There are a lot of things to like about the new varieties of Community Grains pastas.
First, they’re all made from organic whole grain that’s grown and milled in Northern California.
Second, they boast transparency in the process — labeling each box with a code that you can plug into its Web site to find information about the farm that grew the particular wheat, the seed source, type of wheat, soil it was grown in, and not only when it was milled but by what type of mill.
Third, at a time when commodity wheat is grown for high yield and uniformity, the varieties of wheat that make up these pastas are grown for their distinctiveness and flavor. The pastas are made in small batches using Italian bronze dies, then slowly air-dried to enhance the wheat flavor.
And fourth, what flavor it is. While so many supermarket pastas just offer something to put sauce on, these artisan pastas can handle the simplest of toppings because they have enough flavor and character to stand out all on their own.
That’s my verdict, after trying some samples recently.
The pastas come in 10-ounce packages ($5.99 each), smaller than what you might be used to. But whole grain pasta — which includes the germ, bran and endosperm — is more filling. So while you may be used to a pound of regular mass-produced pasta feeding four, you’ll find you can still easily feed four with 10 ounces of Community Grains pastas.
The pastas even look different — boasting a much earthier color. And they come in some fun shapes, too, such as the Creste di Gallo that look like elbow pasta with fancy ruffles. Or the Pipe Rigate that look like teeny ridged elbow pipes.
Plug in the code of the Hard White Winter Wheat Organic Pipe Rigate and you’ll learn that the the patwin grain used in it was grown by farmer Fritz Durst in the Capay Valley. It was harvested in July 2015 and milled in April 2016.
I tossed the cooked pipe rigate with crumbled Italian sausage, onions, kale and cremini mushrooms, and drizzled on some extra virgin olive oil. The pasta, itself, was hearty tasting with a subtle nuttiness from the grain. It definitely made a dish tossed together on a whim into something special.