Best Plant Based Pastas: A Guide for Beginners
You’re craving pasta but want to skip the meat sauce. Good news – plant based pastas have come a long way. Gone are the days of limp noodles and bland flavors. Whether you’re vegan, vegetarian or just want to add more veggies to your diet, plant based pastas can satisfy.
This guide will walk you through the best options on the market so you can dive into a bowl of pasta packed with flavor and nutrition. From chickpea pasta with a creamy cashew alfredo to black bean pasta with a spicy arrabbiata, plant based pastas are versatile, delicious and better for you and the planet. Get ready to slurp – your new favorite pasta is waiting.
Plant Based Pasta 101: What You Need to Know
So you want to give plant based pasta a try but don’t know where to start? No worries, we’ve got you covered. Here’s everything you need to know to become a pro at plant-based noodles.
First, let’s talk ingredients. The most common are made from vegetables like zucchini, carrots and beets, as well as grains like brown rice, quinoa and corn. These provide more nutrients than regular pasta. Gluten-free options are also available for those with sensitivities.
Boiling the pasta according to package directions is typically the easiest approach. However, some vegetable-based pastas are more delicate, so keep an eye on them to avoid overcooking. You can also sauté the pasta with some olive oil, veggies and herbs for extra flavor before tossing with your favorite sauce.
Hearty tomato or nut-based sauces pair excellently with most plant based pastas. Creamy cashew or coconut-based sauces are also great for adding richness without the dairy. For extra nutrition, make your own sauce with fresh or sun-dried tomatoes, basil and olive oil.
Most plant based pastas have a shorter shelf life, so check the ‘use by’ date and store unopened packages in a cool, dry spot. Cooked pasta can be refrigerated for 3 to 5 days. Reheat thoroughly before serving.
Following these tips will set you up for plant based pasta success. From zucchini zoodles to quinoa spaghetti, you’ll be whipping up delicious, nutritious noodle dishes in no time!
The Nutritional Benefits of Plant Based Pasta
Plant based pasta has some nutritional benefits that traditional pasta lacks. For starters, it’s packed with fiber which aids digestion and helps keep you feeling full. Most varieties have at least twice the amount of fiber as regular pasta.
Another benefit is that plant based pasta is cholesterol-free. It’s made from ingredients like rice, beans, lentils or vegetables so it won’t raise your cholesterol the way egg pasta can.
Plant based pasta is also usually gluten-free which is good news if you have a gluten sensitivity or Celiac disease. Gluten-free diets have been linked to some health benefits like improved cholesterol levels, better digestive health and reduced inflammation in the body.
Minerals like iron, magnesium and potassium tend to be more abundant in plant based pasta versus regular pasta. These minerals play important roles in blood health, bone health, metabolism and various other functions.
Finally, plant based pasta tends to be more nutritious overall. Ingredients like chickpeas, red lentils and spinach provide protein, healthy fats and various vitamins and antioxidants. When you consider all the nutritional benefits, plant-based pasta is really the smarter choice.
So next time you’re craving pasta, skip the semolina and opt for a nutritious, plant-based alternative instead. Your body and taste buds will thank you!
Gluten-Free and Nutrient-Dense: Why Plant Based Pasta Trumps Traditional Pasta
Plant-based pasta is a nutritious alternative to traditional wheat pasta. Here are a few reasons why you should give it a try:
For those with gluten sensitivity or celiac disease, plant based pasta is a great option. Made from ingredients like rice, corn, quinoa, and chickpeas, these pastas are naturally gluten-free so you can enjoy your favorite pasta dishes again.
It’s more nutritious.
Compared to regular pasta, plant based varieties tend to be more nutritious. For example, chickpea pasta contains double the protein and four times the fiber of wheat pasta. Red lentil pasta is also high in protein and iron. Quinoa pasta and rice pasta provide magnesium, potassium and various B vitamins. With all these extra nutrients, plant-based pasta can be part of a balanced diet.
It’s sustainable and eco-friendly.
If environmental impact is a concern of yours, plant based pasta is the sustainable choice. Rice, corn and legumes require fewer resources to produce compared to wheat. They are also often grown organically using environmentally-friendly practices. By choosing plant-based pasta, you are supporting sustainable agriculture and making a difference with your dollar.
The variety of plant based pasta options makes it easy to find one that suits your tastes, health needs and values. Give rice pasta, chickpea pasta or red lentil pasta a try in your favorite recipes. Your body and the planet will thank you! Switching to plant-based pasta is an simple way to eat healthier and more sustainably.
Cooking Plant Based Pasta: Tips and Tricks for Perfect Al Dente Pasta Every Time
When cooking plant based pasta, there are a few tips to keep in mind for perfect al dente pasta every time.
First, use plenty of boiling salted water. The more water, the better the pasta will move around and not stick together. Add about 1 tablespoon of salt for every 4 quarts of water. The salt will also add flavor to the pasta.
Second, don’t add oil to the water. Oil will prevent the sauce from sticking to the pasta.
Third, stir the pasta immediately after adding it to the boiling water to prevent it from sticking. Check the pasta for doneness by tasting it. The pasta should still have a slight bite to it, known as “al dente.” Drain the pasta before it’s fully soft.
Finally, save some of the pasta water before draining. The starchy water helps create a creamy sauce when you toss the pasta with the sauce. Add the pasta directly to the sauce immediately after draining, then toss to coat, adding a splash of the reserved pasta water as needed to create a creamy consistency.
Some other useful tips:
• Undercook the pasta by 2 minutes to account for carry-over cooking after draining. The pasta will continue to soften a bit after draining due to residual heat.
• Rinse the pasta briefly under hot running water after draining to remove excess starch and prevent sticking. Make sure to drain thoroughly after rinsing.
• For extra flavor, toast nut-based pastas like cashew- or lentil-based pasta in a dry skillet before boiling. This enhances the nutty flavor.
• Pair hearty pasta shapes like penne, rigatoni and ziti with chunky sauces. Long strands like spaghetti and linguine work best with smooth sauces that can coat the strands.
• Don’t forget to stir and toss the pasta frequently while it’s cooking to prevent uneven cooking. Constant stirring and tossing is key!
Following these tips will ensure your plant-based pasta turns out perfectly al dente every time. Buon appetito!
10 Easy and Delicious Plant Based Pasta Recipes to Try Tonight
When you want a hearty, delicious pasta dish but don’t want the heaviness of traditional pasta, plant based pastas are a great option. Here are 10 easy recipes to try tonight:
Spaghetti Squash Bolognese
Spaghetti squash is a natural pasta replacement. To make, cut a squash in half, scoop out the seeds and roast cut-side down until tender. Use a fork to scrape out spaghetti-like strands. Toss with your favorite Bolognese sauce and vegan parmesan cheese.
Zucchini Noodles with Pesto
Spiralize zucchini into long noodles and toss with fresh basil pesto. Add chickpeas for protein and top with pine nuts.
Banana Blossom Pad Thai
Banana blossoms have a neutral flavor and chewy texture similar to rice noodles. Stir fry them with tofu, bean sprouts and a tangy tamarind pad thai sauce.
Carrot Fettuccine Alfredo
Spiralized carrots make a great fettuccine alternative. Toss with a creamy alfredo sauce made from blended cashews, nutritional yeast and garlic.
Black Bean Pasta with Avocado Crema
Protein-packed black bean pasta pairs well with a creamy avocado sauce. Blend avocados, lime juice and spices to make the crema.
Mushroom Carbonara with Konjac Noodles
Konjac noodles have almost no calories but lots of chew. Sauté mushrooms and toss with konjac noodles, plant-based bacon, nutritional yeast, and a garlicky cashew cream sauce.
Chickpea Pasta Primavera
Toss chickpea pasta with fresh spring vegetables like asparagus, peas, tomatoes and basil in a light lemon olive oil dressing.
Beetroot Pappardelle with Walnut Pesto
Spiralized beetroot makes stunning pappardelle. Toss with a walnut pesto for a dramatic dish.
Edamame Spaghetti with Miso Peanut Sauce
Edamame spaghetti has 25 grams of protein per serving. Dress it in a miso peanut sauce with bell peppers, cabbage and scallions.
Pumpkin Gnocchi with Sage Butter
Blend cooked pumpkin, flour and spices to make pillowy gnocchi dumplings. Pan-fry in vegan butter with fresh sage leaves.
Plant Based Pasta FAQs: Answering Your Questions
A plant based diet can absolutely include pasta. Here are some common questions about pasta and plant-based eating answered:
Is pasta vegan? Most basic pasta shapes like spaghetti, penne and macaroni are made from semolina flour and water, so they are naturally vegan. However, some pasta varieties do contain eggs, such as fettuccine alfredo or fresh pasta. Check the ingredients to be sure.
Is plant-based pasta healthier? Pasta made from alternative grains like chickpea flour, quinoa, buckwheat or brown rice flour tend to be higher in protein and fiber compared to regular wheat pasta. They also typically have fewer carbs. So if health is a concern, these options may have a slight nutritional edge. However, wheat pasta can absolutely be part of a balanced plant-based diet. Moderation is key.
What are some plant based pasta alternatives? Some popular options include:
- Chickpea pasta: Made from chickpea flour, high in protein and gluten-free. Brands like Banza and Tolerant Foods offer chickpea pasta.
- Quinoa pasta: Made from quinoa flour, also high in protein and gluten-free. Ancient Harvest and DeLallo offer quinoa pasta varieties.
- Brown rice pasta: Made from whole grain brown rice flour, high in fiber and gluten-free. Tinkyada and DeLallo are popular brown rice pasta brands.
- Vegetable-based: Some brands like Explore Cuisine and Thrive Market offer pasta made from spinach, tomato, beetroot and zucchini. These tend to be nutritionally dense but more expensive.
- Whole wheat pasta: Made from whole wheat flour, this option is high in fiber but contains gluten. Whole wheat pasta from Barilla and DeLallo are widely available.
In the end, the best plant based pasta for you depends on your needs, priorities and personal preferences. With so many options to choose from, you can easily find a pasta to suit your tastes and values. Buon appetito!
So there you have it, a quick guide to some of the best plant based pasta options out there. Whether you’re looking to eat more veggies, reduce your carbon footprint or just try something new, making the switch to plant based pasta is an easy and delicious change you can make. With so many varieties to choose from, you’ll never get bored. Next time you’re craving a bowl of pasta, skip the standard semolina and opt for a plant-based alternative instead. Your taste buds and the planet will thank you. Buon appetito!