I'm Italian, but This Pasta Alternative Has Become a Staple in My Pantry

It actually tastes so good.

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Aside from the occasional hummus dip, chickpeas were not a part of my usual diet until I was in my early 20s. Growing up, I primarily subsisted on classic homemade Italian dishes like baked ziti, eggplant parmesan, linguine with clam sauce, and (of course) pizza. Most of these delicacies came straight from my Nonna's recipe book, which was passed down to my mother when she married my Italian father.

All this to say, I'm not exactly the type to seek out gluten-free alternatives, especially when it comes to my favorite food group—pasta. In fact, I often joke that I need gluten in order to feel my best. However, in recent years, I've experimented in the kitchen and have come to love adding chickpeas to veggie bowls and salads for a boost of protein. So when I heard about Banza's Chickpea Pasta, I was intrigued to see how it would compare to traditional pasta.

Banza's noodles are made with chickpeas and pea protein, which makes them higher in protein and fiber and lower in carbs than pasta made with flour and eggs. At first glance, the uncooked pasta—which is available in all kinds of traditional shapes, from penne to rotini—looks like any other dry pasta, and it requires about the same effort to cook.

Banza Chickpea Pasta, Variety Pack

To buy: $25; amazon.com

You can add the dry pasta to a pot of boiling salted water and let it cook for a few minutes before straining it in a colander. The main difference is that the noodles will produce quite a bit of foam as they cook in the water. When they're done, you can pile them with any sauce or toppings you like.

The first time I cooked a batch of the chickpea pasta I was impressed by its smooth texture and firm consistency. I used the noodles to prepare a simple pasta salad with artichokes, olives, tomatoes, basil, mozzarella, and plenty of Italian seasonings. While I was initially skeptical that the noodles would turn out mushy, the rotini spirals were strong enough to hold all of my toppings. My quick lunch tasted delicious and kept me full for far longer than I anticipated.

I'm not the only one who's a fan of this pasta alternative. As far as pantry essentials go, Banza's chickpea-based products are about as popular as they come. Kristen Bell has shared her love of the high-protein pasta on her Instagram account and in interviews about her food go-tos, and the recognizable orange box has appeared on Busy Philipps' Instagram Story more than once. Hundreds of Amazon shoppers have also left positive reviews of the pasta online, calling it "beyond good" (even if you don't like chickpeas) and the best gluten-free pasta on the market.

Despite my love of traditional Italian food, this chickpea-based alternative has become a new staple for fast, healthy meals. You can stock up on the lighter pasta from Amazon—just don't tell my Nonna.

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