Gluten Free Pasta /Gluten-Free Pasta e Fagiole
New Options for Allergy-Free Pastas
By MARTHA ROSE SHULMAN
An allergy to gluten used to mean a life without pasta, but no more. A gluten-free pasta e fagiole shows how much noodles have changed.
My sister and a number of my friends are allergic to gluten, a protein in wheat and other grains, and for them that has meant living without pasta. Now, though, there are a number of gluten-free pastas on the market. I’ve been experimenting with a few of them, including rice sticks — Asian rice noodles that have been sitting in my pantry for years, it seems, yet never deteriorate.
My conclusion: If you are allergic to wheat, these noodles definitely have a place in your future. The main trick to using gluten-free pasta is to follow the cooking directions to the letter. If you cook the pasta for too long, it falls apart. If you fail to cook it long enough, it becomes rubbery. Here are some types that I’ve had success with:
Andean Dream quinoa pasta: Available at Whole Foods, this pasta is made from a mixture of organic rice flour and organic quinoa flour from royal quinoa, a variety grown in Bolivia that is exceptionally high in protein. The spaghetti takes a good 15 minutes to cook, but the macaroni only takes six to seven minutes. It makes a good choice for dishes like pasta e fagiole (recipe below), because it won’t become soggy.
Brown rice pasta: I use the house brand from my local Trader Joe’s, but it’s no different from other brands. The brown rice fusilli takes about nine minutes to cook and resembles regular pasta in feel and flavor.
Papadini pasta: Available online at Eatitworld.com, this pasta is made from flours ground from urad legumes, such as green lentils and mung beans. The fettuccine-like noodles cook in two minutes and have a vegetal flavor that lends itself to Malaysian noodle dishes and goes well with simple tomato sauce.
Rice noodles: Also known as rice sticks, these glassy rice flour noodles are delicate and versatile. Available in Asian grocery stores, they require a 20-minute soak in warm water to reconstitute, then one to one and one-half minutes of cooking in boiling water.
Gluten-Free Pasta e Fagiole
It’s important to use a gluten-free pasta that won’t fall apart for this dish. Andean Dream quinoa macaroni is a good choice.
1/2-pound dried white or borlotti beans, washed and picked over, soaked in 1 quart of water for six hours or overnight
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium or large onion, chopped
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary, or 1/2 teaspoon crumbled dried rosemary
2 to 4 large garlic cloves (to taste), minced or pressed
1 (28-ounce) can chopped tomatoes, with liquid
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 heaped tablespoon tomato paste
A bouquet garni made with 1 bay leaf, 1 Parmesan rind, 1 small dried red pepper, and a couple of sprigs of thyme and parsley
1/2 pound (1 cup) gluten-free macaroni
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (1/2 cup)
1. Drain the beans. Heat the oil over medium heat in a large, heavy casserole or Dutch oven. Add the onion. Cook, stirring, until just tender, about five minutes. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, the rosemary and garlic, and stir together for another minute until the garlic is fragrant. Add the tomato paste, and stir for another minute or two, then stir in the tomatoes and add some salt and pepper. Cook partially covered for 15 minutes, stirring often, until the tomatoes have cooked down and the mixture is very fragrant.
2. Add the beans, bouquet garni and two quarts water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer one hour. Add salt to taste (1 to 2 teaspoons), cover and simmer another 30 minutes to an hour, until the beans are tender. Remove the bouquet garni.
3. Read the cooking instructions accompanying the pasta you are using. The pasta will take a little longer, as the liquid is not going to be at a rolling boil, so plan to cook a few minutes longer than the instructions suggest. Stir the pasta into the simmering beans. When it is cooked al dente, taste and adjust seasonings. Serve, passing the grated Parmesan in a bowl.
Yield: Serves 4 to 6
Advance preparation: You can make the dish up through step 2 a day or so ahead. Refrigerate, then bring back to a simmer, stirring often, before continuing. The mixture will have thickened, so add water if necessary.
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We love the Trader Joe's Brown Rice pastas. Yummmm!!!
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