The Best Brands of Gluten Free Pasta

July 16, 2012 3:50 PM EDT | By Anthony Smith
Our picks for gluten-free pasta brands will help you with the transition over to the gluten-free lifestyle. (Photo: Creative Commons)

When you come to the precipice of the fabulously healthy, albeit just a little solemn, world of gluten-free eating, one of the hardest things to say farewell to is pasta. It isn't just the sheer deliciousness and comforting nostalgia that pasta has to offer us, it's the fact that semolina wheat noodles are cheap, easy to prepare, incredibly filling, and best of all: they keep in the fridge for up to a week and they're easy to reheat. In other words, thirty minutes of effort and six or seven dollars in the beginning of your week could give you healthy, good meals throughout your week.

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Unfortunately, that's not the case with gluten free pasta. Even the best brands of gluten free pasta don't hold up in the fridge after a while, turning into an indeterminate mound of starchy goop. Additionally, there isn't a gluten free pasta out there that tastes nearly as good as its distant semolina cousins, and to make matters worse: they're more expensive.

But as far as approximations go, these come close. They're yummy, they go well with sauce, and even if the texture's off, you won't mind too much.

1. Ancient Harvest Supergrain Quinoa Pasta

Quinoa may be one of my favorite wheat substitutes in gluten-free pasta. It doesn't go for an approximation, and instead offers a hearty, nutty flavor all its own. When it comes to a quinoa-based noodle, I typically pair mine with pestos. The pine nuts in the pesto sauce help bring out the earthy quality that makes this pasta special. Sure, you won't be closing your eyes and remarking that you can't tell the difference anytime soon, but these noodles make the case that that shouldn't always be the goal. As long as you're eating gluten-free, you shouldn't compose an eating regiment based on missing it.

2. Rustichella d'Abruzzo Organic Corn Spaghetti

At just about $8 a box, it's really no wonder that most avoid the gluten-free lifestyle even if they suffer from mild wheat sensitivities. But as far as a near-perfect replica of a former eating style goes, this pasta comes just about the closest. It's made from corn, which means that it's part of a long-standing Italian tradition of standing in for wheat. If you need more proof, think about how perfect a bowl of warm, hearty, beautiful polenta with tomato sauce and cheese is. That's about the size of this pasta.

3. Annie's Gluten-Free Mac and Cheese

When it comes to gluten-free pastas, rice noodles typically make for my least favorite substitute. They don't keep in the fridge well at all, typically falling apart at the twenty-four hour mark. Their taste is too far from the stuff you'd usually mix with tomato sauce. And the texture... well, that's the worst part. The texture is all wrong.

But for some reason, it works in this dish. I can't quite put my finger on it, either. Maybe it's because it's reminiscent of a bowl of cheesy risotto. Whatever it is, Annie's brand of Gluten-Free Mac and Cheese takes top honors for the rice-based noodles. It's delicious, it's hearty, and it's cheap. Again, this doesn't taste like your typical mac and cheese. Rather, it exists admirably as absent of that dish and can be judged on its own considerable merits.

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