From breakfast cereals to breads, I’m a big fan of eating whole grains but when it comes to pasta, whole grain or high-fibre versions have been, well, pretty dreadful. In the past, I’ve cooked up pastas that have been dark, thick and heavy. They made eating feel like hard work. Any time I’d try and sneak them past the husband, he’d pick them straight away.
So Barilla’s latest effort is a pleasing improvement in taste and texture from these heavy-duty pastas of days gone by – a feat of food technology that I’d expect from their on-pack boast that they are ‘Italy’s No 1 brand of pasta’.
Barilla’s whole grain duo – the penne and spaghetti - derive their whole grain content from a blend of whole wheat durum flour and oat fibre. There’s also the traditional semolina as well as regular durum flour (think white flour).
Barilla – mercifully - hasn’t tried to make it 100 per cent wholegrain as the ones in the past have done. Rather they’ve gone for a get-it-over-the-line tactic so they only claim 51 per cent whole grain, which means the pasta is much more acceptable in mouth feel.
It also boasts a high 10 per cent fibre - which is on a par with breakfast biscuits, many mueslis, dates and prunes.
Compared to the white, the whole grain penne looks browner but if you cook it a little longer, it cooks up to the same pleasant texture. It contains around three times more fibre than ordinary white pasta as well as more minerals (iron, magnesium, phosphorus) and B vitamins (thiamin, folate).
Team this pasta with robust sauces based on olives, pesto, meat sauces, mussels, artichoke hearts, spinach, walnuts or pistachios and you won’t be disappointed.
In the US where this penne is made, Barilla have more varieties such as Longs - think spaghetti (both regular and thin) - Angel Hair and Linguine (which is a big fave of mine) and Shorts such as Elbows, Medium Shells and Rotini (corkscrews).
In Australia we have to content ourselves with just the penne and the spaghetti for now. If they become popular then no doubt they’ll expand the range.
Per 100 g uncooked
1456 kJ (348 Cals), 13 g protein, 2.5 g fat (including 0.5 g saturated fat), 62.5 g carbohydrate (including 3.5 g sugars), 10 g fibre, 15 mg sodium as well as iron, magnesium, phosphorus.
Whole grain durum wheat flour, semolina (wheat), durum wheat flour, oat fiber.
(Note US spelling as this product is made in USA where their labelling laws are more similar to ours than in Italy)
Pleasant al dente eating with a mild nuttiness that doesn’t scream ‘grainy’. Here’s another new product that helps us eat more whole grains and more fibre, which, as Australians, we don’t eat enough of. Yes there are other whole grain pastas but these two make it easy to swap from regular (white) penne.