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How to choose dried pasta

How to choose dried pasta

With a variety of pastas to choose from these days – from wheat or bean to quinoa or lentil – which is the best to pick?

Dried pasta is a great pantry staple. Ready in around 10 minutes, it’s the perfect base for a flavour-filled Italian meal. But which dried pasta is the best to keep in your cupboard?

What’s available?

Traditional dried pasta is made from durum wheat, a high-protein variety of wheat that is perfect for making pasta shapes. Usually the only other ingredients are water, salt, and, occasionally, egg.

Although durum wheat pasta is still the most common type you’ll see on the supermarket shelf, in recent years it has been joined by an increasing range of pasta made from other grains and legumes.

We found dried pasta made from wholemeal wheat, spelt, buckwheat, quinoa, rice, lentil, mung bean and edamame bean flours. Many of these are gluten-free options.

What’s a serve?

Pasta packets gave a range of serving sizes from 42g to 125g.

The most common serve size was 100g dried pasta, which is about 1 cup of medium shaped pasta – about 240g (2 cups) cooked pasta.

As a guide, we often use around 60g – 80g dried pasta per person, which is around ²/³ cup of pasta shapes.

Protein

Pasta contains protein from the wheat or other flour. The only pasta we found that was very low in protein was a konjac-based fettuccine. Gluten-free pasta made from mainly rice flour was also lower in protein. As legumes and quinoa are higher in protein than wheat, pasta made from bean, lentil and quinoa flours tends to be the highest in protein. If you’re following a vegetarian diet choosing a higher-protein dried pasta will help boost your protein intake.

We recommend choosing dried pasta that contains 10g or more protein per 100g.

Fibre

Fibre helps to fill us up with long-lasting energy. It’s also really important for bowel health and as a food for our gut bacteria. Unfortunately, not all pasta lists the amount of fibre in the product. We recommend you look for a wholemeal or bean-based pasta for a higher fibre choice.

We recommend choosing dried pasta that contains 5g or more fibre per 100g.

Sodium

Salt is one of the three key ingredients for pasta, but that doesn’t mean it’s a high sodium product. Most of the pasta we found was very low in sodium.
Most of the sodium in pasta dishes comes from the sauces. It’s common to add salt to the water you boil your pasta in to bring out the flavour of the pasta. Adding a quarter teaspoon for 2-4 serves will be enough to do this.

We recommend choosing dried pasta that contains 50mg or less sodium per 100g.

Some dried pasta products we found:

Any product examples given here were correct at time of publication. However, remember to check the ingredients and nutrition information every so often, as these can change over time

Explore Cuisine
Organic Edamame & Mung Bean Fettuccine
$6.49 per 200g pack
Per 100g: 1362kJ, 42.3g protein, 24.4g fibre, 9mg sodium, $3.25

A lovely flavour and a great alternative to regular pasta
GLUTEN FREE

San Remo
Pulse Pasta Red Lentils
$3.50 per 250g pack
Per 100g: 1500kJ, 23g protein, 6g fibre, 12mg sodium, $1.40

Can definitely taste the lentils used in this product
GLUTEN FREE

Countdown
Essentials Penne
$0.95 per 500g pack
Per 100g: 1510kJ, 12.4g protein, 5g fibre, <5mg sodium, $0.19

Nice texture and held together well

Orgran
Buckwheat Spirals
$5.39 per 250g pack
Per 100g: 1539kJ, 11.2g protein, 8g fibre, 0mg sodium, $2.16

A plain base for a gluten-free Italian meal
GLUTEN FREE

Diamond
Wholemeal Spaghetti
$1.79 per 500g pack
Per 100g: 1466kJ, 12g protein, fibre not stated, 0mg sodium, $0.36

We prefer this nutty taste to plain spaghetti

La Terra e Il Cielo
Organic Whole Wheat Italian Spaghetti
$4.39 per 500g pack
Per 100g: 1490kJ, 12.5g protein, fibre not stated, 2.7mg sodium, $0.88

A great base taste to give regular spaghetti bolognaise a different spin

Barilla
Penne Rigate
Cost $2.29 per 500g pack
Per 100g: 1521kJ, 12.5g protein, 3g fibre, 5mg sodium, $0.46

An easy base taste for a meal

Macro
Quinoa Rigatone
$3.00 per 300g pack
Per 100g: 1530kJ, 12.3g protein, 4.8g fibre, 5mg sodium, $1.00

A lighter taste than wholemeal pasta
GLUTEN FREE

First published: Aug 2019

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