Friday, April 30, 2010

Taking an Old Favorite in a New Direction

If there is one very beloved meal in the DisOrdered Kitchen, it's spaghetti and meatballs. It is one of Sir Pickypants' most requested meals.

So now we're doing this gluten-free experiment. That changes everything. We now have to find a gluten-free pasta that we like.

I decided to try this brown rice pasta I found at Whole Foods. I always think of rice as being lighter than regular pasta, so I was a little surprised to find that rice pasta has more calories per serving than regular semolina pasta. Emily did say in a previous comment that rice flour is heavier than wheat flour. Who knew?

The jury may still be out on the connection between Meniere's and gluten, but if there is one thing that is certain, Meniere's suffererers have to keep their diets very low in sodium. This is an even bigger challenge than the gluten one. Sodium hides EVERYWHERE, particularly in packaged foods. I's worse than HFCS. Tomatoes can also have a pretty high sodium content.

1/4 serving of these tomatoes has over 100 mg of sodium, which isn't high, but who eats only a quarter cup? I did the best I could, flavoring my sauce with onions, garlic,and fresh basil. Some white wine would have been good too, but since hubby can't have alcohol anymore, I'm even less likely to have it in the house these days.

Then there is the meatball issue. I'm not fond of turkey meatballs. I like nice, hearty beefy ones, which SPP can't eat. To make them better, I have to put all kinds of flavoring in them. One of those flavors is parmesan. Well, I can't use too much of that. It's very high in salt.

I thought of Giada DeLaurentis and her fondness for ketchup in meatballs. Ketchup is high in salt (and sugar), but what if I used just some plain tomato paste with lots of garlic and parsley?

This has to be one of the worst food photos I have ever taken, but the pasta itself wasn't too bad. Package directions said to rinse it with cold water after cooking for best texture, which is something I would never do normally. Flavor was a bit blander, and the texture a bit chewier, but all in all, it wasn't terribly different from regular pasta. I will definitely use this pasta again in the future.

Meatballs were made with gluten-free bread crumbs and I thought they were a bit mealy, but SPP wasn't so picky and really liked them.

Reduced-Salt Marinara

1 Tbl olive oil
1 pinch red pepper flakes
1 onion, finely diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 28oz cans crushed tomatoes
2 Tbl tomato paste
1 good handful fresh basil
1/4 tsp salt
Few grinds black pepper

Heat olive oil in a large pan. Sprinkle red pepper flakes to allow flavor to diffuse in the oil. Add onion and cook until soft. Add garlic and cook until fragrant.

Add tomatoes and tomato paste. Cook over low heat for at least 30 minutes. In the last 10 minutes of cooking add basil. Sprinkle in salt and pepper.

Gluten-Free Meatballs

1-2 pounds ground turkey
2 Tbl chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup gluten-free breadcrumbs
1 egg
2 Tbl tomato paste
4-5 cloves of garlic, put through a press

Heat oven to 350. Mix tomato paste, parsley, garlic and breadcrumbs. Taste to make sure you like the level of flavor. Add Turkey and egg.

Roll into balls and place on a cookie sheet. Bake 10 minutes. Drop into tomato sauce and simmer in sauce at least another 10 minutes.


katiez said...

I'm so glad we dont't have to follow a gluten-free diet - I think that many of the products you have would simply not be available here. I do have to watch and account for the carbs (hubs is Type 1 diabetic) I used a whole roasted garlic, smashed into a paste the last time I made meatballs - added lots of flavor!

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

Roasted garlic! That is brilliant. I have to try that the next time. Definitely a milder flavor that way.

The Blonde Duck said...

Speghetti and meatsauce or spegetti and meatballs is one of my favorite meals. We had speghetti with meat sauce (LOTS of meat, just the way I like it) last night! Great minds think alike!

Sue said...

Everyone I know who goes gluten-free likes rice pasta very much. I hope it's everything you want it to be.

I'm glad you went with the tomato paste, instead of the ketchup.

The Duo Dishes said...

It's interesting to read about someone doing a change to their diet now and the products you're testing. Looks like you've found at least one pasta replacement!

Emily said...

I'm happy the gluten free pasta worked for you. I think I'd like to try it just for the heck of it. It really wouldn't hurt if we all ate less gluten. That's crazy that it had more calories than semolina.

Anyway, this spaghetti and meatballs looks SO good! I want some!