The Best Brand of Whole Wheat Pasta?

Whole Wheat Vermicelli with Browned Butter and Mizithra Cheese

There was a time when I thought of whole wheat pasta as something that only a health food nut would eat. But I’m talking years ago. Back then, you really couldn’t find something like whole wheat pasta unless you went to an actual ‘health food store’ to buy it. You know the ones I’m talking about. Those tiny, poorly lit places that smell like old vitamins.

But this was back before the wonderful blurring of the line between “health food” and “regular food” that we’re experiencing today.

Nowadays, eating what used to be known as ‘health food’ is hip and trendy because we call it ‘whole food’ and can buy it in beautiful stores that are brightly lit and smell really good. And even though it’s frustrating that we often have to pay premium prices for these newly discovered whole foods, I find the whole thing very exciting because there are so many new and wonderful food choices out there now!

I’ll admit that I still prefer traditional pasta over the whole wheat variety in many cases. But it’s also true that whole wheat pasta has come a long way over the years. Thanks to consumer interest in fiber and whole grains, we now have a huge variety of whole wheat products to choose from–even at the big chain grocery stores!

Now I haven’t done a side-by-side taste comparison between different whole wheat pastas but I do know that the latest package I picked up at Vons is one of the best I’ve tried.

Vermicelli Box

It’s called Heartland and each 2 oz. serving packs a whopping 5 grams of fiber and 7 grams of protein! Of course the nutritional value means nothing to me if it’s not something I enjoy eating. But I’ve used this Angel Hair pasta for two different dishes and I absolutely loved it!

First I used it for a cold pasta salad that featured a sweet and spicy and sesame-peanut dressing. It was really good and I’m kicking myself for not writing down the dressing ingredients! I really felt that the whole wheat pasta contributed a lot to the flavor of the salad.

The second thing I made with this pasta was my lunch this afternoon that can be seen in the first photo. I tossed the cooked angel hair with browned butter and grated mizithra cheese ala The Old Spaghetti Factory. It was really good and I didn’t feel like I was missing out on anything by using whole wheat pasta. And don’t lecture me on ruining the health benefits of whole wheat pasta by smothering it in butter and cheese–sometimes you have to splurge!

I don’t have a real recipe for the pasta dish as it’s something that you just throw together according to your own taste. But I’ll share what I did for today’s lunch and you can go from there:

Whole Wheat Angel Hair with Browned Butter and Mizithra Cheese

1) Grate 1 1/2 ounces mizithra cheese; set aside
2) Bring a large pot of salted water to a rapid boil
3) Add about 6 oz. of whole wheat angel hair pasta and let the water return to a boil
4) Boil for 5 – 6 minutes (don’t overcook the pasta, check by tasting after five minutes)
5) Meanwhile, melt 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter in a small heavy skillet over medium heat. After the foam starts to subside, gently swirl the pan and watch carefully. When the butter turns a caramel color and has a nutty aroma, remove the pan from the heat.
6) When pasta is done, drain well then toss with browned butter and grated cheese. Serve immediately

Yield: 2 meal-sized portions

Notes: The pasta was fairly dry with this amount of butter but the taste was very good. If you can stand the calories, by all means add more butter! I used unsalted butter because mizithra cheese is extremely salty. Aside from salting the pasta water, you don’t need to add any extra salt to this dish at all.

Now that the recipe is out of the way, let’s get to the main reason I am writing this post. I have some questions for you! What are your favorite brands/types of whole wheat pasta? Do you have any favorite recipes for using whole wheat pasta?

I think many of you may have had the same bad experience with whole wheat pasta as I did years ago. That is, you tried whole wheat pasta once and found it to be so terrible that you refused to eat any more of it! But trust me, the pastas are so much better these days and if you use it in the right dish, you will be more than pleasantly surprised!

I’m hoping that several of you have found brands and recipes that you enjoy and you won’t mind sharing with the rest of us. Just leave your links to recipes and/or pasta brands in the comments section.

Thanks, and happy eating!

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41 Comments
  1. Jason

    Corinne and I found two boxes of that same whole wheat spaghetti in the pantry last Sunday when we cleaned it out. No mizithra in the pantry, which was good.

    6:02 pm  Apr 10th, 2008
  2. Nicole

    Well hopefully you didn’t throw it out because it’s pretty good stuff! And if you had left mizithra in your pantry, you probably would have smelled it before you saw it…

    6:05 pm  Apr 10th, 2008
  3. Karina

    Ah- wheat pasta. For those of us who can’t indulge it is a vague memory. But I can relate on the “health food” focus. These days, the only pasta I can handle is brown rice, or rice with corn. But you know what? It’s not all that bad. You don’t have to pity me. Seriously. ;)

    6:50 pm  Apr 10th, 2008
  4. chris

    I have tried a couple of different types and Heartland has been my favorite. Some of the brands get kind of slimy and taste….blah. This one doesn’t. I have never had mizithra cheese – that I have known of….thanks for the note about its saltiness!

    6:54 pm  Apr 10th, 2008
  5. Jamie

    Welcome back! I’ve been checking my Google Reader waiting for a post from you. I love Heartland angel hair pasta. It is my standard pasta for my spaghetti and meatballs. Barilla makes a good whole grain pasta that I use as well.

    7:16 pm  Apr 10th, 2008
  6. bethany actually

    I’ll have to look for the Heartland. I’ve been using Trader Joe’s whole-grain spaghetti for a couple of years now and I love it. If you didn’t know you were eating whole-grain pasta, you wouldn’t know!

    7:52 pm  Apr 10th, 2008
  7. Kalyn

    I mostly buy Dreamfield’s pasta, which is low carb but tastes just like regular pasta (honest.) However recently at Costco I stumbled on some Garofalo organic whole wheat spagetti (from Italy!) that I’m going nuts over, it’s so fantastic.

    I don’t think I’ve seen Heartland brand here. Someone recommended Barilla Plus (with omega 3’s) and I bought some angelhair, but haven’t tried it yet.

    7:54 pm  Apr 10th, 2008
  8. Claudia (cook eat FRET)

    de cecco’s is excellent
    and many folks swear by bionature

    7:58 pm  Apr 10th, 2008
  9. Christie

    Hi, I’m new to your site!

    Its taken a lot for me to get used to whole wheat pasta. I like Ronzoni whole wheat wide egg noodles and I like Ronzoni Smart Taste (it’s not really whole wheat but it has A LOT of fiber).

    9:04 pm  Apr 10th, 2008
  10. Joy

    I’m the same as you. About 3 or four years ago when I first tried buying whole and multigrain pastas, I felt like being the health nut. Aside from that, I wasn’t too satisfied with the quality of the pasta — they turned out too mushy when cooked and the taste was interfering with whatever I used it with (sauce, etc.). Until recently, I avoided it. The one that I recently bought here in Vancouver, Catelli brand, is so good that I’ve eaten it for the past 3 days! Haha. I’ll try Heartland sometime next week. I saw that earlier at the supermarket. :)

    I love how simple this recipe is. Looks really yummy, too! Btw, CUUUUTE plate!

    10:39 pm  Apr 10th, 2008
  11. Jenni

    Thanks for the tip, my husband (whom is not very vocal about likes and dislikes when it comes to food) informed me the other day that he “DOES NOT” like whole wheat spaghetti! I was a little bummed since I don’t mind it and I still have lots in my cupboard. Maybe we just need to try a new brand :)

    11:08 pm  Apr 10th, 2008
  12. Nupur

    I love Trader Joe’s multigrain spaghetti with flaxseed. We love it so much that I even use it in place of noodles in Asian dishes.

    3:52 am  Apr 11th, 2008
  13. Sadhbh

    Im not sure if you can get it outside of Ireland, but I find that Bunalun organic wholewheat pasta is great! I used to hate anything wholewheat but its definitely about trying different brands and seeing which one you like – otherwise there’s just no point!!

    5:33 am  Apr 11th, 2008
  14. TomC

    Now that’s what i call great vegetarian food, whole wheat pasta is one of my favorites

    6:54 am  Apr 11th, 2008
  15. Deborah

    We actually eat a lot of whole wheat pasta. I like it all, except the lasagna noodles – I haven’t found any of those that I like!! And pasta with mizithra and butter is one of my favorites! I have it often when I’m just preparing dinner for myself. So easy and so good!

    8:28 am  Apr 11th, 2008
  16. Laura

    I use Heartland Whole Grain every time I cook – cooks up well and tastes great! Such as easy substitution for eating healthier!

    9:08 am  Apr 11th, 2008
  17. Nicole

    Thanks for the feedback, everyone! You’re definitely introducing me to some brands I’ve never tried before!

    christie: Thanks for the tip about the egg noodles! I’ve never tried any whole wheat egg noodles…maybe I’ll try them in some tuna casserole!

    Nupur: I’ll definitely pick up some of Trader Joe’s mutigrain spaghetti next time I’m there. I actually prefer using whole grain pastas in asian dishes rather than Italian. I think the flavors work better for some reason.

    11:28 am  Apr 11th, 2008
  18. pam

    I really like Barilla Plus, which is a multi-grain, with flax and other healthy stuff.

    7:09 pm  Apr 11th, 2008
  19. Karina

    For those seeking a whole grain pasta without wheat, try Tinkyada brown rice pasta with rice bran. It’s delicious, and gluten-free. I use it all the time. I find it at Whole Foods and Wild Oats.

    7:31 pm  Apr 11th, 2008
  20. Steph

    Thats the brand of wheat pasta we use! We have been using it for a while now. Love it.

    11:53 am  Apr 12th, 2008
  21. Alanna

    Just wanted to let you know that your post is featured on BlogHer today! ~ AK

    7:28 am  Apr 15th, 2008
  22. MamaBird/SurelyYouNest

    We use only whole grain pastas (lots of Trader Joe’s, some bionaturae (they’re the only ones I have found for elbow noodles for mac n cheese), some de cecco if I am feelin fancy!). Question for you: I love udon noodles for soups — are those whole grain? One’s buckwheat, one’s wild yam? If you’re still reading the comments to this post I’m mightily curious, I couldn’t figure it out from the packaging. Thanks!

    9:48 am  Apr 19th, 2008
  23. Nicole

    Hi MamaBird! I’ve never used udon noodles so I can’t tell you for sure if they are whole grain. The best way to check would be to look on the package to see what the fiber content is. If they are whole grain, one serving should contain at least a couple grams of fiber. Hope that helps! :-)

    10:01 am  Apr 19th, 2008
  24. MamaBird/SurelyYouNest

    Thanks Nicole, I will check the fiber – you should try em for your Asian dishes tho, mmmmmmm. They rock in noodle salads and soups.

    10:05 am  Apr 19th, 2008
  25. Claire

    Just came across your site. I’ve tried a couple of whole grain pastas and so far my favorite is the Trader Joe’s multigrain with flaxseed. I also like the TJ’s whole wheat pastas (the ones with flaxseed aren’t available in fettucini for example) and Ronzoni’s Healthy Harvest, although I don’t believe the latter are 100% whole grain. For lasagna, I use Gia Russa Whole Wheat Egg Lasagna, which are the no-boil kind, although they can be hard to find. I’m glad someone mentioned the bionaturae macaroni–I’ll have to check it out since I’ve been making do with whole grain penne for making “mac-n-cheese.”

    1:36 pm  Apr 21st, 2008
  26. Sara

    The best whole wheat pasta are not brown or mushy when cooked and come from italy. La terra e il cielo, looks and tatses liek reualr pasta (when cooked), but contains the same amount of fiber and protein as the lower quality whole wheat pasta.
    http://www.laterraeilcielo.it/inglese/v_flash/menu.htm
    Best whole wheta pasta hands down!!!

    5:52 pm  Apr 21st, 2008
  27. Hans

    100% whole wheat from GIA RUSSIA ! I buy it from Amazon and comes from Italy. I think it is delectable.

    9:05 am  Jun 17th, 2008
  28. KarmaFree Cooking

    I like bionature and DeCecco brands – recently I bought DeCecco Kamut variety of spaghetti , and it tasted awesome and cooked really fast. But for lasagna, I use DeBoles Rice variety, particularly the kind you don’t need to boil. I make a mean spinach lasagna with it…

    Madelyn
    KarmaFreeCooking

    7:47 am  Jun 22nd, 2008
  29. Sandy Cook

    My personal favorite is DeBoles whole grain organic angel hair pasta. I have always eaten whole grain wheat pasta except when eating out. As some of you said it has changed over the past years. The selections are greater and taste so much better.

    2:45 pm  Oct 15th, 2008
  30. Cody

    Contrary to Claire’s post on Apr 21st, 2008: “I also like . . . Ronzoni’s Healthy Harvest”

    I happen to think the healthy harvest is quite awful, in fact, I found this site by Googling “what can you do with wheat pasta”. As in, what can I physically do with it other than eat it! :-X

    Maybe it’s just because I bought penne and rontini, because I love wheat pasta in spaghetti form (or the like).

    I hope this helps someone!

    7:19 pm  Feb 9th, 2009
  31. Nicole

    Cody: Maybe you could use it for a craft project? ;-)

    I have the same problem with penne and rotini…just don’t really like the whole wheat versions! But I’ve found that some of the thin pastas are really quite good! And lately I’ve become a fan of whole wheat egg noodles, too! They’re great with Beef Stroganoff!

    7:25 pm  Feb 9th, 2009
  32. Gary, a chef

    I mill whole grains to flour for pasta by hand. Whole grain wheat is just the tip of the iceberg, kiddies. I’ve read all the resonses, and it’s obvious that the crap you’ve been eating isn’t doing you any good nutritionally. Fresh, wholegrain flour made into pasta with beautiful local eggs is not only good for you, it will bring your taste and senses to a higher level.

    8:54 pm  May 10th, 2009
  33. Shagun

    Garofalo whole wheat pasta is THE BEST – your search will end here!!

    6:05 am  May 15th, 2009
  34. Vee

    I actually prefer whole wheat to regular pasta. It has a rich, nutty taste and I’ve completely stopped liking the white! Never thought it to be possible. :)
    Go (good) carbs!

    10:30 pm  Dec 28th, 2009
  35. April

    I also prefer whole grain pastas to regular. I have not eaten white pasta in many years. My boyfriend however does not feel the same way. A way we have been able to compromise is with brown rice pasta. It seems to have the lightest taste of all of the whole grain pastas, and he can barely tell the difference between it and the white stuff. Trader Joe’s makes a really good brown rice spaghetti.

    10:48 pm  Feb 17th, 2010
  36. Michelle

    Our family eats only whole grain products of any kind. Our favorite pasta brand is Barilla Plus. It has a wonderful flavor. It is made with a blend of whole wheat and legume flours. There is almost as much protein in a serving, as a serving of chicken. An extra plus for me – I am not much of a meat eater.

    9:34 am  Jan 19th, 2011
  37. kzolady

    I have been trying whole-wheat since the 1980s. It was not good (gritty) so I waited a few year, it was still not good (still gritty), to make a long story short, about 3 or 4 years ago I found Ronzoni Healthy Harvest Whole-Wheat Blend Pasta (good and not grainy)

    2 years ago I found Barilla whole-grain linguine, It is my go to pasta.. It is really good. My favorite way to use it is with Prego whole mushroom sauce, mushrooms or broccoli, shredded mozzarella cheese and a MSF Chick Patty on top. It’s like healthy comfort food.

    Some of their other forms of whole-grain pasta a a little hard to get to the el dente stage they seem to crack rather than chew..

    12:57 pm  Jan 31st, 2011
  38. Macaroni and Cheese with Bacon, Leeks, and Thyme — Pinch My Salt

    […] Whole Wheat Pasta with Browned Butter and Mizithra Cheese […]

    7:55 am  Apr 4th, 2011
  39. Kay McGill

    Hodgson Mill has the best tasting whole wheat pasta I have tried, and I have tried many different ones. It has a certain taste, as well as having a strong, healthy consistency.

    7:54 am  Feb 1st, 2012
  40. Bassel

    Just tried Barilla… great in all aspects… :)))

    2:17 pm  Jul 22nd, 2012
  41. Bob Vaiden

    Unfortunately, most pasta (Heartland, Ronzoni) have dangerous levels of iron; I’m searching for any brand that DOESN’T poison its pasta with iron! Iron-fortified foods are deadly to (probably) a million people in this country. Misura Pasta is good in this respect…any others that anyone knows about?

    1:48 pm  Jan 4th, 2014
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