I can’t really get enough pasta. It’s comfort food for me, warm or cold, any season of the year. This week, my gluten-free-dairy-free pledge has caused a little consternation in the pasta department. Most of the time, I’ve been cooking meat-vegetables-grain-type meals for dinner. Those kinds of recipes are, by far, the quickest and easiest to toss together. They make great lunches, and, if you have some crêpes or rice paper on hand, meat and veggies are great breakfast fixings, too. But, going gluten-and-dairy-free has its challenges. What do you do when you’re craving bread, cake, pasta … you know, all of those gluten-laden foods you used to depend on? Remember, challenges are surmountable if you look at them from a different angle. Right … enough with the platitudes. Sometimes, alternatives just don’t come close to the real thing. Rice pasta in tomato sauce just doesn’t work for me. So, while nothing will have that same subtly sweet, biscuity taste of wheat pasta, I can find a way to make alternative pasta taste just as good. Packaged gluten-free pasta can work if you match it to the right sauce. If you’re more inclined to try experimenting and making your own pasta, I’d love to hear about what kind of flour combinations or recipes have worked for you.
In the meantime, here’s a recipe I adapted from a few different sources. It’s high in protein, quick to make and tasty, to boot. If you happen to have any leftovers, it works particularly well stirred into 3 eggs (per 1 cup of leftover pasta) and fried into a frittata. I haven’t yet found a rice pasta that I like, so I picked up a rice and quinoa blend made by GoGo Quinoa. The pasta, in a kind of fusilli shape, took about 15 minutes to cook, but did not become mushy. Probably thanks to the quinoa, the cooked pasta had a slightly nutty taste. So, a toasted almond sauce seemed the way to go. I paired this dish with Daniel Lenko 2007 Viognier.
Fusilli in Toasted Almond Pesto
1 pkg (227g) Gluten Free pasta (any shape you’d like)
1 cup mixed vegetables, chopped (I used rapini, Swiss Chard and yellow beans)
2 cups toasted almonds
1/2 cup olive oil (more as needed)
2 garlic cloves
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to package directions.
Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan. When hot, add vegetables. Cook until wilted. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
In the container of a food processor, add almonds and garlic. Process, adding olive oil slowly until the mixture has reached a fairly loose, saucy consistency. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
Drain cooked pasta. Pour pasta into a large bowl. Drizzle almond pesto over the pasta; stir gently until the sauce has spread evenly over all the pasta. Stir in vegetable mixture.