Eating gluten-free may just seem like the next trendy diet, but ask anyone with a gluten allergy if the buzz has made it any easier to find delicious, gluten-free foods. Even though gluten-free foods are sprouting rapidly, it can sometimes be difficult to find flavorful, rich alternatives that rival conventional foods–especially in the pasta aisle.
That’s why nine months ago, James Case of Carlsbad started making and selling his wide range of fresh, gluten-free and flavored pastas at San Diego’s farmers markets, including ours in .
After having perfected the recipe for over two years, Case currently carries about 12 to 15 different flavors ranging from roasted garlic, roasted beets, spinach, butternut squash and lemon parsley. His pasta also comes in different varieties like tagliatelle, fusilli, spaghetti, rigatoni and more. Since Case hand makes the pasta in a commercial kitchen himself, however, he can only bring four to five types to each market.
Describing his personal investment in setting out to make gluten-free pastas, Case said, “A family member is gluten-intolerant.” According to him, his product is a necessary variation in the pasta market.
And if there’s anyone who’s up for the task of making a tasty, gluten-free pasta, Case is it. “I was a pasta chef for a few years,” he said. “I’ve been making pasta since I was a kid. I will be the best gluten-free pasta maker around.”
The different flavors make Case’s gluten-free pastas delicious and popular, he said, but so does the texture.
“I’m getting very close to making it as close as I can to original pasta,” Case said. “The durability of semolina flour is what everyone’s used to eating growing up–like the kind in boxes [at supermarkets].”
Since gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye and barley, Case said he sticks to protein-based flours–mostly soy and garbanzo. In addition to those, he also uses a little bit of corn, fava bean and tapioca flours.
The high-protein, low-carbohydrate make-up of his pasta gives it health benefits that even people without gluten allergies can benefit from, Case said. “I’ve noticed I’ve lost some weight eating it,” he said. “I seem to just digest it easier.”
While weight-loss benefits may interest any eater, Case’s pasta also appeals to another group of eaters—vegans. “There’s no eggs in [the pasta] either so it’s vegan friendly,” he said.
Case and several other food companies have developed gluten-free foods in response to a growing population of people who have a gluten allergy or even a small sensitivity. Case attributes this rising number to the increased consumption of processed foods and drive-thru fast foods.
But the beauty of his colorful, flavorful and varied pastas is that they will appeal to everyone. In addition to the health benefits, it’s the flavor, texture and short cooking time (three to five minutes) he’s carefully mastered that will bring people back to his stand. As the wife of an Italian food fanatic who is not allergic to gluten, I can attest this pasta will get the thumbs up from anyone.