If you’re heading to a barbecue, a pasta salad makes a great addition to an outdoor party. But a trip down your grocery aisle will show you that it’s not just made up of wheat anymore.

There is chickpea pasta, bean pasta, and even quinoa pasta, and some may be healthier options than others.

Consumer Reports experts checked out 13 alternative pastas in total to evaluate for nutrition, taste, and texture to see which of these pasta alternatives are tasty and nutritious.

"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," said Amy Keating of Consumer Reports.

Overall their carb count is similar to regular pasta, and they are a good source of fibre.

If you're crossing the border to shop, Trader Joe's organic black bean rotini has good black bean flavour but on its own had a slight mushy, chalky texture. That was minimized when put into a salad. A one cup serving has about 15 grams of fibre.

Topping the chickpea versions is Explore Cuisines organic chickpea fusilli. It received good scores for nutrition. It has a slightly starch bean-like flavour and a chewy texture.

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.

For best results, follow the cooking directions carefully and don’t overcook, as legume pastas can get mushy quickly.

Alternative Pasta Recipes

Black Bean Rotini with Corn, Avocado and Tomatoes

• 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, ½ chopped small red onion, 1 chopped avocado.

• In a small bowl, combine ¼ cup fresh lime juice, 1/3 cup olive oil, ½ teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper. Pour over ingredients; toss. Top with 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro. - Makes 6 servings

Chickpea Fusilli

• Cook an 8 ounce package of Explore Organic Chickpea Fusilli according to package directions.

• Drain and place in a large bowl.

• Toss with ¼ cup olive oil; sprinkle with ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese and 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley. - Makes 4 servings

Red Lentil Rotini with Roasted Cauliflower and Spinach

• Heat oven to 425 F. Toss ½ head cauliflower, trimmed and cut into florets, 3 tablespoons olive oil, 1 pint grape tomatoes and ¼ 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, ½ cup grated asiago cheese and enough pasta water to moisten. - Makes 4 servings