MARIETTA - Following more than two years of testing and work, Rossi Pasta has made a full line of gluten-free products available to those who need and want it.
"Gluten-free is a trend in pasta and pizza because of the number of people allergic to wheat protein as well as the larger number of people who have chosen to limit or completely cut out foods with gluten because they can," said Steve Keiser, vice president of Rossi Pasta.
Roughly one in 100 Americans is allergic to gluten and suffers from celiac disease, of which the only tried and true solution is a complete avoidance of foods containing gluten, Keiser said.
Photo by Jolene Craig
Steve Keiser, vice president of Rossi Pasta, poses with the company’s latest line of gluten-free Vino Rosso Radiatore pasta in the 106 Front St., Marietta, store.
While some people genuinely cannot digest the plant protein, about 20 percent of the population has adopted the gluten-free lifestyle in hopes of living healthier and more comfortably.
"In eating a gluten-free diet, pasta and pizza are two of the first items to go on the 'never eat' list and when I talk to those people, they always talk about how much they miss those foods most," Keiser said. "With these new gluten-free pastas and pizza crust, I hope those people can enjoy pasta again."
Gluten is a protein found in wheat products, including flour, that helps give foods such as pasta, pizza crust and bread a chewy texture that is unique to these products, especially pasta.
"We have been working on the recipe for the gluten-free pasta and pizza crust for almost two years," Keiser said. "It was very challenging to develop both product lines because we had to get the texture just right, which meant we had to experiment with different ingredients that are not typically found in pasta."
Those new-to-Rossi Pasta ingredients include grain flours made from white and brown rice as well as other plants, including quinoa to replace the wheat flour while trying to maintain the traditional pasta texture, Keiser said.
"With pasta, it is almost as much about the texture as it is about the flavor," he said.
The first two flavors of the gluten-free pasta from the local company were rolled out to little or no fanfare in 2012 and now, with the completion of the dedicated gluten-free manufacturing facility, the line has grown to eight flavors.
The new facility is dedicated to making only gluten-free products on machines imported from Italy. This production facility not only enables Rossi Pasta to increase production of gluten-free products, but also prevent cross-contamination.
"Before, to make the gluten-free pasta, we had to completely clean and disinfect the entire manufacturing facility and, even then, our traditional pasta machines are not made to make gluten-free pasta," Keiser said. "With the new dedicated facility, we don't have to worry about the pasta breaking or having to clean the machines every time we want to make a new batch of something different."
Rossi Pasta has made Italian gourmet foods for more than 30 years with product lines that include pastas, pizza dough mixes, bread dough mixes and pasta sauce that include the finest, freshest all-natural ingredients available, Keiser said.
These gluten-free pasta and pizza dough flavors include Classic Radiatore, Tomato Basil Radiatore, Spinach Basil Radiatore, Vino Rosso Radiatore, Garlic! Radiatore, Italian Spice Radiatore, Shiitake Mushroom Radiatore, Radiatore Trio, Classic Pizza Dough Mix, Italian Herb Pizza Dough Mix and Spinach Pizza Dough Mix.
"We spent almost two years developing and testing these gluten-free pastas so we can say they are truly the highest quality possible," Keiser said. "We refused to cut corners and the proof is in the pasta with the modern flavor and as close to traditional textures as possible."