If I had a nickel for every nutrition-related article that recommended subbing whole wheat pasta for regular, I’d have at least a dollar. Too bad whole wheat costs a buck more than that.
While it’s true that whole wheat pasta has more nutritional value than its lighter kin, the flavor and texture does take some getting used to. Furthermore, you can’t always cook and eat it the way you do with regular pasta. But you don’t know that until you’re glancing at your half-eaten bowl of gritty, slightly hard penne and wondering if there’s anything good in the freezer. (If you read Food Republic regularly, there is.)
Heed these tips for bringing out the best in whole wheat pasta, cause if an awesome lunch has one truly great quality, it’s keeping you full until dinner.
- Toss it with pesto or dark, leafy greens like Swiss chard for an earthy, herbal flavor that goes perfectly with whole wheat pasta.
- Make a cold pasta salad with plenty of olive oil and a splash of rice vinegar or squeeze of lemon juice to lighten it up.
- Spice it up. Whole wheat pasta’s more complex flavor is perfect for chili flakes, garlic and oil, Mario Batali’s addictive jalapeño pesto or a few spicy meatballs.
- Add anchovies. While this rule holds true for basically anything in my book, salty, umami-rich anchovies help to enhance whole wheat pasta’s natural deliciousness.
- Add a creamy cheese with a flavor that can stand up to it. Ricotta, especially homemade, and tangy goat work wonders.
- Add bacon. Obviously.
- Toss it with tomato sauce and Parmesan cheese or alfredo sauce and expect it to satisfy your pasta tooth. It may, it may not — the texture and flavor is quite different despite its physical resemblance to the white stuff. Do you really want to risk it?
- Bake it in a casserole, like mac ‘n cheese, because it will harden on top and all but dissolve into gritty mush underneath.
- Cook in wine — it doesn’t absorb the color like regular pasta.
- Expect it to cook just like regular pasta, because it will probably take longer.
- Freeze it. Unlike its pale counterpart which makes frozen lasagna an important part of American family life, whole wheat pasta simply can’t take the cold.
Got any vexing whole wheat pasta questions? Leave them below and our overly cheerful fiber fairy will get right back to you. She’s always in such a good mood. Apparently an extremely clean colon is excellent for one’s general temperment.