Posted on | September 11, 2010 | 2 Comments
Classes have started up and so our busy schedules are on the move once more. I live with three lovely girls in the apartment I showed you at the beginning of the week. Since we have such vastly different majors and jobs, it’s rare that we all get to sit down together and eat. Sometimes, I catch Jennifer before she goes to work and sometimes Heather and I get to sit down for a little while over our quick dinners before running off to night class. Fridays have Laura and I eating lunch together. But during the week, I never see all four of us sitting at the table together. That’s what the weekends are decidedly for.
Yesterday, we had two guests. One was Laura’s boyfriend, Joe, who so graciously helped me move my furniture around when I was moving in (Thanks, Joe!). The other was our former roommate, Arielle, who I hadn’t seen since the beginning of the summer. So we decided that we ought to have our very first family dinner. The problem was, we didn’t exactly have time for big extravagant meals when Arielle was only going to be able to stay for so long and we had an awful lot of shopping to do (all of this in between our class and work schedules for Friday). I wanted to make something that I would also be able to make for myself when I was crunched for time and needed something filling and delicious. So why not make pasta?
I’ve never made pasta before. There, I said it. None of my summer blog project recipes called for making pasta! Oh gosh, I’m so embarrassed. But Jennifer and Arielle were more than pleased to help me out. And as it happens, pasta is the easiest food in the world to make. And if you’re getting a good brand of gluten-free pasta (or making it yourself!) it’s also one of the yummiest things to make.
When I was first diagnosed with Celiac Disease, I tried out quite a few pastas, most of which I enjoyed but have never reviewed here. The first one I tried was a rice pasta, which was extremely tasty with just some butter and very filling because of its ability to absorb and expand. However, it isn’t the kind of pasta that I would really want with sauce, which was what we were looking for in last night’s meal. What I wanted was Schär’s spaghetti. Rice pasta doesn’t have the texture of Italian spaghetti. When looking for this texture, I knew Schär would be my best bet. I’ve tried so many of their products, including their other types of pasta, and I’ve yet to be disappointed. It doesn’t hurt either that Schär supports Celiac Disease research.
Schär’s spaghetti is great because unlike rice pasta, it’s made with both corn flour and rice flour. In the small amount cooking experiences I’ve had, it’s apparent that to make something gluten-free and delicious, it usually takes a mix of certain flours to get the right taste, especially in baking. Rice pasta is great, especially for Asian cuisine, but when you want Italian pasta, Schär is the way to go. Their pasta is also lactose-free for those of you who cannot have dairy.
For our sauce, we decided on one that Laura had brought with her. It was Classico’s Red Pepper Alfredo sauce. I’d never had any of their products before but was incredibly pleased by the two words “Gluten Free” typed right on the label. Laura and Heather also gave us their word that it was a good brand. I did have some qualms about using a jarred sauce. I’d always grown up with my mother and grandmother making the best sauces. Mom makes an amazing vodka sauce. But I had to remind myself that it’s always good to experiment. I definitely don’t have the time to make sauce too often. So a semester or two of jarred sauces won’t kill me. I’m a bit of a sauce snob for someone who doesn’t make her own sauce, aren’t I?
Like I said, cooking pasta is incredibly easy. For the six of us, I used one package of Schär’s spaghetti. However, next time I might make a tiny bit more. There was enough for a small portion of pasta for each person. Sure, it was filling enough, but a side dish would be nice too, just to have something to compliment the pasta.
Start by boiling your water. Depending on how big your pot is, you might want to break your spaghetti in half, which is what I did. So put that in once your water is boiling. The packaging of the pasta says that it should cook in eleven minutes, which is exactly how long it took for my pasta to cook.
While it’s cooking, take a smaller pot and pour in a jar of the Classico sauce. One jar seemed to work perfectly with the one package of pasta. Some of you might like more sauce so it’s handy to have another jar present just in case. For us, the one jar was more than enough. Don’t turn the heat on too high and make sure to cover the pot. The sauce will bubble and explode a bit. Taste it every once in a while until you find it’s hot enough.
Same goes for the pasta. After the eleven minutes, taste a bit of it and make sure that it’s cooked all the way. If it is, pour it into your strainer until all the excess water is drained. We put the strained pasta back into the pot in order to keep from dirtying another bowl (We have a really tiny sink.).
When the sauce was hot enough, we poured that directly into the pot of pasta and mixed it until the pasta is evenly covered with sauce. Then it’s ready to serve! See how easy that is?
Served in bowls, it was easy for us to eat the pasta while sitting on the couch and chairs around the coffee table and chat. Our table is a little too small and we would have been scrambling for chairs that could fit around it. So the relaxed environment of our living room was perfect for our small group.
The pasta was perfect. It was warm and the consistency, though a bit different than glutenous pasta, is smooth and pleasing. The sauce is something I have mixed feelings about. It wasn’t a bad sauce by any means. The red roasted pepper added a nice zing to the pasta. It was the alfredo that had me a bit miffed. I found myself adding a decent amount of salt. Laura added pepper and some grated cheese. Perhaps, thought, it’s blandness served us well. We could all add whatever we wanted in order to pep it up to our own liking. So, all in all, our first meal together as roommates (and guests) was a success! And now I’m looking forward to finding more sauces to try or, perhaps, to make on my own.
Loving my new life as a cook on campus,