Red fife wheat pasta to the carb craving rescue

Posted Jan 8th, 2012

Red fife wheat pasta to the carb craving rescue

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Carb cravings are a killer.

At this time of year, they're almost insatiable. Pasta, breads, a roti from the market chock full of potatoes and chickpeas.

I want them. I eat them. Then, depending on how much willpower I have in those moments of chowing down, I wind up in what feels like a carb-induced coma. Blissful. Sleepy. And maybe a little bloated.

When it comes to using pasta to satisfy my need for carbs, I buy it in the supermarket or a local Italian grocery where it's made fresh. I've never tried my hand at making pasta. Instead, it's on my list of things to do before I die. In my world, making pasta is daunting enough for me and my all-thumbs ways to have it join making a quilt and knitting a scarf on my bucket list check-off.

Problem is, finding local pasta is like searching for that proverbial needle in the haystack (albeit a locally grown, non-GMO one, I'm sure). It's out there but strangely enough, if you want it, you have to travel to markets in Toronto to find it. There, at the St. Lawrence Market and Wychwood Barns, you can buy plastic containers packed with red fife wheat noodles bearing the bright green Moyer Rowe Family Farms label.

Some of that red fife wheat, a heritage variety of grain born and bred by Peterborough farmer David Fife in 1842 and once on the brink of extinction, is grown right here in Niagara by Vineland farmer Paul Moyer and pasta business partner John Rowe. The duo also harvest some of the grain in Guelph.

Red fife wheat grains

Red fife wheat is Canada's oldest wheat and it's currently enjoying a renaissance, thanks to an interpreter at a historic grist mill in BC, who wanted it to enjoy commercial success again. More than 100 years after it fell from favour for newer, pest resistant varieties, red fife is being recognized once more as the miller's and baker's dream it is.

Moyer is the ultimate entrepreneur and inventor, the wheels always turning to improve upon what he's already doing or dream up his next food product. I first met him about three years ago when I interviewed him about his spot on the CBC's Dragon's Den where he was one of the lucky few to get the support — and financial backing — of some of Canada's most successful and entertaining business minds for his candy apple business.

Ever since Moyer got into the pasta business two years ago with just three acres of wheat and a pasta machine in his garage, I've been curious to try his latest creation but hard-pressed to find it anywhere. Given the limited number of places it's available, I know why (and keep my fingers crossed I'll see this Niagara pasta here in Niagara).

Still, I finally got to try to some this week, satisfying a calling for carbs and a long-standing desire to fuel up on these ones in particular.

Did I mention I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I'll be able to one day find this pasta here? Local connection aside, it kicks butt.

Brown in colour — a deeper shade than the tawny whole wheat noodles churned out by the behemoth labels that line store shelves — it has a stronger flavour than regular white pasta. It doesn't taste much different than the store bought whole wheat varieties but it's more substantial. It has heft and body.

It's chewy with the flecks of wheat felt and tasted in every bite, but not unbearably gritty.

And unlike regular pasta, it doesn't get mushy. I cooked it al dente — though I think you'd have to cook it a really long time to get anything but — and topped it with Marinelli's arrabiatta sauce (made in Niagara Falls), thinking a sauce with bite would hold its own on pasta with a bit of bite, too. But the real test of my rigatoni's worthiness came the next day when I ate the leftovers for lunch.

Usually, my day-old pasta is soft, virtually disintegrating with every bite but my red fife wheat pasta tasted even better than it did fresh out of its boiling water bath. Perfect texture. Chewy but less gritty.

And most importantly, really tasty.

Carb craving curbed.

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