Yes, it's true! Pasta made from lentils is one of the tastiest and most nutritious gluten-free options for many people. Typically made from red lentils, also known as pulses, lentil pasta is more than just naturally gluten-free … it's also
- rich in dietary fiber (as much as 11 g per serving)
- high in protein (between 14-21 g per 3 oz serving depending on brand)
- a low-glycemic index food
- a great source of calcium, potassium, zinc, and iron.
Lentil pastas are calorie dense (up to 100 calories per oz), so a little goes a long way toward filling your belly. For lunch or dinner, these pastas can be a great meatless meal accompanied by assorted veggies and topped with your choice of sauce or a vinaigrette.
When you cook lentil pasta, the water may appear cloudy. This is due to the starches cooking out of the legumes. Lentil pasta expands as it cooks: be sure to use a large pot with ample water as the water may foam (check instructions) and you want to give your noodles breathing room.
When choosing legume pasta, if affordable, opt for organic varieties. You also want to make sure the brand does not harvest from genetically modified crops (GMO crops), so look for the "NO_GMO" label on the package. Some brands to look for include Tolerant, Modern Table, Pow! And Explore Cuisine.
Gluten-Free Zucchini Pasta Primavera
Primavera! That's Italian for "lightly sauteed springtime vegetables." Traditionally made with a not-so-light creamy cheese sauce, this recipe transforms the dish into a healthier and tastier version. A more delicate cream sauce is created from a base of cashew butter. The combination of Dijon, lemon, chicken broth, garlic and onions combine to yield an aromatic flavor that will delight everyone at your table.
- 2 cups fresh or frozen broccoli florets
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3/4 cup 1/4-inch-thick half-moon slices onion
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cups 1/4-inch-thick sliced white mushrooms
- 1 cup 1/4-inch-thick sliced carrots
- 1 cup 1/4-inch-thick sliced red bell peppers
- 1 cup unsalted chicken broth
- 3 tablespoons cashew butter
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 package of lentil pasta cooked according to package instructions*
Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil. Add the broccoli and cook until bright green, tender-crisp and slightly undercooked, 2 minutes. Drain and set aside.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms, carrots and peppers, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the carrots are fork tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Combine with the broccoli.
*Prepare the pasta in a separate pot
Bring the chicken broth to a boil in a medium saucepan; immediately reduce the heat to low and whisk in the cashew butter until the mixture is smooth. Stir in 1 teaspoon of the lemon juice and the mustard, and season with salt and pepper. Gently toss with the vegetables.
Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over high heat; add the zucchini and cook, stirring occasionally, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the remaining 1 teaspoon lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.
Serve the the pasta on plates or large bowls topped with veggies and sauce mixture.
*Do not prepare pasta too early or the noodles will have to sit, which can make them become mushy.