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This complete protein pasta offers you all 9 essential amino acids while allowing you to enjoy a gluten-free, lower glycemic pasta, and it’s made with just 4 ingredients!
If you’ve ever been vegan or vegetarian, you know that the first question people tend to ask you is, “how do you get enough protein?” It becomes their mission in life to worry about your protein intake. But you don’t have to eat meat to get the full power of complete protein. In fact, you can actually get complete protein (just like from animal proteins, with all 9 essential amino acids), without ever taking a bite of meat.
The plant world is full of plant-based protein sources, and the human body doesn’t need quite as much as our modern society would like us to believe. Now don’t get me wrong, enough protein is critical for muscle health and more. Getting enough protein helps you optimize energy levels, repair cells, and make new ones. But not in the mass quantities we usually get in this country. You can support muscle development just fine without eating a pound of meat. Promise!
So if you have been thinking about going plant-based, or even just want to work more plant-based meals into your weekly routine (Meatless Mondays, anyone?), then this pasta might be just what you’re looking for.
What Makes Complete Protein With Pasta?
When we talk about regular pasta, we are talking about semolina (in most cases). A flour made from Durham wheat. And as the old adage says, to get a complete protein, you’ll want to mix grains and beans/legumes. (Though they don’t have to be eaten in the same meal.) So if you add beans to regular pasta, you get all 9 essential amino acids in one bowl.
However, while pasta is still pretty darn affordable (even with our current food shortage issues), there are so many people who are sensitive to wheat! Whether it’s a sensitivity or actual gluten intolerance, many of us are using the gluten-free varieties of pasta, myself included.
Commercial Bean-Based Pasta
Whole-wheat pasta is no longer the healthiest pasta on grocery store shelves. There are lots of great pasta brands on the market now that are healthy and even gluten-free. Many of these are made of beans and tapioca flour. But they tend to be far more expensive overall than regular pasta. I can still find a 1-pound package of spaghetti pasta for $0.99 – $1.99 in some places. But these bean-based pastas come in half-pound boxes that cost nearly $5 a box. If you eat a lot of pasta or are simply trying to stock up, that can really add up!
Why Red Lentils?
Adding lentils to your daily diet is rarely a bad idea! Lentils in general are some of the healthiest everyday foods you can eat. They are jam-packed with good nutrition. They have even been shown in studies to stop cancer cell growth and lower blood sugar. They also aid in good digestion thanks to their fiber content.
“Some of the polyphenols in lentils, such as procyanidin and flavanols, are known to have strong antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotective effect.”HealthLine.com
The Glycemic Index Of Commercial Bean-Based Pastas
Note: Diabetics should not take this as nutritional advice. It is informational only. Apply this to your eating plan with your doctor’s guidance. I am not a medical professional.
While beans are a fantastic source of fiber for those with certain blood sugar issues, tapioca flour is not such a great addition. Many bean-based pastas add starch, like tapioca flour to their pasta for texture and other structural benefits. But the issue is that tapioca flour is in the mid to lower-high range of the glycemic index at 67. So if you are a big pasta eater, this could affect you. And yes, I know that the index number changes when ingredients come together. But after feeling the effects myself, I figured it’s worth a mention at least.
However, to be fair, I have read that the Banza brand of pasta has a GI of 44, which is still considered a low-glycemic food. I use and enjoy them, but again… the price adds up.
But don’t worry, the recipe below uses flour that is lower on the glycemic index. Oat flour is whole-grain flour that is a nice, low 25 on the glycemic index! Mix that with all that fiber from the beans, and this pasta becomes quite friendly to your blood sugar, in most cases. Again, this won’t be true for everyone, particularly some diabetics. Use this information wisely and talk to your doctor or dietitian!
Can You Use A Different Flour That Oat Flour?
Yes! If a low glycemic pasta isn’t your concern, you can use different flour to make this pasta. Here are a few suggestions that are also gluten-free and not too hard to find at the grocery store:
- Brown rice flour
- Quinoa flour
- Buckwheat flour
- Millet flour
What Pasta Shapes Can You Make With This Dough?
While some of you may be able to get fancy with the pasta shapes, (please share a photo with me on social media if you do! I’d love to see it!) I’m not a fancy pasta girl. Mostly because these are the areas I get lazy in. I don’t want to spend hours forming fancy shapes out of dough. I just don’t have the patience for it. So these are the easiest shapes you can make by hand with this dough:
Fastest Pasta To Make By Hand
These are fast and easy because you’ll simply roll the dough flat and cut as needed.
- Bow tie pasta (farfalle)
Easy Pasta Shapes That Take More Time
These are super easy to make by hand but are a tiny bit more time-consuming.
How To Dry Pasta
Drying pasta can be done in a few ways. And some are preferable to others based on whether you use eggs to make your pasta or not.
How To Cook Fresh Pasta
Fresh pasta is easy to cook. Bring a large pot of salted water to a strong boil. Add the pasta. When it floats, it’s done!
Is Red Lentil Pasta Gluten Free?
Yes, but only if you use gluten-free oat flour. Oat flour is one of the highest cross-contaminated foods when it comes to gluten. So make sure you purchase a package of flour that states, gluten-free. Red lentils are naturally gluten-free, though you can check the package they come in for a gluten-free label as well if needed.
How Many Grams Of Protein Does Complete Protein Pasta Have?
1 batch of this pasta, as the recipe is written, has approximately 51 grams of protein! Grant it, you will probably, at the very least, want to share this with one other person (or save half for another day), but that’s still a massively decent dose of complete protein. Not too far off from eating a turkey sandwich!
What Can You Mix Into Red Lentil Pasta?
If you are keeping this plant-based, there are tons of things you can add to make a lovely pasta dish or pasta salad!
- Vegetables of any kind such as peas, carrots, or cut squash. Simply cook them and toss them in! In some cases, you can even boil them with the pasta.
- Nuts such as cashews, walnuts, or pecans.
- Beans in the form of soy or tofu, (if you eat soy), or try hummus as a pasta sauce. Just add a little water or broth to it to thin it out into a sauce.
- Seeds such as sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds are wonderful here.
- Cooked grains – quinoa is a great addition and also contains all 9 essential amino acids. Cooked rice, teff, or oat groats are great here too.
- For vegetarians, eggs go really well with this. Consider the humble carbonara sauce. That would be wonderful here, or you could make a breakfast pasta and add scrambled eggs!
If you aren’t vegan, you can try some of these toppings:
- Shredded chicken breast or other poultry
- Ground beef
- Make a white sauce out of mayo or yogurt
- Add dairy such as cheese or even make a cream sauce.
About The Ingredients
Red lentil flour – If you can’t find this in the store, you can make your own at home by putting dry, red lentils through a mill or dry blender.
Oat flour – This is pretty readily available these days, but if you can’t find it at the store, you can grind your own at home using traditional/rolled/old-fashioned oats in a mill or dry blender.
Salt – I used pink Himalayan salt, but use whatever you normally use in cooking. You will want the measured amount for the pasta dough and additional salt for salting your pasta water.
Water – Filtered water is best to avoid any unwanted flavors. Nobody wants their pasta to taste like tap water or chlorine!
How To Make Complete Protein Pasta
Grind the red lentil flour if you can’t find it at the store. (Note: This can be hard on a coffee grinder. Grind this in small portions. My coffee grinder overheated with all these lentils!)
Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl and whisk until well combined.
Pour the water into the flour mix.
Combine with a wooden spoon, working the water into the flour.
Add any needed extra water to the dough, 1 tablespoon at a time, making sure to blend well between each addition of water.
When the dough begins to hold, start kneading by hand, adding water as needed, 1 tablespoon at a time.
It’s done when you have a soft, pliable dough.
Start a pot of pasta water with a good dose of salt. (I used approximately 1 tablespoon)
Roll the dough out thin. Use parchment paper if needed.
If needed, flour the dough to make it easier to manage.
Cut into desired size and form into the desired shape.
Make sure to separate the pieces before adding them to the water.
To make bow tie pasta, cut the dough into rectangles and pinch them in the middle.
Drop pasta into salted boiling water and remove from water with a slotted spoon 1 minute after it floats to the top of the water. (2-3 minutes total)
Serve with your favorite toppings.
How To Store Complete Protein Pasta
Cooked – Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
Raw/Dry – See the Youtube video above.
More Homemade Pasta Recipes
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Complete Protein Pasta Recipe Card + Video
Complete Protein Pasta
- 1 cup red lentil flour
- ¼ cup oat flour
- ½ tsp. salt + extra for pasta water
- ⅓ cup water + extra as needed
- Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl and whisk until well combined.
- Pour the water into the flour mix.
- Combine with a wooden spoon, working the water into the flour.
- Add any needed extra water to the dough, 1 tablespoon at a time, making sure to blend well between each addition of water.
- When the dough begins to hold, start kneading by hand, adding water as needed, 1 tablespoon at a time.
- It's done when you have a soft, pliable dough.
- Start a pot of pasta water with a good dose of salt. (I used approximately 1 tablespoon)
- Roll the dough out thin. Use parchment paper if needed.
- If needed, flour the dough to make it easier to manage.
- Cut into desired size and form into desired shape.
- Make sure to separate the pieces before adding them to the water.
- To make bow tie pasta, cut the dough into rectangles and pinch them in the middle.
- Drop pasta into salted boiling water and remove from water with a slotted spoon 1 minute after it floats to the top of the water. (2-3 minutes total)
- Serve with your favorite toppings.
I'm Tiffany, a cookbook author, food lover, mom, and writer for MSN and the AP Newswire.
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