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Historically, the words “gluten-free” and “pasta” only ever existed in a sentence that also contained the word “mushy.” The idea that anything besides flour, water, and eggs could achieve the inimitable al dente texture of a fresh rigatoni noodle seemed impossible; either something was gluten-free and definitely not pasta, or was pasta loaded with gluten and worth all the discomfort in the world. For years, gluten-free pastas couldn’t stand up to (or even near) the real thing—the noodles would stick together in the pot, lose their shape, disintegrate…need I go on?
Fortunately, we’ve found some brands doing real justice to Italy’s best export in recent years. So go ahead and get some water boiling. We promise you won’t be able to tell the difference.
The One That’ll Make You Feel Like a Kid Again: Camp
One of the first things I learned to cook for myself as a kid was a pot of gooey mac-and-cheese. Twenty years later, my stomach’s constitution just isn’t what it used to be, which is why I was thrilled to find a version of cheesy mac that wouldn’t leave me crying for my mother. Camp makes gluten-free pasta that’s even better than the fluorescent noodles I used to eat.
The earthy, savory flavors its ingredients (organic brown rice, zucchini, carrots, corn, pea protein) lend to each noodle make it a delicious and healthy pasta substitute that maintains the intended shape (either macaroni or fusilli). Plus, the cheese and vegan cheeze sauces are packed with vitamins because they’re made with spinach, broccoli, sweet potato, maitake mushrooms, and sunflower seeds. Along with the Vegan Cheezy Mac ($19.99/3 pack), enjoy a Classic Cheddar and White Cheddar Mac’ N’ Cheese (not vegan, still gluten-free), and a Twist Veggie Pasta ($14.99/3 pack) that you can mix into your own favorite sauce. With a selection like that, you won’t be wanting to leave Camp anytime soon.
The Fresh One That’s Ready in 3 Minutes: Taste Republic
Taste Republic’s gluten-free pasta is the closest you’ll get to the stuff your Italian nonna makes. Boil a handful of gluten-free four cheese tortelloni ($59.99/6 pack) for a few minutes, then throw them in a pan with crackling black pepper, butter, and salt. A hot, cozy bowl of cacio e pepe tortelloni with an ideal al dente texture awaits.
I was able to get all of the best parts of pasta without any of the gluten, a miracle Taste Republic has been performing since 2008 when one of its co-founders was inspired to create a fresh pasta that his friend, who’d been diagnosed with celiac disease, could enjoy. And if you’re not into filled pastas (though the brand’s ravioli offerings are worth a try), consider Taste Republic’s linguini, fettuccine, fusilli, and lasagna options.
The One That’s Both Types of GF’s: Cappello’s
Cappello’s is a gluten-free pasta brand making fresh noodles, ravioli, lasagna sheets, and gnocchi ($11/box) that are also completely grain-free. Friends and co-founders Ben Frohlichstein and Stacey Marcellus both worked on farms, in Colorado and Argentina, before coming together to make a gluten-free pasta without any processed starches or grains. They believed that ingredients like cassava, arrowroot, psyllium husk could make nutritious pastas that would be easy on the gut. They eventually landed on almond flour, which is what gives Cappello’s pastas their uniquely nutty flavor. Plus, the brand’s recipes page features dozens of creative ways to prepare these pastas, including one for delicious lasagna pinwheels and another for pumpkin fettuccine alfredo.
Whether you’re trying to avoid gluten because of a dietary preference or out of absolute necessity, you don’t have to forgo the al dente texture anymore. As someone in the former category who tries to avoid gluten but doesn’t have to, I found that all of these pastas were like the real thing in only the best ways: all the bite without any of the bloat. Shop them here: