You guys, I am almost giddy to share with you my new obsession with plant-powered, high-protein, pastas that are grain-free and taste like the real deal. I normally associate pasta with a heavier meal, and seldom eat pasta because of its lackluster nutritional profile. However, thanks to an innovative wave of new protein-packed pasta products made from chickpeas, lentils, beans and edamame–a healthier and more nutritious pasta now exists. Aside from the high punch of protein, these new legume pastas are also high in fiber and contain potassium and iron. Having a hard time wrapping your head around how pasta can be both delicious and nutritious? Allow me to break down 3 of my favorite brands of these pastas and you’ll soon see why these have quickly become a pantry staple for my family. You’ll also need some recipe inspiration, so I’m sharing a yummy springtime dish that takes under 30 minutes to prepare.

  1. Explore Cuisine

Explore Cuisine tops my list, with a large variety of pastas (fusilli, lasagna, spaghetti, penne), and protein sources (made from beans, chickpeas, or lentils). They also have great taste and texture, and an impressive nutritional profile. For example, the black bean spaghetti has 24 grams of protein and 12 grams of fiber and the organic green lentil penne has 12 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber per serving. They also feature some great recipes on their website, like this high protein caprese pasta salad. ($3.58, Walmart)

  1. Banza

Banza’s pastas are made from chickpeas, and have one of the most impressive nutrient profiles of all of the brands. For example, their chickpea penne has 25 grams of protein and 13 grams of dietary fiber per 3.5 oz serving. Mamas will like that they carry kid-friendly mac and cheese varieties and I also love that they have many choices of pastas to choose from –elbows, wheels, rotini, cavatappi, and more. ($2.99, Target)

  1. Ancient Harvest

With black bean and red and green lentil pasta varieties and over 20 grams of protein per serving, Ancient Harvest Pow! Pasta is another great contender, and worth a try. Their recipes online are drool worthy. I’m planning on making this creamy tomato rosé sauce with protein penne pasta ASAP. Another plus? This brand seems to be the most cost effective per 8 oz. box ($2.50, Target)  

Now that you have the inside scoop on your choices of pasta, here is a recipe of mine to put that pasta to good use! I was inspired by a recipe I found for spring pasta that was much heavier than this, calling for heavy cream and cheese tortellini. Simply swapping out the heavy cream for a dairy-free, protein packed flax milk and using protein pasta in place of the tortellini, and VOILA! – A delicious, nutrient dense meal! Spring is here, and that means some of my favorite green veggies are in season, like asparagus, peas, and spinach. The use of asparagus and peas in this dish is what inspired me to make this, and boy was it good (and hubby approved)! Recipe below. Enjoy friends!

Print Recipe
Spring Protein Packed Penne Pasta
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Pasta
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Asparagus
Pasta
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Pasta
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Asparagus
Pasta
Instructions
Asparagus
  1. Trim the ends off the asparagus and throw away. Cut remaining stalks into 1 inch pieces. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, and spread onto a baking sheet. Broil in the oven until crisp-tender (between 3-6 minutes). Set aside while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
Pasta
  1. Boil a pot of salted water. Add pasta and prepare according to package directions. In the final 2 minutes of cooking time, add the peas. Drain together and return to pot. Add in asparagus and mix together.
The sauce
  1. While the pasta cooks, heat the milk in a small saucepan over medium heat until simmering, making sure to stir regularly. Turn the heat off, add the goat cheese (cut into sections before adding into the pan), along with the butter, stirring well to combined and creamy. Remove from heat.
Finishing the dish
  1. Plate the pasta and vegetables, spooning the cheese sauce over each portion. Top with parsley if desired.