Friday, September 04, 2009

Pasta sans gluten: quite a treat

Quinoa pasta has been around a while but had a coming out party on Bravo TV's Top Chef Masters in July when competitor Michael Chiarello prepared a dish with it (photo above) for a group of vegan diners.

It had its coming out in my kitchen today. I made it with my own tomato sauce*, and the meal was delicious.

The pasta was a pleasant gold color. It cooked in about the same time that wheat pasta does. The one difference was the way it stuck together, even with a small drizzle of olive oil. For much of it, I had to separate the strands by hand, just as Chiarello did on Top Chef Masters.

Pasta made from quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) is more expensive than wheat pasta, but for those with gluten allergy or worse, celiac disease, it is gluten free.

Quinoa is an ancient grain-like seed that was cultivated by the Incas perhaps as far back as 3000 BC.

Like another significant New World contribution to global eating, the tomato, quinoa was at first shunned by Europeans. But it has made a comeback as a delicious and healthy source of protein.

It will make many an encore in my kitchen, prepared in iterations beyond the classic spaghetti strands.

* Quick, fresh tomato sauce recipe for pasta: Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a sauce pan. Add 4 diced medium red ripe tomatoes, 1 diced (seeds, spines removed) jalapeño, 2 diced cloves of garlic, 1 diced medium white onion, 1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano. Bring to a boil, then lower to simmer until liquid from tomatoes is reduced, 30-45 minutes. Spoon atop pasta, add grated fresh parmesan cheese.

(Photo credit:

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