I’m fully aware that not everyone is “Paleo,” or “Primal,” or even eats a whole foods based diet. Before my daughters and I became Paleo though, we ate very close to it for a few years doing something called the GAPS Diet to work on a lot of intestinal and immune problems that had been manifesting for years. You can read about another awesome ballet dancer who has blogged about her journey with GAPS and is now a Primal eater.She shares tons of delicious Paleo/GAPS friendly recipes, and is also a certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, if you’d like to learn more about her.
Anyways, I have come to learn that in the Paleo world, certain things are considered okay to consume sparingly if your body can tolerate it, such as legumes and raw, full fat dairy. Personally, for me to go beyond the realm of traditional Paleo foods, I believe that it must meet a few criteria, which may seem like a lot initially but makes sense to me: 1.) it is as close to its natural state the way Mother Nature intended, with minimal to no processing involved, 2.) there are very few, pronounceable ingredients that are all from real food that isn’t GMO, doesn’t contain gluten or cane sugar, and if possible, is organically sourced as well, 3.) the product has more health benefits than negative properties, 4.) my body must be able to tolerate it, and 5.) it is consumed sparingly and in moderation, i.e., only once in awhile and not an every day indulgence.
Enter: Tolerant Red Lentil Organic Pasta. I have seen this stuff in my local natural foods market, as well as in Whole Foods, but have never taken the leap and bought it because A) it was way too expensive at a whopping $9.00 a box, and B) it’s technically not Paleo (and still a semi-processed food since it’s in a box, and C) I wasn’t sure how my body was going to react it since I rarely eat any non-Paleo items per my history of gut and immune problems.
One day when I was grocery shopping at WF I noticed it was on sale for $5.99, which, is still pretty expensive for a box of pasta, BUT before you judge me, I was already running really, REALLY, late in getting my oldest from school, and I knew my girls would be starving. I had nothing on hand for dinner that didn’t require me washing produce, chopping it up, and then cooking it. I remembered my oldest daughter, Hailey, had seen the pasta before and begged me for it since she can’t remember the last time she’s had pasta that wasn’t a vegetable, (ahem, Spaghetti Squash or Zoodles,) SO, I figured WHY NOT! It’s on sale, I needed a fast dinner, and I knew she would be over the moon that I had finally bought this box of magical stuff that very closely resembled pasta. I knew I would be a hero. So, I had to buy it.
I rushed to get her from school, came home and excitedly got a pot of water to boil and told her I had a special surprise for her dinner that night.
I wasn’t sure how a “lentil pasta” would taste, so I didn’t think a traditional red sauce would be the way to go if it ended up tasting super “beany.” Ever the adventurous chef with an Italian background, I decided to go with a Mediterranean flavor to compliment the possible impending flavor of beans. After I cooked the pasta I used a generous combination of organic olive oil, lemon, garlic, sea salt, spinach, diced tomatoes and raw cheddar.
Holy.Moly. I think I just mentioned I am Italian, and the closest thing to pasta I have had in the past 4 years is spaghetti squash. I am not complaining, I adore spaghetti squash and I really do not miss traditional pasta because the pain it gives me physically is just not worth it in my book. HOWEVER, this was quite a treat. I was quite pleased with the end result, and so was Hailey. She wolfed down her bowl so fast by the time I sat down to eat she was already done. (Which, if you knew Hailey, is not uncommon as she is a complete foodie who eats with enthusiasm unparalleled.) The best part was, one box makes a very large amount of pasta, and a medium sized bowl was sooo filling and satisfying due to the high protein/fiber content, that you don’t get that heavy feeling followed by renewed hunger and cravings that typically occur after eating traditional gluten (or even gluten free rice pasta.)
Needless to say, I did end up making this same pasta with my marinara sauce, though I skipped the usual homemade meatballs since this pasta is so high in protein. I ended up finding a 6 pack box of this same pasta that broke down to only $4.50 a box! Much cheaper than anywhere I have seen. The red lentil pasta actually tastes quite good in the marinara sauce as well, so if you are adventurous enough to try red lentil pasta feel free to experiment with traditional marinara, the recipe I have provided, or any other recipe that you feel would suit your fancy!
If you don’t care to try the red lentil pasta, feel free to use a gluten free pasta of your choice, however be aware that it will not have the same nutrient content that is great for dancers, with the high protein, low carb aspects. You can also play around with the ratio of seasonings and even switch some of the ingredients for other ones you prefer:
- 1 box of Tolerant Red Lentil Organic pasta, or your favorite gluten free pasta
- About 1/2 cup – 3/4 cup of olive oil
- 1 lemon
- garlic powder or minced garlic
- sea salt
- 1 10oz bag frozen, organic spinach, or a small or large container of fresh organic spinach
- diced cherry tomatoes
- raw, organic, grass-fed cheddar cheese, or any organic cheese of your choice.
For the Pasta:
- Bring a large pot of water to boil with a pinch of sea salt, a pinch of baking soda (if using the red lentil pasta only) and a drizzle of olive oil.
- Boil the pasta according to package directions, about 8 minutes until al dente.
- Drain the pasta, rinse with water if using the red lentil pasta to remove some of the thick starchy residue you will see.
- Keep pasta in the colander while you prepare the rest.
For the Sauce:
- Drizzle some olive oil in the pot where you boiled the pasta. Put in enough to coat the bottom of the pan as well as to coat the spinach
- Use about 1 10oz bag of frozen organic spinach, or a container or bag of fresh spinach.
- Coat the spinach in the olive oil, and heat over low-medium heat for enough time to just wilt it, about 5 minutes.
- Sprinkle the spinach/olive oil mixture with sea salt, pepper, and garlic to taste. Squeeze 1 lemon over the mixture as well.
- Slice some cherry tomatoes, as many as you desire. I used about 1 cup of sliced organic cherry tomatoes.
- Stir everything together until heated through.
- Add the pasta back to the pan and slowly stir around to evenly distribute the mixture. Be careful is using the red lentil pasta, once it is cooked it can splinter easily if you are not careful in stirring.
- Pour desired about into serving plate, and add diced raw, organic cheddar cheese. If you prefer to not use raw cheese, or simply can’t find it, then feel free to use any kind of cheese you like, but preferably use organic and grass fed if you can afford it/find it.
That’s it! Let me know if you are courageous enough to try this! I would love to know if you attempted this recipe, used a different kind of pasta that you enjoy, or swapped out some ingredients for others!