Conte’s Pasta Pizza Shells

I haven’t eaten wheat bread in several years, and I honestly don’t even remember what it tastes like, so most of the time, it doesn’t bother me.

But pizza is a different story. I miss pizza. Sometimes, I miss it badly.

Fortunately, there are a lot of GF options for pizza crust. Some of them are quite yummy. Some others, not so much. I’ve never had a GF pizza crust that tasted like the real thing (no matter how much others claim it’s just-as-good).

Pizza dough is one of those things that will never have a perfect GF substitute. Like with bread, gluten is critical to the whole process. But crust is just one component of pizza, so there’s no reason you can’t have a great gluten-free pizza.

My favorite GF pizza crust is a mix that has to be prepared and spread on to a platter. There is a prepared brown rice crust that I like even though it is the least like a glutenous crust I’ve had.

Every now and then, I scour the store looking for alternative prepared pizza crusts to keep in the freezer for those pizza cravings. There’s a cornmeal crust that Whole Foods sells that looks so yummy, but it’s got wheat in it. A couple weeks ago, I came across another cornmeal-ish crust to try – Conte’s Pasta Pizza Shells.

Ingredients: Rice Flour, Water, Corn Starch, Tapioca Dextrin, Non-Fat Dry Milk, Whole Eggs, Sugar, Salt, Xanthan Gum, Baking Powder, Soybean Oil, Yeast.

They’re pretty good. It’s a cornmeal-ish crust, since the main ingredient is rice. But they have some tooth to them without being chewey – provided you bake them a bit before topping (despite being supposedly pre-baked). They also work best when at least partially thawed before baking, even though the instructions suggest you can just top and bake the frozen shells.

(These shells aren’t perfect for me – I’m also allergic to yeast, soy, and rice, so the shells upset my stomach a bit, but that’s usually the price I have to pay to enjoy pizza. Fortunately, I don’t do it often.)

After enjoying the pizza, I looked at the Conte’s Pasta website. And it turns out they have a whole line of GF products, including perogi, ravioli, gnocchi, and pasta. They sell mostly through regional chains, but Whole Foods carries at least some of their products.

They’re a regular pasta company – not a dedicated GF company. But at least they’re recognizing the gluten free market. And while many companies that make both glutenous and GF products have cross-contamination disclaimers that are designed to protect the company, Conte’s Pasta at least recognizes that some of us need more than “this may have wheat in it” with a somewhat reassuring disclaimer:

Good manufacturing practices are used to segregate ingredients in a facility that also processes wheat.

I would prefer that they have a dedicated GF facility, like Bob’s Red Mill or Whole Foods Gluten Free Bakehouse, but that is a big investment. At least acknowledging that they need to take extra steps to avoid making their customers sick eating foods labeled “Gluten Free” is a nice step.


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