It should come as no surprise that one of the main difficulties associated with living gluten free is accepting the reality that you must dispense of your regular carb-loading habits. Upon discovering that I had celiacs disease, I first mourned the loss of my regularly scheduled weekend Domino's binges before quickly moving on to sulk over my new pasta-less reality.
I, of course, had seen gluten-free pastas on the shelves of the grocery stores I frequented, but I had only ever heard mediocre, if not flat-out poor, reviews. I prepared to take the starchy loss and live a life resigned to rice and quinoa, but that only worked until it just didn't. The truth is there is no substitute for pasta and I quickly learned that I would need to find an acceptable (wheat, barley, and rye-free) alternative. So, I deep dived into the celiac-friendly section of the grocery store and diligently stuffed myself until I found the gluten-free pastas of my dreams. Below, a full breakdown of my absolute favorites and the best ways to prepare them all.
1. Ancient Harvest Organic Quinoa Pasta
Quinoa pasta stands as one of the more basic gluten-free pastas. Like corn pasta, it's very similar to classic gluten-filled pasta in terms of texture. The flavor of this corn-quinoa based substitute ($40/8 pack, amazon.com) is a little nuttier but I swear you cannot tell the difference when you try this with your favorite red sauces and in other favorite Italian dishes.
2. Explore Cuisine Organic Chickpea Fusilli
One of the major issues I have with gluten free carb substitutes is that they often times are packed full of extra, unidentifable ingredients to make up for textural and taste components gluten usually provides. This organic chickpea-based pasta ($25/6 pack, explorecuisine.com) is made up of only four ingredients and you would never think it was missing anything. Texture-wise, this pasta is on par with regular variations and worked best as a pasta salad substitute.
3. Tolerant Organic Black Bean Pasta
A sad truth is that many people suffering with gluten intolerance often times deal with other allergies or food sensitivities, as well. Corn, for example, is not always easy to digest and so finding a corn-and-gluten-free alternative was also important to me. This pasta is made up of a blend of black beans and peas so it's completely corn-and-rice-free, and the beans give it a serious protein boost (19 grams per serving!). So you can carb out but get those gains, too. Find a store here, and then try it in an olive oil-based sauce full of fresh garlic and heirloom tomatos.
4. Explore Cuisine Organic Red Lentil Penne
A sad fact about me is that I still judge a pasta by its shape, and penne has long been my favorite. So, I actively sought out a gluten-free alternative that came in the shape of the classic pencil point. This red lentil based penne ($25/6 pack, explorecuisine.com) stood out as my favorite because it actually has a hint of flavor that added a kick to my meals. With a creamy-based cheese sauce, you can't go wrong. Plus, it's aesthetically pleasing to boot.