Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Review and Giveaway!

My beautiful box of Mara's Pasta!
Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to receive a box of Mara's Pasta for review, and I accepted with a joyful squee. I have wanted to try Mara's Pasta for some time now, and with money being tight, I hadn't been able to. Being chosen to be a reviewer was amazing and wonderful!

Even the box is pretty
I have decided to draw out my review into three posts, since I was sent three types of pasta to taste: spaghetti (today's post), linguine (later this week), and farfalle (next week). I am also doing a taste comparison with some of hubby's home-made whole wheat pasta. He upped the ante for this first taste test, as well, creating not only a whole wheat pasta comparable to Mara's, but a tomato-basil pasta as well. He was determined to "win" the contest and be declared the most tasty pasta in the house.

Spaghetti, a la Mara
The first challenge was with Mara's spaghetti, topped with a cheater's sauce (a jar of organic spaghetti sauce spiced up and with browned sausage meat added). Mara's pasta comes in a plain brown box, and inside the box is a plastic wrapper to keep the pasta together. A couple of pieces were broken, but that was it. Compared to store-bought spaghetti, it was in much nicer condition. I liked the plain box, and I appreciated the simplicity of the ingredients list.

Ingredients: whole wheat
As you can see, Mara's Pasta is made with 100% whole wheat flour, and nothing more. It's a very dark colored pasta, with a smooth, silky texture when dry. When I opened the box, there was a slight scent of whole wheat, but nothing overpowering. The pasta looks extruded (meaning it was pushed out of a pasta machine as opposed to cutting it), but beside my store bought white spaghetti it looked rustic and much more tasty. It was also a lot smoother than the pasta that hubby made, as his is cut and not extruded.

The three contenders
Hubby's whole wheat pasta was made with home ground flour (we buy wheat berries and grind our own) and egg, and the tomato pasta was home ground flour, egg, and tomato-basil powder we made over the summer from our own tomatoes. Our wheat is hard white winter and grinds up quite fine. We use it in pastas and breads and doughs of all kinds, sometimes alone and sometimes in conjunction with store bought all purpose flour or "better for bread" type flours, depending on what we're making.

The tomato-basil pasta
We had two children (our 7 year old twins) and four adults doing our taste testing for this challenge. Among the adults, the tomato-basil was the clear winner, but we also considered it slightly a cheat since it was up against a plain pasta. Hubby did manage to pull off a rather lovely, smooth pasta. He mixed together spaghetti and linguine shapes because of issues with his manual pasta machine, but the flavor was pretty good. Surprisingly, while the children didn't dislike it, their favorite was the Mara's Pasta!

Mara's spaghetti
Mara's spaghetti was smoother and cooked much more evenly. I over-cooked it slightly, so if you like your pasta el dente, try it at eight minutes rather than the suggested ten. There was absolutely no clumping in this spaghetti, which was nice. I didn't stir it over-much, because I wanted to see how it performed. Hubby's spaghetti did clump a bit (the plain whole wheat one a lot), despite dedicated stirring and attempts to keep it separated. The Mara's spaghetti was also more evenly sized, and fatter than hubby's. It held the sauce well, though didn't absorb it like some pastas do.

Hubby's plain wheat pasta
The plain wheat home made pasta came last for everyone, mostly because of the clumping. Usually when we make pasta at home, we cut it and boil it right away. In an attempt to make our little contest a bit more fair, we decided to dry hubby's pasta overnight, and it was not properly separated on the drying rack. The kids didn't like it at all, and we adults were not over-fond of it either. I suspect if it had been less clumped we would have enjoyed it more.

Spaghettis with sauce
I've never been big on commercial whole wheat pastas. They always have a gritty texture to me, and sometimes the wheat flavor is overwhelming. This was not true of Mara's pasta, at all! The texture was very close to white pasta, but without the mushiness and nasty ingredients. I will definitely buy more of the Mara's pasta for those nights when we're not in the mood for or don't have time for making our own. Even our resident "white bread lover" was fine with the Mara's pasta, and that's a huge win in our family. Normally she puts up with our healthy whole grains, but her opinion of Mara's spaghetti was that she'd readily eat it again.

Mara's Pasta can be found in the following places:
Mara's Pasta Home Page: http://www.maraspasta.com/

Mara's Pasta Online Store: http://www.maraspasta.com/products-page/
Mara's Pasta email subscription: http://bit.ly/TdMwfX
Mara's Pasta Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/MarasPasta

Mara's Pasta Twitter page: https://twitter.com/#!/MarasPasta 
Mara’s Pasta Pinterest board: http://pinterest.com/maraspasta/
The giftbox you may win (1)
Now, what you've all been waiting for: the giveaway! Mara's has agreed to give a box of pasta to one lucky winner. To enter the contest, follow the Rafflecopter rules below. The winner will be required to provide me with their email address, name, and mailing address (no P.O. Boxes, sorry), which will allow us to send you the pasta. I heartily suggest you enter, because this pasta is delicious!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: Mara's Pasta provided me with a free sample of this product to review, and I was under no obligation to review it if I so chose. Nor was I under any obligation to write a positive review or sponsor a product giveaway in return for the free product.

This post was shared at the Homestead Barn Hop #96 (click here to enter).

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1) Image courtesy of Mara's Pasta