A few years back, when my oldest and youngest still ran USATF track I was introduced to a pasta dish at a team dinner that I fell in love with, Spicy Chicken Rigatoni. I came up with my own version and my family loved it. Then when I gave gluten the boot I stopped making it. Truth is there really aren’t a ton of different gluten free pasta shapes. There is penne though and it is similar to rigatoni. Well, it is close enough for me. Spicy Chicken Penne is now something that has been added back into my families meal plans and is a meal my kids would eat weekly if I would let them.
This month with Allrecipes we are working with one of my favorite brands, Barilla. In my opinion, Barilla makes some pretty good pasta and I especially love that they have a gluten free line. I only wished they offered more than gluten free spaghetti, elbows and penne. Maybe one day, a girl can hope right!
Of all their recipes we could choose from I chose one of their mac and cheese recipes. After all it is mac and cheese and mac and cheese is awesome. The name is a bit deceiving with healthy in the title, I haven’t quite figured that one out yet. It may be for the pureed carrots but then again it could be for the healthy wholesome ingredients. Oh yes, I said carrots, pureed carrots and my family could not even tell they were in there! My kids love carrots and veggies but you gotta love sneaking in veggies and getting extra vitamins in.
While this does have carrots sneakily hiding in it, it is also made with some delicious cheeses and cream. Yes, real heavy cream. So this dish is calorie dense but that is ok, there are a few days until it’s time to start working on those New Year’s resolutions. This is really good mac and cheese, just eat it while standing up because those calories don’t count.
Healthy "Italian Mac and Cheese" with Carrot Puree
Country Girl Gourmet
- 1 box Barilla Elbows (I used gluten Free)
- 1 cup raw carrots, diced for carrot puree*
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 cup Asiago cheese, diced
- 1 cup fontina cheese, diced
- ½ cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, shredded
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- Bring a large pot and a small pot of water to a boil.
- Cook pasta 1 minute less than package directions.
- Pre-heat Oven to 400 degrees F.
- Meanwhile in a large skillet saute garlic in olive oil until slightly yellow in color.
- Add cream to skillet; slowly bring to a simmer and add carrot puree and pasta.
- Whisk in Asiago and fontina cheeses, simmer.
- Pour mix into a 2-quart casserole dish, top with Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and bake 10 minutes in the oven.
- *To make carrot puree: Boil carrots in the small pot; when tender drain and rinse. Puree the carrots in a food processor or blender until smooth adding water as needed to make a thick sauce.
When my husband and I were first married and didn’t have much money I would often throw things together for meals. Sometimes these things were hits and others were misses. One of my favorite hits was simple spaghetti mixed with “butter”, garlic and parmesan. Not the good parmesan though, the stuff that comes in the green can and even at that it wasn’t Kraft. It was some generic version they sold at the commissary. Oh and that garlic was garlic powder, the at the time 50cent a bottle garlic powder. The butter well it was margarine. I remember eating it one day when my sister and her now ex-husband came over and he thought it was the the weirdest thing. Then again he was from Albuquerque, New Mexico so if it didn’t have green chiles it was weird.
The simple spaghetti was something quick and easy I could put together and became comfort food. I even taught my oldest how to make it but now our ingredients are a little different. Now I use real butter, parmesan and garlic. While working with Barilla this month I was introduced to a even more grown up version of this simple dish and I was hooked. Heck, my whole family was to the point they were fighting over it. Thank goodness I can get gluten free pasta and Barilla makes a pretty good gluten free pasta so I can continue having this for a quick lunch or dinner.
If you are in a pinch and looking for something tasty and quick and easy to make this is the recipe to try. Try for yourself, you will be happy you did. It may become one of your comfort food favorite dishes.
Spaghetti with Garlic, Red Pepper and Olive Oil
- 1 (16 ounce) box Barilla PLUS® Thin Spaghetti
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, sliced
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1/4 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes
- 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, freshly grated
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic, parsley and red pepper flakes; saute 2 to 3 minutes.
- Cook Plus® Thin Spaghetti according to package directions.
- Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 cup pasta water. Immediately add hot pasta to skillet. Stir in reserved pasta cooking water. Mix well. Add cheese and toss lightly.
- Transfer to a serving platter or bowl.
Something I really like is making pesto out of not your typical pesto ingredients. Pesto does not need to have a Basil and Pine Nut base. For Instance, I have a wonderful Spinach and Pecan Pesto I make every now and then. When I found out I was working with Barilla this month and saw some of their recipes, their Charred Green Onion Pesto stood out. An added plus to this recipe is that it called for their Gluten Free pasta that I had finally found in a local grocery store. Alike some other pastas I had tried it was a corn and rice pasta that is GMO free. I have been on the search for a good gluten free pasta and I think I may have found my new go-to pasta. Best part about the pasta is my family wasn’t asking is this gluten free.
The pesto was very easy to make and was surprisingly tasty. I love it when recipes comes together like that! You simply roast your green onions in the oven for 10 minutes, then let them cool and once cool you through into the food processor. Add some cashews, parmesan cheese, a couple ice cubes, a tad bit of water and olive oil and pulse a bit more and voila! You have pesto! Toss with your rotini and some soaked dried cranberries and you have your pasta dish. It would be great with some grilled chicken breast also. Try it for yourself and let me know what you think!
Gluten Free Rotini with a Charred Green Onion Pesto, Toasted Cashews and Cranberries
- 1 (12 ounce) box Barilla® Gluten Free Rotini
- 1 bunch green onions
- 7 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- salt and black pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup cashews
- 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano cheese
- ice cubes
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup hot water
- Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees F and bring a large pot of water to a boil.
- Place cranberries in bowl of hot water to soak.
- Toss the green onions with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place on a sheet tray and roast in the oven until lightly charred, about 10 minutes. Remove the onions from the oven and let them cool down.
- In a blender combine the onions, cashews and Parmigiano cheese, pulse for 5 seconds.
- Slowly drizzle in the remaining olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the ice cubes and puree. Remove the pesto from the blender and place in a large bowl.
- Cook the pasta according to the package directions, drain reserving 1/2 cup cooking liquid. Drain cranberries.
- Add the cooking liquid, pasta and drained cranberries to the pesto, then stir to combine.
This is a sweet and tangy pasta salad filled with dried cranberries and almonds.
Cranberry Almond Pasta Salad
1 12oz box of bow tie pasta
1/2 cup thinly sliced celery
1/2 cup dried cranberries (craisens)
1/2 cup sliced almonds
8oz diced turkey or ham
1/2 cup Sugar
1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
Cook pasta per box instructions(9-12 minutes) when done drain and rinse with cold water. While pasta is cooking combine mayonnaise, vinegar and sugar in a bowl. Once cooled pasta has been drained add to large bowl with diced turkey or ham,celery, dried cranberries,almonds and dressing. Mix well until everything is well coated. Serve as is or refrigerate.
It is summertime and one thing that means is simple meals and there is nothing better than salad. I try to keep either salad ingredients if not some sort of salad in my fridge at all times. Pasta salads are a quick go to and are great for light filling meals. My Super Easy Pasta Salad definitely fits the bill. It has a great balance of pasta, meat, veggies and cheese. How can you go wrong when there is cheese involved?
My Super Easy Pasta Salad is an extremely easy to make pasta salad. I cannot even begin to tell you how many times I have made it over the years. It is always a huge hit at potlucks and i’m always asked for the recipe. When I tell people the recipe they are always shocked at how easy and good this recipe is. Sure, you could make your own dressing but this recipe uses store bought for the easy factor.
Make it for yourself and see how good it is!
Super Easy Pasta Salad
- 2 13oz bags frozen tortelenni (cooked per package directions)
- 16oz diced ham
- 1 red pepper, diced
- 1 small red onion, diced
- 1 cup tomatoes (diced roma’s or halved grape tomatoes)
- 6oz baby spinach
- 16oz whole milk mozzarella, diced
- 2.25oz can sliced black olives
- 14oz bottle Zesty Italian salad dressing (I typically use Kraft)
- Shredded Parmesan cheese to garnish
- Combine all ingredients except salad dressing.
- Add enough dressing to coat. Somedays I use the whole bottle, others almost the whole bottle.
- Garnish with shredded Parmesan.