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.
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!