Rice, corn and quinoa noodles: notes on gluten-free pasta

Plushie felt bread is happy to be surrounded by so many tasty pastas.
Plushie felt bread is happy to be surrounded by so many tasty pastas.

I love, love, love noodles— and fortunately, one of my favorite types are rice noodles. Bowls of noodle soups are one of my guilty pleasures. When navigating the gluten-free pasta aisle, the choices can be overwhelming— and expensive.When I first went gluten-free, I stuck to rice noodles: simple, inexpensive and tasty.

I have been branching out into just plain ole grains, like brown rice and quinoa, and trying to eat simpler. But sometimes, there’s just no substitute for a bowl of your favorite pasta, topped with your favorite veggies.

Then I started to miss macaroni and shells, I began to explore what my options were. I’ve had my best luck with quinoa and rice pastas, elbow noodles and spaghetti especially. Ancient Harvest veggie curls, TruRoots ancient grains elbows and Hodgson Mill’s elbows are particularly good: that delicate pasta flavor, great texture, and both reheated well. And since they’re made with quinoa (like flax seeds and amaranth flour) they’re a bit healthier than some other options.

Ancient Harvest, one of my favorites.
Ancient Harvest, one of my favorites.

Corn pasta (like the Trader’s Joes and Sam Mills), tastes good when hot, and have an attractive yellowy color, but tastes dry and chewy when cold. And how much corn do you want to be eating, really?

The one exception to the corn pasta issue is with DeLallo’s corn orzo. Likely because it’s simmered for so long, it stays tender.

Another misstep I had was with curly pasta, or fusilli. While pretty in the bowl, it can crumble on the spoon. Shar’s curls tasted great, but fell apart when I took a fork to it. Full Circle’s fusilli  was tasty, but I made sure to cook it super al dente.

Annie Chun’s rice noodles are great, and made in a gluten-free facility. But for $4 or $5 a box? When it comes to rice noodles, I stick with Asian grocery stores, like Kai Sun market in Troy or Hua Xing in Ypsilanti (to name just two.) Or just check the Asian food section of your local grocery store. Rice noodles can be found in a variety of lengths and widths, and priced much more reasonably.

Most pastas you see here were purchased at a Kroger or Meijer (both of which have a gluten-free section.) Places like health food stores and that boxy giant, Whole Foods, will have a larger selection.

A final note: be very careful not to over boil gluten-free pasta, or you’ll have a crumbly, un-pasta like mess on your hands. Also, I’ve consistently disappointing results with De Boles pasta. Both texture and flavor are off, no matter how I cook it.

Let me know in the comments— have I left your favorite pasta out? Any suggestions you wanna share?

I'm ready for my close up.
I’m ready for my close up.

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