Low-carb pasta (Recipe: Broccoli, basil and pasta salad)
Over the past few years, as more and more companies have jumped on the low-carbohydrate bandwagon, I've tasted some pretty dreadful products masquerading as healthy-and-delicious, so when Dreamfields low-carb pasta actually passed both the taste and texture tests, I gleefully stocked The Perfect Pantry's shelves.
Made from durum semolina flour, with no soy or substitutes, Dreamfields has all the good flavor of regular pasta. When cooked to the al dente stage, it's actually firm to the bite, with what chefs call "good mouth feel." And with just five grams of digestible carbohydrate per two-ounce serving, it's low low low on the glycemic index -- a boon to diabetics, South Beach dieters, and anyone who has to keep an eye on the daily carb count.
How does Dreamfields succeed where other alternative pastas, billed as low-carb or high-fiber or "healthy", have failed?
Thank technology and ingenuity.
According to the inventor of the manufacturing process by which most of this pasta's carbs become "protected" or non-digestible, it "involves molecular interactions that help block the enzyme from attacking the carbohydrate starch granule. It is not encapsulated. We have basically created the situation where there is a matrix more or less that has a tendency to attract the enzyme to the matrix and not the carbohydrate."
That doesn't sound terribly appetizing, but the result is a truly technology-forward pasta that will hold up to your most traditional recipes.
With six shapes to choose from, you can use Dreamfields in eggplant lasagna, penne with triple tomato sauce, spaghetti and meatballs, linguine with clams, pasta with greens, olives and feta, or vegan mac and cheese, and nobody will miss the extra carbs.
Dreamfields does cost more than other dry pastas; at my local supermarket, a 16-ounce box sells for $3.29, compared to DeCecco ($2.39), Barilla ($1.33 to $1.79), Ronzoni ($1.25), and the store's own brand ($1.20). But, in the case of carbs, I'm willing to pay a bit more to get a bit less.
Broccoli, basil and pasta salad
What started as a clean-out-the-fridge salad turned out to be a delicious keeper. Serves 4; can be doubled.
1/2 lb low-carb pasta (rotini or penne or linguine or spaghetti)
2 cups broccoli florets
6 large basil leaves
12 black olives, roughly chopped
1/2 lb feta or bleu cheese, crumbled
2 Tbsp chopped walnuts or toasted pine nuts (optional)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 tsp Dijon-style mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
Large pinch of kosher salt, or more to taste
Small pinch of fresh ground black pepper, to taste
Cook the pasta according to the package directions; drain, rinse under cool water, drain again, and place in a large mixing bowl.
Bring a pot of water to the boil. Place ice cubes and cold water in a bowl on the counter top. When the water in the pot comes to a boil, blanch the broccoli florets for 2 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon into the bowl of ice water. (This will set the color.) Drain, and add to the pasta.
Roughly chop the basil leaves and add to the pasta, along with the olives, cheese and nuts.
In a jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine oil, lemon juice, mustard, garlic, salt and pepper. Shake to combine. Taste, adjust seasonings, and add dressing to the pasta ingredients. Toss to coat everything with the dressing, and serve.