Before I was diagnosed with a gluten allergy 3 years ago, I pretty much subsisted solely on pasta. This might have explained why every time I tried to go for a run, my stomach would start spasming within half a block (spoiler alert: the culprit was a meatball sized brick of gluten lodged in my intestines, thanks to all those spaghetti dinners).
So when I had to revamp my diet, in addition to my beloved thin crust pizza, chicken fingers, and chocolate chip cookies, one of the things I was most terrified to give up was pasta. But it’s turned out to be one of the easiest things to substitute at home. And some of the new gluten-free pasta brands are so good, I’ll often inflict them on unsuspecting dinner guests without them realizing (the true sign of gluten-free gold).
It’s been a long search for the best gluten-free pasta brands, but I’ve finally honed in on my favorites. I try to find blends that don’t rely too heavily on corn or soy, and that are organic. Not every shape is created equal, so for example, while I like Ancient Harvest’s linguine, their penne is not my fave. Below are some of the varieties I buy most often and great gluten-free recipes to give you inspiration for what to do with your noodles.
1. Rigatoni: Felicia Bio Rigatoni
Gluten-free pasta brands seem to primarily focus on a few main shapes, and I found myself missing some of my old favorites when I went off wheat. Rigatoni is one that’s particularly hard to track down. But once I finally came across this Italian brand, my prayers were answered. And it’s organic to boot.
2. Elbows: Edison Grainery Elbows
Not only am I a big fan of the simple packaging on Edison Grainery’s products, but I love that they use organic quinoa and rice flour. I’ve tried a few shapes, but I find that their elbows (which are ribbed like a rigate pasta) hold up particularly well for soups (like this Turkey Minestrone) and baked pasta dishes like Mac n’ Cheese, where most gluten-free versions might fall apart or turn to mush. Bionaturae also makes a mean elbow.
3. Fussili: Bionaturae Fussili
When I first got diagnosed, I turned to my friend Oliver, who’s had celiac disease since high school, for advice on gluten-free beer, bread, and pasta. He said that Bionaturae was hands down his favorite brand, and that the first time he tried it, his wife ended up fishing through the trash for the package just to make sure again that it was indeed gluten-free. All of their short shapes are fabulous. But the one downside in my book is that it contains soy flour which, even though it’s organic, I try to avoid for my thyroid.
4. Spaghetti: Andean Dream Spaghetti (with honorable mention to Jovial)
Spaghetti is probably the shape that I eat most often, and I’ve tried many many varieties. Andean Dream is by far my favorite, with a close second going to Jovial organic brown rice spaghetti, which tastes texturally closer to a whole wheat noodle. I used to buy a lot of Tinkyada and Ancient Harvest, but the former gets too starchy and gummy, while Ancient Harvest uses corn and the strands tend to get a little porous and stick together, then fall apart when you try to toss them in sauce.
5. Penne: Rustichella d’Abruzzo Penne Rigate
This brand I discovered after interviewing Mark Ladner at Del Posto about what he uses in the restaurant for gluten-free customers. If it’s good enough for him, it’s definitely good enough for me. I also love that it’s organic and from Italy.
I used Eden Organic soba noodles for years, but found that without a mix of wheat flour, their buckwheat noodles fell apart really easily. King Soba came on the scene with organic and whole grain varieties of my favorite Asian pasta shapes. Their brown rice vermicelli is also amazing.