Italpasta goes gluten free

Celiac by the numbers

  • 1 in 133: It is estimated that 1 in 133 persons in Canada, and that same number in the United States, are affected by celiac disease.
  • 6-7%: 6-7% of the U.S. population is thought to have non-celiac gluten sensitivity.
  • 5-22%: The amount of celiac patients who have an immediate family member (1st degree relative) who also has celiac.

With the rise in diagnosed celiac disease (spelled coeliac in the U.K., Australia, Ireland & other places), gluten intolerance, gluten sensitivity and people curious about going gluten free, it’s nice to see a rise of pastas in the marketplace, making it easier for people to eat “like regular people”.

Italpasta gluten free

Italpasta has released its own line of gluten free pastas. When I was invited to 7 Numbers restaurant on the Danforth for an exclusive media tasting I was curious: I minimize (without eliminating) my gluten consumption, know plenty of people who avoid gluten for a variety of reasons and my catering company only uses gluten free pasta in the mac ‘n’ cheese (Jason made it for a celiac friend once and it turned out better than with regular pasta). I have an interest and I’m a trusted source of information and opinion.

I’m also fan of the host of the evening, Julie Daniluk. 7 Numbers is one of her favourite restaurants.

Italpasta gluten free pasta is made with corn and rice, a combination that was decided upon after feedback and experimentation. Italpasta has recently obtained gluten free certification from the Canadian Celiac Association. Pasta comes in three shapes: Fusilli, penne rigate, and spaghetti.

At the sampling event, four pasta dishes were served family style:

1. Eggplant pasta salad inspired by the sweet and sour flavours of classic Italian Caponata (a dish of eggplant, olives, and onions seasoned with herbs) – with red peppers and capers

ITALPASTA GLUTEN FREE Eggplant Pasta Salad with Fusilli

Photo credit: Rick O’Brien,

2. Primavera Pasta – a simple pasta with peas, spaghetti squash, zucchini and tomatoes.

ITALPASTA GLUTEN FREE Fusilli Primavera Pasta

Photo credit: Rick O’Brien

3. Penne Rigate with sun-dried tomatoes and roasted garlic– Mediterranean inspired.

ITALPASTA GLUTEN FREE Penne Rigate with Sundried tomato & roasted garlic

Image credit: Rick O’Brien

4. Spaghetti with Fava Bean PestoSee recipe below.

ITALPASTA GLUTEN FREE Spaghetti with Fava Bean Pesto

Image credit: Rick O’Brien

+ mixed green salad, grilled asparagus and grilled eggplant, also served family style.

My favourite: The primavera.

Sadly, although I applaud Italpasta for their line, I found the pasta gritty and chewy, especially in the first and final dishes, and it was bitter.

I didn’t completely write it off, though. Although I have no question in the capabilities of the kitchen team at 7 Numbers – the flavours of the dishes were fresh and bright – I needed to try this at home with the boxes of pasta that Italpasta gifted to those in attendance.

By which I mean, of course, handing it over to the man of the kitchen. It’s rare for me to touch the stove anymore (though in a  subsequent blog post you’ll see me take the reigns in the kitchen).

The instructions say to cook the pasta in boiling water until al dente, 6-8 minutes. Jason brought the water to a boil, turned off the element, and took it off the stove when the texture was right. He also found the pasta very bitter, and so he added 1/4 cup of sugar to the water. He then washed it in cold water for 10 minutes (apologies to the nonnas out there) and tossed it in a rose sauce (he didn’t know that Italpasta had also given me a bottle of sauce, which I put away).

My conclusion:

Great attempt, but it’s not quite right by my assessments. Why not buy a package anyway and see for yourself? When I was Googling around for this blog post I found another blogger who called it one of her favourites and I do believe that taste is subjective. We still prefer Tinkyada’s Pasta Joy. It’s what we use and recommend. Both Italpasta and Pasta Joy are widely available in Toronto. I’m pleased that people with celiac disease have options.

I’ll leave you with two more stats and a recipe:

  • $4.2 billion: The size of the gluten-free market in the United States in 2012, according to Packaged Facts.
  • $6.6 billion: The expected size of the gluten-free category by 2017, according to Packaged Facts.


Recipe: Fava Bean Pesto on Gluten Free Spaghetti

Fava Bean Pesto on Spaghetti

Photo courtesy of Italpasta

Fava Beans are available frozen year round, but there is something about the buttery texture of their flesh when they come into season each Spring. Fava Beans add a unique creaminess to this simple pesto as well as a boost of fibre and protein.

Serves 6
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

1 box Gluten Free Spaghetti 340 g
¼ cup Italpasta Extra Virgin Olive Oil 60 mL
1/2 cup packed parsley 125 mL
1 cup packed fresh basil 250 mL
1 garlic clove
1 tsp lemon zest 5 mL
3 tbsp toasted pine nuts 45 mL
3 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese 45 mL
2/3 cup fresh or frozen fava beans 160 mL
¼ cup goat’s cheese 60 g
salt and pepper


  1. Bring a large pot of water seasoned with 1 tablespoon salt to a boil. Cook fava beans in boiling water until tender, about 5 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer fava beans to a colander, rinse under cold water. Cook Italpasta Gluten Free Spaghetti in boiling water until al dente, 6-8 minutes. Drain and reserve ½ cup pasta water.
  2. In a food processor combine parsley, basil, garlic, lemon zest, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, and cooked fava beans; season with salt and pepper and pulse until blended. Drizzle in extra virgin olive oil with the motor running, blend until almost smooth.
  3. In a large bowl toss the pasta, pasta water and pesto. Taste and adjust salt and pepper. To serve, sprinkle pasta with goat’s cheese.

View recipe and nutritional information at the Italpasta website.


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