I recently received some free samples of a new brand of whole grain pasta, with a request to review the product. Having read through the promotional literature, exchanged emails with the company’s nutrition scientists, and cooked some up to taste, here’s my take.
At a Glance
Jovial einkorn pasta is a 100% organic whole grain pasta produced in Italy.It comes in a variety of shapes (spaghetti, penne, etc.) and is nut-brown in color. Here’s the Nutrition Facts label for einkorn spaghetti:
The Company Line
According to the company, einkorn was the first domesticated species of wheat but was eventually replaced by other hybrids that produced higher yields. This “purest, most ancient species of wheat” is promoted as being lower in starch and higher in protein and fiber than regular wheat. It’s also said to have higher levels of thiamin, lutein, vitamin E, and many other nutrients.
The Reality Check
Comparing the einkorn pasta with regular whole wheat (durum) pasta, einkorn is about 30% higher in protein and a bit lower in carbohydrates. (Fiber was similar.) In that sense, Einkorn is comparable to pastas like Barilla Plus or Ronzoni Healthy Harvest–although these pastas add pea flour and other ingredients to boost the fiber and protein content whereas the einkorn comes by it naturally!
The einkorn pasta is also anywhere from 20 to 80% higher in various other nutrients like iron, thiamin, zinc, and riboflavin. However, pasta is not a significant dietary source of most of these nutrients. For example, while the einkorn contains 25% more magnesium than regular whole wheat, it still only provides about 15% of your daily requirement.
So, compared with other grains, einkorn does appear to be toward the top of the heap. However, grains (and pasta) are not particularly nutrient-dense foods.
The Taste Test
I liked it! When cooked al dente, the einkorn pasta has a nice, well-rounded flavor and excellent texture–none of the mealiness, heaviness, or that slight sweetness than can sometimes mar whole-wheat pasta. As with any pasta, cooking it in salt water improves the flavor and overcooking it ruins the texture.
Pricing and Availability
It’s pricey. Expect to pay between $2.50 and $3.50 for a 12 ounce package. You’re most likely to find einkorn pasta in whole foods and health food stores. The Jovial website includes a store locator You can also buy it on Amazon.
The Bottom Line
Einkorn pasta offers significantly more nutrition than regular pasta with no compromise in terms of taste or texture. Compared with other whole-grain and protein-enriched pastas, the nutritional advantages are not as dramatic. Whether or not this pasta is worth the premium price will probably depend on how compelling you find the whole “ancient wheat” back story.