Early last year I was told that I should eat more whole grains. I thought it was a good idea, but there was a problem: I eat a ton of pasta. And I mean literally a ton of pasta; I haven’t actually weighed it, but I’m sure that if you added it all up it would be at least a ton. So I set out to find some alternatives. I cooked with grains like spelt, brown rice, and wheat berries. And they were good. Yet I still missed pasta, so I started looking for a whole grain pasta that I liked. I started, naturally, with whole wheat pasta. I tried multiple brands, and multiple cooking methods, but I couldn’t find one that I liked. Beyond Whole Wheat is my search for a pasta alternative.
It’s my own fault, I should have read the ingredients on the box before buying the quinoa pasta. It turns out that the first ingredients isn’t quinoa — it’s corn. That would explain the bright yellow color. It’s as if the corn lobby was trying to figure out how to sell corn pasta, and wondered what they could add to market it to hipsters. “They’re all eating quinoa, right? Let’s add a little quinoa, and then call it quinoa pasta.” When boiling the pasta, the top of the boiling water got a little bit of the yellow cornmeal scum that you might expect. This is a problem because I like to use pasta water in making sauce. I wasn’t crazy about the texture of the cooked pasta; it was tough to get it cooked to a uniform doneness. The flavor was fine, with the corn making it slightly sweet. That being said, brown rice pasta is still my favorite. So what did I do with the quinoa pasta? I made a little Brussels sprouts carbonara, of course.
Most carbonara is made with bacon or pancetta, but obviously that’s out for me. So instead I browned some Brussels sprouts in olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper. I stirred in the whites of an egg, then I added a little tomato (not traditional in carbonara, I know, but keep in mind I STARTED with Brussels sprouts). I added the cooked pasta, stirred it all together, and topped it with the egg yolk.