Vegan meal of quinoa and rice pasta tossed with vegetables and a bit of chili heat.
There are so many special diets out there these days. Aside from all the ways that people are trying to either lose weight, or get fit, there are also medical reasons and lifestyle choices that can sometimes make cooking for guests a little challenging. But we love a challenge, and we love coming up with recipes that will probably satisfy every food restriction you may host.
This pasta and vegetable dish is vegan, gluten-free, low in sodium, made with real ingredients, and it can easily be organic if you choose organic produce (duh). What it is high in is flavour, and simplicity. This is a dish one of us makes at least once a week; who can tire of a meal that is super quick, super nutritious, and super delicious?
What is gluten-free pasta? And, do I have to use it in this recipe?
Let’s answer the second part of that question first. No, you certainly do not have to prepare this dish with gluten-free pasta (unless you are feeding it to someone with celiac disease or a gluten-intolerance). Any favourite pasta will work, although we do suggest a short pasta like a penne or a fusilli.
Gluten-free pasta is made with flour that contains no gluten. Gluten is the mixture of proteins that you find in wheat, barley and rye. Oats can also contain gluten although the jury seems to be out on that one, as many who follow a gluten free diet are able to tolerate and digest oats and oat flour. A lot may actually depend on the oat manufacture and how much cross-contamination with wheat products where may be in the oats.
Safe and healthy alternatives to wheat flour include rice, quinoa, amaranth and buckwheat flours. Not only will these products be well tolerated by someone who cannot digest gluten, but they are also incredibly healthy. Because of that, even someone who can eat anything may consider replacing their regular pasta with pasta made from these pseudo-grains, at least some of the time.
Do I cook gluten-free pasta the same way that I cook regular pasta?
It will really depend on the brand and type of pasta that you choose. We have had several sad experiences where we have overcooked rice pasta for example and ended up with a pretty inedible plate of mush. Read the package directions carefully, and watch closely, especially the first few times that you boil gluten-free pastas.
Gluten-free pasta is usually more expensive than regular pasta. Is it worth the money?
If you have a gluten-intolerance or celiac disease, then yes, absolutely gluten-free pasta is worth the extra expense because life without pasta is unthinkable.
It is worth shopping around however; some brands are less costly than others, and some ingredients are less expensive. For instance, a rice pasta will typically cost less than one made with amaranth flour.
Purchase what your budget allows, stock up on sales, and remember that paying a little more for something that has greater nutritional value may be worth it in the end.
Can I top this pasta dish with grated cheese?
Dear friends, you can do whatever you like! Of course, pasta and cheese is a natural combination and you can certainly top this meal with grated mizithra, parmesan or romano cheese (or a combination of all three!). Although we are cheese lovers, we actually don’t think that this pasta dish needs it and so we prefer to keep it vegan and therefore suitable for days of lent and the vegans that we love to feed.
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Gluten-free pasta with vegetables
- 227 grams quinoa and rice pasta we use the GoGo Quinoa brand
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp red chili flakes use 1/2 teaspoon if you want less heat
- 3 cloves garlic, sliced into strips
- 1 1/2 cups sliced zucchini (cut into half crescents) about 1 medium zucchini
- 1/4 cup chopped mushrooms
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- 5 ounces fresh spinach
- salt to taste, optional
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the salt and then cook the pasta according to the package directions. When your pasta is cooked, drain and set aside.
- Meanwhile, add the olive oil, chili flakes and garlic in a large skillet and heat over medium heat. Stir the garlic and chili flakes often and after a few minutes (when your oil has heated), add the zucchini. Cook, stirring regularly until the zucchini slices start to brown.
- Next add in the mushrooms. Cook for 1 - 2 minutes, stirring regularly and then add the sliced tomatoes to the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally.
- When you see that your tomatoes have cooked down a little bit, add in your spinach. The liquid which has been released by the mushrooms and the tomatoes will help to cook down the spinach.
- As soon as your spinach has cooked down (this will take less than a minute), add the drained pasta to the skillet. Reduce the heat to low and gently stir everything together so that the vegetables get evenly tossed with the pasta. Add salt to taste, if desired.
- Serve immediately and enjoy!