Friday, April 15, 2011

Cooking Gluten Free Pasta ~Perfectly!!!

If you know me then it is no secret that I love pasta!  I really love pasta!  People always assume that I can no longer eat pasta or that gluten free varieties are a disgusting excuse for their beloved wheat blends.  I am here to tell you, those assumptions are false!  Hooray!  We still have pasta whenever we want and it is just as yummy as ever!  I would actually argue that the pasta we eat now is even better because we have explored so many new flavors and, of course, we can enjoy it more because of the absence of gluten-induced stomach pain!!!  However, there are secrets to making and eating gluten free pasta and I shall uncover them for you!

First things first..........just because it is gluten free does not make it healthy!  This goes for all foods labeled gluten free but today we are only discussing pasta!  White Rice Penne = not the best option!  Try to stay away from white rice pasta if at all possible.  Some boxes will be a blend that include white as well as brown but just do the best you can!  You should avoid white rice for lots of reasons!  It is blank nutritionally and as a pasta, it is gross.  It is not filling and tends to get sticky and mushy.  This is probably the reason why most people cringe at the mention of gluten free pasta so beware!  That being said, there are lots of other varieties that taste fantastic and are much healthier!

 

Brown Rice pasta is a great substitute for wheat!  It has a similar texture and flavor especially the Deboles Brown Rice plus Flax!  Yum!  Secret #1:  DO NOT OVERCOOK GLUTEN FREE PASTA!  The box or bag will have cooking instructions, most will remind you not to overcook the pasta and it is essential for taste and texture that you heed their advice!  Gluten free blends take about half the time of traditional pasta and some take even less!  The brown rice varieties need only be boiled for about 5-7 minutes so watch carefully!  You want them al dente just as you would any other kind of noodle!  If you are making a dish that can be frozen such as a lasagna or other baked pasta dish, you need to undercook your pasta!  G-free pasta that has been frozen can be mushy after it has been thawed and baked so undercooking is key!  It will cook more while in the oven and come out perfect as long as you undercook before freezing!  Secret #2:  RINSE YOUR PASTA WITH COLD WATER!  Unless you are making a cold pasta salad, secret number two is a no-no with traditional pasta.  However, G-free pasta needs to be rinsed in order to stop the cooking process as well as keep the noodles from being gummy or sticking together!  Another great brown rice variety is Tinkyada, which you can purchase through Amazon for a really decent price, about half that of the pasta you will find at the store!  Trader Joe's also has a brown rice pasta that is priced well but I am leary of a lot of TJ products because they are produced in the same facility or on the same equipment as other products containing wheat.  Just know how sensitive you are before trying a TJ product and read all labels!  Enough with brown rice pasta.....let us move on because there are so many other gluten free blends that are quite fabulous!  One of these is quinoa and corn based pasta!
This brings me to Secret #3:  BE CREATIVE AND KNOW YOUR FLAVORS!  A recipe that worked well for brown rice pasta may not taste the same with a different variety.  Try to think outside the box and get creative with your pairings!  Corn and quinoa based noodles are great with southwestern dishes and strong tomato based sauces.  I have found that a mild tomato sauce does not work well with this flavor of pasta so I always add more garlic and spices.  One of my very favorite recipes works wonderfully with this kind of pasta, Angela's Quick and Easy Creamy Alfredo!  (side note:  I love that blog so much it's ridiculous.  Angela is a genius as I have said many a time before!  That recipe seriously delivers and btw it's totally vegan!)  You can also make the sauce ahead of time and freeze, then thaw in a pan before adding your cooked and rinsed pasta!  This is a good recipe as well and a great way to get some veggies!  Another variety of gluten free pasta contains amaranth! 

The amaranth variety that I have tried comes from Deboles and is a blend of rice, quinoa and amaranth.  I think that this particular pasta has a sweeter flavor and goes really well with salty and peppery ingredients for recipes!  For instance, the addition of goat cheese or arugula would be amazing!  So again, just be aware of what flavor options you could pair with your pasta!  I have made a baked dish with this pasta adding arugula, mushrooms, sea salt, and a clove of garlic to a basic tomato sauce then added goat cheese to the top....it was legendary!  Kyle has even requested it!  Olives and pesto would go well with this pasta also!  The sky is the limit folks!  Don't be afraid of gluten free pasta!  You are going to find plenty of fabulous new recipes you can add to your collection whether you are a gluten free family or just rotating your grains! 




Do you have any favorite recipes for gluten free pasta?  I would love to add more to our repertoire!!!

Have a lovely day! 

2 comments:

  1. My two favorite ways to cook GF pasta (aside from what you've already said, of course!):
    1. Use spiralizer to make zucchini into spaghetti. Let "weep" in a small amount of salt until soft. Serve with raw or warmed pasta sauce

    2. Cut spaghetti squash in half, bake until soft (1 hour?). Scoop out, serve hot with sauce and maybe some grass fed beef, gluten free meatballs- At least that's how my hubby likes it :)

    YAY pasta!

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  2. How could I have forgotten to mention the yummy goodness that is veggies turned into pasta?? Thanks Megan! YUM!!!!!!!

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