FOOD & DRINK
02/27/2014 07:00 am ET Updated Feb 27, 2014

Taste Test: The Best Alternative Grain Pastas (PHOTOS)

Damon Dahlen/The Huffington Post

Pasta is one of those comfort foods that we would eat every day if we could. With so many kinds of noodles and so many ways to cook them, it's impossible to tire of pasta. When it's cold out, nothing can top a big bowl of spaghetti with red sauce or parpadelle with ragu. When it's hot, a refreshing, zesty bowl of pesto on farfalle is just about the best thing ever.

With the recent obsession with gluten-free food and the growing awareness of grains other than wheat, however, traditional pasta -- the wheat kind, made with durum flour -- is getting a run for its money. All sorts of alternative grain pastas have hit the market -- and we're not just talking about whole wheat. From spelt and corn to farro and brown rice, pasta noodles come in all kinds of grains.

Not all alternative grain pastas are created equal, however. Some might be gummy, others too chewy and others flimsy. While some noodles might come close to resembling traditional Italian pasta, others are sad excuses for the good stuff. We at HuffPost Taste tried out eight varieties that people are eating as alternatives to pasta with durum wheat flour. While each type of pasta may boast its own health benefits, we focused on taste.

It turns out that while certain grains might be all the rage (ahem, quinoa), they might not work so well as pasta. Overall, pasta with alternative grains isn't so bad, and might actually be preferable, depending on how you approach it. Like a lot of foods people often deem as "substitutes" -- i.e.) eating a veggie burger instead of a beef burger or kale chips instead of potato chips -- alternative grain pasta is best when you don't compare it to the durum wheat kind. If you appreciate the pasta you've chosen as unique, instead of as a replacement for traditional Italian pasta, you'll probably enjoy it a whole lot more.

Here's how eight alternative grain pastas stacked up.

PHOTO GALLERY
Alternative Grain Pasta

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