If you love pasta but can’t eat the stuff, for one reason or another, the alternatives have bordered on pathetic ... until lately. HuffPost Taste tested a bunch of these options a couple of years ago and it was the saddest taste test we ever conducted. But the world of gluten-free pasta has grown since then, and there’s one pasta alternative that stands out: Banza.
Many brands make pasta out of interesting ingredients like brown rice, quinoa, farro and even kamut. They’re good attempts, but unfortunately they don’t really hold up. But Banza uses chickpeas, and it actually works really well.
Banza’s choice of chickpeas ― the same bean that gives us hummus ― means a bowl of pasta will contain lots of protein, lots of fiber and zero gluten. Take a look at the nutritional information on a box of their pasta compared to the regular stuff.
(Banza is on the left and a label from traditional pasta is on the right.)
Banza has twice the amount of protein, which is huge for anyone, but notably for vegetarians and vegans. Plus, it actually (almost) tastes and acts like pasta. It won’t go mushy on you. And once cooked it even holds up in the refrigerator remarkably well for leftovers.
It does, however, taste slightly reminiscent of hummus when all chewed up. It’s not entirely flavorless.
Banza currently comes in spaghetti, penne, shells, rotini and elbows ― and it also comes in three flavors of boxed mac and cheese, which allows the cheese sauce to adequately hide that chickpea flavor, if you’re not into it.
There’s one major downfall to this high-protein pasta alternative: it’s pricey. A box of the stuff comes to about five dollars a piece if purchased on the website (which includes shipping) or three dollars if you find it at the store. Compared to a normal box of pasta, which is only slightly over a buck, this definitely ups the cost of a spaghetti dinner.
If you still want to try it, you can order Banza online, or look for it in stores like Whole Foods.
CORRECTION: The graphic in a previous version of this story misstated the percentage daily value for protein in traditional pasta.