If You’ve Always Skipped Whole Foods’ Bulk Pasta, Try Again

updated May 24, 2019
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(Image credit: Carina Romano)

You may have heard me rave about the freshly ground nut butters at Whole Foods? I called them the single best thing that most people overlook at the grocery chain. While I still stand by that claim 100 percent, there is a close second that I’d like to nominate. I’m talking about the fresh and dried pasta, which you scoop yourself and pay for by the pound.

(Image credit: Jessica Kelly)

That’s right: There are two types of scoop-yourself pasta at Whole Foods. There are several bins of dried stuff (for $4.99 per pound) in the bulk food area, and over in the prepared section there’s fresh ravioli and pasta (for $6.99 per pound). And both of these options, I’ve found, are way better than the boxed, off-the-shelf stuff.

(Image credit: Jessica Kelly)

Among the dried stuff, the very best of the regular pasta is the radiatori shape because all those ruffles are top-notch when it comes to delivering sauce from my plate to my mouth. Some of the whole-wheat pastas from this section can skew slightly on the cardboard-y side, but the trumpet shape (technically called campanelle) always comes out silky and you wouldn’t even know that it’s whole-wheat.

(Image credit: Jessica Kelly)

From the fresh offerings, you’ll find more seasonal and gourmet pasta. For example, when I took these pictures the week of Valentine’s Day, they had heart-shaped cheese raviolis. Others on the lineup: roasted butternut squash ravioli with ricotta cheese, sage, nutmeg, brown sugar, cinnamon; spinach and cheese ravioli; pumpkin ravioli with ricotta, Parmesan, brown sugar, and spices; cheese-stuffed rigatoni with black pepper and parsley; and plain pasta that tastes like your Italian grandmother made it that morning.

While the dried pasta costs just a bit more per pound than, say, a box of De Cecco, I honestly think it tastes better — more like actual restaurant quality! And the price tag for the fresh stuff is on par (or cheaper!) compared to fresh pasta from a gourmet Italian market. I’ve gotten enough pasta to feed a party of four people for less than $8, which is still way less than we would have paid if we were dining out.

(Image credit: Jessica Kelly)

There’s just one thing to note before you start loading up on pasta shapes all willy-nilly: the fact that different pasta shapes have different cook times. So just because the signs encourage you to mix and match, that doesn’t mean you should. For example, radiatori usually take nine to 11 minutes, while rigatoni take more like 12 to 15. My advice: Load up on a bunch of different shapes, but just keep them all separate.

Do you love Whole Foods’ bulk pasta as much as I do? Have you somehow never noticed it? Discuss in the comments below!