Posted by Cris on | May 18, 2011 | 2 Comments
Pasta has become one of those global mainstays for families; a good old spag bol seems to go down well with kids of all cultures. Moms love pasta too: It’s quick, easy and healthy. If your child has a wheat or gluten allergy, however, it can be a scramble to replace this old standby. Some of the alternatives can taste.. well.. weird. Dawn, My Malaysian-born neighbor, told me she imports her favourite gluten-free pasta from Melbourne, filling her suitcase whenever she goes to visit her Australian in-laws.
I figured there had to be some decent alternatives a little bit closer to home, so I decided to road test a couple wheat-free pastas readily available in grocery stores in Singapore to see which tasted the best. My neighbours showed up in force to help out.
I bought Orgran Gluten-free Corn Pasta Spirals, as well as their Rice & Millet Pasta Spirals, from Cold Storage (they’re also available at Fairprice), Scotti Pasta Riso (rice pasta) Linguine from Marketplace, and Divella Deli Free Gluten-free Spaghetti, which is made from maize and rice, from Fairprice Finest. The Orgran brand is Australian, and Divelli and Scotti are made in Italy. (All these pastas are also egg-free.)
We added some ready-made pasta sauce to the four pots of pasta, which were labelled A through D. There were 14 of us in all, including six kids ranging in age from four to 15, plus assorted parents. We assembled by our condo’s pool, pencils and forks in hand, to try ‘em out. After much slurping, chomping and scribbling, a winner emerged.
Divella’s Deli Free maize and rice spaghetti was head and shoulders about the other contenders: eight people ranked this pasta as number one. It had the best taste and texture, and frankly, tasted the most like regular wheat-based pasta. Everyone agreed it was the best substitute of the four. “Nice and fresh”, my neighbour Vishal wrote on his voting slip.
The rice linguine by Scotti Pasta Riso was voted the worst. Nine people ranked Scotti among their least two favorites, and five of those ranked it dead last. It had an odd taste that nobody really liked. I jotted down one word: “Nasty”. My neighbour Mannatt, aged 6, agreed. “It is not nice,” she wrote.
A few people thought the Scotti linguini has some redeeming qualities. It was “the least tasty but holds its texture the best,” noted Dawn. One problem with gluten-free pasta is that they tend to get mushy, without the gluten to provide body. Still, even Dawn panned it, ranking it last at number four.
The Orgran rice & millet pasta was the second favorite. Five people ranked it number one, and two more ranked it number two. Jaspar, 15, who voted this one as his top pick, described this one as a very “special noodle”.
My neighbour Matt, who has a gluten allergy, also liked this one the best. “It maintained good texture,” he wrote. He described the taste as pleasant and balanced. Zena, 5, with the help of her 9-year-old sister Coco Rose, simply wrote: “yummy!”.
The Orgran corn pasta got completely mixed reviews. Four people ranked it their second favorite, five ranked their third, and four ranked it last. Nobody voted this one as their top pick. “Is there corn in there? Yummy!” wrote Dawn (she was right! Reveal: she’s married to Matt, with the gluten allergy, so is something of an expert…) Matt, however, didn’t agree. He noted it had a “strong, unpleasant flavor” that reminded him of soy, or pea. Nice in other food, but not so good in pasta….
Our winner, Divella’s Deli Free maize and rice spaghetti, costs $5.95 for a 500 gram bag, at Fairprice Finest. They also carry other pastas in the same gluten-free range, including fusilli and penne.