Tag Archives: pasta

Alfredo for Allergies

If you have a dairy or wheat allergy, like Bill does, and happen to like alfredo sauce–never fear. There’s an easy way to make a nice alfredo sauce for pasta with a few simple substitutions.

On Saturday night we made Spatchcocked Chicken Cooked Under a Brick with Basil Marinade (which I would have blogged about but I thought I already did–so, next time we make this recipe I’ll write a post!). On Sunday we had plenty of leftovers of this yummy basil-garlic-lemon-roasted chicken in the fridge. When Bill suggested a pasta meal for lunch, I immediately thought: Alfredo! It’s really easy to make and delicious, even without wheat pasta and cream.

I simply heat some olive oil in a skillet and add some brown rice flour to make sort of a roux. Then, slowly add rice milk to the mixture, stirring until thickened.

(Our roast chicken was very flavorful so I didn’t add much to the white sauce besides salt and pepper. But if you didn’t want to add meat, you could saute some pressed garlic and fresh herbs in the olive oil for a minute or two before adding the flour.)

I had some fresh basil left from the night before so I made basil chiffonade from the leaves and added them to the sauce.

Then I added the chicken.

Meanwhile, Bill got the pasta cooking. We use Pasta Joy brown rice spaghetti. It takes a little getting used to because it’s stickier than wheat pasta but once you have it a few times, you won’t even notice the difference.

For some added flavor, you could grate some pecorino cheese into the sauce (if you had a cow dairy allergy like Bill does, because pecorino comes from sheep).

But ours was so good with just this simple sauce because the chicken carried the flavor. We had roasted asparagus on the size–in season in Michigan!

What’s in Your Pasta?

Photo via The Olive Garden

A few weeks ago I went on a rant about salt–how I’m tired of hearing that we need to curb our salt intake. I might actually be sodium-deficient because I don’t get enough salt in my homemade food. But if you eat processed food, you’re likely getting way too much. Hence the warning from the medical experts. 

When I think of processed food, a can of soup bought at the grocery store comes to mind. But what about the food prepared at restaurants? Well, it depends on the restaurant. 

Take, for example, Yahoo’s “top seven unhealthiest pasta dishes in America”. Some of them supply an entire day’s worth of sodium (approximately 2,300 mg) in one meal: 

#7) From Olive Garden: Garlic Herb Chicken con Broccoli
960 calories
41 g fat (18 g saturated)
2,180 mg sodium 

#6) From Fazoli’s: Tortellini Robusto
1,020 calories
50 g fat (28 g saturated, 0.5 g trans)
2,580 mg sodium 

#5) From Carrabba’s: Lasagne
1,360 calories
(no other data available) 

#4) From T.G.I. Friday’s: Cajun Shrimp & Chicken Pasta
1,420 calories
(no other data available) 

#3) From Domino’s: Chicken Carbonara Breadbowl Pasta
1,480 calories
56 g fat (24 g saturated, 1 g trans)
2,280 mg sodium
188 g carbohydrates 

#2) Cheesecake Factory: Kid’s Pasta with Alfredo Sauce
1,803 calories
87 g saturated fat
876 mg sodium
70 g carbohydrates 

#1) Cheesecake Factory: Bistro Shrimp Pasta
2,819 calories
77 g saturated fat
1,008 mg sodium
184 g carbohydrates 

I know what you’re saying: These are chain restaurants; they’re like the fast food of the not-so-fast food world. And, although I admit I’ve eaten at a few of them, they are not my favorite choices for eating dinner out. But a lot of people do eat meals like the ones listed above, thinking they’re eating healthy food just because it’s pasta.

How can you get around these high numbers in sodium and fat? 

  1. Eat at home. Your homemade pasta–depending on the sauce–will have far less sodium than restaurant fare.
  2. Don’t eat it all in one sitting. Plan to take a portion home.
  3. Avoid the alfredo sauces, which likely have cream, butter, and/or cheese in them.
  4. When you cook at home, use olive oil instead of butter.
  5. Ask your server–at any restaurant–what’s in your food and where it comes from. It’s to your benefit to be educated on the source of your food as well as its nutritional information.

Pasta with Peas and Bacon

Although I had pasta carbonara on the brain today, I wasn’t in the mood for such a rich sauce. But I was in the mood for peas in my pasta. So I simply Googled “pasta with bacon and peas” to come across Emeril Lagasse’s recipe, Pasta with Peas and Bacon. Don’t you love the internet?

I pretty much followed his recipe, except I used brown rice spaghetti instead of tortellini and rice milk instead of heavy cream, due to Bill‘s allergies; and Greek sheep’s cheese instead of Parmesan. Oh, and I threw a little white wine in after the onions were sautéed.

Of course, the bacon came from our supply of Creswick Farms grassfed, nitrite-free bacon, which is available through the West Michigan Co-op.

Simple. Easy. Pretty good. Both Bill and I felt there was something missing, however. Nutmeg? Garlic? Anyone have some suggestions?

Baked Ziti Redux

Even though I already posted a recipe for Baked Ziti back in December, I couldn’t help but post another–even easier–recipe. What’s easier than baked ziti? Baked ziti with a jar of sauce that’s so unique, so delicious, I can’t believe it’s not homemade.

Yet, in a way, it is homemade–made “at home” by G.B. Russo’s–a local gourmet food store in Grand Rapids, Michigan. It’s Russo’s Pinot Grigio Puttanesca Sauce. (On a side note, check out the origin of Puttanesca on Epicurious.com. Generally, it’s considered a Mediterranean sauce but the etymology of “puttanesca” is interesting!)

What’s unique–to me, at least–is the amount of olives in the sauce. All I did was saute some onions, add a few chopped Kalamata olives, pour in the sauce with a little dry red wine, and let it simmer while the pasta cooked. Then I mixed the sauce with the pasta in a lasagna pan.

Finally, I covered it with a Greek sheep’s cheese (for Bill since he can’t have cow dairy products), drizzled it with olive oil, and baked it for 10 minutes covered with foil.

I removed the foil for another ten minutes to brown the top.

It’s so quick and easy–good comfort food on a winter night.