Eating gluten free day-in day-out does NOT have to be boring. In fact, living with any food allergy, intolerance, special diet, or other medical condition doesn’t have to condemn you to a lifetime of boring and bland meals. I’m asked ALL the time “How on earth can I make my food taste good?! I can’t have XYZ” To all of you who are allergic to or can’t have XYZ, I’m here to help 🙂 I hope I’m not the only one that gets that joke (and now I’m laughing even more).
Can Gluten Free Honestly Taste Good?
Yes, as long as you know what you’re doing. If you’re new to gluten free, Join RAISE, or find a resource that meets your needs. Follow the recipes and learn the ropes of gluten free cooking and baking.
In the case of pasta (and items such as dairy free milk), I always encourage people to bite the (financial) bullet and have a tasting party. Purchase as much as you can that’s safe for you then sample each one and take notes. You’ll learn quickly what you do and don’t like, and honestly, that’s half the battle right there.
Selecting Your Pasta
Pasta is one of the few exceptions in the gluten free world that doesn’t require flour blending to be successful. (See the Gluten Free Flour article for more information on this).
You’ll need to select a pasta that’s made safely for you first and foremost. Visit a Whole Foods or other natural grocer and see what they sell. Hint: There’s a reason their shelves are stocked with these particular brands.
Grocery stores will sell what’s popular (usually speaking) so it’s a great starting point. That doesn’t mean you’ll like it though. I’ve found that people who can eat wheat, or who miss it dearly seem to really enjoy the Jovial brand of pasta as well as Tinkyada.
The options available to you will change based on your allergy combo and your level of sensitivity. For example, someone with a severe soy allergy shouldn’t eat the Jovial brand, as it’s made in a shared facility with soy.
If you have a severe corn allergy, there are only a couple of brands to choose from. The same is true if you are top 8/9 allergy free and can’t have food made on shared equipment with allergens. RAISE Members, check the Safe Product Guides to get you started.
How To Flavour Your Food
Now, this will be a bit more complex based on individual needs. There are a few foundational guidelines everyone can follow. First, pick your protein, vegan protein, or meat alternative. This can be white meat, red meat, mushroom, beans, and the list goes on.
Product Review: Spicely Organics Season Blends
Next you’ll need to choose seasonings. This can be green herbs, alliums, peppers/heat, floral flavours, and this list goes on too. They key here is to select flavours that work well together. If you’re new to selecting seasonings, smell everything. It will give you an idea of what you’re getting into, and you can make educated guesses. You can also follow recipes. RAISE Members have access to over 500 gluten free, dairy free, very allergy friendly recipes. There are also several cookbooks you may enjoy.
Think About Texture
The texture of your food will also alter how you perceive its taste. Think about tough meat or overcooked fish. They simply don’t taste as good. Think about the different options and how you want them to work together. Perhaps you want a soft meal, so mashed potatoes. In the case of pasta, something soft may be soup based (soft noodles, soft veg, etc.). Perhaps you want something with a little crunch. You could garnish your pasta with crispy veg, crispy protein, seeds, etc.
Gluten Free Pasta 6 Ways… Let’s Look At Each Dish
Each of these six gluten free pasta recipes is fantastic. You can rotate thru them for six weeks of tasty Pasta Night meals, or have them twice a week. Frequency it totally up to you.
BBQ Chicken Pasta Recipe
Rather than use a traditional BBQ sauce (which you could do), I opted to make a custom BBQ sauce and pair the seasonings well. I do this because it gives you full control over the ingredients. It also gives me the opportunity to create a recipe for people who may have less common allergies. For example, if you’re tomato free, you could start with a nomato sauce base and season from there. If you’re allium free, you can develop safe recipes from the ground up.
What makes this recipe so easy: it’s mostly made in a pressure cooker. If you’re a busy family, it’s always nice to have recipes on hand that require little to no hands-on steps. Pressure cooking in the final sauce also takes another huge step out of the active process, and saves on dishes too.
Creamy Bacon & Kale Pasta Recipe
This was one of my faves to create because I love making dairy free cream sauce. As you cook more (assuming you’re new to dairy free), you’ll learn all the little tricks that make substitutions a breeze. In this case, a simple slurry brought the sauce together like magic.
Around here, everyone loves bacon and generally can’t stand kale. You have no idea how happy I was when they couldn’t stop eating this meal. Kid Three said you can’t even taste the kale (in a good way).
The key to making this recipe delicious was to start with foundational ingredients that all taste good on their own, but also pair well together. You don’t need a laundry list of ingredients to make great food.
Taco Pasta Recipe
This recipe is an example of how you can take something you already enjoy, and apply it to something else. I suppose its a bit of a fusion meal. Let’s say you absolutely love tacos. You can take your protein of choice and season it as you normally would. Then, incorporate some of the taco toppings that you love into the meat. Finally, combine with your pasta and top with a sauce.
For this recipe, I created a custom dairy free avocado cream sauce that the kids were in LOVE with. Kid Four said she could eat a truckload of Taco Pasta.
Vegan Veggie Delight Pasta
For some people, eating veggies is a chore. For others, it’s no big deal. Around here, it’s somewhere in between. The key to the success of this recipe was to play to the audience. The kids absolutely love oven roasted broccoli. They all generally enjoy peas, carrots, zucchini, and other veggies too.
You’ll notice that this pasta doesn’t appear to have a sauce. That’s because the whole dish is lightly tossed in dairy free butter, and the cooking juices from the vegetables are also incorporated into the final dish.
If you have a child that avoids sauces, this is an easy fix to ensure their food is tasty.
Vegan Chickpea & Pumpkin Pasta
With fall in full swing, I wanted to incorporate seasonal ingredients into this collection of gluten free pasta recipes. I would encourage you to find seasonal ingredients you enjoy and get creative. For example, spring onions and ramps are to die for delicious. When spring rolls around, find ways to incorporate those into your creations.
For winter, squash-based sauces would make an excellent addition to any pasta. During the summer, cold fruit pasta salads are fantastic. If you’re not allergic to corn, you could do a summer deconstructed chili pasta and pull in seasonal veg along with black beans.
Vegan Mushroom & Garlic Pasta Recipe
If you don’t know already, I’m not a huge fan of commercial meat alternatives. They generally contain major food allergens and are highly processed. When it comes to creating a meaty vegan mouthfeel, I’m more about finding vegetables and legumes that do the job well.
This recipe features trumpet mushrooms which have an awesome meaty mouthfeel and are great if you’re new to vegan cooking. Like the Veggie Delight Pasta, this pasta recipe also lacks a sauce. I want you all to see that you don’t need a heavy sauce to have an amazing meal.
This mushroom pasta recipe uses minimal ingredients paired and cooked properly to make for an amazing final result.
Making Your Own Pasta 6 (or More) Ways
After you’ve made these six gluten free pasta recipes, where do you go next? Well, there’s all of the pasta recipes on RAISE, a gabajillion pasta recipes on the internet, or perhaps your grandma’s favorite pasta recipes. Here are 15 tips to keep your pasta recipes exciting:
- Use different pastas. There are many allergy friendly brands to choose from.
- Explore your farmer’s market for fresh seasonal produce to incorporate.
- Use different cooking methods for pasta toppings.
- Caramelize onions and other vegetables.
- If you can, purchase season blends to make cooking easier.
- Try a new protein each month, something you’d normally never think to eat.
- If you’re a meat eater, make a lazy pasta with store bought sausage or lunch meat.
- Experiment with hot and cold pastas.
- Try mayo as part of your sauce. This works great with tuna pasta.
- Experiment with including different cheeses that are safe for you.
- Use liquid smoke or get a smoker. The extra flavour will blow you away.
- Apples are so versatile, pair well with some cheese, and are excellent in pasta. So are zucchini.
- You can totally top your pasta with fried chicken.
- Baked pasta recipes are fun and easy.
- Make fresh pasta at home. You can include different veggie liquids for alternative flavours.
Have fun in your kitchen. If you don’t know where to start, RAISE, bloggers, and cookbooks can all help you find your way. Try flavours that interest you, and try things you’ve never had before. You may surprise yourself.
More than anything, work with what you’ve got. Don’t see your limitation of ingredients as a restriction, rather, as an awesome challenge. Mindset is truly a big part of thriving when living with food allergies, intolerances, and special diets.
Need more help? Join RAISE for hundreds of resources including recipes, allergy seminars, and safe product guides.