If you looked into our pantry, you might assume we have a bit of an obsession with pasta. You would be absolutely correct. Currently, we have no less than 7 different types of pasta ranging from basic whole wheat penne to brown rice noodles to tiger paw shaped, just waiting for football season.
We eat pasta at least once a week. Part of my pasta obsession stems from my many happy childhood memories of it – spaghetti with butter and parmesan during my picky eating phase…my grandma’s macaroni and cheese with a super crispy crust…cooking my first meal of spaghetti and meatballs. There’s also the practicality of pasta dinners. It’s easy to create delicious pasta dinner in less than 30 minutes and with so many healthy recipes, it’s impossible to get bored.
Hopefully, you haven’t been needlessly avoiding pasta with an Atkins style mentality because there are so many healthy pasta options. But alongside those nutritious options are more than a few imposters.
100 % WHOLE WHEAT OR 100% WHOLE GRAIN // The easiest to find and least expensive whole grain option. Whole grain pasta has a nutty flavor that works well in most pasta dishes, especially with rich tomato sauces, beans and pesto.
QUINOA PASTA // The tastiest of the gluten free options in my opinion. It tastes pretty similar to whole wheat pasta, but has a nuttier flavor and more texture. Just like quinoa the grain, quinoa pasta is high in protein and healthy fats.
BROWN RICE NOODLES // Rice noodles are commonly used in Asian cuisine. I often serve stir fries on a bed of brown rice noodles tossed with sesame oil, sesame seeds and scallions or made a noodle salad. I prefer the texture of brown rice noodles sold in the Asian foods section. For some reason the brown rice (and white rice) pastas sold in the gluten-free aisle have a grainy texture.
WHOLE GRAIN SPELT PASTA // Because spelt flour tastes so similar to white flour, this is a great alternative for those who don’t like the taste of whole wheat pasta. Make sure it is made with a whole grain spelt flour, otherwise, it’s no healthier than regular white pasta.
SOBA NOODLES // Another great choice for Asian dishes. Look for soba noodles that say 100% whole grain or made with only buckwheat flour. Buckwheat flour has a very earthy flavor, similar to rye. I love it, but it definitely does not taste like regular pasta. Soba noodles are chewy and thicker. Try them in a soup or one of Scott’s favorite dishes, soba noodles topped with grilled tofu and a spicy chili sauce.
WHITE PASTA // Certainly, it’s totally worth a splurge every once and awhile, especially if it’s delicious fresh homemade pasta. But for the most part, limit it. The semolina or enriched white flour used to make this pasta may not taste sweet, but it effects your blood sugar almost the same way as table sugar.
ENRICHED/REFINED GLUTEN FREE PASTA // Although gluten-free rocks a major health halo, most gluten free pastas are made with refined grains, usually white rice flour, which is no better than enriched wheat flour. If you’re not sure, check the ingredients list.
VEGETABLE FLAVORED PASTA // It has spinach in it, so it has to be healthy, right?? Unfortunately, vegetable flavored pastas have very little vegetable in them. The color comes from a bit of dried vegetable powder thats added to white flour. Sorry guys, but not the same thing as eating an actual vegetable.
FIBER PLUS OR WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR // These guys are sneaky. They’re marketed as a healthy choice, but more often than not, it’s made with enriched flour fortified with fiber or a blend of white and whole wheat flour.
- ⅓-1/2 cup your favorite pesto, jarred or homemade
- 12 ounces 100% whole grain lasagna noodles, broken into 1 inch pieces
- 1 bunch of arugula, rinsed and roughly chopped
- 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 8 ounces mushrooms of choice, sliced
- 4 medium radishes, cut in half and sliced
- Parmesan cheese
- Bring large pot of salted water to a boil on medium-high heat. Cook lasagna noodles according to directions until al dente. Drain.
- Meanwhile, heat oil in a medium skillet on medium heat. Add garlic and saute 30 seconds. Add the mushrooms. Saute until they give off their liquid, about 5 minutes. Continue cooking until the pan is dry, another 5 minutes.
- Toss the broken lasagna with the pesto, sauteed mushrooms, radish and arugula. Season with black pepper. Serve with plenty of parmesan cheese.