A co-worker encouraged me to take a second look, claiming food companies had refined some of their processes for making the dry pasta. She also said that the thinner the whole wheat noodle, the better the taste.
Last night, I bought both brands of thin wheat pasta in my local supermarket: Barilla Plus Multigrain Angel Hair and Ronzoni Healthy Harvest Whole Wheat Blend Thin Spaghetti and ran a taste test for two over dinner.
Both were $1.89 per box, but the Barilla Plus box contained a full pound, while the same size box of Ronzoni contained 13.25 ounces. Pretty tricky, Ronzoni.
I liked the Barilla Plus better. The texture was more like standard spaghetti and the wheat flavor was not as pronounced. This is likely because the Barilla is not a true whole-wheat pasta, as iVillage points out. Per 2 ounce serving, the Barilla has 4g of fiber while the Ronzoni has 6g.
My co-taster disagreed. His notes said the Ronzoni "tastes more healthy" while I found it a little too sweet.
Ronzoni reformulated their Healthy Harvest line and it now carries a seal from American Heart Association. "In order to meet the government standards to classify ourselves as an excellent source of whole grain, we had to rethink our manufacturing process a little bit, and also change the mix of wheat flours we use to create the pasta," says a Ronzoni FAQ.
My verdict: If your looking for pasta that could pass as the real deal and serve as an entry point into the new wheat-y world of pasta, try the Barilla. If you want that wheat flavor in your dish or you're looking to switch for health reasons, review the nutritional facts carefully and you'll probably end up picking the Ronzoni.