When whole wheat and whole grain pastas first hit store shelves a few years back, they were touted as being healthier! and more wholesome! and just like regular pasta! The first two things may have been true, but the last one, not so much. Most whole grain pastas were gummy, bitter-tasting, and altogether unpleasant to eat. But these pastas have come a long way, and I'm rooting for the underdog.
More than anything else, I appreciate diversity in my pantry. There are some dishes where I will always use regular white wheat pasta, but there are plenty of others where I've found the nuttiness and earthy flavors of whole wheat pasta really work: hearty casseroles, cold pasta salads for lunch, and any pasta dish with hearty green vegetables like broccoli and chard.
Essentially, I think we need to stop thinking of whole wheat pasta as a replacement for white pasta and instead think of it as a companion. It's another option we have when cooking dinner: "Would this dish taste better with regular pasta or with whole wheat pasta?" Whole wheat pasta isn't going to be the right choice all the time, but I for one like having the option.
Do you cook with whole wheat pasta? What dishes do you use it in most often?
Related: Blogging Cook's Illustrated: Sauces for Whole Wheat Pasta
(Image: Emma Christensen)