Category Archives: pasta

Carbonara – The Gluten-Free, Vegetarian Way

carbonaraI see Pasta Carbonara recipes on the cooking channels all the time. They look wonderful, creamy, yummy. It just always seemed complicated or too tricky. And, I don’t eat bacon, of course. But, that didn’t stop me from giving it a try and finding a fantastic, quick ,and decadent dinner. Trust me, it sounds strange if you haven’t tried it, or if you are a meat-eater and want to add bacon, go right ahead. I don’t think it’s missing anything without the bacon. The Parmesan gives it a salty, creamy texture and the eggs add a bit of protein and a hearty flavor. I used spaghetti, but go ahead and try it with penne or even fusilli if you like. I know I’ll be making this again since it’s so easy and comforting.

Veggie Carbonara, Gluten-Free Style

3/4 lb of gluten-free spaghetti (I used Trader Joe’s corn pasta, you can use what you like. I used about 3/4 of the bag)

2 eggs

1/4 cup half & half (maybe a little less, depending on how big your eggs are. Mine were on the small side)

1/4 cup grated Parmesan

1 cup chopped broccoli and cauliflower

olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder

1 Tbs chopped fresh parsley

1. Fill a pot with water and bring to a boil. When it comes to a boil, salt the water and add the pasta, cooking for 8 minutes (or whatever the instructions are for the pasta you are using).

2. While the pasta is cooking, add olive oil to a sauté pan and add cauliflower and broccoli. Add a bit of salt and sauté until brown and softening. Set aside.

3. In a separate bowl, add eggs, half & half and most of the Parmesan and mix well with a fork. Add a pinch of salt/pepper.

4. Drain the pasta, reserving a bit of the water in case you need to soften up the sauce.

5. Here’s the important part—take the saute pan off the heat and then add the drained pasta to the pan. Coat with the oil in the pan, and then add the egg mixture, tossing to get all the noodles coated. The sauce will thicken up as the eggs set, but as long as it’s off the heat you won’t have scrambled eggs instead. If it’s too thick, just add a little bit of the reserved cooking water to thin it out.

6. Top with a bit more Parmesan if you like, and the chopped fresh parsley.

If you don’t have broccoli and cauliflower in your fridge (I had a small bag of mixed), go ahead and use zucchini or even sauté some carrots. The veggies don’t matter, you can even leave them out and just make it plain. You probably have a couple of eggs and a bit of half & half in the fridge. That really all you need, along with Parmesan and pasta. Be creative.





Filed under broccoli, cauliflower, cheese, cooking, dinner, egg, eggs, gluten free, pasta, vegetarian

The ultimate comfort food… Gluten-free Mac & Cheese

GF Mac & Cheese (better than my mom’s…Shhhh)

Wow, I am so good! Seriously… Since going GF about 6 years ago, I haven’t had a good mac & cheese. I’ve had frozen mac & cheese, and that yucky one in the box. I gave up after trying to doctor them and coming up with a goopy, yucky mess. But that doesn’t mean that my need for comfort food is gone (can’t you tell by the enchilada pie the other day?)

I have seen many, many recipes for this timeless comfort food on the Internet and they all look good. Truth is, I’m sure they are all good. But I wanted mine to be awesome! Instead of using flour to thicken the cheese sauce, the top three options out there are GF flour mix, corn starch and rice flour. I chose to go with some sweet rice flour I have in the cabinet, which I normally use for GF crepes. I also just grabbed all the different kinds of cheese in the fridge, so don’t get nervous about that. Make sure you put some cheddar in there, then switch it up and use whatever looks good to you. The main point is to have a gooey, cheesy cream sauce that bakes into a wonderful dish that brings back comfort memories. OK, this is better actually than mom used to make, but I’ll deny it if anyone tells her that (sorry Mom!)

The rest is simple…pasta, cheese, butter, milk, bake, viola! Give it a try and I guarantee you’ll fool those G-Eaters out there. My husband ate two plates full and said he’d eat this over any gluten mac & cheese out there. Score!

GF Mac & Cheese 
2 1/2 cups GF pasta (I used DeBole’s corn elbows)
1/2 stick butter
2 Tbs Sweet Rice Flour
2 cups milk
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dried mustard
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
2 cups shredded Mexican cheese
1/2 cup chopped cheese cubes (I had Jarlsburg and Cheddar left and chopped it up)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Cook pasta with plenty of water and salt. Take it out while just under al dente since it will cook some more in the oven.
3. While pasta cooks, melt butter in a pan. Add flour and whisk till mixed well. Then add milk slowly and keep mixing till blended well and bubbly. Let it simmer while stirring and thickening. It should be about as thick as a good thick gravy. If it isn’t, go ahead and add a little more rice flour or milk, depending on which way you need to go.
4. Add the cheese and mix till all the cheese is melted.
5. Add drained pasta to cheese mixture and blend.
6. Pour pasta mixture into a greased 8×8 glass baking dish.
7, Sprinkle with a handful of shredded cheese (optional) and bake for 30 minutes.
8. Let it sit for about 10 minutes before serving (if you can wait that long).

I love the way it looks when it comes out of the oven…yum!



Filed under cheese, gluten free, pasta, vegetarian

A visit to True Food Kitchen

Wow. While perusing the Apple iPad at the Biltmore Fashion Park in Phoenix today, Daughter and I decided to take in True Food Kitchen. The restaurant is a collaboration between Dr. Andrew Weil (the whole food guru we all know and love) and local restaurateur on fire – Sam Fox.

We started with a fresh strawberry lemonade for Daughter, and I began with the T-Eight, a lovely blend of fresh veggies including Tomato, Celery, Ginger, Cucumber, Golden Beet, Apple, Carrot & Parsley ($6). Yum, served over ice it was refreshing and cool. Although at $6, I’ll ask for less ice and more juice next time.

Daughter had the gluten-free baked ziti, which was essentially brown-rice pasta, tomato sauce, kale and a little Parmesan ($7). She was in heaven. The sauce was beautiful with mild spices and a sweet flavor. I gave the Spaghetti Squash Casserole a try. Lovely sauteed spaghetti squash mingled with tomatoes, onions and thinly sliced zucchini topped with fresh mozzarella and Parmesan, baked to perfection ($13). The mixture of tomatoes and onions gave this casserole a light, airy feel, although it was quite filling and I didn’t miss pasta in the least. I may try this at home, but I’m not sure if I can copy this one.

We were quite full after all this, even the kid’s meal was large enough to fill Daughter sufficiently. But of course, there was a flourless chocolate cake on the menu, topped with decadent vanilla bean ice cream and caramel sauce ($7). Who could resist? It was lovely, creamy, chocolaty and crunchy with cacao nibs on top.

The restaurant is clean, airy and light. Lots of wood and stainless steel makes it feel open, although the noise level can get up there. I noticed later that if we sat toward the back, we could have watched the food being prepared. Ask to sit farther toward the back and watch the action. We’ll definitely be back. Wanna’ join us?



Filed under gluten free, pasta, restaurants, squash, vegetarian

GF Veggie Lasagna

My cravings for lasagna have not gone away. Although I’ve made a GF version of lasagna using TJ’s brown rice pasta (and it was yummy) I’ve been craving the kind Mom used to make. Finally, I came across these GF lasagna noodles. Pow! I’ve heard about them, and was so excited to see them at our local Whole Foods Market.

I will tell you that I put them in boiling water, let them cook for a minute, then checked the box to see how long it takes to cook them. Imagine my surprise when I saw “No Boiling – Oven Ready” right on the front. I turned the flame off but let them sit in the water while getting everything else finalized. They sat in there about 5 minutes, then I pulled them out and used them. They turned out great and I think I’ll do it like that again. I liked having them just like “regular” noodles. But go ahead and try them straight from the box and let me know. Dear chef, lesson learned – read the directions before cooking.

This was made with zucchini and spinach, but give it a try with any of your fave veggies. I love carrots, yellow squash and mushrooms also. Can’t wait to make all kinds of varieties now that I know it’s an option to make lasagna. Even Daughter loved it.

GF Veggie Lasagna
4-5 GF lasagna noodles (pre-cooked or not)
2 zucchini, chopped
2 cups fresh spinach
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 Tbs chopped garlic
1 package silken tofu, drained and pressed
1/2 cup TJ’s goat’s milk mozzarella (shredded)
1 large can plum tomatoes
1 cup chopped and roasted carrots
dried oregano, parsley and basil to taste

This sounds like a lot of work, but it can all be going on at once. Don’t let it intimidate you. It is so worth the effort and is truly a comfort food you will love.
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Put chopped carrots in a flat roasting sheet. Sprinkle with olive oil and salt, mix and roast in the oven for about 15 minutes.
3. Cook zucchini in a saute pan with 1/2 TBS of olive oil, salt and pepper until it becomes translucent.
4. Add spinach to zucchini by handfuls and let it wilt and cook.
5. Add 1 Tbs chopped garlic to veggies and cook for another minute, then put veggies in a strainer over a bowl to let the liquid drip off (too much will make the lasagna mushy).
6. Set a large pot of water to boil. When it boils, turn off the heat and add the lasagna noodles. Let them sit.
7. No need to wash the saute pan. Add the chopped onions and another 1/2 Tbs olive oil. Cook until onions are translucent.
8. Add 1 Tbs chopped garlic and cook for another minute.
9. Add tomatoes, salt, pepper.
10. Remove carrots from the oven. They should be carmelized and soft. Add to tomatoes, along with 1/2 tsp each of dried oregano, basil and parsely, mix and let simmer.
11. Place tofu in a bowl and add a 1/2 tsp each of dried oregano, basil and parsley. Add most of the mozzarella, leaving a little for the top of the lasagna. Mix well and set aside.
12. With an immersion blender (or regular blender if you don’t have one) blend the tomato sauce until smooth. (If you use a regular blender, be sure to keep the top slightly open so you don’t blow the top off the blender.)
13. Layer your lasagna in an 8X8 glass baking dish. Add sauce, noodles, half of the tofu mixture, half the veggies- then repeat. On the final layer, add noodles and sauce, then top with the reserved mozzarella.
14. Bake for 35 minutes until bubbly and cooked through. Let the lasagna rest for about 15 minutes before serving.

This is so much like Mom used to make. Yes, she used ricotta cheese, eggs and wheat noodles, but you’ll be surprised how much this tastes like the real thing. It hits that comfort spot with a warm, bubbly sauce, al-dente noodles and wonderful veggies. Add a little leftover sauce and it’s just like being a kid.



Filed under gluten free, pasta, spinach, vegetarian, zucchini

Roasted Carrot and Pine Nut Pasta

I bought a large, beautiful bag of sweet carrots from the farmers market, now what? I love eating raw carrots and I could eat them all day long. I whipped up some white-bean hummus and cut most of the carrots into sticks to dip. This was lovely and garlicky (I used a leftover head of roasted garlic in the hummus).

But there are still lots of carrots left. Daughter wanted pasta for dinner and I was hit with inspiration…roasted carrots in the pasta. The sweetness of the roasted carrots were divine and the nuttiness of the pine nuts offset the sweetness just enough. Daughter said, “I love these nuts, what are they?” Hmmm, something new.

Roasted Carrot and Pine Nut Pasta
1 bag Trader Joe’s Brown Rice Fusilli
1 1/2 cups chopped carrots
1/4 cup raw pine nuts
1 Tbs chopped garlic
2 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs grape seed oil
2 tsp dried parsley

1. Preheat oven to 400.
2. Place carrots on a cookie sheet. Drizzle with 1 Tbs olive oil and 1 tsp Celtic sea salt. Mix and put in oven for about 20 minutes or until brown and carmelized.
3. While carrots roast, cook pasta as instructed on package (about 12 minutes). Drain and rinse in cold water.
4. In a large saute pan, heat the remaining olive oil and grape seed oil over medium heat. Add chopped garlic and cook over medium heat, being careful not to brown the garlic. If you do, start over again since the garlic can become bitter very easily.
5. Remove carrots from the oven and add to saute pan.
6. Place pine nuts on the pan used for the carrots and place under the broiler for just about 2-3 minutes. Watch carefully, they brown quickly.
7. Add pine nuts and pasta to saute pan. Add parsley last and mix.

The secret to this dish is that roasting vegetables doesn’t have to be a big job. Just throw whatever veggies you have onto the pan, mix with olive oil and salt and roast away. In the time it takes to make the pasta, your veggies are carmelized, sweet and browned. This is on my permanent list now.

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Filed under carrots, pasta, pine nuts, vegetarian

Easter Pasta Frittata

The dew on the plants in the morning was beautiful. That’s one good reason for getting up early and taking a walk before the morning has burned off. It was a great morning and many people were out walking and bike riding. But after that beautiful walk, it was time to settle in to the real meaning of Easter–family and chocolate. I love Easter–Any holiday with that much chocolate related to it can’t be bad. I love the idea of eating a chocolate bunny, chocolate eggs, etc. And once a year I break down and eat a peep. Just one, head first. I know, it’s pure sugar, but sometimes you just gotta’ be bad, right? But on to brunch.

Mom came over with a wonderful fruit salad and we chowed down on a great pasta frittata. I saw an episode of Ellie Krieger’s cooking show on the food network yesterday and promptly changed this morning’s quiche into a frittata with pasta after watching. It looked marvelous. Of course, no recipe can be made without tweaking it to just the way you want it, so some changes were made. Most importantly, GF Trader Joe’s pasta instead of spaghetti. I also added mushrooms because anything is better with mushrooms (in my opinion). Of course, my husband had to make a spinach quiche for himself with a pre-made crust. He doesn’t like mushrooms and loves a crust. Well, at least it wasn’t made in my kitchen from scratch, and that leaves more of the frittata for me, mom and Daughter. Yum.

This is made in two parts–frittata and marinara sauce. Both are easy and quick. For the sake of time, I made the marinara sauce the night before and just heated it up the next morning. But if you choose to do it at the same time, that’s also not a problem. And you need to use a pan with a metal handle so it can go right into the oven without melting. If you don’t have one, just skip that part and cook a little longer.

Pasta Frittata
Marinara sauce
Olive oil
1 chopped onion
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 large can crushed tomatoes
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried parsley

Olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 cup chopped mushrooms (any kind, I used button)
1 bag fresh spinach, chopped
1/2 bag Trader Joe’s Brown Rice spaghetti
3 eggs
4 egg whites
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp dried parsley
1 cup cheese (I mixed leftover Jarlsburg Swiss, mozzarella and Romano equaling to 1 cup)

1. Cook onion and garlic in olive oil till soft.
2. Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to simmer. Let simmer on low heat for at least 30-45 minutes to let the flavors blend. Set aside.

1. Cook pasta according to directions, leaving it very al dente since it will be cooking in the frittata also. When the past is done, rinse with cold water, mix with just about 1/2 cup of the marinara and set aside.
2. Saute onions and garlic in olive oil till soft.
3. Add mushrooms and cook till mushrooms are done, about 10 minutes.
4. Add spinach, piling into the pan. Don’t worry, it will cook down tremendously. Let this cook for about 10 minutes until all spinach is wilted. Leave it cooking on very low heat without a lid to cook the moisture out of the spinach.
5. Whisk eggs and eggwhites, along with nutmeg, parsley, salt and pepper.
6. Add pasta to spinach mixture in pan and mix well.
7. Add cheese to spinach/pasta mixture (reserve a little Romano for the top) and mix well.
8. Spread out mixture in pan evenly, then add egg mixture.
9. Let frittata cook over medium heat for about 5-8 minutes until it’s just about all set and not wiggly in the middle.
10. Sprinkle remaining Romano over the top, then take the frittata and put it under the broiler on low for about 8 minutes, letting it get brown and toasty on top.
11. Remove and let it cool for about 10 minutes before removing from pan. The entire thing should come out of the pan easily and onto a plate.

Serve with Marinara on top and a little extra Romano. Yum…

Happy Easter…Enjoy!

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Filed under eggs, frittata, gluten free, pasta, spinach

Pignoli Pasta Salad

Daughter and I are going on a hike tomorrow and bringing along a lunch. I’ll leave it in a cooler at the bottom of the mountain, but what can I bring that will satisfy my hunger, taste great and not taste boring? I had an “aha” moment in Trader Joe’s when I saw the pignolis (pine nuts). Why not make a pasta salad with toasted pine nuts? Yum. There’s no mayo, so letting it sit in the cooler for a few hours works fine. With lots of fresh, crunchy veggies, it’s sure to satisfy after a long hike in the desert. Of course, Daughter and I had to eat it for dinner too, just to make sure it was good. The pine nuts give it a wonderfully nutty flavor, and the veggies give it a crisp and light taste. I love fresh herbs, so please use the fresh parsley. Dried parsley just wouldn’t give it the fresh, spring taste. But feel free to add any fresh veggies you want and substitute anything. I adore crispy, fresh baby vegetables, and with the farmers’ market overflowing with great veggies right now, you can’t go wrong. I found the fennel and tomatoes there last weekend. Can’t wait to go back and find out what else I can make next week.

As I write this, I realize that since I’m in Arizona I forget that the rest of the world isn’t having 80-degree weather with sunny skies and farmers markets on the weekends. I know so many of my friends are shoveling themselves out of snow and trying to find anything green outside. If that’s your situation, I wish you a nice, warm, cozy fire to sit by and a good movie to watch. And have some pasta salad while you’re at it.

Pignoli Pasta Salad
1 cup raw pine nuts
1 cup chopped baby zucchini (one small bag from TJ’s)
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced fennel
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 cup diced tomatoes (I had these left from the farmers’ market trip)
3/4 cup shredded Romano cheese (leave out if you’re vegan or DF)
1 bag of Trader Joe’s brown rice fusilli pasta

Olive oil
Red wine vinegar
1 tsp chopped Basil (or dried)
1 Tbs grated romano cheese
1 tsp garlic powder

Ratio is 2/1 for oil and vinegar totaling about 1/4 cup. Then just add herbs and spices and taste. I don’t like my dressing with too much vinegar, but some people do. Just add a little more of each till you have it just right. Depending on what veggies you use, you may need a little more.

1. Start out by cooking the pasta as directed. When it’s done (al dente), drain and quickly rinse it in cold water to stop any further cooking. You don’t want mushy pasta salad.

2. In a frying pan without any oil, toast the nuts lightly over medium heat. Stir often and when they turn golden brown, remove from pan to prevent burning. I burned the first batch, so be careful, they go from brown to black quickly.

3. Once the pasta has cooled, add the veggies, cheese, nuts and dressing. Mix thoroughly. I saved a little of the dressing for tomorrow since it usually soaks everything up overnight.


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Filed under fennel, gluten free, pasta, salad, zucchini