Corn pasta is pasta that has been made from ground corn. It is usually offered as a gluten-free alternative to regular pasta for people who are intolerant or sensitive to gluten. Some people simply use it because they enjoy the flavor and texture, however. Health food stores sometimes carry this pasta, as do major markets that have a gluten-free section. For people who are concerned about gluten in food, it is a good idea to read packages carefully to ensure that they are purchasing a gluten-free product.
Just like regular wheat pasta, corn pasta is made by grinding corn into flour, blending the flour with water, and then rolling it out or extruding it to make pasta shapes. It comes in a range of shapes, including flat cut shapes like linguine and extruded shapes such as corn elbows. This pasta can also be flavored with ingredients like spinach, peppers, or sundried tomatoes, and it can be creamy white to yellow in color, depending on the type of corn used. Some companies also add food coloring to make their pasta yellow, since people associate corn with this color.
Because this pasta lacks gluten, it can fall apart more readily than wheat pasta. It is important for cooks to follow cooking directions carefully and to taste the pasta to ensure that it does not become overcooked, as it can transition from resilient to mushy in less than a minute. Corn pasta is also not very suitable for inclusion in soups for this reason, although it can be added separately at the table.
The flavor is usually relatively mild, and it pairs well with a variety of sauces. Various shapes can be picked out to cater to specific pasta sauces, ranging from cheesy alfredo to chunky meatball sauces. Depending on the recipe, corn pasta can do well in baked dishes: generally it pairs better with dry sauces, rather than soupy ones, and it is a good idea to leave the pasta undercooked so that it will not soften in the oven.
This pasta will keep potentially indefinitely as long as it is stored in cool, dry conditions. People who are trying to eat gluten-free may want to be careful about where they store their pasta and which container they use if they share the house with others. It can help to set up a gluten-free shelf or cabinet in a roommate situation, both to keep food isolated and to ensure that roommates don't accidentally eat gluten-free items and leave someone without anything to make for dinner.