I love pasta. Really love pasta. Before my diagnosis it was one of my go-to basics for cooking. When the doctor told me I had Celiac Disease and what it meant the first thing I said to him was "You mean no more pasta? No! Can't I give up meat instead?"
Yes. I would rather have gone without bacon than pasta.
Unfortunately life doesn't let you chose your challenges. Fortunately there are some pretty decent gluten free pastas out there. Now I'm not saying that there is a magic gluten free pasta that cooks up to taste and feel just like the gluten full stuff you're used to. Not even a little bit. What there is are a few kinds that resemble the stuff you're used to.
Rice has mostly replaced pasta as my staple carbohydrate for dinners, but we do still enjoy the occasional spaghetti dinner.
Here's what we've discovered.
1) Corn pasta gives us the closest match to gluten full pasta. Even my husband can eat the corn pasta but he can't stand the rice stuff.
2) De Boles brand makes pretty darn good corn pasta
but their rice stuff is gross. Mrs. Leeper's and Tinkyada both make decent rice pasta, but we really prefer the corn pasta at our house. Mrs. Leeper's also makes corn pasta, but I haven't found it locally yet.
3) The thicker the pasta the easier it is to tell that it's gluten free. With spaghetti you can almost fool yourself into thinking that you're eating the 'real' thing. With rotini or shells the difference is more noticeable. I did find a package of Tinkyada lasagna noodles but my son used it for a school project before I could try them and see how they turn out.
The other really big difference with gluten free pasta is how you cook it. You cannot just dump the pasta into boiling water and wait for it to turn al dente. You will end up with a pot full of sticky, gritty nastiness.
This is very important so pay attention!
First of all you cannot look at the package for cooking times. They are almost universally too long. Gluten free pasta cooks fast. Very fast. The thinner the pasta the faster it cooks. If you over cook wheat pasta it gets mushy. If you over cook gluten free pasta it gets gritty. There is a very fine line between undercooked hard and overcooked gritty. The only way to find that is to pull a noodle out of the water (Let it cool slightly!!) and eat it. If it feels right (not too hard, a little al dente) then you know it's done. When it's done you have to get it off the stove FAST. Have a colander in the sink before you put the pasta in the hot water. As soon as your pasta is done dump it in the colander and run cold water on it to keep it from cooking any more. Then put sauce, oil, or butter on it as soon as possible to keep it from clumping together.
Second, you cannot just dump it into the pot of boiling water. Especially the long thin spaghetti noodles. You have to constantly stir the pot while you are slowly adding the pasta. Add a little pasta at a time. If you dump it all in it will stick together. Giant thick 1/2 pieces of spaghetti are not very appetizing. They also defeat the purpose of getting thin pasta to taste better. Clumping is not good. When we were first figuring this out it was actually a two person job. One person to stir and another to add the pasta slowly. Now we can do it by ourselves but we still have to be very careful.
We had spaghetti for dinner last night. The way we make it is two packages of spaghetti, two jars of Prego spaghetti sauce (Be sure to check the label. Some are marked gluten free, the others have ingredients that are really iffy.), and some kind of meat. If we're in a hurry we'll just use our good old stand by Polish sausage, if we're more leisurely we'll brown some hamburger with garlic. Either way is good.
De Boles Pasta Corn Spaghetti, 8-Ounce Boxes (Pack of 12)
Mrs. Leeper's Pasta Organic, Corn Spaghetti, 12 Ounce Bags (Pack of 12)
Tinkyada Brown Rice Spaghetti with Rice Bran, 16-Ounce Packages (Pack of 12)
Tinkyada Brown Rice Lasagne with Rice Bran, 10-Ounce Boxes (Pack of 12)
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