Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Great Im-Pasta, Gluten Free!

   I've been thinking a lot about the gluten free lifestyle lately. Part of it has been because I've been doing some cooking for my friend Terri who found out she needs to be GF just before getting badly hurt in a riding accident. Girlfriend needed some treats and it's become a very interesting puzzle for me to try and see what things might be whipped up for her. Terri (before going GF) also made some of the best cookies I've ever eaten. Her cookies are like crack to me and that's going some seeing as I'm not a big indulger in baked goods.
   I do a certain amount of gluten free cooking naturally, as Indian food by and large suits that lifestyle. There are alternatives to the common roti and naan made from non-wheat based flour such as besan, rice flour, coconut flour and jowhar (sorghum) flour. Beyond that however I'm lost. What Western style baking I've done has never been GF and is fairly limited. However even I can't help but notice the trend toward GF products on the shelves on my local markets.
   And then I read Atlantic Magazine  which brought up a whole lot of reasons and arguments for the gluten free lifestyle even if one doesn't have celiac disease. So there was that. I have to add here that as far as I know, no one in my house has celiac disease, but it seemed like a good idea to give all this stuff a further look see, and not just for Terri and her lost crack cookies. Wait a minute, that sounds terrible...but you know what I mean.
  Cruising around on line the other day, I noticed a tweet from the go-to guru for all things GF Glutenfreegirl. On her webpage she had an absolutely mouth watering photo of a big, big bowl of pasta. Being raised in an Italian household, I grew up eating all sorts of pasta from the sublime (my Nonna's) to the ridiculous (Mom's Chef Boy-Are-Dee in the box). I have always felt I've done pasta...thoroughly. Alan however, growing up in a Jewish household in Westport Connecticut... not so much. He loves his pasta and it's always a favorite treat for him when we eat out. When I had my dental surgery last fall I cooked ahead and froze pasta sauce for him so he could fix his own Italian feast while I was on enough drugs to make a Borgia's eyes bug out.
   Normally I ignore big photos of pasta but there was something about that picture, and knowing that what was on that plate was gluten free. This looked like real pasta. I showed the page to Alan.  "How does that look to you?" I asked.
   "This is a trick question right? What's wrong with it?"
   "Nothing, Doesn't it look good...mmmmmm"
   "You're up to something" He's lived with me too long.
   "Okay, it's gluten free"
 He was immediately suspicious but I looked up the company that made the pasta Jovial Foods.
    "Look!" I said. "It's made in Italy... and not just Italy but Lucca, Italy where my grandmother was born! Let's try it!"
   But Alan loves his pasta too much to turn down any opportunity to try some, so I was off to Whole Foods to see if they carried it. They did. There it was. Shelves of gluten free pasta made from brown rice flour in Italy by guys that have been making pasta a long, long time. This stuff had to be the real deal. There were several shapes available. I bought a box of penne rigate. I decided I would try out this GF experiment using a tried and true pasta salad recipe that I've been making for years. I called up some friends and said come to our house tonight for pasta. I did not tell them it was gluten free. Yes, I am a sneak.

Gluten Free Pasta Salad

Here's what to do:

Prepping the Corn:
 Clean, shuck and remove the kernels from two ears of corn.
 Lightly saute the corn in1 tsp of oil for about two to three minutes until it's softened.
Set it aside.

The tomatoes:
Rinse and dry 1 pint of cherry tomatoes
Drizzle them with a bit of olive oil and scatter a bit of coarse salt over the.
Place them in an oven proof baking pan
Put them in a 375 degree preheated oven and roast for about 15 to 20 minutes or so until they split and start to char a bit.
Take them out and set them aside.

Mix the Dressing:
In a small bowl mix together
  3 Tbs of sherry vinegar
  6 Tbs of olive oil
Salt to taste
Add a bit of lime juice
Add in 1/2 tsp of Dijon seeded mustard 
Blend well and taste, if needed adjust seasoning adding a bit more mustard  
Set aside.

Cook The Pasta:
Bring 3 qts of water to a roilling boil (I like that better than rolling).
Sprinkle some salt in the water.
Toss in the pasta and cook for 9 minutes or until al dente.
When cooked, drain and rinse with cold water.

Putting It All Together:
When the pasta has dried mix in:
 The corn
 1 can of black beans, rinsed well and dried.
 The tomatoes.

Stir it all together and drizzle in the dressing slowly.
Add in 4 finely chopped green onions
A sprinkling of freshly chopped cilantro
Mix everything together.

And serve it up.
 I served it with some Chevre from Cypress Grove and a nice Spring Hill jack.

I added in a bowl of fresh figs, crackers for those who wanted them, (remember this was not a GF crowd and I didn't want to tip my hand) and several good wines a Chalone Vineyard Sauvingnon Blanc

and the one that everyone was crazy for Pelligrini Eight Cousins Vineyard 2003 Zinfandel winner of the Gold medal at the Sonoma County Harvest Fair.
So did the pasta pass muster? you bet it did! They loved it. Perfectly al dente with good flavor, not gummy or mushy, it totally passed. Served to a bunch of people who are not GF they couldn't tell the difference and that's going some. Gluten free pasta has arrived, and it took a my Ancestral City to do it! Go Lucca!

   Will I be serving it again? You betcha. And soon. Their website also promises a type of flour and pasta not GF made from Einkorn Flour which is the very first species of wheat grown by humans...not modified, not hybridized! Old skool grain. It doesn't seem to be available here in Sonoma yet but I can't wait!!
  I am so glad I stopped at Gluten Free Girl and the Chefs page and read about this great GF pasta. If you drop by her website, you can enter your name to win a free trip to Tuscany in May to cook with Gluten Free Girl and The Chef for a week in a villa outside of Lucca. Just click here to read about it and enter.
  Now after a meal like this... there's gotta be a dessert, right? Actually there doesn't have to be, but we were little piggies and I really needed to try out a special GF dessert on some willing victims, What was it? Find out soon. Meanwhile follow along on Twitter @kathygori


  1. Damn you. You are going to get me to try it, aren't you. This looks so good.

  2. Looks good - glad the old bait and switch worked out! I'll have to keep my eyes open for that one.

  3. I'm seeing a lot of pasta lately. I'm realizing I need to eat more pasta.

    I love the corn in there!

  4. Gluten Free Cookies These are so yummy!



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