Raise your hand if you love pasta (feet and hands raised high here!). I grew up on pasta, enjoying it at least once a week, often twice a week. It was, by far, my favorite family dinner night. I was always the last one to leave the table, making sure not a single strand of spaghetti was left behind. I was a growing child then, so finishing off the pound of pasta wasn't such a big deal, and maybe what my body needed at the time. As an adult, I try to eat more slowly, enjoy each bite, and recognize my "full" button more so than when I was a kid. Thankfully, I no longer feel the need to finish off the pound! Plus, finding leftover pasta in the fridge the next day is always a treat.
Make Pasta Your Friend
What's awesome about the current state of store-bought pasta is the variety of whole grain and legume pastas that are available. Some people eschew pasta, fearing that it will make them gain weight. While this might be the case for processed pasta that is not made with whole grains and stripped of all of its nutrients including fiber, vitamins and minerals, it isn't necessarily the case for whole grain and legume pastas. In fact, some studies show that eating a variety of whole grains and types of fiber (like those found in whole grain and legume pasta) can help to diversify the bacteria in the gut, which may lead to gut health and metabolic health. Legume pasta like this one from Chickapea offers 11 grams of fiber per serving! That's pretty cool given that only five percent of Americans get the recommended amount of fiber each day (25 grams for women and 38 grams for men are the minimum recommendations for fiber).
Fun fact for protein lovers: Legume pasta also offers a LOT of protein. In fact, Chickapea pasta has 23 grams of protein per serving. For those of you who strive for more protein, bean or lentil pasta can be a great and tasty option.
Another bonus with legume pasta is that it's naturally gluten free, meaning those who are gluten intolerant or sensitive can enjoy one of their favorite foods again!
There are many legume options on the market today from chickpea to lentil to edamame. Look for pasta that includes only these simple ingredients and choose organic whenever possible to avoid harmful pesticides. Another reason to love Chickapea pasta is that they also include veggie powder in their pasta blends. For example, their spaghetti is made with chickpeas, yellow lentils and red lentils as well as kale powder and spinach powder. Similar to fiber, most Americans get significantly less vegetable servings than what's recommended daily. Therefore, any chance to add them to the plate is a bonus (especially when pasta is the vehicle!). Why does this matter? Phytonutrients, or plant nutrients, that give veggies their beautiful hues act as antioxidants when we eat them. The more colorful plants we can include in our diets the better! Phytonutrients help with gut, brain, skin, eye, and overall health.
Onto the recipe!
Sometimes I love fresh and bright sauces over traditional tomato sauce, like this vegetable-broth-based garlic, tomato, and mushroom concoction. Adding a leafy green, such as organic spinach or kale, completes the dish with colors and nutrients. I love this as a light dish for a warm summer evening or a warming dish for the crisp fall nights. Trust me, this is a dish the whole family will love! Let me know what you think in the comments below.
Prep time: 25 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
8 ounces Chickapea pasta, cooked and rinsed with cold water
Mushrooms and Tomatoes
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cups chopped mushrooms (portobello, cremini or white)
2 cups organic cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
3 cups vegetable broth
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup diced shallots
1/4 cup diced pitted green olives
2 cups chopped organic spinach
2 Tbsps nutritional yeast
1/4 cup chopped basil
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Prepare the mushrooms and tomatoes: Add the mushrooms and tomatoes to a medium-size bowl with the oil and stir well.
Lay the mushrooms and tomatoes out evenly on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Bake for 20 minutes.
Prepare your sauce: In a large stovetop pan, heat the 3 cups of vegetable broth on low-medium heat, bringing it to a simmer. Simmer for 15 minutes until reduced to about half.
Once the broth is reduced, add the garlic, shallots, and olives. Cook on medium heat for 5 minutes.
Stir in the roasted mushrooms and tomatoes, cooked chickpea pasta, and spinach until the spinach is wilted.
Divide between two plates and add fresh basil and nutritional yeast, if desired.
Instead of shallots, use yellow or white onion.
Instead of green olives, use kalamata.
In place of spinach, use your favorite leafy greens like organic kale or arugula.
Use cooked spaghetti squash or your favorite type of pasta in place of chickpea
Add more nutrition and flavor
If you love spice, add crushed red pepper flakes or minced jalapeno.
Add chopped broccoli or cauliflower when you add the garlic, onion, and tomatoes.
For more plant-based protein, consider adding edamame or chickpeas to Step 10 along with the mushrooms and tomatoes or topping the dish with grilled organic tofu at the very end.
Per serving (2 servings): 529 calories, 73 grams carbohydrates, 19 grams fiber, 33 grams protein, 10 grams fat, 1378 milligrams sodium
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