Although not strictly gluten free I make best efforts to eat a largely wheat free diet. I have go-to gluten free recipes that make this easier, like my nutty paleo bread and flax and chia seed crackers. My indulgences in gluten usually happens when my weakness for pizza or pasta gets the better of me. But, even these are now available in wheat free alternatives – I’ve recently started to see ‘gluten free pizza/pasta available’ on a couple of menus. This has spurred me to start experimenting at home with gluten free versions of my favourite Italian delights. I’m already convinced that gluten free pasta is a winner and I’m sharing my first recipe here.
I came across quinoa pasta in my local wholefoods store. Confronted with various types of gluten free pasta the health benefits of quinoa called out to me. Quinoa, pronounced ‘keen-wa’, is a wheat free grain that comes in over 100 different varieties. What makes it so special? Quinoa is one of only a few plant foods to be considered a complete protein because it contains all 9 essential amino acids. Not only is it protein packed (a 100g serving contains 14g) but it’s also high in fibre – 7g fibre per 100g. The pasta I picked up is made with a combination of brown rice, amaranth and quinoa (all of which are gluten free).
Penne puttanesca with spinach (GF)
Puttanesca sauce is very traditionally Italian and bursting with flavour due to the anchovies, capers and olives (the spinach was my own twist to even out the dish with some greens). Traditionally puttanesca sauce is served with spaghetti but I read that it also works with penne so I saw it as the perfect sauce for my quinoa pasta experiment.
What I love about this dish isn’t just the comfort hit of pasta without the gluten but also that it’s super quick to prepare – around 20 minutes from start to finish.
Ingredients (a generous serving for 2)
- 250g quinoa pasta (of course you can substitute with standard pasta)
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 tsp dried red chilli
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 400g tin of tomatoes, crushed
- 10-12 olives, pitted and halved
- 2 tbsp capers, chopped
- 8 anchovy fillets (around 40g), chopped
- 100g baby spinach, washed and chopped
- Olive oil, salt & pepper
- For the sauce. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil on a medium heat then add the garlic, chillies and oregano. Cook for a couple of minutes until then add the tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Add the remaining ingredients and cook for another 5-10 minutes.
- For the pasta. Bring a pan of salted water to the boil (using as a guide 1 teaspoon salt for every 1 litre of water). Add the quinoa pasta and stir to ensure the pasta doesn’t stick together. Once the water comes back to a rolling boil set the timer to 7 minutes. After 5-6 minutes check the pasta and drain once ready, reserving some of the cooking water.
- To serve. Add the drained pasta into the sauce and add another 100ml or so of the cooking as needed to loosen the pasta. Serve with a splash of olive oil and extra seasoning as needed. You could also use fresh parsley or basil sprinkled through when serving in place of the cooked spinach.
By Laura (Feast Wisely)
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