This blog post is sponsored by Barilla but all opinions are my own.
I worked for 2 years at a vegan cooking school, without being vegan myself. But, let me tell you – I really learned how to make food taste good and make recipes nutritionally balanced without the use of any animal products. I swear it was like the best kind of cooking and recipe boot camp. One of the biggest questions I get asked is about the plant-based diet and how to find protein. Now, you know that I do eat meat and cheese – but I do also try to load up my day with mostly plants. So that said – I get creative! I’m even including a nut-based goat cheese in the recipe below for you to try. There are plenty of ways you can find your protein without relying on animal products or even on tofu – which I know can be pretty polarizing.
Here are my top 3!
Legumes! Using Barilla Red Lentil Spaghetti found at Target- make this Corn, Basil & Tomato Pasta with Goat Cheese (plant-based or regular). #partner. The pasta itself comes with added fiber and protein, making for a much more filling and well-rounded meal!
Nuts & Seeds! Sunflower seeds, hemp seeds and nut butters are my favorites and can be transformed into sweet or savory applications. I’ve made everything from parmesan cheese to hearty sauces to “meat” using these beauties.
Quinoa! Another fantastic ingredient for recipe creation (a la making meatballs) or simply heated up and topped onto a soup or salad.
Now speaking of that pasta – I’m a big pasta fan, but you know me – always trying to make my food a wee bit more healthy and nourishing, while still keeping 100% of the flavor! Most pasta, I’d say, is truly just a base for the rest of the ingredients – so you have to be mindful about making sure you are adding in good protein, fats and fiber to make the meal substantial.
Another solution? Barilla® Chickpea Rotini and Red Lentil Spaghetti! Barilla® used their 140+ years of expertise to create pasta with a single simple ingredient in each of their two varieties – chickpeas or red lentil flour! The delicious taste and texture make either of them a great swap option when you want to switch from the regular pasta for something with more staying power. Plus, unlike typical pasta, red lentil and chickpea pastas are great sources of protein and fiber. Also, Barilla® Red Lentil Spaghetti was a 2021 People Food Awards Winner!
And, it creates a little less stress for you when you don’t want to have to worry about how filling the recipe will be. If you have busy weeknights that seem to be even busier than ever this time of year…I’m right there with ya! Come along with me as I make two of my favorite quick and easy Barilla pasta recipes that are perfect for those extra-busy, no motivation type of days!
First up –
Corn, Basil & Tomato Pasta with Goat Cheese
Barilla® Red Lentil Spaghetti gives health-conscious food lovers (like me!) a nutritious way to add variety to our meals. I love using it as a foundation for a range of dishes, from pastas to salads to soups, like this delicious and light Roasted Corn, Basil & Tomato Pasta recipe!
I like to add the tangy flavor of goat cheese to this – but you can either make this with regular goat cheese, or I’ve included a recipe for my favorite plant-based option also.
2 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pint cherry tomatoes, sliced (+the more colorful, the better!)
Kernels from 2-3 ears of fresh corn
Drizzle of maple syrup
Basil leaves, torn or sliced thin
Goat cheese (or vegan goat cheese, see below)
Almond flour, for coating
Hemp seeds to top
Sea salt and pepper, to taste
Lemon juice, to taste
Heat the oven to 350. Roll the cold goat cheese into tiny balls, and then roll them in almond flour to lightly coat. Add to a sheet pan and bake until lightly golden brown.
Salt a pot of water and cook your red lentil pasta until al dente. Reserve some pasta water in case you need it in the last step.
In a large skillet over medium heat, add the oil. Then add the garlic, tomatoes and a drizzle of maple syrup and cook until soft.
Raise the heat and stir in the fresh corn kernels. I like mine golden brown, but you just have to cook until the corn is heated through.
Stir in the cooked pasta, then sprinkle with hemp seeds, salt, pepper, a drizzle of olive oil, some lemon juice, and basil. If you like the heat – you can also add in some red pepper flakes! If you need some more movement – add in some of the pasta water.
Plate this with your goat cheese or plant-based goat cheese balls and serve!
Plant-Based Goat Cheese
1 1/4c almond flour
The juice of 3 lemons
3 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves of garlic
1 ¼ tsp salt
A few grinds of fresh black pepper
2 tbsp nutritional yeast (optional, if you can’t find it)
Additional almond flour for coating
Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth. You might have to stop and scrape down the sides from time to time.
Once blended – I like to let it sit for a few hours to really make the flavor deeper. This is optional and if your cheese is not super runny, you could just move into the baking part below. Line a small bowl with some cheesecloth and pour the cheese mixture into it. Pull up all of the sides of the cheesecloth so that the cheese is in a little ball inside and twist the top into a rubber band. Keep this in the bowl in the fridge overnight.
When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Unwrap the cheese and roll it into small balls. Roll the balls into additional almond flour.
Bake the faux goat cheese balls for about 20 minutes until browned lightly and then serve with your fresh pasta!
Pasta chips are everywhere right now! It seems like every social media platform is blowing up with these crispy and delicious-looking snacks, so I had to give them a try. Be warned: they are totally addicting! And, they take so little time to make. Using the Barilla® Chickpea Rotini was such a great choice for this recipe because it is certified gluten-free, non-GMO Project Verified, comes with fiber and protein, and made with one simple ingredient you can pronounce – chickpeas!
8 oz of Barilla® Chickpea Rotini
1 tbsp oil
2 oz shredded parmesan cheese
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp Italian seasoning
½ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp onion powder
Other spices to taste
Heavily salt a pot of water and cook your chickpea pasta until al dente.
After the pasta is cooked and drained, drizzle over the oil and toss it all together.
Mix in parmesan cheese, salt, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, and onion powder. (PS, if you like a little heat, feel free to mix in some crushed red pepper flakes or any other herbs you’d like!)
Give everything a stir and pour the pasta mixture into an air fryer.
Air fry on 400 degrees for about 10 minutes, shaking multiple times throughout.
Once they’ve browned to your liking, plate and serve with marinara sauce or pesto sauce as a dip! You can also use these in lieu of croutons on your salads for the week.
For easy meals with a ton of benefit and not a lot of thought – Barilla®’s Chickpea and Red Lentil pastas have been a staple in my house lately! You can find them in the pasta aisle, and they are so versatile for lots of different recipe creations throughout the week. You can find the Barilla® Chickpea Rotini or Barilla® Red Lentil Pasta at your local grocery store or Target!
I got to know – which recipe above was more your style? Let me know in the comments!