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Ugh, I've got to switch to whole wheat pasta!

My doctor said I've got to stop eating bad carbs like white pasta and as someone who could eat pasta every day, that's a tough one. I'll have to start perfecting a whole wheat pasta dough recipe. What a bummer.

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  1. It's not that bad and, actually, I've come to prefer whole wheat pasta over white. Its flavor is more complex.

    1. If you need something in a pinch, Ronzoni has what I found to be the best whole wheat pasta of any of the common supermarket brands. Some of them are just horrible - especially from a texture standpoint.

      1 Reply
      1. re: wak

        I agree. Ronzoni's whole wheat pasta is not gummy and gross. If properly quicked, it is delicious.

      2. Start with half and use white whole wheat. You really can't tell a big difference.

        1. The Barilla pasta that comes in a yellow box, I think it's called Barilla Plus, is actually REALLY good.

          2 Replies
          1. re: chigirl71

            That's what I was hopping on this thread to say. We love the angel hair with a quick tomato sauce (very quick, we slice grape tomatoes in half, start with a little garlic in olive oil, toss in the tomatoes and finish with a bit of basil). Sometimes we put a little fresh mozzarella on top.

            1. re: chigirl71

              I agree -- by the time it cooks up, it's white, so you forget you're eating the healthy stuff, and I thought the taste was virtually indistinguashable from the regular stuff.

            2. We eat nothing but whole wheat pasta - one tip - DO NOT overcook the stuff - it'll take some time to figure out where you like to stop the cooking but I've found it's much fussier than semolina pasta. One minute too long in the water = gummy disgusting pasta. Otherwise, I agree that WW has a more complex and better flavor. But it is different!

              1 Reply
              1. re: gansu girl

                So true! Gummy mush, ugh! Watch it carefully!

                Also, I'd suggest using a shape that's the same thickness throughout, like spaghetti or penne. Something like bowties or corkscrews with thicker and thinner parts makes it that much trickier to achieve proper doneness throughout.

                That said, with an aggressively flavored sauce, I don't notice so much that it's whole wheat.

                My fave unusual pasta 'sauce': blanch cauliflower and chop finely, sliver pancetta and render, add the cauliflower and some dissolved saffron & cook on low heat a while so the flavors get blended. Toss with chunky pasta such as small shells or orrechiette and top with toasted pine nuts. Yum-my yum yum!

              2. We were also informed by our doctor to eat whole wheat pasta, which really is quite tasty. I went a step farther and started making spaghetti squash. Granted there's no comparison to the texture and flavor, once you add some EVOO, fresh garlic and basil, and occasionally a preferred sauce, it's really good and healthy!

                The easiest way I've found to prepare the squash is just to poke some holes in the squash with a knife tip, bake for about 1 1/2 hours, cool slightly, cut in half, remove seeds, then using a fork, slice the pulp into spaghetti strands.

                1. Trader Joe's has a sprouted wheat pasta that is yummy with an interesting texture and is super-high in protein. Thank you.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Bride of the Juggler

                    I'm a great fan of ww pasta. I've tried Barilla Plus, Ronzoni, plus some local brands and been pleased.

                    Anyway, I agree that it tastes best with more assertive sauces. My five year old actually prefers "brown" pasta to regular these days. I think it's like with brown rice, once you get over your biases, you start to notice how much nuttier and fuller the whole grain stuff tastes.

                    1. re: newbatgirl

                      Bionaturae ww pasta is very good. I like it with a sauce of spinach, goat cheese and pine nuts. Generally I try not to use it with sauces we're accustomed to having on white pasta; the dish winds up tasting wrong somehow.

                  2. Personally I don't like or eat whole wheat pasta as it just doesn't taste right to me, but the Barilla PLUS is acceptable so I recommend you try it and see if it meets with your doctor's approval. Despite my dislike of whole wheat pasta, as an experiment I made the following dish, which is a nice rustic whole wheat pasta dish from Giada de Laurentiis, and was pretty good (I used Barilla PLUS, not whole wheat pasta, but the recipe calls for whole wheat). http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recip...

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: farmersdaughter

                      I was in Italy last summer and there is a lot of whole grain pizza in supermarkets now, and I have seen several people eating it. Important for anyone with any kind of blood sugar issue.

                      Agree about bionaturae; some of the Italian natural-foods brands are very good indeed, as is Barilla Plus (carbohydrate-reduced and higher protein).

                      I find that wholegrain pasta does NOT work well with meaty sauces - better with a simple tomato or "in bianco" sauce, with zesty spicing.

                      1. re: lagatta

                        I'll second the recommendation of Barilla Plus. Not like the whole wheat pastas. Good flavor and texture.

                    2. I've become a big fan of brown rice pasta - it's got more spring to it than whole wheat pasta, and it has less flavor to it so it's more like white flower. i've been trying to keep close to macrobiotic at home (so i can eat what i want at restaurants a couple of times a week), and i think brown rice kicks whole wheat's ass, pasta wise. there's only 1 or 2 brands at my co-op, all are good. spaghetti style or fettucini style has become the fave.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: sing4food

                        Interesting - have you or anyone else seen brown rice pasta in grocery stores or just specialty stores? I've seen regular rice but not brown rice.

                        1. re: laurendlewis

                          Whole Foods carries it and so does Trader Joe's, as chains go.

                        2. re: sing4food

                          I love brown rice pasta as well. I use Tinkyada brand. However, I only cook it for 10 minutes as opposed to the 1 minutes on the box. It cooks up with a good mouthfeel to it. Highly recommended.

                        3. I've personally found a big difference between fresh homemade and dried whole wheat pasta. I know there's always a difference between fresh and dried, but in the case of whole wheat it make the difference between health food that I have to eat, and something I really enjoy eating. Since you say you're working on a dough, at least be open to being pleasantly surprised. It can be really nutty and deep tasting I find. I like it with flavours like pine nuts, or variations on a lean meat sauce with lots of roast vegetables. I hardly feel like I'm watching what I eat.

                          I'm not a doctor, but if your doctor's concern is with Glycemic Index the sauce influences things too.

                          1. If you're also a gnocchi fan, Trader Joe's carries non-refrigerated, vacuum-packed whole wheat gnocchi that're actually quite good! They have 8 grams of fiber per serving.

                            1. I still eat white pasta once in a while - beef stroganoff just doesn't go with whole wheat. But, about 3/4s of the time I eat whole wheat. Keep trying different brands though, as they are NOT created equal. Go to a health food store for the best selection. Try also spelt pasta.

                              I often get the whole wheat spaghetti, cook it, and then panfry it in peanut oil or olive oil to give it some crunch. It really holds up to that kind of treatment, and is nicely chewy AND crunchy.

                              1. Dreamfields. It's white, but by some wonderful magic most of its carbs have been rendered unavailable to the digestive process. As someone who has tried repeatedly to like whole-grain pasta of just about every kind, and failed miserably at it, this stuff is heaven-sent. It's also very tasty, though (like whole-wheat) you have to be very careful not to overcook it. When I'm using it for any baked or further-cooked dish I've learned to drain and cool it when it's just barely tender enough to bite through. If your supermarket doesn't carry it, you can order it at http://www.buydreamfields.com/.

                                I've developed a delicious low-carb (though definitely NOT low-calorie!) mac'n'cheese recipe if you're interested.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: Will Owen

                                  Love Dreamfields. Would not be without it. I have all of their varieties on my pantry shelf. You won't be able to tell the difference.

                                  1. re: Will Owen

                                    I would be interested in your recipe..as long as there is no flour in it...

                                    1. re: Will Owen

                                      Thanks for the info on ordering Dreamfields. It is outstanding! Would you believe WalMart in my area used to carry it, but no more.

                                    2. Barilla Plus, Dreamfields, Bionatura and Healthy Harvest all make very good alternatives -- not all are whole wheat - to regular pasta. I'm partial to the Barilla Plus line. I also have bought outstanding fresh whole wheat pasta from Superior Ravioli Co. in South Philly. All of their pasta and sauces are worth getting and they do ship. https://www.superiorpasta.com/

                                      1. ditirambo in rome (off the campo de' fiori) specializes in whole weat pasta. they trend toward pairing the pasta with stout ragus to good effect. treat yourself to a field trip and thank me later.

                                        1. i say stick with spaghetti and other shapes that don't have any thick parts, like fusilli. and i agree also about not overcooking, but it can be mealy if too firm. i actually like to pair it with lighter flavors, not tomato. i like it with anchovies and cauliflower, broccoli rabe and garlic and ricotta, or greens and sausage.

                                          1. 'Just seconding the recommendations for Barilla PLUS, which is the only pasta I buy regularly anymore. I also like the Ronzoni whole wheat. Make sure not to overcook these and they are great.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: slowfoodgrrl

                                              We really like Barilla Plus pasta, and Healthy Harvest No Yolk Wide Noodles, too. The Healthy Harvest noodles cook very quickly, and would be great for stroganoff and other stuff. My partner just made a casserole out of the noodles with leftovers and cheese that was great.

                                              I agree, it takes time to get used to the taste. However, I don't get the sugar cravings that I do when I eat white flour pasta, so it's a good tradeoff for me.

                                            2. If you would like to make your own ww pasta here's an easy recipe. I hope your doctor is okay about eggs....ww pasta is made with plenty!

                                              Also, don't limit yourself to ww pasta. Health food stores offer wonderful rices and pastas made from a variety of flours and if you can buy variety, you will NOT miss the so-called bad carbs. Personally, I think a small bowl of any pasta won't harm us but I'm not a doctor :)

                                              Here's the recipe:

                                              Yields: 2 lb fresh pasta


                                              3 cups whole-wheat flour combined
                                              with 1 cup flour or unbleached all-purpose flour
                                              5 extra large eggs
                                              2 tbsp olive oil 1. Combine the flours and salt, if using, directly on a large pastry board or smooth work surface. Make a well in the center of the flour. Lightly beat the eggs with olive oil and pour the mixture into the well.

                                              2. Using a fork, gradually draw in the flour from the inside wall of the well. Beat gently in a constant direction to prevent air pockets from forming. Use your free hand to protect the outer wall until the wet mixture is well integrated.

                                              3. When the mixture becomes too stiff to work with a fork, scrape the dough from the fork into the well and continue forming the dough with your hands. Draw in the flour very gradually from the bottom of the wall, again being careful to keep air out of the dough and prevent air pockets from forming.

                                              4. Continue forming the dough into a very soft ball. It should be firm enough to handle, but soft and very pliable. If there is too much flour to be absorbed, do not use it all. Conversely, work in a little more flour if necessary. The perfect consistency is soft but not sticky, responsive to being touched and worked with.

                                              5. Using the heels of your hands, flatten the dough ball and knead it from the middle outward, folding it in half after working it each time. Knead both sides, maintaining a round shape, for about 14 minutes, until the dough is even and elastic.

                                              6. Cover the dough with an inverted bowl or plastic wrap and let it rest for 15 minutes, or up to 3 hours.

                                              7. Run pasta through manual machine or cut/shape to preferred style.

                                              1. Whole wheat pasta has so much more flavor and texture than white pasta...you'll enjoy the switch. It really is much better.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: Diana

                                                  I agree. I much prefer whole wheat to regular pasta, and generally lean towards whole wheat products in general because of their more substantial flavor and texture.

                                                  1. re: Humbucker

                                                    I too enjoy the whole wheat pasta. I agree more flavor and texture. You must be a Gibson fan also.

                                                2. I'm short on time and just skimming this thread - will come back to read/respond in detail later.

                                                  I *like* whole wheat pasta. Only it is a totally different food to me than regular white semolina flour pasta. YMMV.

                                                  What I find is that it goes really well with "big," savory, wintery sauces, especially with wheat. It also rocks with leftover meat, the meat's sauce and mushrooms, better than the same combination with regular pasta. This summer I think we'll just eat a lot less pasta than we used to, unless I figure out a way to make it really sing with less-cooked, more delicate sauces, like pesto, salsa cruda, and other just-picked garden-y sauces.

                                                  Den, since you're converting, not just dabbling, I think it might be worth your while to order a recent back issue of _La_Cucina_Italiana_. It had an excellent section on whole wheat pasta.

                                                  This link will get you to recipes for (WW) Rigatoni with Arugula, Whole-wheat Penne with Ricotta, Olives and Tomatoes; Spaghetti with Mint and Pecorino.

                                                  I found it! http://www.italiancookingandliving.co... This link will allow you to order the issue I mentioned... the website, unfortunately, doesn't give any more information beyond the fact that it is indeed the whole wheat pasta issue. HTH.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: Mawrter

                                                    Thanks for the tips everyone.

                                                  2. I know it's *not* the same, but do experiment w/ spaghetti squash and zucchini sliced on a spirulina slicer.

                                                    In a pinch, try Bob's Red Mill whole wheat pasta; I love it's toothsome and nutty flavor.

                                                    1. My husband made macaroni and cheese using whole wheat pasta. It was delicious; I happen to love whole wheat pasta but I think if you didn't tell your dining companions that the pasta is whole wheat, they couldn't tell the difference in this dish.

                                                      1. Try Barilla penne - it's whole wheat fortified with protein, Omega-3s, etc. So good, you can't even tell it's a switch - honest.


                                                        1. We mostly buy Bionaturae ww pasta, and it's tasty with hearty preps like ragu, a roasted tomato sauce, or with kale and beans and lots of parmesan. WW pasta is really good, IMO, just different.

                                                          1. An interesting alternative is Nutrition Kitchen Whole soybean pasta, made of nothing but soybeans. It has s neutral taste and a firm texture (angel hair style). Whole Foods has it.
                                                            22g carbs, 11g fiber (yikes!), 23 g protein.

                                                            It's organic, yay!
                                                            Comes from China, bummer.