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Consumer Reports: Healthy pastas for your summer BBQ

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Healthier new pastas in your supermarket, made from beans, chickpeas or even quinoa.

If you're going to a summer cookout soon and want to bring a pasta dish to share, maybe you should consider whipping yours up with one of the new pastas in your supermarket, made from beans, chickpeas or even quinoa.

Consumer Reports experts checked them out to see which of these pasta alternatives are tasty and nutritious.

There's a new twist - on pasta. They're not just made of wheat anymore. Consumer Reports food experts came to the table and checked out pounds and pounds of pasta.

"We brought in 13 alternative pastas in total to evaluate for nutrition, taste and texture. We tried several varieties of each - black bean, red lentil, chickpea and quinoa blend," said Amy Keating, Consumer Reports.

Overall, their carb count is similar to regular pasta, but they are a good source of fiber. What about texture?

"A really good regular pasta shouldn't be mushy, crumbly or rubbery. But most of these fell short of that ideal, but could be improved as part of a recipe," Keating said.

Trader Joe's Organic Black Bean Rotini has a good black bean flavor, but on its own it had a slightly mushy, chalky texture. When included in a salad some of the texture and flavor issues were minimized. A one-cup serving has about 15 grams of fiber.

Topping the chickpea versions is Explore Cuisine's Organic Chickpea Fusilli. It received good scores for nutrition. It has a slightly starchy bean-like flavor and a chewy texture. This pasta pairs well with red sauce, and it's also good tossed with olive oil, cheese and fresh parsley.

Testers rated Ancient Harvest POW Red Lentil Rotini "very good." It has a clean, flavor that tastes of red lentils. It goes well with red sauce, or a mixture of roasted veggies and a sprinkling of cheese.

Consumer Reports' food team advises that for best results, follow the cooking directions carefully and don't overcook, as legume pastas can get mushy quickly.

Below are some Alternative Pasta Recipes written by the Consumer Reports Food Team:

Black Bean Rotini with Corn, Avocado and Tomatoes - makes 6 servings

Cook a 12 ounce package of Trader Joe's Organic Black Bean Rotini according to package directions. Drain and place in a large bowl.

Combine pasta with 1 cup frozen corn kernels, defrosted, 1 chopped red pepper, 2 chopped fresh tomatoes, 1/2 chopped small red onion, 1 chopped avocado.

In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup fresh lime juice, 1/3 cup olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper. Pour over ingredients; toss. Top with 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro.

Chickpea Fusilli - makes 4 servings

Cook an 8 ounce package of Explore Organic Chickpea Fusilli according to package directions. Drain and place in a large bowl.

Toss with 1/4 cup olive oil; sprinkle with 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese and 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley.

Red Lentil Rotini with Roasted Cauliflower and Spinach - makes 4 servings

Heat oven to 425. Toss 1/2 head cauliflower, trimmed and cut into florets, 3 tablespoons olive oil, 1 pint grape tomatoes and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and black pepper on a rimmed sheet pan and roast for 25- 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. During the last 5 minutes of cooking time, add 2 cloves of garlic, sliced.

Cook an 8 ounce package of Ancient Harvest POW! Red Lentil Rotini according to package directions. Drain pasta, reserving 1 cup pasta water and return to pot.

Stir in cauliflower mixture, 5 ounces of baby spinach, 1/2 cup grated asiago cheese and enough pasta water to moisten.

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