We're not gluten free in my house (we're nut free and fish free and my littlest one is dairy free, but all of that is another story). As an allergic person, I have an affinity for products that are specifically directed to those with allergies or special food needs, even if they aren't catering to my particular needs.
When I spoke with the folks at Explore Asian, it was clear that while they set out to create products that were delicious, they are also keenly aware of the needs of those who are gluten free, health conscious, vegan and kosher. I fit into one of those four categories (health conscious) and I can say confidently that these pastas are delish. My kids have added this bean pasta to our LaLa Lunchbox Food Library and now we pack it in our school lunches. I struggle with family dinner sometimes, so this has been a welcome addition.
The first flavor we tried was the Organic Edamame Spaghetti. My kids are big fans of spinach pasta (affectionately called 'green noodles' in my house) so the color of this was an immediate plus. The kids giggled - how can pasta be made with beans and water? These products are 92% beans and 8% water. I find that amazing. No weird fillers! I was initially a little nervous that the texture would be strange and gummy or rubbery but my concerns were unfounded. While it doesn't taste exactly like pasta made from wheat flour, the mouth feel is pleasant in it's own right.
All three of my kids liked this. I gave it a quick toss with roasted garlic olive oil (see below) and my kids added freshly ground black pepper and voila! Dinner was done. These pastas are loaded with fiber and protein - it's like eating a giant bowl of beans with dinner, but with the ability to twirl on a fork!
A few nights later, I made the Soybean Spaghetti for dinner with my husband (with plans for leftovers for my two year old). Again, the taste and texture were both satisfying. This time, I made the dish with olive oil, homemade roasted red peppers, sautéed snow peas, steamed green peas and salt. We devoured this.
Explore Asian has other flavors (all organic) including Black Bean pasta, Mung Bean pasta, Adzuki Bean pasta and an Edamame and Mung Bean combination. They also make rice noodles, wheat noodles and noodle soup, but I have not yet tried any of those.
Have you tried the Explore Asian products? If so, I'd love to hear about how you prepare it!
Here's the deal with that Roasted Garlic Olive Oil: I roasted several heads of garlic recently and followed this recipe. I then mixed the soft, roasted garlic with olive oil, poured it into an ice tray and froze it. Now whenever I want roasted garlic-flavored olive oil, I just pop out a cube. For pasta dishes, I melt a cube into a sauce pan and give the pasta a quick toss, adding veggies or whatever else might be accompanying the dish. It is typically ready to plate in about 3-4 minutes.
If you're interested in changing up your dinner game, or adding more variety to your school lunches, check out:
Our 2016 lunch resolutions
Fall/Winter 2016 lunches
Quick Weeknight Meatballs
Our favorite lunchboxes
Easy Spinach Pie
** full disclosure: Explore Asian sent me these pastas to try but I have not been compensated to write this post.