Tired of reaching for pasta when you’re looking for a quick and easy meal?
Or are pasta supplies low?
Here are nine delicious pasta substitutes, many of them more nutritious.
AND quicker to cook!
The Best Pasta Substitutes – Legumes & Grains
1. Cooked Chickpeas
Just drain a can of chickpeas (or soak and cook them yourself), rinse with boiling water from the kettle and use in any pasta dish. Takes seconds and so much more nutritious than pasta.
2. Cooked Beans
White beans such as navy or cannellini are my favourite because they have the least ‘beany’ flavour. Just rinse and use as per chickpeas above.
3. Steamed Rice
One of my favourite childhood dishes was tuna pasta bake. I couldn’t believe it when I went to university and one of my friends made her mums version which used steamed rice.
Just as delicious and has the bonus of being gluten-free.
Rice works best for pasta bake style dishes or hearty chunky sauces.
Steamed quinoa has a stronger flavour and chewier texture than rice but works as pasta substitute in a similar manner to rice.
And has the added advantage of slightly more nutrition with more fiber and protein.
If you’re new to cooking quinoa see The Easiest Way to Cook Quinoa
The Best Low Carb Pasta Substitutes
1. Baby Spinach
My favourite low carb pasta substitute is to serve the sauce on a big bed of washed baby spinach leaves. So quick and super fresh.
2. Spiralized Zucchini
The closest in appearance to actual spaghetti.
If you’re serious about healthier pasta alternatives, it’s worth investing in an inexpensive piece of kitchen equipment called a spiralizer.
The spiralizer slices the zucchini into long strands. I then toss it in a pinch of salt and allow it to soften for 30 minutes or so.
Then drain off any water that’s collected and either simmer it in the pasta sauce to warm the noodles through.
Or warm them briefly in a pan with a little oil. Only cook long enough to take the chill off as they go soggy when over cooked.
Other vegetables like carrot can be spiralized but zucchini is the only one I’ve enjoyed enough to make on a regular basis.
3. Beautiful Broccoli
Chunks of tender, steamed broccoli make an excellent substitute for short pasta.
Just simmer your broccoli in 1cm (1/2in) deep salted water with the lid on so it mostly steams. After 5 minutes or when broccoli is no longer crunchy, drain and use as you would cooked pasta.
4. Sauteed Cabbage
I love softening finely sliced cabbage in a pot with a little oil and a splash of water and serving as you would cooked pasta.
I even use cooked cabbage instead of lasagna sheets and always have a cabbage in the house. Or rather fridge ;)
5. Kelp Noodles
While the texture is glassier than pasta, kelp noodles are an excellent convenient incredibly low carb pasta substitute.
They have a mild ‘seaweedy’ flavour, so best to use with strongly flavoured sauces like bolognese rather than a delicate alfredo.
I just cover with boiling water from the kettle to warm then drain and use as per cooked pasta.
They’re also an excellent substitute in Asian cooking for rice noodles or cellophane (mung bean) noodles.
More Ingredient Substitutes
- The Ultimate Guide to Vegetable Substitutes
- Collard Greens
- Miso Paste
- Oyster Sauce
- The Best Low Carb Bread Substitutes
Also see see the Simple Ingredients Substitutes Index.
Have fun in the kitchen!
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