When living the gluten and dairy free life, it's not easy to sit down and enjoy a big, hearty bowl of delicious pasta. Eating at Italian restaurants is almost impossible, and it's difficult to find recipes for homemade sauces that are free from butter, cream, and cheese.
Enter my next recipe challenge: flavorful, satisfying noodles that would make my tastebuds happy without causing my abdomen to kill me later. I got my inspiration for this recipe from the movie "Chef." If you haven't seen it yet, you definitely should! It's an amazing movie about the life of a talented but struggling chef who completely remakes his life through a food truck and the use of social media. It's full of humor, memorable characters, and mouth-watering food. Basically, it's the perfect feel-good movie!
When I watched Chef for the first time, there was one scene in particular that stuck with me. It shows the main character frying thinly sliced garlic in a puddle of olive oil, adding a mound of pasta and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes to the pan, and finishing off the dish with fresh parsley and a dash of lemon juice. I was practically drooling by the end of the scene and knew I had to try the dish for myself!
When I first made this recipe, I did not yet know I couldn't eat gluten. So I bought the highest-quality ingredients I could find (quality is important, in a recipe so simple) and happily whipped up pasta that closely resembled the dish in the movie.
After making drastic changes to my diet, I didn't know if I'd be able to enjoy this recipe again. But I've tweaked it a bit, and come up with a slightly different dish that I'm happy with. The biggest change I needed to make was finding the right gluten-free pasta. I've tried quite a few types and brands, and I've discovered that noodles made from a blend of corn and rice are my favorite (Aaron agrees - neither of us can tell much of a difference at all from normal wheat pasta). I usually buy Barilla brand because it is also the cheapest!
I am also not able to tolerate garlic very well now. Although I LOVED the delicate, crispy garlic chips the original pasta recipe used, I knew I had to get rid of them. My solution? Start the recipe the same way - slice up a few cloves of garlic as thinly as possible and fry them until golden in olive oil - but I strained the chips out at the end and just used the garlic-infused oil. It still tastes enough of garlic to impart good flavor to the dish! I save the garlic chips and offer them to Aaron, since he can eat them without difficulty.
Then, to make up for the loss of some of the garlic flavor and texture, I added sausage to the recipe. You could use pork sausage if you prefer, but turkey sausage is much lighter and always sits better in both of our stomachs than pork sausage does. I cook the meat in part of the garlic-infused oil in order to make as much use of the garlic flavor as possible. The addition of meat also makes this meal much heartier, which is great for those with larger appetites, like my husband. :)
Since this recipe was already naturally dairy-free, those were the only changes I needed to make! This pasta is now one of our go to meals. It's reasonable, simple, and delicious! Don't let the short ingredient list fool you; this dish is packed with flavor and texture. The pasta is chewy and smooth, the red pepper flakes add heat, the meat adds salty richness, the fresh lemon gives wonderful acidity, and the parsley creates a nice crunch and a gorgeous pop of color. It's also a very flexible recipe. I never measure, so the recipe below uses estimates. The level of spice is easily controlled by the amount of red pepper flakes you add; you can also add the parsley according to taste. Make sure you buy high-quality olive oil and use real lemon - the quality of the overall recipe really relies on the quality of each individual ingredient.
12 oz rice/corn blend gluten free spaghetti
1/4 C extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
3 - 4 cloves garlic
1 lb turkey or pork sausage
1 - 2 tsp red pepper flakes
Handful of chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley
Cook the spaghetti according to the package directions. I always heavily salt my water to season the pasta, and I also add a small dash of olive oil to the water to prevent the noodles from sticking to each other. While the pasta cooks, pour the olive oil into a large sauté pan and warm over medium heat. Peel and slice the garlic cloves as thinly as possible, then add to the hot oil. Fry until golden brown on both sides - watch closely, because it can turn dark very fast! Pour the oil out of the pan, straining out the garlic chips, and save the oil. Add just enough oil (a few teaspoons should do) back into the pan for cooking the meat. Add your meat of choice to the pan and cook until brown. The pasta will be finished cooking by the time your meat is in the pan - drain and set aside until the meat is cooked. Drizzle the noodles with a little bit of oil to prevent them from sticking together. When the meat is done, cool the pan slightly and pour the spaghetti back in. Add red pepper flakes according to your heat preference and toss with the noodles and meat. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze both halves over pasta, tossing again. Roughly chop the leafy portion of the parsley bunch, discarding the stems. Sprinkle a generous handful of parsley over the pasta and toss one more time. Make sure pasta is heated through, then serve immediately, drizzling each portion with olive oil.