If you’ve recently joined the estimated 3 million Americans suffering from Celiac Disease, or if you’re just looking to cut back on the gluten, you’re probably dreading the one massive hurdle you’ll have to face along the way—giving up pasta. Hold up! You don’t actually have to give up pasta. You can get your noodle fix without using the traditional wheat noodles. In fact, you can get your noodle fix from several gluten-free sources.
Intrigued? Here are four ways to make your spaghetti gluten-free.
1. Sea Vegetable Noodles
You’ve probably never had them, but trust us, you’re going to love them. Often called “kelp noodles” or simply “sea vegetable noodles,” these gluten-free, carb-free noodles look like translucent spaghetti and have a firm, slightly gelatinous texture. They’re considered all-natural, being made from sea vegetables like kelp and wakame, along with natural sodium and water. They contain naturally-occurring iodine and other trace minerals, just like you would get in a good sea salt. These noodles have a completely neutral taste and are particularly great in cold pasta salads, tossed with fresh veggies, herbs and vinaigrettes - but feel free to use them in any standard pasta recipe. Find them by the refrigerated tofu in the dairy section of your health food store.
2. Spaghetti Squash
Related to butternut squash and pumpkin, the spaghetti squash is yet another autumn-season squash vegetable that’s available from the produce section of most grocery stores. Unlike other winter squash, the spaghetti squash contains long, thin, pasta-like strands inside the flesh which are perfect for warm pasta dishes. To prepare the squash, cut it in half lengthwise and place cut-side down on a baking sheet. Roast in an oven around 400°F for 45 to 60 minutes, until it is easily pierced with a fork. Wait until the squash is cool enough to handle (it will be hot!), and use a fork to gently scrape out the long, spaghetti innards. Yum, spaghetti innards. Add a Bolognese, marinara, or other delicious pasta sauce.
3. Gluten-Free Noodles
About half of you are thinking, “yes, obviously,” but I bet the other half of you haven’t tried gluten-free noodles yet. You can buy virtually any type of pasta noodle gluten-free, whether you’re looking for multi-colored spiral noodles, mini shells, lasagna noodles or linguine. Made from various gluten-free flours like quinoa, brown rice and buckwheat, these boxed pastas can range from great to really mediocre. Quinoa pasta tends to get the best reviews from consumers, provided you don’t overcook the noodles (they get mushy fast). White and brown rice pastas tend to get the worst reviews, as they tend to get gooey as they cook. Experiment and you’ll find what you like best.
4. Make it quinoa.
True, this is a steer away from pasta noodles, but transforming your pasta recipe into a quinoa recipe almost always works. Just replace the noodles with cooked quinoa and you’ll have a gluten-free, complete protein pilaf. Whether you’re craving a meaty marinara, a fresh primavera, or a cheesy fix, quinoa absorbs sauces really well and adds great bite to your dish. A winner.
Image adapted from Beau Maes, Flickr, Creative Commons 2.0