It wasn’t long after I had made the switch to whole wheat pasta from ordinary, white flour pasta that I started eating gluten-free. I thought that was it for my pasta-loving days but it didn’t take me long to find that there were a few brands of gluten-free pasta on the market. To my surprise, I really liked how they tasted. Gluten-free pasta is heartier, nuttier and chewier than regular pasta. It takes a bit longer to cook but otherwise, there is no difference in preparation. Since that time when I began eating more gluten-free foods, the number of brands and types of gluten-free pasta has grown considerably. There are pastas made from brown rice, corn, and beans and they come in more shapes and sizes than ever. Since these pastas are not made from white flour, they are more nutritious and have more protein. Here’s a quick look at gluten-free pasta options as well as ideas and recipes so you can start cooking with them.

1. DeBoles

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DeBoles has been making pasta for over 75 years and they pride themselves “on providing only the best organic and all natural pastas to those seeking a healthier lifestyle.” DeBoles offers a wide variety of gluten-free pastas including rice, quinoa and corn types. The rice pastas come in spaghetti, angel hair, fettuccine, penne, spirals and lasagna. Rice pastas with added flax are available in spirals and angel hair while quinoa pasta with added flax comes in spaghetti and penne. The corn pasta comes in spaghetti and elbows.

Corn pasta is a hearty type best used with hearty sauces. I was skeptical that I would like the corn pasta but I tried it and I was pleasantly surprised. I made a dish of corn spaghetti with a light garlic and oil sauce called aglio olio and it was to die for. To make my Pasta Aglio Olio: Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add salt. Cook 1 lb. gluten-free pasta according to the package directions. Heat 6 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add 6 minced cloves of garlic and a pinch of red pepper flakes to the oil. Cook until the garlic is golden, about 2-3 minutes. Don’t let the garlic burn; it will get bitter. Add kosher salt and black pepper to taste. Turn off the heat. When the pasta is ready, drain it and add it to the pan with the garlic oil. Turn the heat back on to medium and toss the pasta in the garlic oil until it’s fully coated. Cook until the pasta is hot. Sprinkle with 2 Tbs. fresh chopped parsley. Serve with vegan parmesan, if desired.

2. Tinkyada

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Tinkyada Rice Pastas are made from just rice and water and they are delicious. The texture is never mushy or too chewy. Best of all, they come in many varieties including spirals, penne, shells, lasagna, spaghetti, spinach spaghetti, and angel hair. They also seem to be the least expensive of all the gluten-free, specialty pastas and are widely available. Tinkyada is the brand I use most. It’s what I used to make my Moroccan Tofu in Lemon-Olive Sauce over Spaghetti and my Creamy Rotini Alfredo with Asparagus and Peas .

3. Mrs. Glee’s Gluten-Free Foods

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The interesting thing about Mrs. Glee’s is that the products are made from whole non-GMO navy beans and non-GMO corn. It was the first time I ever had navy bean pasta. The pastas come in rigatoni, old-fashioned noodles and elbows and they are coming out with more shapes soon. Their pasta is tender, easy to work with and delicious. The elbows are perfect for mac and cheese like this Maca Cheeze Bowl or my Pasta e Fagioli: in a large stockpot, heat 1 Tbs. oil over medium heat. Saute 1 diced onion for about 4 minutes until softened. Add 3 thinly sliced scallions, 1 large diced carrot, 2 ribs of diced celery, and 2 cloves minced garlic to the pot. Let cook for 4 minutes until the vegetables soften. Mix in 1 tsp. dried rosemary and ¼ tsp. red pepper flakes. Stir in 6-8 cups vegetable broth and/or water and 2 cups chopped tomatoes. Bring the soup to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Add 1 ½ cups cooked pinto beans and 3 cups cooked gluten-free elbows or other small pasta. Season the soup with salt and black pepper to taste. Add 1 large bunch of chopped chard, kale or other greens to the pot. Do not stir. Cover the pot and let the greens steam until they are a verdant, bright green. Uncover the pot and stir in the greens. Serve while hot. Sprinkle with vegan parmesan, if desired.

4. Jovial Foods

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Jovial Foods is all about eating well and feeling well. They believe it is “essential to nourish our bodies with the best ingredients. Eating gluten-free with Jovial means eating great-tasting foods that are certified organic, artisan-crafted and wholesome.” Jovial’s vegan brown rice pastas come in penne rigate, fusilli, caserecce, spaghetti, capellini, and lasagna. With Jovial’s gluten-free pastas, you can enjoy my Spaghetti with Vegan Bolognese Sauce or my Pasta ala Norma.

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Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt to the water and cook 1 lb. penne according to the package directions until it is al dente. In a large skillet, heat 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil over medium-high heat. Add 1 diced onion and 4 minced garlic cloves and cook until the onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Add 4-6 diced Japanese eggplants. Toss to coat the eggplant in the garlic oil. Cook until the eggplant is soft, about 10 minutes. Remove ½ the eggplant mixture and reserve in a bowl. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Add 2 cups diced tomatoes to the skillet. Stir in ½ cup non-dairy cream. Add ¼ cup fresh sliced basil, reserving the rest, and1 tsp. dried thyme. Add salt and pepper to taste. Let simmer for about 4 minutes. When the penne is done, drain it but reserve about ½ cup of the pasta cooking water. Add this water to your sauce so it thickens from the starch. Then add the pasta to the skillet (or if your skillet is too small, add the sauce to the pasta pot). Toss to coat the penne with sauce for about 1 minute. This will allow the flavors to thoroughly coat the pasta. Add in the reserved eggplant. Mix in ½ cup vegan mozzarella, either in shreds or small chunks. The heat will melt the cheese. Turn off the heat. Add in another ¼ cup sliced basil. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley and serve while hot.

5. Explore Asian

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Explore Asian has more exotic gluten-free choices. You can really impress your guests with the Soybean or Black Bean Spaghetti, Edamame Bean Pasta and Adzuki Bean Pasta. They are made with nothing but organic beans and water. My favorite is the Mung Bean Fettuccine. They taste like pasta with a nice al dente texture but I know I’m getting just beans and not a bunch of flour so it’s healthier and has a lot less calories. I used the Black Bean Spaghetti to make my Pan-Fried Tofu with Zucchini, Carrot and Black Bean Sesame Noodles.

6. Make Your Own Veggie Noodles

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Another popular option is to not only eliminate the gluten but all the grains as well. By using vegetables, you can make your own pasta. I often do this when I want a lighter meal. When you make the pasta out of vegetables and skip the flour, you can eat a big bowl-full and feel good afterwards. Use a spiralizer to make long noodles out of carrots, zucchini, eggplant or almost any long veggie. If you don’t have a spiralizer, don’t worry. Do what I do and just use a vegetable peeler. Read Switch Up Your Pasta Game – How to Use Spiralized Veggies as Noodles! Try this Zucchini Pasta with Creamy Cheese SauceRoasted Pepper Zucchini PastaCarrot Beet Angel Hair Pasta with Spicy Pine Nut and Pistachio PestoSpaghetti Squash with Alfredo SauceMiso Roasted Tomatoes with Spiralized Carrot NoodlesTomato Basil Broccoli Noodles with White Bean Salad, and Vegan Eggplant Noodles. You can also make noodles out of beans for a healthier dish. Check out this article to learn How to Make Bean Pastas.

There is no reason to give up pasta just because you’re gluten-free. Try these delicious brands or make your own pasta with veggies. Once you try these recipes, you’ll see you aren’t missing anything, especially amazing taste!

Lead Image Photo: Creamy Rotini Alfredo with Asparagus and Peas