Quinoa, spelt, Kamut—the latest noodles are nutritious, delicious, and super filling.

By Beth Lipton
March 04, 2016
Travis Rathbone

By now, no doubt you've been advised hundreds of times to avoid white pasta. But does that mean you have to give up noodles altogether? No way! These days the pasta aisle is loaded with alternatives. Read on for the lowdown on five different types, and delicious recipes to try with each one.

Brown Rice Pasta

Pros: It's gluten-free and a great source of B vitamins.

Beware: Brown rice pasta tends to stick together while cooking, so stir frequently. (Color varies among brands.)

Spring Pea Pasta Salad
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Serves: 6

2 tsp. salt

2 cups fresh green peas, or 1 10-oz. box frozen, thawed

1 cup frozen shelled edamame, thawed (about 5 oz.)

2 cups sugar snap peas (about 6.5 oz.)

3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

3 Tbsp. white wine vinegar

2 tsp. Dijon mustard

4 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1 shallot, finely chopped (about ¼ cup)

2 Tbsp. chopped fresh tarragon or dill

½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

12 oz. tube-shaped brown rice pasta, such as caserecce or penne

½ cup crumbled soft goat cheese or feta

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Have ready 2 bowls of ice water. When water boils, add 1 tsp. salt, peas and edamame and bring back to a boil. Cook until tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon or sieve, transfer vegetables to a bowl of ice water. Add sugar snap peas to pot of water and bring back to a boil. Cook until just tender, about 30 seconds. Transfer to other bowl of ice water, reserving boiling water. Once vegetables are cold, drain well. Cut sugar snap peas into fourths crosswise.
  2. In a serving bowl, whisk together lemon juice, vinegar and mustard. Add oil in a slow stream, whisking until thickened and well combined. Stir in shallot and tarragon. Season with 1 tsp. salt and ½ tsp. pepper.
  3. Cook pasta in reserved pot of boiling water until al dente, about 12 minutes or according to package directions. Drain pasta well and immediately transfer to bowl with vinaigrette. Add vegetables and cheese. Gently toss together until pasta is well coated. Season with additional pepper, if desired. Serve at room temperature.

  • In a serving bowl, whisk together lemon juice, vinegar and mustard. Add oil in a slow stream, whisking until thickened and well combined. Stir in shallot and tarragon. Season with 1 tsp. salt and ½ tsp. pepper.
  • Cook pasta in reserved pot of boiling water until al dente, about 12 minutes or according to package directions. Drain pasta well and immediately transfer to bowl with vinaigrette. Add vegetables and cheese. Gently toss together until pasta is well coated. Season with additional pepper, if desired. Serve at room temperature.
  • PER SERVING: 411 Calories, 14g Fat (3g Sat.), 11mg Chol., 6g Fiber, 12g Pro., 57g Carb., 669mg Sod., 6mg Iron, 114mg Calcium

    RELATED: 16 Whole Grains You Need to Try

    Kamut Pasta

    Pros: This ancient variety of wheat technically called khorasan wheat (Kamut is a brand name) boasts omega-3s, along with magnesium and zinc.

    Best for: It’s similar in texture to regular pasta, with a buttery, slightly nutty flavor. Use it in any pasta dish—baked, sautéed or cold in salad.

    Photo: Travis Rathbone

    Pasta with Broccoli Rabe and Sausage
    Prep: 15 minutes
    Cook: 25 minutes
    Serves: 6

    2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

    12 oz. hot or sweet Italian turkey or chicken sausage, casings removed

    1 small onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)

    1 Tbsp. minced fresh rosemary

    1½ tsp. salt

    1 1¼-lb. bunch broccoli rabe, trimmed, leaves and stems chopped

    2 cloves garlic, minced

    ¼ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

    12 oz. Kamut spiral pasta or orecchiette

    ½ cup low-sodium chicken broth

    ½ cup finely grated Grana Padano or Parmesan

    1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. In a large nonstick skillet, warm oil over medium-high heat. Cook sausage, stirring and breaking up lumps, until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Add onion, rosemary and ½ tsp. salt. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring, until tender, about 3 minutes. Stir in broccoli rabe, garlic and red pepper flakes and sauté until broccoli rabe is tender, 5 to 8 minutes, adding broccoli rabe by handfuls if skillet is too full. Remove skillet from heat.
    2. Add 1 tsp. salt and pasta to boiling water. Stir and cook until pasta is al dente, about 10 minutes or according to package directions. Reserve ½ cup cooking water; drain pasta.
    3. Add broth, ¼ cup cheese, pasta and cooking water to skillet. Cook over medium heat until liquid has reduced and coats pasta, about 3 minutes. Divide pasta among bowls, sprinkle with remaining ¼ cup cheese and additional red pepper flakes, if desired, and serve.

  • Add 1 tsp. salt and pasta to boiling water. Stir and cook until pasta is al dente, about 10 minutes or according to package directions. Reserve ½ cup cooking water; drain pasta.
  • Add broth, ¼ cup cheese, pasta and cooking water to skillet. Cook over medium heat until liquid has reduced and coats pasta, about 3 minutes. Divide pasta among bowls, sprinkle with remaining ¼ cup cheese and additional red pepper flakes, if desired, and serve.
  • PER SERVING: 410 Calories, 13g Fat (3g Sat.), 48mg Chol., 7g Fiber, 27g Pro., 48g Carb., 764mg Sod., 4mg Iron, 159mg Calcium

    RELATED: Chicken Parmesan with Zucchini Noodles

    Whole-Wheat Pasta

    Pros: It has a sturdy texture and an earthy, nutty flavor. Plus, it has double the fiber of ordinary pasta, with fewer calories.

    Best for: Use it in any pasta dish—hot or cold in salad.

    Photo: Travis Rathbone

    Creamy Three-Mushroom Pasta
    Prep: 25 minutes
    Cook: 30 minutes
    Serves: 6

    2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

    2 leeks, white and pale green parts only, halved lengthwise and sliced

    2 medium shallots, finely chopped

    1½ tsp. salt

    ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

    8 oz. shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded, caps sliced

    8 oz. cremini mushrooms, stems trimmed, sliced

    8 oz. oyster mushrooms, stems trimmed, cut into 1-inch pieces

    2/3 cup dry white wine

    10 oz. whole-wheat pappardelle

    ½ cup low-sodium chicken broth

    ¼ cup mascarpone

    ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley

    1. Bring a pot of water to a boil. In a large nonstick skillet, warm oil over medium-high heat. Add leeks and shallots and sprinkle with ½ tsp. each salt and pepper; sauté until tender, 5 minutes. Add mushrooms; sauté until cooked down, 7 minutes. Pour in wine; simmer until reduced by half, 2 minutes. Remove skillet from heat.
    2. Add 1 tsp. salt and pasta to boiling water. Stir and cook until pasta is al dente, 9 minutes or according to package directions. Reserve ½ cup cooking water; drain pasta.
    3. Add pasta, cooking water, broth, mascarpone and parsley to skillet. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring, until liquid has reduced and pasta is well coated, 3 minutes. Season with additional salt and pepper, if desired.

  • Add 1 tsp. salt and pasta to boiling water. Stir and cook until pasta is al dente, 9 minutes or according to package directions. Reserve ½ cup cooking water; drain pasta.
  • Add pasta, cooking water, broth, mascarpone and parsley to skillet. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring, until liquid has reduced and pasta is well coated, 3 minutes. Season with additional salt and pepper, if desired.
  • PER SERVING: 376 Calories, 15g Fat (6g Sat.), 23mg Chol., 9g Fiber, 13g Pro., 51g Carb., 333mg Sod., 4mg Iron, 84mg Calcium

    RELATED: 20 Best Foods for Fiber

    Spelt Pasta

    Pro: It has a tender texture and a mildly nutty flavor. This ancient grain is rich in protein, fiber, iron, B vitamins, magnesium and zinc.

    Best for: Sautéed dishes (it can fall apart when baked)

    Photo: Travis Rathbone

    Spaghetti All’Amatriciana
    Prep: 10 minutes
    Cook: 30 minutes
    Serves: 6

    3 oz. pancetta, chopped

    1 small onion, finely chopped

    ¼ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

    3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

    ¼ cup dry white wine

    1 28-oz. can whole peeled tomatoes

    1 Tbsp. tomato paste

    1 tsp. salt

    12 oz. spelt spaghetti

    ½ cup finely grated pecorino

      1. In a large nonstick skillet, sauté pancetta over medium heat until golden, 3 minutes. Add onion and red pepper flakes; sauté until onion has softened, 3 minutes. Add garlic; sauté for 1 minute. Pour in wine; simmer until almost evaporated, 30 seconds. Add tomatoes with juice and tomato paste, squeezing tomatoes to break them up. Simmer, stirring frequently, until reduced and thickened, 10 minutes. Remove skillet from heat.
      2. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add salt and pasta. Stir and cook until al dente, 7 minutes or according to package directions. Reserve ½ cup cooking water; drain pasta.
      3. Add cooking water, pasta and ¼ cup pecorino to skillet. Cook over medium heat, stirring gently, until pasta is coated and sauce has reduced to desired consistency, 2 to 3 minutes. Top with remaining ¼ cup pecorino and additional red pepper flakes, if desired.

    1. In a large nonstick skillet, sauté pancetta over medium heat until golden, 3 minutes. Add onion and red pepper flakes; sauté until onion has softened, 3 minutes. Add garlic; sauté for 1 minute. Pour in wine; simmer until almost evaporated, 30 seconds. Add tomatoes with juice and tomato paste, squeezing tomatoes to break them up. Simmer, stirring frequently, until reduced and thickened, 10 minutes. Remove skillet from heat.
    2. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add salt and pasta. Stir and cook until al dente, 7 minutes or according to package directions. Reserve ½ cup cooking water; drain pasta.
    3. Add cooking water, pasta and ¼ cup pecorino to skillet. Cook over medium heat, stirring gently, until pasta is coated and sauce has reduced to desired consistency, 2 to 3 minutes. Top with remaining ¼ cup pecorino and additional red pepper flakes, if desired.

  • Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add salt and pasta. Stir and cook until al dente, 7 minutes or according to package directions. Reserve ½ cup cooking water; drain pasta.
  • Add cooking water, pasta and ¼ cup pecorino to skillet. Cook over medium heat, stirring gently, until pasta is coated and sauce has reduced to desired consistency, 2 to 3 minutes. Top with remaining ¼ cup pecorino and additional red pepper flakes, if desired.
  • PER SERVING: 321 Calories, 9g Fat (3g Sat.), 20mg Chol., 7g Fiber, 14g Pro., 49g Carb., 613mg Sod., 3mg Iron, 125mg Calcium

    RELATED: 

    Quinoa Pasta

    Pros: It has a delicate, silky texture and very mild flavor. Also, quinoa contains more protein than any other grain; it's a complete protein, meaning it delivers all the essential amino acids.

    Best for: Any pasta dish, hot or cold in salad.

    Photo: Travis Rathbone

    Roasted Garlic, Artichoke, and Asparagus Pasta

    Prep: 15 minutes
    Cook: 30 minutes
    Serves: 4

    1 lb. asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch lengths

    1 15-oz. can quartered artichoke hearts, drained and patted dry

    1 large red onion, coarsely chopped

    3 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil

    2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme

    2 tsp. salt

    1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

    1 head garlic, unpeeled, halved horizontally

    8 oz. quinoa rotelle

    1½ Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

    ¼ cup grated Parmesan

    1. Preheat oven to 450ºF. In a bowl, toss asparagus, artichokes, onion, 2 Tbsp. oil, thyme and ½ tsp. each salt and pepper. Spread on a baking sheet. Place each garlic half, cut-side up, on a piece of foil. Drizzle each with ½ tsp. oil. Wrap tightly; place next to vegetables on sheet. Roast, stirring vegetables occasionally, until vegetables are golden and garlic is soft, 20 minutes. Unwrap garlic, squeeze out cloves and mash.
    2. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add 1 tsp. salt and pasta. Stir and cook until pasta is al dente, 9 minutes or according to package directions. Reserve ½ cup water; drain pasta.
    3. In a large nonstick skillet, warm 1 Tbsp. oil over medium heat. Add vegetables, garlic, vinegar, cooking water, pasta and ½ tsp. each salt and pepper. Simmer, stirring, until pasta is well coated. Top with Parmesan.

  • Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add 1 tsp. salt and pasta. Stir and cook until pasta is al dente, 9 minutes or according to package directions. Reserve ½ cup water; drain pasta.
  • In a large nonstick skillet, warm 1 Tbsp. oil over medium heat. Add vegetables, garlic, vinegar, cooking water, pasta and ½ tsp. each salt and pepper. Simmer, stirring, until pasta is well coated. Top with Parmesan.
  • PER SERVING: 450 Calories, 15g Fat (3g Sat.), 4mg Chol., 15g Fiber, 15g Pro., 69g Carb., 875mg Sod., 6mg Iron, 207mg Calcium

    RELATED: 15 Healthy Gluten-Free Recipes

    Recipes developed by Lori Powell

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