Monday, May 27, 2013

Pasta -- You Don't Have to Settle

I love Italian food!  My husband and I both have Italian grandmothers and so many of our family traditions and dinners involve pasta, pizza, panini, etc.  Oddly enough, I wasn't a huge fan of pasta as a child.  I didn't like my family's old school Italian sauce that was cooked on the stove for hours, and hours, and hours.  My parents said I would grow out of that and like it some day.  I proved them wrong on that count!  I used to eat the homemade pasta my mom and grandmother made with butter, instead of sauce.  It seemed kind of dull and unexciting.  It wasn't until I discovered that I liked Romano cheese that I started liking pasta a bit more.  Then, in my 20s, I worked at a restaurant called the Italian Oven and fell in love with so many different pasta dishes.   I love alfredo, and carbonara, and pasta primavera with vegetables.   My mom also started making a quick cook tomato sauce that I really liked.  My mom and my aunt also make amazing beef ravioli.  Gnocchi, which my husband's grandmother is incredibly skilled at making, is another family favorite.



After being diagnosed with Celiac, I tried several brands of gluten free pasta and was disappointed by all of them.  There was definitely no brand that my gluten eating family would eat, so we rarely cooked pasta for about three years.  Once in a blue moon, I would make myself some Tinkyada pasta, but I hated the fact that I had to rinse it with cold water after cooking it, and it just didn't taste right to me.  About two years ago, I discovered Bionaturae gluten free pasta.  


My family likes the Bionaturae fusilli, linguine, and elbows, but we are not fans of the penne.  I dusted off all my old pasta recipes and started making pasta again.  This year, we discovered another great brand of gluten free pasta that we enjoyed even more than Bionaturae.  


BiAglut, like Bionaturae, is made in Italy, but it is much harder to find in the United States.  I first saw it in a store called Gluten Free Zone in Pittsburgh, but didn't have room in my suitcase to bring it home.  Because the gentleman I talked to in the store recommended it so highly, I finally broke down and ordered some BiAglut Penne from amazon.  We were not disappointed!  Like Bionaturae, you don't have to rinse it, and it is really good left over, not mushy at all.  Amazon is the best place I have found to buy BiAglut.   When it's in stock, you can buy it in bulk and pay no shipping or tax.  We have also tried their Pipes (shells), Rigatoni, Fusilli, and Stelline.  They are all just as good as the penne!  BiAglut does not contain rice, but it does contain lupin flour and lupin protein, which should be avoided by people with peanut allergies.  
Update -- I have recently been purchasing BiAglut from Vitacost.com.  

We also like Conte's Gluten Free Gnocchi, which we purchase in the freezer section at the Whole Foods on Turkey Lake Road or from Chamberlin's in Winter Park.  Gnocchi is a potato pasta, which looks like a little dough ball. We have experimented with making it from scratch, but it was time consuming, messy, and frankly, just not worth it when we can buy a product we like a little better.

January 4, 2014 Update -- you can read more about the brands of gluten free gnocchi we are buying here in my blog post about gnocchi.  Our new favorite is DeLallo, which we purchase at The Fresh Market.  We also love DeLallo Gluten Free Orzo.  My kids beg me to make it for them for lunch all the time.  They love it with butter and Romano or Parmesan cheese.  I have purchased the orzo at Walmart and The Fresh Market.  


I'm not a fan of sauce from a jar, but we recently discovered Scarpetta Tuscan Vodka Sauce. It's better than the vodka sauce we make from scratch and it's labeled Gluten Free.  It is sugar and preservative free too, but I will admit I like to add 2 teaspoons of sugar to the sauce before I serve it. I first found it at The Fresh Market, but now purchase it "subscribe and save" from amazon.  We have also purchased Scarpetta's Pink Pesto Sauce, but the vodka sauce is our favorite.   My favorite 10 minute dinner is DeLallo Gnocchi with Scarpetta Tuscan Vodka Sauce and microwave in the bag frozen peas.  


April 2, 2014 Update -- I recently tried and reviewed Barilla gluten free pasta.  It has great texture and taste, it's more affordable than most gluten free pastas, and it's available at Publix.  You can read my review here.  


 Mom's Quick Cook Tomato Sauce -- This recipe now has its own blog post.  You can view it here.  


Pasta Salad with Roasted Vegetables

Preheat oven to 425.

2 red or orange bell peppers, 1 large sweet onion, 1/2 butternut squash , 3 cloves of garlic,  2 large sweet potatoes (peel the skin off the last 4 veggies) -- chop all vegetables into one inch pieces except the garlic, put them on a large baking sheet, and spray them with cooking spray.  Roast them in the oven for about 40 minutes until tender, turning once.  Cool the vegetables to room temperature and smash the garlic into a paste.

Cook 12 ounces of pasta according to package directions.   We have used Bionaturae Gluten Free Fusilli for this recipe with great success.   
Dressing -- 1/3 C fresh lemon juice, 1/3 C extra virgin olive oil, 1 tsp kosher salt, 1/2 tsp coarse ground black pepper, 15 fresh basil leaves chopped.

Toss the pasta, vegetables, and dressing together in a large bowl.  Serve at room temperature.  

My mom and aunt like to serve it with 1/2 C of toasted chopped pecans.  



This dish is also great with other vegetables like eggplant or rutabaga.  



January 2014 Update -- Pasta with Roasted Vegetables now has its own post.  You can view it here.  

Pasta with Roasted Grape Tomatoes, Garlic, and White Beans.  


This recipe now has its own blog post.  You can view it here.  I love to serve this pasta dish to guests.  It's always a big hit!



Pasta with Uncooked Tomato Basil Sauce

This recipe is a great make ahead meal.  Cut up your tomatoes, basil and garlic in the morning, and all you have to do when you are ready to eat dinner is cook a pound a pasta.  You can view the recipe here.


Gluten Free Baked Rigatoni 

This recipe now has its own blog post.  You can view my recipe for Gluten Free Baked Rigatoni here.  




Four Cheese Rigatoni with Spinach & Tomatoes



Four Cheese Rigatoni with Spinach & Tomatoes is definitely one of our favorite pasta dishes.  You can view the recipe here.  

Creamy Garlic Chicken Penne



This pasta dish came about because I was in the mood for a white sauce, and I had chicken to use.  My daughter Emma begs me to make it all the time.  You can view the recipe here

Gluten Free Garlic Pesto Sauté 



This pasta dish was inspired by a meal I had at Noodle & Company in Pittsburgh.  You can view the recipe here.  

Gluten Free Dinner Rolls


Bread and pasta naturally go together.  I finally found a delicious, easy to make, gluten free bread recipe. It also happens to be grain free.  You can view it here.  








   


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