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How do you serve wholewheat pasta?

In a bid to get a bit more fibre in my diet, I picked up a bag of wholewheat pasta fusilli. I've always preferred white pasta because it doesn't have the nutty, slightly gummy taste, but there must be some sauces that work better with wholewheat than white pasta. I'm particularly keen on cold salad type things that I can have for lunch at work! What do CHers do with wholewheat so that I can learn to love it, and maybe even convince the deeply sceptical OH?

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  1. I use it almost exclusively. The other night we picked a lot of sugar snap peas from our garden so I cooked up some ww penne then blanched the peas in the same water.

    At the same time, I tossed some large (16-20) shrimp with a little evoo, thyme, s&p and then roasted them in a 400o oven for 8 minutes a la Ina Garten. I saved a little pasta water, then tossed everything back into the pasta pan with some parm reg (yes we do like cheese on some seafood) and a pinch of red pepper with a litle more evoo. The dish was simple enough that we could really enjoy the elements, the sweetness of the peas, the crunch of the shrimp and the flaver (not blandness) of the pasta.

    WW pasta is also great with roasted vegetable, mushroom sauces, and one of my favorite dishes, Swiss chard and white beans. Pretty much all I use white pasta for anymore is red sauce dishes.

    1 Reply
    1. re: junescook

      That sounds really good! I'm in the UK, so slightly different brands available, but I like the idea of pairing it with simple, clean flavours so that the pasta can assert itself. I'm already hooked on WW couscous, and I recently found some barley couscous which is really tasty. Keep the ideas coming!

    2. I prefer Ronzoni's Healthy Harvest brand, which is a blend of grains, with better taste and texture. It has fewer calories and three times the fiber as white pasta. Or, buy both white and whole wheat pasta in the same shape, and use half and half. I don't use whole wheat or multi-grain pastas any differently than white pasta. You might also try quinoa, which has the same taste and texture as instant white couscous but is healthier, with more protein and fiber (though not as much as the HH pasta). There's also red and black quinoa, which have more assertive, earthier tastes. I have yet to try quinoa in pasta form but intend to.

      2 Replies
      1. I use it the same way I would regular pasta. The slight taste difference does not bother me.

        2 Replies
          1. re: ipsedixit

            Same for us, too - just the same as regular and I actually prefer the nuttier taste. If you watch the pasta VERY carefully during cooking, you can usually prevent that gummy thing from happening - you have to drain it when it's truly al dente, in my experience, or else you get the gluey film & mushier texture that's such a turnoff.


          2. Whole wheat cous-cous is often available and, to me, quite comparable to white cous-cous (whereas whole wheat pasta always seems to me quite different from white pasta).

            1. I'm with other posters on the Ronzoni Healthy Harvest brand, and tend to use the linquine or spaghetti shapes for Asian noodle dishes, either hot or cold noodle salads, and it's great with sauteed vegetables, beans, seafood, etc. Like junescook, I don't use it for Italian tomato-based sauces, seems less than authentic, but it's great for everything else pasta.

              I also second Bada's whole wheat couscous suggestions; I like the whole wheat version better than white couscous by far.

              2 Replies
              1. re: bushwickgirl

                Since the OP is in the UK the Ronzoni endorsements aren't going to help. Perhaps there is an equivalent blend. RHH contains: durum whole wheat and semolina blend, whole flaxseed meal, wheat fiber, thiamin mononitrate, niacin, ribloflavin, iron, and folic acid.

                Personally, I think buckwheat noodles (soba) taste better than American whole wheat pasta, but I don't know the nutritional values of soba.

                1. re: greygarious

                  There are a few brands of whole wheat pasta available in the UK; I'm curious to know which the OP purchased.

                  Soba is a good pasta choice if you don't like whole wheat; it's virtually fat free, very low sodium, no cholesterol, high in magnesium and thiamine, lysine; 5.8 grams protein, 24 grams carbs and 113 calories in a 1 cup serving. Plus it tastes great and doesn't have the gummy texture whole whea pasta eaters complain about. It tends to be more expensive than white or whole wheat pasta, however. There are a few varieties, made from both refined and whole grain buckwheat; the whole grain being the better choice.

                  Whole wheat pasta has more fiber than soba.

                  Here's what wiki has to say about a the nutrional value of soba:

                  "100 grams of soba yields 344 kcal of energy. Soba contains all eight essential amino acids, including lysine, which is lacking in wheat."

                  "Soba contains a type of polysaccharide that is easily digested. Soba noodles also contain antioxidants, including rutin and quercetin, and essential nutrients including choline, thiamine and riboflavin."

                  I love soba. There are many different Japanese preparations with soba, but it's good for many other Western dishes, hot or cold, that you would use a long noodle in. I have to say, though, it definitely does not pair with Italian style tomato based sauces.

              2. I don't know if Bionaturae brand is available in the UK, but it's made in Italy, so perhaps? It's got a nice texture, not gummy or gritty at all. I like it with assertive flavors, like sausage, kale, black olives, roasted red peppers, cruciferous vegetables, mustard cream, etc. It's not really suited to pasta salad, as it's rather firm when cold, but at room temperature as a salad, I find it has more appeal. So, perhaps take it out of the fridge at work an hour before you plan to eat lunch?

                3 Replies
                1. re: amyzan

                  FWIW: The Bionaturae Organic 100% Whole Wheat topped the Cooks Illustrated January 2010 taste taste of whole wheat spaghettis. Interestingly, the other two "recommended" ones are not all whole wheat: Heartland Perfect Balance is 21% whole wheat; and Barilla Plus Multigrain has no whole wheat, but it is mainly many kinds of grains other than wheat and even some legumes.

                  1. re: Bada Bing

                    Did they mention Ronzoni Healthy Harvest? I've had Barilla's Multigrain but found it gummy and thought RHH tasted better than Barilla. In general I find CI's recommendations sound, but I no longer subscribe.

                    1. re: greygarious

                      Yes. They rated 10 spaghettis, recommended 3, and then 6 were "recommended with reservations," including the Ronzoni. Only one pasta was "Not recommended" (DeBoles Organic Whole Wheat).

                      Re: the Ronzoni: they say that appealed to some people who relished the "healthy, earthy" flavor, most tasters were overwhelmed by it: "Some detected a 'mildly fishy' flavor as well as the taste of 'stale vitamins.' The 'chewy, gummy noodles stick to my teeth,' complained one taster."

                      But it appears that some very respectable Chowhounds like the Ronzoni very well, and probably because they're vigilant about not overcooking it, at least as far as the gumminess goes.

                      I'm happy to consult CI taste tests, but you always need to second guess them, too, because they're rigidly systematic in their approach. For instance, they sometimes downgrade certain items--say, a brand of canned tomatoes--perhaps for no better reason than that the brand is packaged with less salt than the competition, and the taste testers were responding to something that isn't essentially part of the ingredient.

                2. Actually, I'm serving it tonight in what I call a kitchen-sink baked pasta -- basically it means I use whatever happens to be around. I used Barilla ww farfalle & cooked for about 7 mins. Then drain & toss with evoo, tomato sauce (not too much), cubed ricotta salata & some left-over mozz, add some pitted black olives & chopped parsley. Then bake at 375 for about 25 mins. Serve with salad & a glass of red wine. Simple & delicious....

                  1. try it with butternut roasted squash cubes, sage, and a little browned butter... great cold or warm

                    grape tomatoes, basil, ricotta and smoked mozzarella cubes - great cold

                    salmon, lemon, and basil

                    fra diavolo with shrimp or chicken or cod or...

                    garlic, brussel sprouts, mushrooms, with a creamy sauce made from almond milk, flour/cornstarch, sherry, and asiago and parsley

                    cauliflower, sundried tomatoes, zucchini, mascarpone yellow squash and parsley and oregano

                    and Lo Mein - the ultimate in leftovers :)

                    1. FWIW, I got Waitrose own brand WW fusili, and did something similar to Emme's idea - roasted butternut squash with browned butter, some cubed gorgonzola and a handful of rocket. It worked very nicely, and the tip to be more vigilant that it doesn't overcook is crucial. I'm thinking something with chorizo and sprouting broccoli might also be good, or amyzan's idea of a mustard cream sauce, possibly with basil and a mild sausage. I feel much more inspired by it now!