The latest trend in pasta is the legume-based pasta. Made from red, green or yellow lentils, peas, chickpeas, beans, and even soybeans. It is appearing on the shelves of shops dedicated to natural food and peeping out even in neighborhood supermarkets.
How it is made (and why)
The pasta is obtained, in all its shapes, from flour and water. The dried one we are accustomed to is obtained, as we know, from durum wheat semolina but there are many varieties that use different flours: of soft wheat (this is the case of fresh egg pasta), buckwheat, wholemeal, spelt and so on.
The positive note is that, being dedicated to a target attentive to the healthiness of food, these type of pasta are almost always of biological origin.
The nutritional qualities
From a caloric point of view, the numbers between one pasta and another do not change: that of legumes has, like that of semolina, about 350 calories per 100 g. What changes are the substances that bring energy: proteins for about 20%, while the carbohydrates are around 50%. The rest are above all fibers.
To make the comparison with the semolina pasta, this brings on average 10% of proteins and 70% of starches, with a negligible amount of fiber (2-3%).
From a nutritional point of view it is a completely different product. Especially for those who have to deal with glycemic indexes, the mechanism by which an ingested food makes the blood sugar rise, and then lower, more or less rapidly, or the amount of sugar in the blood.
Naturally, the taste of the legumes (lentils in my case), is always quite perceptible. But since pasta dishes with beans, chickpeas or lentils are part of our tradition, in the end it is not so strange. Rather it is necessary to choose well the food pairings.
The most well-matched combinations
The pea Pasta will be delicate and suitable, for example, to the combination with spring onions, leeks, lettuce, mint, while those of chickpeas, beans and green lentils will marry the intense aromas of sage, rosemary, red onion, cabbage.
Interesting red lentil pasta, legumes widely used by Indian cuisine, which you can try with a vegetable sauce flavored with curry, turmeric, cumin seeds.
I was curious and I tried the red lentils Maccheroni. I chose to pair it with Extra Olive Oil sautéed Zucchini.
I usually match the sautéed Zucchini with spaghetti—make a note to that because that is a match made in heaven—but with red lentils pasta?
OK, its different. I found the pasta to be more chewy. The box recommended a cooking time of “more than five min”. I would recommend 7‘. It seemed to me that I needed to chew much longer than regular pasta. And yes, they require a strong match. I though they probably will go well as an oven-baked dish such as lasagna.
In short, try it if you are curious and love the novelties and strong flavors.