Love pasta, but can't eat wheat? Get ready to twirl your fork again. We found some noodles that any pasta freak can love.
The product: Le Veneziane pasta ($9 a pound, www.dipaloselects.com)
The health factor: Le Veneziane is a gluten-free pasta made of nothing but cornmeal and water, great for people living with celiac disease or wheat allergies. Le Veneziane has 210 calories in a 2-ounce serving, the same as standard semolina wheat pastas.
The taste factor: This is the biggie. I have a friend who is a food writer and fellow Boston University gastronomy alumna who discovered about two years ago that she has celiac disease. The effort she puts into finding foods she can eatand, then, foods that taste goodis astounding. When free samples of this pasta crossed my desk, I shot her an email and asked her about the gluten-free pastas she's tried. She told me most of them get mushy and break up, and the flavors are so unnatural that you need lots of sauce or cheese to cover up the weird taste. With that, I decided to try several gluten-free pastas, including another brand of corn pasta. She was right: Most started to mush up before the cooking time on the package directions had ended. I'm a pasta freak and obsessive about timing my pasta exactly so that it's perfectly al dente; many of the gluten-free pastas I tried were disappointing.
So I cooked up a pot of the Le Veneziane. It smells like corn, like polenta. It's got a beautiful yellow color that doesn't fade away with cooking (the other corn pasta I tried lost some of its hue). And, best of all, it stays al dente. I tried several more batches and consistently got great results: This stuff doesn't turn to mush or fall apart. The polenta aroma and flavor just beckon for summer produce and simple, complementary flavors. I used a fresh tomato sauce with fresh mozzarella and basil with one batch, and scallops with another, and I also tried pasta carbonara. Delish!
Editor's pick: I tried both the spaghetti and the fettuccine nests; there's not a huge difference in taste, but the spaghetti's my fave. This is a great pasta to enjoy even if you don't have problems eating wheat. The steep $9 price is its drawback, and since this is mainly available online, tack on even more for shipping.
Why we love it: Stays al dente and has a wonderful polenta-like flavor that inspires complementary combos instead of making you reach for more Alfredo or marinara. I can't wait to try this with a mushroom ragu.