Semolina: The Not-So-Secret Reason our Pasta Recipe is So Great!

Semolina Wheat

Nicola’s Marketplace wouldn’t exist without semolina flour! Semolina is the base for the fresh pasta that Nicola first made with his nonna, then learned more about in Italy, and now makes for you to enjoy with your family. It’s a unique flour with characteristics that make it perfect for crafting amazing pasta. 

What is Semolina Flour?

Semolina flour is flour made from Durum wheat. Durum wheat is a variety that makes up 5-8% of the wheat grown every year across the world. It’s a ‘hard wheat,’ which means that the wheat contains high levels of protein and gluten. Once the wheat has been milled into flour, it’s known as semolina. 

Semolina flour is generally coarser than all purpose flour with a rich yellow color. It looks similar to cornmeal. The flour has a sweet and nutty flavor and more of an earthy smell than all purpose. 

What are the Health Benefits of Semolina Flour? 

Semolina is an especially healthy flour, which makes our pasta a nutritious addition to your diet. 

The flour is rich in both protein and fiber. A single serving contains 7 grams of protein and 7% of your recommended daily intake of fiber. 

The protein helps keep you full, improve muscle mass, and generally maintain a healthy body composition. The fiber supports heart health, feelings of fullness, and digestion. Though semolina is high in gluten, the benefits of the fiber help to improve digestive health overall by encouraging the growth of friendly gut bacteria.

Furthermore, semolina flour contains B vitamins and iron, which contribute to improved health in a variety of ways including supporting the conversion of food into energy and blood sugar control (1). 

Sardinia, Italy is a blue zone, which means that it has an unusually high number of centenarians, people who are 100 years old or older, per capita.

The diet of these Sardinians is 47% whole grains (2), and presumably many of those come in the form of semolina flour in pasta. We aren’t saying semolina will make you live to 100, but we aren’t saying it won’t…

Why do we use Semolina in our pasta recipe? 

It’s the high protein and gluten content that makes semolina flour perfect for making pasta. Gluten makes for a less sticky and more elastic dough that holds its shape when cooked. 

Semolina is the reason that our radiatori holds sauce so well in all of its ridges! Eccome! 

The nutty flavor of semolina flour is also integral to the pasta process. Our pasta tastes like much more than the sum of its parts (flour, egg, water) because the flour is so flavorful. 

But we don’t use just any flour. Nicola’s pasta and ravioli are made with organic, unbleached semolina flour direct from Italy.

Why is Italian Semolina flour better?

At Nicola’s we like to source our ingredients as locally as possible, but we also need them to be the best ingredients we can get. While we would love to use a local flour, there just aren’t any around that are as good as what Chef Nicola had in Italy. 

Much of the flour in the United States is treated with bleaching agents, aging agents, and even benzoyl peroxide solutions to make it a homogenous product for cooking (3). That’s a whole lot of chemicals going into what should be a very simple product.  In Italy, flour can only be 100% wheat. It’s more pure, which makes for better pasta. 

Even more specifically, we purchase organic Italian semolina. This means that in addition to no chemicals added during the processing of the wheat, there are also no chemicals involved in growing it. And, since wheat cannot be bioengineered, you don’t need to worry about GMOS in our pasta process. 

The Italian semolina from Molino Grassi enables us to make the best pasta possible. The farmers that Molino Grassi works with use all organic growing practices to raise durum wheat. The wheat is then simply milled and bagged. No additives, no bleaching, just pure semolina flour. 

Pasta isn’t pasta without semolina flour. And Nicola’s Marketplace isn’t Nicola’s Marketplace without pasta. That’s why we put so much care into finding the very best semolina flour with which to make our signature products. Want to judge whether we succeeded for yourself? Place a pasta order and let us know what you think! Grazie! 


Sources

  1. “What Is Semolina Flour? Everything You Need to Know,” healthline, https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/semolina#bottom-line
  2. “Sardinia, Italy,” Blue Zones, 2008, https://www.bluezones.com/exploration/sardinia-italy/
  3. Elise Wanger Zell, “Is Italian flour really better for you?,” The CookBook for all, Feb. 5, 2021, https://medium.com/the-cookbook-for-all/is-italian-flour-really-better-part-2-95239e34624.