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Buitoni Whole Wheat Linguine

May 20, 2009
What it is: 100% whole wheat linguine
How it comes: 9-ounce package
Where it is: In the refrigerated pasta section of supermarkets
Who it's for: Anyone who loves pasta and is trying to add more whole grains to his/her diet
Suggested retail price: $2.29
Nutrition notes: One serving contains 16 grams whole grains and 6 grams fiber
Category: Fabulous Food: A healthy twist

Bonnie: By now, I’m sure you know that health professionals recommend that you eat three servings of whole grains a day. Luckily for all of us, finding grains is getting easier. Much easier.

For one, there’s the Whole Grain Stamp on many food packages indicating that the food contains at least a half serving of whole grains — an initiative spearheaded by Oldways Preservation Trust, a nonprofit food advocacy group in Boston.  In addition, many food companies — Lean Cuisine, Healthy Choice and Buitoni, to name a few — are introducing whole grain versions of some of their popular items.

Buitoni first launched filled whole-wheat pastas (Four Cheese Ravioli, Chicken & Prosciutto Ravioli, Three Cheese Tortellini) and are now offering linguine.

The linguine is made from 100 percent whole wheat, providing 6 grams fiber plus 16 grams whole grains, or one of those three servings recommended daily. I like this as a simple way to enjoy whole grains, and keep a package in the fridge for quick (3 minute) pasta.

In the time it takes to boil the water, you can cook some veggies and/or meat, fish or poultry to toss with it. Or simply add a splash of EVOO (extra virgin olive oil), a fresh grinding of black pepper and some freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. Or try one of these quick-to-prepare recipes:

Express Linguine with White Clam Sauce Cook 3 cloves minced garlic in 1 T oil over medium heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the liquid from two 6.5-ounce cans chopped clams, reserving clams. Season with salt, pepper and 1 t oregano; heat through, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add 1/3 c chopped parsley, the reserved clams and, if desired, 3 T white wine and 1/4 t pepper flakes, cooking 1 minute more. Serve over linguine.

Express Linguine with Broccoli di Rabe Cook 1/2 pound sliced hot or sweet sausage in large skillet over medium heat, turning often until browned, about 5 minutes. Add 3 cloves minced garlic and cook 1 minute until garlic is fragrant. Add 1 pound broccoli di rabe, trimmed and cut into 3-inch pieces; stir 1 minute, then add 1/2 c water or chicken stock. Turn heat to low, cover and cook 6 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover and increase heat to high for 1 to 2 minutes to evaporate/cook off some of the pan juices. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve over linguine, sprinkled with lots of freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese.

Express Garlicky Linguine Cook linguine according to package directions; drain, reserving 1/4 c cooking water. Heat 3 T olive oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add 3 cloves minced garlic; cook, while stirring, until fragrant or golden, about 1 minute. Add the cooked linguine to skillet, toss well. Add enough of the reserved pasta-cooking liquid to just keep the pasta moist. Add 1/3 c fresh grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, toss well. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Serve topped with 1/2 c chopped parsley.

Bryan: What’s not to love about fresh pasta? Americans have become so used to the dry variety, seeing fresh, soft pasta now seems like a delicacy, a treat, something reserved for a special occasion. Thankfully, in our ever-expanding food universe, there are companies like Buitoni that are trying to make us all remember that pasta can be a fresh component of our meals and not just an aging box of arts and crafts fodder, more reminiscent of a maraca than of a food.

Pasta is such a simple food. Buitoni Whole Wheat Linguine is comprised of only three ingredients: whole-wheat flour, eggs and water. Combine into a dough, flatten and cut…. If you had hours of time, a pasta machine and patience, you still wouldn’t do it. So let’s all thank Buitoni for bringing freshly made and packaged pasta into our homes.

One thing to keep in mind is that this is a fresh product. Yes, it seems obvious, but we are so used to pastas that will stay on our shelves indefinitely (like that box of Kraft Mac & Cheese you’ve pondered making for the past two years), we forget that eggs go bad. Make sure to use your Buitoni fresh pastas on or BEFORE your expiration date — or freeze it.

Eric: Fresh is the word to keep in mind when debating whether to purchase the Buitoni whole-wheat pasta the next time you’re at the supermarket. When you really think about it, unless you’re an Italian-American, how often do you really eat pasta? And when you do, would you prefer your meal to be fresh or dehydrated?

On average, I probably consume pasta three times a month, but when I do, I make sure it’s fresh (which goes for everything from the noodles to the tomatoes). I had nearly forgotten how much fresh pasta changes the dynamic of a dish until I traveled to Zanzibar to work as an assistant food-and-beverage manager at a beach resort. Ironically, the head chef of the resort was Italian – and every Wednesday, regardless of how many guests were in-house, he would spend a few hours in the kitchen making fresh tagliatelle, ravioli and angel hair pasta. On top of that, he would simmer his tomato sauce for hours in order to create the perfect complement. It was his masterpiece, and I made sure never to miss it.

When I returned to the world of student bills and no income, there were certain luxuries I had to live without, and unfortunately, fresh pasta was one of the first to go (I almost shed a tear the first time my girlfriend prepared ramen). It wasn’t until my mother asked for my opinion on the new Buitoni Whole Wheat pasta, that I had realized how long I had gone without eating fresh noodles. Although the pasta is a little grittier than most fresh pasta, the whole-wheat aspect provides a healthier spin. The real question is: Whole wheat or not, why aren’t you making the most of your noodles?

Bon Appétit.

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