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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Tinkyada Gluten Free Pasta Review


People love to talk about food they just can't live without. You know -  people. The sort who haven't ever doubled over in gut drilling pain after scarfing down a delicious hunk of fill in the blank. The kind of people who don't have to think twice before hopping in the car for a sunny Saturday of far flung exploring. Those same people who say, "oh, so you can have wheat bread - right?" There were a whole host of things I thought I couldn't live without - pizza, onion rings (okay, anything fried) smartfood popcorn, get the picture. But when food becomes the enemy and your body starts to attack, you start whittling things down - and quickly. If there's one excellent thing Celiac Disease has taught me, it's that there isn't anything edible on earth that I can't live without. Except maybe Tinkyada Gluten Free Pasta.

I met a girl once who had been Gluten Free for about a year and she had never heard of Tinkyada pasta. Blasphemous! Monstrous! Hideous! A flying, crying SHAME! Pop Quiz: you've just been diagnosed with Celiac Disease, what do you want to eat? Answer: okay, fair enough, probably bread - but after that? PASTA! Comfort food 101 - we gotta have our penne. Our shells. Or my personal favorite: spirals.

Tinkyada White Rice Spaghetti, 16-Ounce Packages (Pack of 12)Attention Newbie Gluten Free-ites! I've tried GF pastas. Lemme break it down: mooshy, smooshy, chewy, goopy, starchy, un-refrigeratable, gritty, limp, with a rustic sort of twang...have I left anything out? Bottom line: there are a few decent brands out there, which I may review in the future and have mentioned in the past - but I really find it unnecessary to spend my money on anything other than the stunning beacon of GF pasta hope that is Tinkyada.

Now, I might be crazy. And it may have been far too long since I've had wheat pasta to give an accurate statement here - but I honestly can't tell the difference between Tinkyada GF pasta and those wheat filled strands. We already know I'm crazy...but my tastebuds can't be too far off since Gluten Worshipping friends have balked at the idea that Tinkyada is Gluten Free - they just can't believe that food can be that delicious without wheat. Go Figure. And HELLO! Their pasta is made in a dedicated Gluten Free facility! They know us too well.

Tinkyada Brown Rice Spirals with Rice Bran, Gluten Free, 16-Ounce Packages (Pack of 12)Tinkyada offers GF pasta in a wide range of shapes from fuscilli to linguine, lasagne to manicotti shells. The varying shapes cook between 9 to 14 minutes and emerge from the boiling water flaunting a lovely even shade, smooth and pleasing texture and just the right bite to soothe your pasta night desires. I've dressed these babies up in cheese (daiya, of course), olive oil, butter, soy sauce, with crispy toppings or lovingly browned meatballs nestled in the strands. I've made delightful (if I do say so myself) dishes and stored the leftovers in the fridge - with just a little sprinkle of water and a few turns in the microwave each shape has perked and plumped right up, staying together and mainting each perfect characteristic through cold and heat. Next on our list to tackle? Lasagne. Oh yes, breaking the gluten and dairy barrier in one fell swoop. If you caught my review of Udi's GF Bread, you'll understand me when I say this: Tinkyada is indeed the Udi's of the GF pasta world.

Bites of Note:

  • The strand spaghetti takes longer to cook than the pasta shapes - about 5 minutes more. So read the directions and stir often because GF pasta tends to clump during cooking more than wheat pasta.
  • The linguine is notorious for clumping - as in multiple strands suctioning themselves together to form a massive killer starch hunk. To prevent this, I stir frequently during the cooking phase, drain swiftly (and rinse, although I've never found the need to) and add in olive oil and stir directly after draining. If you refrigerate the linguine your anti-clump efforts may be fruitless but olive oil can still be used as a potential solution.
  •  The truth is, we GF folks are liable to get a bit tetchy in the stomach area around foods we eat a lot. Like brown rice. Which is in everything. Yes, everything. Like High Fructose Corn Syrup. Solution: Tinkyada makes white rice spaghetti to assuage your brown rice woes. Downside: they only use white rice to make the spaghetti - not the formed pastas. (They also make spaghetti with brown rice).
  • If you are going to refrigerate the pasta and then microwave it there is one very simple step you must follow. Go to your sink, run your hand under the water and sprinkle the top of the pasta with water droplets. This will keep the pasta soft and yummy. I sprinkle almost everything I microwave with water and I have no complaints.

Gluten Free College Guide to Spaghetti

I know, pasta, you're thinking. All the boiling, the waiting, the draining, the rinsing, the sauce application. I've got a party-er-midterm to get to! I don't have time for all this damn cooking! But sounds so warm and delicious and...OKAY. Tell me how to do it.

Choice One: This is a tried and true Tinkyada approved method: (yes, it involves boiling)

Boil water, cook pasta for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring gently. Remove from stove, cover pot and allow to steam for 20 minutes. And you're done. So you don't have to sit around your grody dorm kitchen, you can bring it back to your room. Getting a pot with a straining lid will drastically reduce your dishes and steps.

Choice Two: I hesitate to talk about microwaving water and steaming the pasta because straight up H2O has a tendency to explode when microwaving and lots of people get scalded and so on. So if you're going to experiment with boiling water and then steaming please do the following: use a large bowl, fill with desired amount of water, microwave 1 minute for each cup of water (ex: 3 minutes for 3 cups of water). Before placing in microwave, put a wooden stick, like a chopstick into the water. Water does not boil, persay, in the microwave, it just becomes superheated and you won't see that it's boiling hot - putting the stick in will allow the water to act more normally and appear to be boiling. Steam for 20 minutes and see how it turns out!

Choice Three: I came across a comment on Amazon left by Lisa M. Mims with a recipe of how to make Tinkyada spaghetti and sauce in the microwave, thanks Lisa! For your pasta pleasure:

Pour half a bag of pasta into a ceramic dish, cover with jar of pasta sauce, add a cup of water. Mix! Cover dish with saran wrap (or a plate) but leave a corner open to vent. Cook in your microwave at 50% power for 45 minutes. When it's done you could add in grilled veggies, ground beef you've been cooking up on your George Foreman or dress it up with some Purdue Short Cuts.

Oh, and please be careful when you take your piping hot yums out of the microwave. Yes, I am your mother.


  1. Tinkyada is seriously the best gf pasta out there. I've served it to many non-gf folks and no one can every tell. Thanks for this fantastic post!

  2. Really? I'm 1.5 years GF and I can't stand Tinkyada except for use in homemade mac and cheese. It tastes like baby food to me and gets mushy. But I love love love the Ancient Harvest corn-quinoa pasta. Sure, it has a flavor, but it also has a texture! My gluten eating BF eats it happily.

  3. Hey Erica! Passing things by our non-GF friends always seems to be the litmus test...seems silly though since we're the ones who actually HAVE to eat it! :)

    Hi Ann! Thanks for your perspective, good thing there are a bunch of different products to choose from! I find that I enjoy Tinkyada best cooked a little on the al dente side. I tried the Ancient Harvest Pasta and liked it okay, strangely it was a little firm for me - but I thought it was good for casseroles or pasta salads that really needed to hold up for a while. Thanks for coming by!

  4. After 3 years, I JUST today noticed that there are two versions of my beloved Tinkyada on the shelf at the grocery store. Organic and non-organic. Pumped! The organic is only a few cents more expensive, SOLD!

  5. Jessica, thanks for a great site! I just recently found it. And yep, hoorah for variety! I can't imagine being GF 20 years ago. Just not having the flours alone...ick!

  6. I LOVE tinkyada. before I moved into my apartment this year, I bought a box of like 16 bags from amazon--no shipping there!
    ...the pastas already gone. :(
    Also: if you're going to make lasagna I have a trick for doing it with the tinkyada noodles. Instead of boiling them--they break REALLY easily--lay them out uncooked in the lasagna dish and pour hot water on them. Let them sit there for about half an hour. They'll be a little bit soft, but definitly not edible yet. But they will cook to perfection when you bake the lasagna :)

  7. Tinkyada is the best! I just took photos yesterday to write a review on my G-free blog. You said a lot of what I wanted to say. Great minds think alike ;)

  8. Hey Jen! I also noticed at my store that the 'rice bran' varieties are about 30 cents cheaper than the non rice bran. Why? I have no idea, but hey, who am I to argue? Thanks for the organic heads up!

    Hi Ann! So glad you found your way here, happy to have you :) I can't even believe the projected statistics on how much MORE the GF market is going to grow - keep it coming, I say!

    Nat - Back in Massachusetts we could never find the white rice spaghetti so we Amazon'd a box - it didn't last long :) EXCELLENT tip! I had that issue when I made stuffed shells - what a perfect solution, thanks so much!

    Hey Callie, great minds indeed, I'd love to read your perspective :) Thanks for coming by!

  9. My mom lives!! for this brand. I will have to forward this to her somehow. This is the only brand of gluten free pasta that she likes.

  10. Hey Goodie! Good GF pasta is hard to come by - once you find it you stick for life! An easy way to forward my posts is to go to the gray block at the end of each post (before the comments start) and click the little envelope with the arrow on it. That will allow you to email the post to anyone easily! Thanks for coming by :)


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