Skepticism filled my mind when I first encountered lupini pasta. Checking off so many boxes for desirable nutritional qualities, this alternative type of pasta just seemed too good to be true. Sure, lupini pasta might be healthy, but could it actually taste good?
Searching For A Healthy Pasta
Honestly, my skepticism toward lupini pasta was understandable. Disappointment had been the inevitable result of most of my past experiments with healthy pasta. Maybe I was being a bit unreasonable, but I didn’t want to have to make any serious sacrifices in terms of taste or health.
From shirataki pasta to palm pasta to zucchini pasta, there were many pasta alternatives that certainly fulfilled their promises to be incredibly healthy. None of them, though, tasted anything like real pasta. These types of so-called pasta certainly weren’t going to satisfy those pasta cravings.
The only healthy pasta that felt comparable to traditional pasta was bean-based pasta, like chickpea, black bean, or lentil pasta. These types of pasta have a texture that gives off a whole-wheat pasta kind of vibe. Compared to whole wheat pasta, though, bean pasta pack an extra punch of protein and fiber. So, any type of bean pasta is actually a pretty good option for a healthy pasta alternative.
Most bean pasta on the market, though, also have a decent amount of carbohydrates. I definitely don’t want to fearmonger about carbs, as they are a normal part of a healthy diet. Carbs also just so happen to be incredibly delicious. But while my carb-loving mouth hates to speak these words, the truth is that we can eat too many carbs. This is particularly true for me. Between a family history of diabetes and having a common endocrine disorder (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome), I have high-risk factors for becoming diabetic. So like many people, I need to at least be cautious about my carbohydrate intake.
Failing to find anything that quite met all of my healthy pasta goals, my search continued. That is until I found out about lupini pasta.
The Powerful Lupini Bean
The lupini bean has long been a staple of Mediterranean cuisine, and it was even used as a snack to fuel ancient Roman soldiers. Due to the lengthy process required to cook them, however, Lupini beans failed to gain widespread popularity. Inconveniently, these beans had to be extensively soaked to remove both bitterness and toxins. Fortunately, a new type of lupini beans, known as sweet lupini beans, emerged in the 20th Century. No longer needing to be soaked, this strain of lupini beans became much more convenient for culinary use.
Lupini beans are the main ingredient in lupini pasta, and unless other ingredients are added to the pasta, it’s typically both vegan-friendly and gluten-free. Packed with protein, lupini pasta contains all nine amino acids, making it a source of complete protein. Remarkably, lupini beans even contain more protein per calorie than soy. Lupini pasta also offers an abundance of fiber as well as vitamins and minerals, including iron, magnesium, zinc, potassium, folate, and B vitamins. Lupini pasta is also exceptional for what it lacks, as it’s low in carbs and a serving of lupini pasta has fewer calories than wheat or other types of bean-based pasta. With its low amount of net carbs, lupini pasta can even qualify as keto-friendly. Lupini pasta also cooks significantly faster than traditional pasta—which is great for simple, lazy cooking days.
The Proof Is In The Pudding… Or The Pasta
I figured that there was no way that something as healthy as lupini pasta could actually be tasty. But what the hell, why not try it anyway?
Sometimes I really like to be wrong, especially when I’m being pessimistic. I cooked up a plate of lupini pasta and was seriously impressed. The lupini noodles don’t have much flavor, so much like tofu, they soak up whatever flavors are added to the dish. Unsurprisingly, since lupini pasta is made from beans, the texture is very similar to other bean-based pasta. As an added benefit, this high-protein pasta makes for a hearty meal that keeps us feeling full and satiated.
I wouldn’t say that lupini pasta tastes quite as delicious as the refined white pasta that I grew up eating, but that wouldn’t be a fair standard for judging any healthy pasta alternative. From my experience, though, lupini pasta is just as tasty as any other bean pasta, while also being more nutritious. That feels like a serious win.
The biggest downside to lupini pasta seems to be its cost. A single box of lupini pasta can retail for over $10. This price point is not only way higher than traditional wheat pasta but is even considerably higher than other bean-based pasta. There’s really no sugarcoating the fact that the price of lupini pasta is pretty unappetizing.
It is possible, though, that the price of lupini pasta could eventually go down. Niche products tend to be more costly since there’s a smaller customer base, and so they can’t count on making profits off of high volumes of sales. But all of that could change if the demand for lupini pasta increases as it becomes a new widely adopted health-food trend.
Currently, a cost-conscious way to incorporate lupini pasta into our recipes would be to mix lupini pasta with other ingredients. Since lupini pasta’s high protein content makes it naturally quite filling, a bit of it really goes a long way. So rather than making lupini pasta the main ingredient, dishes that combine lupini pasta with vegetables (like eggplant or peppers) are a really great option.
Almost A Recipe
I tend to follow the philosophy that, unless I’m baking, cooking is more of an intuitive process than an exact formula. So, I’m not generally great at sharing my recipes. But I’m still going to attempt to (somewhat haphazardly) explain how to make one of my favorite easy lupini pasta dishes.
Simply cook up a serving of dried lupini pasta (boil for 6-8 minutes depending upon desired texture) and mix it with some vegan-friendly pasta sauce. Then, sprinkle on a thin (or not so thin) layer of mozzarella and/or parmesan vegan cheese, and toss it in the oven until the vegan cheese melts. Air fry or grill a generous amount of chopped onions and green peppers (oil is optional), and add the cooked veggies to the pasta. For a bonus tip, make a chef’s kiss gesture to pretend like you’ve been a fancy cook and didn’t just make a really easy, simple dish.
A Balancing Act
Despite my skepticism, I’ve been sold on lupini pasta. Of course, healthier pasta alternatives are available. Arguably, there are also better-tasting kinds of pasta. But if you’re looking to balance the concerns of both health and taste, lupini pasta might just hit that sweet spot.
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