RECIPE: RED LENTIL PENNE PASTA WITH SESAME GREEN BEANS
I am among millions of people undergoing a revolution in how we think about food and it goes something like this: 1. Cheese, milk, yogurt, etc. do not have to be made from dairy, 2. Meats do not have to be made from animals, 3. Pasta does not have to be made from wheat — and the list goes on of upended worldwide beliefs about food that were never true.
Today I want to talk about Pasta and the fact that, like so many foods, there are a number of plant based sources that can produce excellent pasta. It isn’t confined only to wheat (a single crop source that is helping to mow down forests, deplete soil, and contribute to green house gases all over the globe).
We don’t need so much wheat as it turns out, even though wheat does have beneficial properties and uses (even gluten can be healthy for those who are not allergic to it). It is simply time to break up the wheat monopoly and realize the world is wide and other plant sources and possibilities are tremendously plentiful. Pasta — and for that matter, breads, cookies, crackers, pizza dough, etc. — do not have to be made from wheat in order to be recognizable, delicious, and more nutritious than wheat-based could ever be.
Case in point: “Organic Red Lentil Penne Pasta” This pasta is made from only two ingredients: Red lentils and some rice flour. In every 2 oz. serving there is 12 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber — and that is wow! Most wheat flours, and really any other flour will have far less protein and almost no fiber. This alone makes this Lentil pasta a very good choice.
But how does it taste? Does it have that wonderful al dente bite to it that we all know and love from well cooked wheat based pasta? The answer is yes! In fact it can be a little more chewy and maintain it’s shape better than regular pasta.
My complaint about regular pasta has been how easily it can become overly soft, squishy and squidlike with the slightest overcooking. It seems that Lentil pasta has a very similar taste to wheat based pasta but less of the squishy, slimey overcooking problem. It also keeps a nice chewyness even when floating in sauce and it accepts refrigeration and reheating well.
And so I have put together this new “Organic Red Lentil Penne Pasta” with another lifelong favorite dish of mine, sesame green beans. For the uninitiated I must reveal to you that sesame seeds and green beans are a match made in heaven if ever there was one. I have loved that pairing so much that it has been many years since I have even thought of eating green beans with out a wondrous coating of olive oil and sesame.
I have discovered that Red Lentil Penne pasta and Sesame green beans are so incredibly good together than I know I have found another sure-to-be life long favorite recipe. And now it is my pleasure to share this delicious and satisfying new dish with you.
Red Lentil Penne Pasta with Sesame Green Beans
- 8 oz or about 2 cups of Red Lentil Penne Pasta (or other pasta of your choice)
- about 2 cups of cooked sesame green beans (see Sesame Green Beans recipe below) Here is what you need for the Green Beans:
- 2-3 oz. Sesame seeds (hulled or not, any kind will do)
- 2-3 tablespoons Olive oil
- a few squirts of Tabasco sauce
- Salt and pepper
- about 1 cup of grape size tomatoes – each cut in half
- 1 medium red or white onion – chopped to bite size pieces
- 3-4 cloves of garlic – crushed or chopped finely
- spices: I use ‘Herbs de Provence” which is available in any grocery store bulk section — but a combination of Basil, Oregano and Rosemary would work very well. Also salt and pepper to taste.
For the Sesame Green Beans:
I recommend using only fresh green beans from the produce section of your grocery store or a farmers market. I never use canned or frozen — this practically strips the beans of any fiber or any al dente character, and there is no comparison for taste.
- Wash the green beans and remove the stems and slice the beans into 2 inch(ish) pieces. (You can also do the stem removal and slicing after they are cooked. It’s easier)
- Place the beans in boiling water until they are soft and deep green (about 10-15 minutes).
- Drain the beans and pour out the water and place the beans back in the same pan.
- Spritz about 2 tablespoons of olive oil over the beans and stir.
- Give 3-4 good squirts of Tabasco Sauce — followed by salt and pepper to taste and another stir.
- And now for the ‘piece de resistance’ – liberally sprinkle and pour the sesame seeds over the beans and stir — the seeds should adhere to the olive oil nicely.
- Cook on medium heat, stirring a few times, for about 8 minutes. This toasts the sesame and builds more flavor into the beans.
For the Pasta and completing the dish:
- Completely immerse the pasta in boiling water for about 10-15 minutes or until they are soft and ‘al dente’ (or “bite-able”).
- Then drain them and return them to a large skillet with a swirl of olive on the bottom and spritz them with a little olive oil on top. Stir.
- Turn on medium to low heat and add the chopped red onion and the tomatoes and the spices (see above or get creative here!) and stir.
- Now add only about a half cup of water to the warming mixture (this is not a soupy or terribly moist dish) and stir. Taste right about now and see if it needs salt and pepper or more seasoning. (a splash of soy sauce or liquid aminos here could work — but totally optional)
- This is when you stir in the wonderful sesame green beans! Be sure to empty all of the contents of the green bean pan into the pasta mixture — including any oil, juices or sesame seeds from the bottom. It all goes in there — stir.
- Now cover the skillet and let it simmer on low heat for about 5 minutes while the flavors ‘marry up’ and become the best pasta dish you ever tasted.