Zero Calorie Baked Pasta Bolognese
The first time I saw shirataki noodles I was in Antibes, in the South of France, where I ran into them in my favorite organic supermarket called Naturalia (check out this chain if you are ever in France!). I could not understand what they were as my French is not that great, but for sure I was able to decipher they had no calories nor gluten. I always get super excited when I discover new ingredients. Cooking with new flavors is for sure one my favorite things to do. What are shirataki noodles made of? Why Shirataki noodles have no calories? I began my research. I discover that Shirataki, a Japanese word that means “white waterfall”, is the name used to describe a kind of noodles made with the starch of Konjac, a tuber also known as “Elephant’s Yam”. Glucomannan, the starch extracted from this yam, is then mixed with water and lime and turned into a dough that’s then shredded into noodles. Since glucomannan is an indigestible water-soluble dietary fiber, Shirataki are very low in carbohydrates and calories. Eaten plain Shirataki noodles are basically flavorless, but they are an excellent ingredient when it comes to give accent to a great sauce. Of course, after learning all this, I had to create a shirataki noodle recipe right away… and because baked pasta is always a little obsession of mine, I thought the timing was perfect to make a healthy gluten free recipe out of it! This dish is suitable for anybody who’s on a vegan diet as its ragout sauce is completely meatless and it’s perfect for those who are lactose intolerant as well. In fact, while tradition contains the entire “dairy trio” (butter, milk and cheese), this healthy béchamel recipe is purely plant based while still being creamy and delicious.
- 400 g (2 packs) Shirataki Noodles
- 425 g Cooked Lentils
- 1/2 tbsp Olive Oil
- 1/2 Yellow Onion
- 2 cloves Garlic
- 10 Sun Dried Tomatos (finely chopped)
- 1 stick Rosemary, finely chopped
- Black Pepper
- Himalayan Salt
- 1 tbsp dried Italian Herbs
- 2 tbsp Grape Seed Oil
- 2 tbsp Corn Starch (or fine Rice Flour)
- 250 ml Plant Based Milk (Soy & Coconut work best)
- 1 pinch Himalayan Salt
- 5 Cherry Tomatoes, thinly sliced
- 1 tsp dried Oregano
- To prepare the meatless ragout sauce, grease a medium sized skillet with olive oil and put it on the stove on low heat. Thinly slice the garlic, chop the onion and the rosemary and toss them in the pan. Let them fry for about 3-4 minutes.
- Add in the lentils and, helping yourself with a wooden spoon, mix well so they absorb all the flavor.
- Wait a couple of minutes then add in the tomato sauce. Mix well, adding salt, pepper, dried Italian herbs and the chopped sun dried tomatoes.
- Let the meatless ragout sauce settle for at least 30 minutes.
- In the meantime, prepare the dairy free béchamel sauce heating up the plant based milk you chose until very hot.
- Pour the grape seed oil in a small pan and, on very low heat, add in the flour and mix energetically with a spoon until creamy.
- Add in the hot milk little by little, constantly mixing to prevent the formation of lumps.
- As the sauce starts to thicken, add in more milk until finished. Let it boil for a couple of minutes, fold in some nutmeg and Himalayan salt, then cover and take off the stove.
- When all the seasonings are ready, cook the shirataki noodles in salted water for about 10 minutes. I know the instructions on the pack usually say to cook them for less time, but I find them too gummy when they are not well cooked and their overall texture, when too firm, is less similar to real pasta.
- While the pasta boils, turn on the oven to 350 F and start greasing a casserole with a little bit of oil.
- Strain the pasta, toss it in the pan with the meatless ragout sauce and mix well.
- Transfer the pasta in the casserole and spread tufts of dairy free béchamel sauce as you go.
- Top your casserole with the sliced cherry tomatoes, sprinkle some dried oregano on top and bake for 10-15 minutes.