Is bean pasta a thing where you live? I would imagine that if it’s gone mainstream in Sweden, somewhere not normally known for being head of the curve on food trends, then it must be.
Here in Stockholm it’s on the shelf at the supermarket right next to the regular pasta, and comes in all sorts of shapes, sizes, and bean variants. Lentil fusilli! Chickpea penne! Edamame linguini! And of course, black bean spaghetti. Does it taste like regular pasta? Well, no. Regular pasta is made from flour and bean pasta is made from beans, which is not the same. Beans do have a nice neutral taste that lends well to this kind of thing, but if you’re trying to fool a picky eater – just like if you spiralize a zucchini and say it’s spaghetti – you will not.
But bean noodles, and zucchini noodles for that matter, are delicious in their own right and deserve to be celebrated for what they are. Noodles made from beans, how awesome is that?! You can eat a big old bowl of bean noodles and you don’t have to add anything for protein because the protein is in the noodles! And they’re jam packed with dietary fiber, another thing that traditional pasta is sorely lacking. Bean noodles are naturally gluten free, which is a good thing for those who need to or want to avoid gluten. And they’re fun! Live a little! Eat some bean noodles!
Black bean spaghetti lends itself particularly well to Asian flavours, and so I’ve made these sweet little noodle bowls with spicy sesame sauce and choose-your-own-adventure veggies. I went with lightly steamed broccoli, diced cucumber, radish matchsticks, spring onion, and cilantro.
True story: a looooooong time ago I dated this guy who was super vocal about how much he hated cilantro. He said it made him feel like his mouth was empty when in fact I’m pretty sure the issue was that his soul was empty. <– Ok, not true, I’m sure he’s turned out to be a nice enough guy but I was kind of an idiot when I was 20 and just decided that because my (super questionable) boyfriend didn’t like cilantro then neither did I. So I spent many sad cilantro-less years before I decided to learn to think for myself and realized that I, in fact, love cilantro. I love it a lot, and it definitely doesn’t make me feel like my mouth is empty. But if you’re one of those people with a legitimate disorder that makes cilantro taste like soap, I’m very sorry. Please choose another topping at your discretion.
Right, and the sauce. I’m of the opinion that having a few good sauces in your repertoire, and perhaps even in your refrigerator, makes everything better. Imagine if you had a batch of this spicy sesame sauce ready to go in your fridge. All you’d have to do is cook up some bean noodles (which takes less than 10 minutes), chop some veggies, and you’d have a very fine meal of your hands. The sauce is made from ingredients you’ve probably already got on hand, like tahini and peanut butter and soy sauce, nothing fancy that requires a trip to a specialty store, and you can dial the spiciness up or down at your pleasure. It’ll last about a week in your fridge if you want to do it in advance.
The bean noodles, too, can be cooked in advance, tossed in a bit of sesame oil, and kept in the fridge since this is a dish intended to be eaten cold anyways. And the veg, obvs, can also be prepped ahead of time, so you essentially end up with a noodle bowl salad bar in your fridge. How awesome are you?!
Last question: do these spicy sesame noodle bowls make for a fine packed lunch? Yes, yes they do. Those are my legit lunch boxes down below. I ate these noodle bowls for lunch four days in a row a few weeks back and each and every one was perfectly glorious. Just layer everything into a container, tuck a little jar of sauce alongside, and you’re in business. Your lunch will be the envy of your colleagues/ classmates/ office peeps. And as an added bonus you’ll get to educate them about the amazingness of bean noodles, and, why yes, you can share the recipe, it comes from this awesome blog you follow… Right? Right.
Black beans are a good source of folate, dietary fiber, protein, phosphorus, iron, copper, magnesium, manganese, potassium and vitamin K. The protein-plus-fiber combination in black beans is one of the things that makes them special. A one cup serving contains 15g of fiber (over half of the daily recommended intake), and 15g of protein. Much of the fiber is indigestible, which supports digestive health, particularly in the lower part of our digestive tract. The protein-fiber combination is also key in stabilizing blood sugar levels, as both protein and fiber move through our digestive systems at a moderate pace. Black beans are also rich in soluble fiber, which is helpful for lowering blood cholesterol levels and supporting cardiovascular health. You know what they say, beans beans good for the heart… but if the second part of that rhyme concerns you, be sure to discard the soaking water when cooking dried beans. You’ll be tossing out a good amount of flatulence causing compounds, as well as some of the phytates and tannins that lower nutrient availability.
Two years ago: Spring Living Lentil Bowls
Three years ago: Kale and Quinoa Salad with Smoked Feta
Four years ago: Game Changing Hummus
Five years ago: Roasted Chickpeas with Three Paprikas
Six years ago: Kale Chips
- 2 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
- 2 Tbsp tahini paste
- 1 Tbsp smooth peanut butter
- 3½ Tbsp liquid aminos (I use Braggs) or light soy sauce
- 2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
- 1 Tbsp brown sugar
- 1 Tbsp finely grated ginger
- 1 medium clove garlic, crushed or minced
- sambal oelek (chili paste) to taste
- 200g black bean spaghetti
- 1 head broccoli broken into bite-sized florets and lightly steamed
- 6 radishes, chopped into matchsticks
- ½ a medium long English cucumber, diced
- 2 green onions, finely sliced
- ½ cup cilantro, chopped
- Toasted sesame seeds for garnish
- In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together sesame oil, tahini, peanut butter, liquid aminos, rice vinegar, brown sugar, ginger, crushed garlic. Add a bit of sambal oelek or other chili paste if using, to taste.
- Cook the black bean spaghetti according to the package instructions. Mine takes only about 8 minutes to cook.
- Rinse the noodles under cold water, and toss with a bit of sesame oil to avoid clumping.
- Portion the noodles into four bowls. top with broccoli florets, radish matchsticks, diced cucumber, green onion, and cilantro.
- Spoon sauce over the bowls, and toss to combine.
- Garnish with toasted sesame seeds if you like.
Sauce recipe is adapted from Smitten Kitchen