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To ditch wheat, new pasta brands sub beans, quinoa

Posted July 4

Thinking of trying out a new kind of pasta salad for your cookout? Maybe one made from something other than typical wheat pasta?

There's a new twist on pasta as new brands are ditching wheat, but the question is: How do they taste? Consumer Reports tested 13 to find the answer.

"We tried several varieties of each—black bean, red lentil, chickpea, and quinoa blends," said Consumer Reports' Amy Keating.

Overall, the carb count is similar to regular pasta. But they are a good source of fiber.

As for texture, Keating said most of the brands weren't quite the same as wheat pasta.

"A really good regular pasta shouldn't be mushy, crumbly or rubbery, but most of these fell short of that ideal, but could be improved as part of a recipe," Keating said.

Trader Joe's Organic Black Bean Rotini has a good black bean flavor, but on its own it had a slightly mushy, chalky texture. Use it in salad to minimize some of the texture and flavor issues. One cup has about 15 grams of fiber.

The top chickpea version is Explore Cuisine's Organic Chickpea Fusilli, which had good scores for nutrition, a slightly starchy, bean-like flavor and a chewy texture.

Testers also rated Ancient Harvest POW Red Lentil Rotini as "very good." Consumer Reports says it goes well with red sauce or a mixture of roasted veggies and some cheese.

They're a reasonable way to add a little healthier pizazz to your pasta recipe. But be sure to not overcook these pastas because they can get mushy very quickly.

— Black Bean Rotini with Corn, Avocado and Tomatoes

  • Cook a 12 ounce package of Trader Joe's Organic Black Bean Rotini according to package directions. Drain and place in a large bowl.
  • Combine pasta with 1 cup frozen corn kernels, defrosted, 1 chopped red pepper, 2 chopped fresh tomatoes, ½ chopped small red onion, 1 chopped avocado.
  • In a small bowl, combine ¼ cup fresh lime juice, 1/3 cup olive oil, ½ teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper. Pour over ingredients; toss. Top with 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro. - Makes 6 servings

— Chickpea Fusilli

  • Cook an 8 ounce package of Explore Organic Chickpea Fusilli according to package directions. Drain and place in a large bowl.
  • Toss with ¼ cup olive oil; sprinkle with ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese and 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley. - Makes 4 servings

— Red Lentil Rotini with Roasted Cauliflower and Spinach

  • Heat oven to 425. Toss ½ head cauliflower, trimmed and cut into florets, 3 tablespoons olive oil, 1 pint grape tomatoes and ¼ teaspoon each salt and black pepper on a rimmed sheet pan and roast for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. During the last 5 minutes of cooking time, add 2 cloves of garlic, sliced.
  • Cook an 8 ounce package of Ancient Harvest POW! Red Lentil Rotini according to package directions. Drain pasta, reserving 1 cup pasta water and return to pot.
  • Stir in cauliflower mixture, 5 ounces of baby spinach, ½ cup grated asiago cheese and enough pasta water to moisten. - Makes 4 servings)

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