Nothing satisfies my hunger quite like a big bowl of noodles. It’s a trait that I have passed down to my kids, and pasta is invariably on the menu several times a week at our house.
But here’s the thing: Noodles aren’t exactly the most nutritious meal. I struggle to make pasta healthier for my kids by buying whole wheat noodles or trying to make a veggie-heavy sauce to go with it, but so far my efforts have been in vain. No one likes the whole wheat noodles (I can’t blame them) and the only sauce they want is butter and Parmesan cheese.
Luckily, there is a new pasta product on the market which promises to ease my mom guilt on noodle nights: Banza Chickpea Pasta.
The pasta is made of 90% chickpeas, plus tapioca, pea protein and xanthan gum. By replacing the wheat in traditional pasta with chickpeas, Banza has twice the protein as regular pasta, and four times the fiber. It’s also gluten-free and kosher.
As a brand, Banza has been around for a few years (TIME magazine named it one of the best inventions in 2015), but it’s only been widely available across the country recently.
So, when I finally saw Banza noodles on the shelves of my local Target, I knew I had to give it a try. I chose the Banza linguini pasta, as long noodles are my daughter’s favorite (“I want the kind that hangs out of your mouth, Mom.”).
Chickpea Pasta Taste Test
First of all, the back of the Banza box warned me to expect some foam while cooking. No big deal, I thought. If it starts foaming, I will just dribble in some olive oil. (That’s a trick I learned from Alton Brown!) However, while Brown’s tip didn’t let me down in all the years I made wheat pasta, it didn’t do much to stop the foaming of the Banza pasta.
I followed the directions precisely. While the noodles were draining in the strainer, I put a couple knobs of butter on the bottom of the bowl. Then I tossed the noodles in. This is my usual tactic when making noodles for my kids. But I knew right away that chickpea pasta was a bit of a different animal; it didn’t exactly toss so much as just hang depressingly in the air.
Hmm. Nevertheless I persisted. I set the table and got out the cheese. My three-year-old took a bite. Another bite. I waited. And then she said:
“They taste a little bit different. They taste like old shoes. I will still eat it, though. Yum.”
In trying the dish myself, I had to agree her assessment to some degree. The texture and bite of the noodles can’t trick a dedicated carb-fan like myself. It’s clearly different than the traditional noodles most of us love.
But I could see myself adjusting to chickpea pasta, especially if it had lots of fresh herbs like basil and parsley, and maybe some lemon and chili-infused olive oil.
So, in conclusion, Banza noodles certainly taste different than regular noodles. But I will still eat it, though. Yum.