Remember pasta before you went gluten-free? The slightly chewy, slightly soft, perfectly formed bites, shaped into everything from long, twirly spaghetti to bendy elbow macaroni. It’s a favorite of children, and a sought-after comfort food for adults.
If you’re like me, you miss the pasta of old. Sure, there are gluten-free pastas, but they’re tricky. They’re heavier, and if you blink during that miniscule window of time where the pasta is perfectly cooked, you miss it and wind up with a gooey, stuck-together mess. It requires a great deal of finesse to make a decent meal out of many of the pastas out there. It makes pasta less appealing as an option.
That’s what I thought, at least. Then came Heartland Gluten-Free Pasta.
Heartland Pasta contacted me and asked if I would try their gluten-free pasta. After careful consideration (they do process gluten-full pastas, but do have good practices to limit the possibility of cross-contamination, which you can read more about here), I agreed. I dreamt of that delicious pasta of old, and couldn’t wait to make something once my samples arrived.
When they did, I immediately pulled out a recipe for a vegan “cream” sauce I’ve had tucked away for some time. My husband is a huge alfredo fan, but since I eliminated dairy from my diet, it’s off the menu. This cream sauce more than fills that craving – it’s creamy and garlicky, but with more spunk and flavor than a typical alfredo sauce, thanks to the smoked sundried tomatoes. It’s a comforting, creamy, soul-warming sauce perfect for any night of the week. In this particular dish, I’ve paired it with some gluten-free andouille sausage, but I’ve also paired it with shrimp in the past. I’m sure chicken would be a great addition as well. It’s also super-easy – just soak cashews, throw some ingredients in a blender, and you’re 95% of the way there.
Well, that’s enough talk about this sauce. How about the pasta?
The first thing I noticed was the way it cooked. I boiled it in salted water, like I usually do, but as the time was up, I realized that it didn’t immediately start to turn mushy. It still had a firm bite. Once it was cooked to my liking, I drained it – and I didn’t have to do the usual “hurry-up-and-rinse-in-cold-water” thing. I could simply throw it into my sauce, and it behaved beautifully. The kids were none the wiser – and we even had a guest over, as my step-daughter had a friend spending the night. She ate it happily without question. The best part? The leftovers, as they cooled, still held their shape and texture. This pasta is easily the closest to wheat-based pasta I have ever had.
I’ll definitely be seeking out this pasta in my grocery store in the future. I may not eat grains often, but on those days when I want to indulge in a little comfort food, this pasta definitely delivers.
Andouille Penne with Smoky Garlic Cashew Cream (gluten-free, dairy-free)
For the sauce:
1 c cashews, soaked 2-3 hours
Juice of 1 lemon
½ c coconut milk
3 cloves garlic, toasted in skillet (optional), and peeled
½ – 1 cup water
Salt to taste
Drain cashews. In a high-powered blender, blend cashews, lemon juice, coconut milk, sundried tomatoes, and garlic until smooth, adding enough water to thin to desired consistency. Season with salt to taste.
For the pasta:
1 t olive oil
12 oz gluten-free andouille sausage, sliced
1/4 c dry vermouth
salt to taste
2 T chopped fresh parsley
Prepare Heartland pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil, and then toss sliced andouille sausage in pan. Saute for a minute or two, or until lightly browned and heated through. Add dry vermouth and cook, stirring often, until almost entirely evaporated. Add the cashew cream sauce to the pan and turn the heat to low. Stir, simmering, until the sauce has heated through and the flavors meld – about 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Add the pasta to the skillet and toss into the sauce until coated evenly. Serve garnished with parsley.
Disclaimer: I was compensated for this review. I received complimentary samples of the product for review purposes courtesy of the product company and /or its PR agency. However the opinions I have expressed are solely my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”