Saturday, June 7, 2008

Pasta - Comfort Food Finally

Growing up in New Jersey, Christmas Eve was never complete without Mom's pasta/seafood dinner. My favorite was the calamari pasta. I loved the chewiness of the calamari with the al-dente texture of the pasta. The tomato sauce was slightly spicy and always perfect. For the rest of the dinner, I preferred not to eat the eel, although it wasn't too bad, and never ate the plate of little fish staring at me. (Mom, what were they called again?)

Alas, that was many years ago and many miles ago. I'm living in the Valley of the Sun now, I've been a vegetarian for 22 years and gluten free for the past three years. That pretty much leaves out any more pasta/seafood Christmas Eve dinners. But Mom lives in the Valley now also, and is living GF too. Although I'll never have calamari pasta again, the search for a good GF pasta is finally over.

I've finally decided on a brand that actually tastes like the pasta I remember. Of course, nothing will ever compare exactly to a good, semolina pasta. As I've said before, I refuse to eat something that doesn't wow me, and in my quest for pasta, I wasn't wowed for a long time. I tried Tinkyada's brown-rice pasta and it was pretty good, it just had a tendency to get mushy very fast and it doesn't have much flavor. I tried corn pasta that I found at Safeway one day (I don't even remember the brand) and it was totally inedible. I think I could do some yard repair with that stuff.

Finally, someone mentioned Trader Joe's brown-rice pasta. It's much less expensive than the other brands, and believe it or not, it's great!... The pasta cooks up nicely and has a wonderful al-dente texture, just like whole-wheat pasta. It actually has a great taste that adds to the flavor of any dish. I prefer to use the spaghetti-style pasta, but they do have smaller noodles also.

Tonight, my daughter requested one of her favorites for dinner--broccoli and garlic noodles. Before GF, we ate them often. After, I would just make them for her and watch her eat them. Now that I've finally found a pasta with great flavor and texture, it's time to head back. Since she's not a big fan of sun-dried tomatoes, I just take her serving out of the pan before adding the tomatoes. But if you're good with everything, just follow the directions below.

And thanks Mom for the great Christmas Eve memories.

Broccoli, Garlic and Sun-dried Tomato Pasta

3/4 lb brown-rice pasta (cooked to al dente)
2 Tbs olive oil
1 cup chopped broccoli
1 Tbs chopped garlic
1/3 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
2 tsp wheat-free tamari
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
grated Romano cheese

Drop pasta into large pot of boiling water for approximately 10 minutes.

While pasta is cooking, put broccoli in a large sautee pan with about 1/3 cup water. Cover and steam broccoli for about 5 minutes or until tender. Remove cover and let water cook off.

Add olive oil, garlic, tamari and sun-dried tomatoes to sautee pan and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes until garlic is slightly browned. Add salt, pepper and red pepper flakes.

Strain pasta and rinse with cold water for 10 seconds. Let drain and add pasta to sautee pan and toss everything together.

Serve with grated cheese.


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