There’s nothing that revs my appetite like a hot, heaping plate of well-tossed, sauce-coated pasta, steaming and at-the-ready for twirling with your dinner fork.
Pasta has been one of my favorite foods since I was a kid. Like many, it was one of the first main entrées I learned to make. It became a go-to whenever it was my turn to dinner. There was no need to ask what our entire apartment ate on the weekly in university. For poor college kids, pasta was and still is a pantry staple.
But as we get older, our metabolisms change and require more fine tuning when it comes to deciding what to dole out on our plates. And pasta is one of those dishes that somehow ends up being categorized under guilty pleasures, simply because of all the refined wheat and high carbohydrate count. On the other hand, whole wheat pasta is a great alternative. It has 3x as much fiber and 25% more protein than regular refined pasta.
But let’s take it one step further: what if you could trade those carbs for protein?
Enter legume pasta.
By: Elizabeth Toy
That’s right, pasta is now made of beans and lentils – a dream come true for anyone who’s gluten-free!
You may or may not have heard about the new legume pasta craze. But it’s here, and it looks like it may become an occasional stand-in (or even a permanent substitute) for your regular pasta.
What’s so great about legume pasta? For one, it packs so much protein and much fewer carbs!
Just one serving of legume-based pasta provides up to 22 grams of protein and 28% of your daily recommendation of iron, as well as considerably more fiber than your regular white pasta.
And if you’re gluten-free like Kimberly, leave your qualms in the bread aisle. Go ahead and raid the shelves at your local health grocer, because in addition to being a great source of protein, this pasta is naturally gluten-free, too.
A few of the many different varieties of legume pasta include: chickpeas, black beans, mung beans, edamame, and lentils all the colors of the rainbow.
How do you cook lentil pasta? Much like you cook regular pasta. Actually, there’s not much you need to do differently to improve your diet with this one. A simple swap to legume pasta makes a world of difference to stave off hunger, encourage your fitness regimen (build muscles), and help you keep an eye on your waistline, if that’s your goal.
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Nonetheless, each pasta made from a different main ingredient has a slightly different taste. According to Cooking Light:
- Chickpea pasta – may have the closest texture and color to traditional wheat pasta. Because chickpeas are so mild in flavor, this pasta would go well in any recipe, whether it’s a tomato sauce or an Asian stir-fry.
- Green lentil pasta – tastes mildly of green lentils and has a softer texture. It’s best in strongly flavorful dishes.
- Red lentil pasta – is more subtle in taste and has a softer texture than regular wheat pasta. Toss into dishes that embrace its bright color.
- Black bean pasta – has a distinct, black bean taste and would go great in or alongside a heartier dish, like the Ultimate Vegan Chili.
- Edamame and Mung Bean Pasta – tastes earthy and has a bouncy tofu-like texture. This goes well with tomato or pesto sauces.
Ready to take the plunge? Try making Half Baked Harvest‘s recipe below!
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 sweet onion, chopped
- 6 cloves garlic, minced or grated
- 1 tablespoon dried basil
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
- kosher salt and pepper
- 1 (28 ounce) can fire roasted tomatoes
- 1/2 cup oil packed sun-dried tomatoes, oil drained & chopped
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 (8 ounce) box red lentil pasta or other short cut pasta
- 2 large handfuls baby spinach or kale
- grated parmesan, nutritional yeast, toasted pine nuts and or seeds, for topping
Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. When the oil shimmers, add the onion and cook until soft and caramelized, about 5-10 minutes. Add the garlic, basil, oregano, turmeric, salt and pepper. Cook for 1 minute or until fragrant.
Slowly add the tomatoes and the juices from the can, crushing the tomatoes with the back of a wooden spoon. Add the sun-dried tomatoes and vinegar. Simmer the sauce for 10-15 minutes or until reduced slightly. If desired, you can puree the sauce in a blender.
Stir in the spinach and cook five minutes longer.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and boil the pasta to al dente according to package directions. Drain.
Divide the pasta among bowls and top with a generous amount of sauce. Top as desired with cheese, nuts and herbs.
Want more on healthy eating? Check out 6 Food Combinations To Fight Cancer.
What changes to your diet have you made to adjust to a changing metabolism? Share with us in the comments below!
Image Sources: HalfBakedHarvest, Pinterest.