So, let’s talk gluten-free foods. I have tried cooking with several varieties of gluten-free pasta. The bad news is, with some recipes, I had not so good results but the good news is, with a few other recipes, I had really great results. I think it is all about the pasta. Unlike a few years ago, there are now several different types of gluten-free pastas in several shapes, sizes and flavors that adapt well to many recipes. A few of my favorite gluten-free pastas are: Explore Cuisine organic fava bean pasta, Banza chickpea pasta, gluten-free Right Rice (made from vegetables) and Barilla gluten-free elbows, lasagna and spaghetti. All are products for those of you with gluten tolerance issues. And, of course, there is always the cauliflower connection. You will find a variety of options, from noodles, rice and pizza crust to even bread-free Cauli Crunch plant-based cauliflower crumbs!

I have made several recipes using a few of these products including making my Greek pastitsio and Greek burnt butter spaghetti. I will say my favorite products are the fava bean, garbanzo bean and the Right Rice products. But for baking, I like to rely on Cup4Cup gluten-free flour and baking mixes. I do, however, use a product that I discovered on my own at home after making my nut milk. After straining off the milk from the macerated nuts, I drain the remaining nut meal and place it on a parchment lined baking sheet, bake it at 350 degrees for about an hour, stirring a few times during baking. When it is done, it is the texture of hard granola but finer chunks. I then place it in a food processor or blender and pulse it until I get a breadcrumb texture. But, if I’m using it in cookies to add a crunch or a topping on a fruit crumble, I don’t pulse it as much, leaving it in small chunks. So, now that I have shared my preferred gluten-free go to staple products, I will whip up a few dishes for you to try! Why not pull up a chair and “Please Join Our Table” as I surprise you with delicious gluten-free recipes!

My Summer Chicken Pasta Salad Sans-Gluten

INGREDIENTS

1 8-ounce package fava bean fusilli shaped pasta

1 10-ounce bag organic frozen mixed vegetables, your choice of ingredients (I used Organic Cascadian Farms mixed vegetables)

2 stalks of celery, sliced on the bias

1 small red onion, diced

1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into chunks

1/ 2 green bell pepper, seeded and cut into chunks

2/3 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half or left whole

2 cups cooked chicken breast meat, skinned and cut into cubes

1/2-3/4 cup *homemade ranch dressing or gluten-free store bought

1/2 teaspoon celery seed

1 large teaspoon Greek oregano

2/3 cup shredded or grated cheese of choice (I like to use Pecorino Romano)

Salt and coarse ground black pepper

Optional: Wanna make it spicy? Add 1 jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped and of course you can add any vegetables you have in the fridge like I did. I added 1/3 cup asparagus, cut into small 1-inch sticks; 1/4 cup garbanzo beans, skin removed and beans rinsed well and 1/4 cup marinated artichoke hearts, chopped

DIRECTIONS: In a large 4-quart pot, cook pasta according to package directions. I reduced the cooking time to 6-7 minutes as I like my pasta to have a slight bite to it like semi al dente, not too firm but not too soft. While pasta is cooking, place a large colander in your sink and add the frozen vegetables. When the pasta is cooked, pour it into the colander that is holding the frozen vegetables. Gently stir the pasta with the vegetables, being careful not to break up the pasta. This procedure will defrost and slightly cook the veggies but they will remain crisp. Pour this mixture into a large bowl. Add remaining veggies and chicken. Pour in the salad dressing, celery seed and Greek oregano. Season with and salt and pepper to taste and mix well. Fold in the chicken. Finish by topping it all with the shredded or grated cheese of choice.

My Creamy 3-day Salad Dressing

(This is a great way to use up the last of the mayonnaise in a jar)

INGREDIENTS

2 tablespoons Greek yogurt

1 teaspoon water or extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup Duke’s mayonnaise, left in the jar

1-2 teaspoons whole grain or Dijon mustard

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon white wine or rice vinegar,

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder with parsley

1 teaspoon Greek seasoning

1/2 teaspoon EVGOO (Extra Virgin Greek Olive Oil)

2 teaspoons finely chopped chives or scallion tops or Italian parsley leaves, finely chopped

Note: If you want it a bit sweet, add monk fruit powder 1/4 teaspoon or 1 teaspoon of honey

DIRECTIONS: In an empty mayonnaise jar or one that has about 1/4 cup of mayo left in it, add all of the ingredients except the water and oil and shake well. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Add water and EVGOO to achieve the desired thickness. Refrigerate any leftover dressing up to 3 days in the fridge.

A few notes about gluten ...

Gluten intolerance, also called gluten sensitivity, non-celiac gluten sensitivity or non-celiac wheat sensitivity, is a disorder where your body has adverse reactions to eating gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. These forms of gluten intolerance can cause widespread symptoms, many of which have nothing to do with digestion. Celiac disease is a condition in which the consumption of gluten causes an autoimmune disorder. The immune system then responds abnormally to gluten, affecting the areas of the small intestine that are responsible for absorbing nutrients. For more information on these health issues, visit healthline.com/health/allergies/gluten-allergy-symptoms#symptoms-of-celiacdisease.

Karen Boughton
Author: Karen BoughtonEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
I grew up in a big, Greek, cooking family. I married my high school sweetheart and soon had three daughters. My husband and I worked in the family’s Greek restaurant, “Zorba’s,” for several years before moving to Baton Rouge and eventually Corpus Christi. There I taught microwave cooking classes for Amana.in studio and on television for three years before moving to Kingwood in the late '80s. I reached out to learn more about regional and international foods, spending 16 years in management in private athletic/dining/country clubs for ClubCorp, where I embraced health and cooking. In 2008 I joined the Tribune Newspapers as food editor, the same time that I became a nutrition advisor and USANA Health Sciences Associate. These two passions have given me better health and the freedom to live life my way.

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