If you’ve never bought anything but the same old spaghetti from the pasta aisle, plan to take a moment on your next trip and peruse the options. What you find may surprise you. The most striking change is that noodles cannot be categorically dismissed as high-carb, empty-calorie fare. Many offerings are made from ingredients—such as chickpeas, quinoa or lentils—that provide impressive levels of protein, fiber and iron, and are gluten-free, as well. Even many wheat pastas are being crafted from the finest grains, resulting in a healthier, tastier final product. Here we present a few of our favorites.
Barilla Red Lentil Rotini
Why we like it: Red lentil flour is the only ingredient in this high-protein (13 grams per 2-ounce serving), high-fiber (6 grams) pasta. It also serves up 10 percent of your daily potassium needs, is produced in a dedicated gluten-free plant, and doesn’t stick together like some GF pastas. Bonus points for: Gluten-free, Vegetarian, Non-GMO
Tolerant Organic Green Lentil Penne
Why we like it: Made from just one ingredient—organic green lentil flour—these low-glycemic noodles are nutrition heavyweights: 25 grams of protein and 11 grams of fiber in each 3.5-ounce serving. The flavor is subtly earthy, and the texture mimics a traditional firm pasta. Bonus points for: Gluten-free, Kosher, Non-GMO, Organic, Vegan
Ronzoni Garden Delight Veggie Tricolor Rotini
Why we like it: Made with dried carrots, tomatoes and spinach, this wheat-based pasta provides a full serving of vegetables with every 4 ounces. The tricolor noodles offer subtle but welcome dimension in both flavor and color to enliven your meal. Bonus points for: Non-GMO
Banza Chickpea Penne
Why we like it: These gluten-free noodles’ mild, pleasant flavor and non-mushy texture are a delectable vehicle for each 3.5-ounce serving’s 23 grams of protein, 8 grams of fiber and 35 percent of your daily iron requirements. The low-glycemic pasta’s ratio of carb grams to fiber grams makes for 28 fewer net carb grams per serving than most traditional pastas. Bonus points for: Gluten-free, Kosher, Non-GMO, Vegan
Why we like it: By being picky about its ingredients (high-quality durum wheat, water from its own Italian spring) and its process (ground in its own mill to lab-tested standards, bronze drawing, slow drying), DeCecco delivers a superior-tasting pasta with a rough texture to hold sauce. Bonus points for: Kosher
Gluten-Free tip: If you’re looking for the closest gluten-free guesstimate—in terms of taste and texture—to traditional wheat-flour pasta, try Barilla Gluten-Free Spaghetti, made from non-GMO corn and rice.
Top It Off
Don’t drag a great pasta down with an inferior sauce. Here are a few of our favorite pairings.
Italian basil and cheeses—such as Grana Padano and Pecorino Romano—make for seriously delicious pasta accompaniments. Flavors include Classic Genovese, Rustic Basil and Sundried Tomato.
Barilla Vero Gusto
Made in Italy, these non-GMO sauces brim with the rich flavor that comes from carefully selected ingredients, such as Genovese basil and Calabrian peppers. Bonus: No added sugar, water or preservatives.
There’s no added sugar in these sauces—because they don’t need it. Vine-ripened San Marzano tomatoes, extra-virgin olive oil and fresh vegetables give them more than enough crave-worthy flavor.
This traditional creamy sauce uses organic ingredients to craft a rich, cheesy topping that complements any pasta.