contenders for my experiment is just a short list. You can also get sprouted grain, vegetable, potato, oat bran, spinach, buckwheat, millet, or amaranth pasta. And in case you’re wondering, the most expensive of these alternative pastas was the Andean Dream Quinoa Pasta (corn free, gluten free, vegan) at $4.99 for 8 oz.

The Contenders: 
De Boles Corn Pasta: $2.39/8 oz (gluten free)
Ancient Harvest Quinoa Pasta: $3.19/8 oz (gluten free)
VitaSpelt Spelt Pasta: $2.99/8 0z
Lundberg Brown Rice Pasta: $3.49/10 oz (1 lb)
Delallo Organic Whole Wheat Pasta: $2.99/16 oz (1 lb)
[Remember, regular Barilla Pasta: $1.99/16 oz or $0.99/8oz]

If you’d like to follow along with my test taste, run on out and buy these, plus a box of regular semolina pasta as a control. I’ll post the details and results tomorrow. Voila.

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