I’m not a frequent pasta eater, but I always have a stash of comforting penne or fussili on hand (which in my opinion is much more fun for your mouth than smooth shapes). One thing I’ve noticed about pasta is that the wheat used is not your regular wheat, but usually “durum wheat” or “semolina”. So how do those compare nutritionally to your basic garden variety wheat?
Durum is a tougher wheat than basic “bread wheat” so it stands up better to boiling. Semolina is the end result of milling durum wheat, meaning that durum and semolina are the same thing (though semolina is a slightly more refined version of pure durum wheat).
What’s key then to watch for, if you’re looking for a whole wheat pasta, is to be sure it says “100% whole wheat durum”. If it simply says “100% durum wheat”, or “organic durum wheat”, it means the germ and the bran have been stripped out and it’s no more nutritious than your basic white flour.
Some of the nutrients removed when wheat’s refined are Vitamin E, calcium, iron and 15 others. Even if it is made from whole wheat, many of the larger commercial brands enrich their pasta with extra iron and various B vitamins such as folic acid. I believe this is because since white flour pasta is heavily enriched, if consumers were to compare labels, the brand wants the whole wheat version to show at least the same level of nutrients, even if those nutrients were added later at higher levels than are naturally occurring.
So bottom line, be sure it says “100% whole durum wheat” if that’s what you’re going for, but don’t assume that it’s not whole wheat if there are added nutrients.
(I know this is totally irrational, but if I’m going to eat spaghetti, I want white flour pasta, but if it’s tubular or irregular shapes, then I usually generally go for whole-wheat. Go figure …)
Best ways to enjoy pasta? A simple homemade ground beef-tomato-vegetable sauce is my favorite (link below), but in the event you don’t have that on hand, another stand-by of mine is pasta with sausage and spinach. I keep a supply of both frozen for emergencies, though if I’ve had time to grab fresh spinach there is no comparison. And parma cheese is essential as there are few foods that can’t be elevated to excellence with a light shaving from the Italian gods.
Your pasta tips or favorites sauces or toppings to share?
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