The ancient grain quinoa has been feeding South Americans for centuries but was essentially unknown to other parts of the world until not too long ago. Usually seen in recipes as a steamed or boiled grain, quinoa is the size of a minute round rice grain and can also be consumed in the shape of an all-time family favorite: pasta. The added bonus? Quinoa pasta, like the grain, is loaded with nutrition, is filling, has a great texture, and is gluten-free.
Give your weekly pasta night a healthy makeover by swapping traditional pasta for quinoa pasta and up the protein content.
- Nutritional Benefits: High in protein and gluten-free.
- Varieties: Found in many shapes like traditional pasta.
- Found In: Most supermarkets and online retailers.
- Uses: Any pasta dish can be made with quinoa pasta.
What Is Quinoa Pasta?
The ancient grain quinoa actually dates back thousands of years, but it’s only recently that quinoa pasta has been making its way onto dinner plates as an alternative to traditional pasta.
Quinoa pasta is made by grounding quinoa seeds from the Andean plant of the same name into a flour, which is then turned into pasta. High in protein, quinoa pasta has a similar texture to traditional and whole wheat pastas, and a nice bite when cooked al dente. Real quinoa pasta should only have quinoa flour in its ingredient list, but many brands mix rice, amaranth, millet, and corn flours with quinoa flour to make the final product. Check the label to ensure you're buying true quinoa pasta, and look for wheat allergens if you need a strict gluten-free approach to your diet.
How to Cook With Quinoa Pasta
Quinoa pasta cooks similarly to whole wheat pasta. Use it in hot and cold pasta dishes. Fill a large pot three-quarters of the way with fresh, cold water. Add a tablespoon of salt to the pot and bring the contents to a boil. Once the water has come to a rolling boil, add the serving size of quinoa pasta you want to the water. Bring the contents of the pot back to a boil and gently stir to make sure the pasta doesn’t stick.
Most quinoa pasta will be done within 8 to 15 minutes depending on the shape and thickness. Check the directions on the package for the exact cooking times. When done, the pasta should be soft but firm. Strain the pasta, and add the sauce of your choice.
What Does It Taste Like?
While quinoa pasta has a similar texture to whole-wheat pasta, it does have a nuttier flavor than whole wheat or traditional pasta.
Quinoa Pasta Recipes
Swap quinoa pasta in for regular pasta or another type of gluten-free pasta in your favorite recipe.
- Kid-Friendly, Gluten-Free Weeknight Spaghetti Recipe
- Pasta with Garlicky Meatballs and Tomato Sauce
- Gluten-Free Pesto Pasta With Toasted Pine Nuts
Where to Buy Quinoa Pasta?
Quinoa pasta is easily found in most grocery stores and online. At the supermarket, look for it in the pasta aisle or the gluten-free section, depending on how the store is set up. Make sure you check the ingredients on the box though, as some quinoa pasta contains various amounts of rice or corn and only a bit of quinoa. To get the health benefits, look for a variety that is mostly, if not all, quinoa.
Once opened, store uncooked quinoa pasta in either its original packaging or an airtight container in your pantry for up to 3 years. Once cooked, place leftover quinoa pasta in an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator for up to three days.
Nutrition and Benefits
Quinoa pasta packs a powerful nutritional punch. It’s high in protein, fiber, iron, and magnesium.
Multiple studies have suggested quinoa can have a range of health benefits because of its high fiber content. A diet high in fiber, like the one found in quinoa, could help people live longer.
A gluten-free ingredient, quinoa pasta is a great alternative for those with celiac disease or gluten intolerance. Quinoa pasta reduces blood sugar, insulin, and triglyceride levels better than other gluten-free kinds of pasta.
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Berti C, Riso P, Monti LD, Porrini M. In vitro starch digestibility and in vivo glucose response of gluten-free foods and their gluten counterparts. Eur J Nutr. 2004;43(4):198-204. DOI: 10.1007/s00394-004-0459-1