If you follow a wheat-free or gluten-free diet, or you aspire to, you may be pining for pasta. I realize you don’t just want pasta, you want great tasting pasta to enjoy in your favorite recipes. Five to 10 years ago that might have been an iffy proposition. All that has changed. Here in 2011, it’s definitely a reality. I’ve tried several brands of gluten-free pasta and listened to colleagues, friends, and bloggers who cook and eat a lot of pasta.
If you tried some of the earlier gluten-free pasta options and found them soggy and unpalatable, don’t rule out the newer versions. I found two brands I really like and highly recommend.
The brand that receives the most raves is Tinkyata Pasta. This stone ground whole grain brown rice pasta has a firm texture and great taste. It’s free of wheat, gluten, corn, eggs, dairy, casein, nuts, and peanuts. So if you or your family members have multiple food allergies, this is probably the best brand for you. It’s also certified organic and kosher certified. It has a great mouthfeel and holds up well to sauces.
Tinyata makes 18 wheat-free, gluten-free pastas, including spaghetti, spinach spaghetti, spirals, vegetable spirals, shells, grand shells, fusilli, elbows, fettucini, lasagna, penne, and little dreams (a kid kind of shape). Ingredients: organic brown rice, rice brand, and water. Spinach and vegetable pastas contain added vegetables.
I tried their brown rice spaghetti a few months ago when one of my cooking students used it to make her final recipe for Whole Foods Cuisine I. She topped it with the Practically Paleo Pesto recipe from my book, The Garden of Eating. (The recipe can be made with basil and parsley, mint and parsley, or cilantro and parsley.) My students were impressed with the pasta and the pesto. I would definitely buy that pasta. I want to try some of the other shapes made by Tinkyata. I have a dairy-free mac & cheese recipe from The Spunky Coconut Blog flagged in my inbox. I’ll let you know when I try it.
The other gluten-free pasta I really like is Andean Dream Gluten-Free Spaghetti. It’s gluten-free, corn-free, organic, and Kosher. Ingredients: organic Royal Quinoa and rice flour.
I prepared it according to the package directions for the final class and potluck for my recent 5-week Whole FoodsI Cuisine course at Southwest Institute of Healing Arts (SWIHA) in Tempe, AZ. I topped it with Practically Paleo Pesto pulled from my freezer (recipe from The Garden of Eating). I set out parmesan cheese, dulse flakes with toasted sesame seeds, and sea salt as optional additions; people seemed to enjoy it as is.
The plate on the right, my lunch on Saturday, contains Caveman Chili, Better Brussels Sprouts, Roasted Mushrooms, and Herb Scrambled Eggs from The Garden of Eating, the Quiona-Rice pasta with Practically Paleo Pesto, a mini grassfed beef kafta kabob, and Glutino rice crackers. One of my students also made a chicken recipe from my book that was also a hit (not pictured) that I’m eating for lunch today. For dessert, we had three flavors of Ice Dream, dairy-free, coconut milk “ice cream”, (from my Ice Dream Cookbook) with Mango and Blueberry Sauces, Karly’s Cocoa Sauce, and cakey-textured Chocolate Chip Ice Dream Sandwich Cookies from the same book. The verdict: An enthusiastic row of forks up! You can find some of those recipes on my blog.
Even the skeptics were impressed with the pasta. One had never eaten gluten-free pasta and doubtedthat it would taste good; the other had tried gluten-free pasta years ago and had been so underwhelemed that he gave up on buying it again. The skeptics and the rest of loved the flavor, texture, and mouthfeel. I now have a eight new converts to gluten-free pasta.
By the way, if you like Quinoa check out my Cooking with Quinoa Class at Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, AZ, on Sunday, June 26th, 2011. The same class will also run on Sunday, July 17th, 2011. You can read more on the Cooking Class page of this blog. I will show you more great ways to add quinoa to your recipe repertoire.
If you want to make my Practically Paleo Pesto, a dairy-free twist on the classic, click here. Adjust the garlic, salt, olive oil, lemon juice, and pepper to your liking. I frequently make it to use up leftovers parsley, basil, cilantro, mint, or some combination of these. It freezes fairly well. I pour it into varying sized small jars (label the contents and date it), cover it with a layer of olive or avocado oil, and freeze. When I want it, I transfer it from the freezer to the fridge a day or so in advance, making it ready to add to Angeled Eggs (Deviled eggs minus the evil sounding name), blanched vegetables, a tossed green salad, an omelet, or mayo. It’s also great spooned over cooked chicken breast, pork loin, sliced tomatoes, or over baked potato, polenta, or gluten-free pasta.
Note: To punch up the flavor after defrosting, you may need to adjust the seasonings. Also, remember, every time you remove some of the pesto from the jar you need to add a layer of olive or avocado oil to the jar to completely cover the pesto to keep it from oxidizing.
If you don’t already own a copy of my Garden of Eating Cookbook, click here for ordering information. If you buy it directly from my secured web site you’ll receive it within one to two weeks if you order it by insured media mail (faster if you pay for expedited delivery). You’ll receive a sample shopping list that goes with the sample month of menus in chapter 13. You’ll also get it for a much better price ($34.95 +  sales tax if you live in Arizona) than anywhere else online. Expect to pay $130 or more for a copy on Amazon.
Do you have a favorite brand of gluten-free pasta? Do you have a favorite use for pesto? An unusual ingredient you add to it? I’d love to hear from you. Please let me know by posting a comment below. Come back as often as you like to share more info with my readers. You can do this with any of my blog posts.