Anyone who regularly reads my work knows that I’m big on grocery store gluten-free sleuthing. I used to avoid going to the grocery store at all costs, but when I went gluten-free that wasn’t possible anymore. These days, I’m sure I baffle security at some stores because I browse around (sometimes for an hour) picking up products, reading the labels and putting them back. It must seem strange then, when I walk out after buying only milk.
My snooping excursions have led me to discover countless things labeled gluten-free that I was very surprised to find. Often times, I investigate food categories that I’m pretty sure aren’t going to turn up any gluten-free products – but I continue to check the sections anyway. Recently, my investigative technique paid off big time.
When I ate gluten we almost always bought fresh pasta instead of dried. There is something about fresh pasta that we love – probably the simple freshness of it. It’s hard to think of many things where fresh isn’t better than whatever the alternative to it is. Fresh veggies are better than frozen and the same goes for fruit. Unfortunately, once my gluten-free path began, I quickly found out that gluten-free fresh pasta wasn’t available in my area and that was hard to accept.
When snooping the in the fresh pasta section of Whole Foods earlier this week, I stopped dead in my tracks and actually stopped breathing for a second. In fact, I was so shocked by the discovery that I had to have my husband read the label for me to make sure I wasn’t seeing things. There along with the fresh gluten pastas were two packages clearly marked gluten-free. The package had a disclaimer that indicated there might be traces of wheat in it. I read the ingredients which were all gluten-free and decided to buy it – making a mental note to call the company before actually eating the pasta.
After having a lengthy conversation with the owner of the RP’s Pasta, I was reassured that the pasta was perfectly fine for me to eat. As it turns out, many people that love this pasta either have celiac or gluten intolerance. The pasta has been tested for safety and is prepared in a special area of the factory. It is however, made in a gluten processing facility so the company felt the disclaimer was in order.
After hanging up the phone, I wanted to go downstairs, separate the linguini and start cooking it right away. It seemed like forever until my husband got home from work so we could start making dinner. His specialty is Alfredo sauce so this would be the first gluten-free version we’d had with fresh pasta. I felt like it was Christmas, New Years Eve and my birthday all rolled up together – and I had not even tasted the pasta yet!
As I tested the pasta for doneness, I realized something amazing – you can prepare this pasta al dente if you want to. Say what you will about other gluten-free pastas out there, but of the well over a dozen brands we’ve tried, none worked al dente style for us. RP’s Pasta took about 4 minutes of boiling to get the way we like it. I quickly drained and rinsed the pasta and put it in the sauce my husband had prepared. Still, it felt like I was dreaming.
There are times when the fact that I’m not a trained food writer (or any sort really) makes me feel limited in my ability to explain what I’m trying to convey about a particular product. This is most definitely one of those times. The linguini was so delicious that I could have eaten it with only a little quality olive oil on it. Put my husband’s signature sauce on it and you have total gluten-free nirvana – plus a few tears. The pasta was simply spectacular. No offense to any particular company that makes fresh pasta, but this gluten-free pasta could beat some of your gluten pastas in a taste test – no doubt!
Currently, there are only two types of gluten-free pasta from RP’s Pasta – linguini and fusilli. Each retails at the Atlanta Whole Foods for only $5.99 which is an unbelievable value! The company will consider creating other varieties if the sales warrant it. It is now my personal mission to make sure that is exactly what happens. If I went back to Whole Foods and saw a gluten-free stuffed ravioli from this line I might faint right there on the spot.
Thank you Peter for creating something that we can be proud to serve the most finicky gluten eaters and that chefs can feel good about serving in the finest restaurants. Mostly though, thanks for making it possible for me to enjoy my husband’s signature dish the way is was meant to be – made with fresh, fabulous tasting pasta – just like you’d find in Italy!
*Ingredients for RP’s Pasta (gluten-free varieties): brown rice flour, potato starch, tapioca starch, water, whole egg, xanthan gum.
*Stores in the “South” region of Whole Foods either have or can stock (on request) this amazing pasta from RP’s Pasta. Please ask for it by name if you can’t find it at your location – no matter which rejoin your Whole Foods is part of. Please note that the “South” region includes parts of NJ, various other states and none of FL. In other words, it’s kind of a hodge podge regional set up.