An array of protein-packed pastas have changed the way we think about our favorite Italian dish. No longer thought of as starchy, flour-laden carb-loading tools, these modern pastas (many of which are gluten-free) are made from beans and lentils and are available in every shape. From cheesy chickpea mac ‘n’ cheese to pesto-covered lentil rotini, pasta is back in a big way.
Organic Black Bean Penne by Tolerant Foods
Tossed with corn, cherry tomatoes, avocado, cilantro, and a splash of lime—or dressed with a traditional marinara, vegan mozzarella, and popped in the oven for a gooey baked ziti—Tolerant Foods’ one-ingredient black bean penne cooks in just six to eight minutes.
Protein per serving: 22 grams
Chickpea Shells by Banza
To us, shells scream for a cheesy sauce, but making the ultimate mac ‘n’ cheese using Banza’s pasta—made with chickpeas, tapioca, and pea protein—gives the classic dish a bit more nutrition. We love our own VegNews recipe, but you can try variations such as this sweet potato-based version from famed chef and restaurateur Chloe Coscarelli for an extra blast of vitamin A and beta carotene.
Protein per serving: 25 grams
Lentil Rotini by Modern Table Meals
Available at Target, Modern Table Meals’ rotini is made from just red lentil flour (which creates its beautiful red color). Go for a green-hued pesto (we suggest this Kale Walnut Pesto from blogger Well Vegan), add a few cherry tomatoes, and douse in shaved ribbons of Follow Your Heart’s new vegan parmesan. The colors in the bowl and flavors in your mouth will scream viva Italia!
Protein per serving: 14 grams
Adzuki Bean Spaghetti by Explore Cuisine
Explore Cuisine makes pastas in a range of shapes using beans such as chickpeas, lentils, edamame, mung, and (our favorite) adzuki. A sweeter bean used mostly in Japanese desserts, we like to add adzuki spaghetti to miso ramen soup loaded with roasted kabocha squash, bean sprouts, and thinly sliced green onions.
Protein per serving: 21 grams
Garden Pagodas by Ancient Harvest
Ancient Harvest’s tri-color corkscrew pasta makes a perfect base for a potluck primavera salad that’ll be gone in minutes. Complement the quinoa-based pasta’s reds, yellows, and greens (imparted by beets, corn, and spinach, respectively) with sun-dried tomatoes, grilled yellow peppers, fresh asparagus, a chiffonade of basil, and a light lemony dressing.
Protein per serving: 4 grams
Sprouted Whole Grain Fettuccine by Food for Life
Food for Life is behind the Ezekiel 4:9 brand (which is best known for its breads—and most-recently its frozen waffles)—but did you know they also make pastas? Available in four varieties, the fettucine—made from sprouted wheat, barley, millet, lentils, soybeans, and spelt—stirred our imagination with avocado-based Alfredo possibilities.
Protein per serving: 9 grams
Teff Penne by skinnypasta
Skinnypasta creates pasta and ready-made dishes that cut the carbs and calories while increasing the protein. While the company is not fully vegan, Skinny Pasta offers many egg- and cheese-less varieties such as Teff Penne, which uses teff flour as the base for Ethiopian flatbread injera. Get creative and go with a tomato-based sauce spiked with the zesty African spice berbere. The fresh pasta comes frozen but can be prepared in just 90 seconds.
Protein per serving: 9 grams
Photo courtesy of Explore Cuisine