One thing about the gluten-free life: it requires a lot of planning, particularly when it comes to meals. I have friends who think nothing of driving through a fast food restaurant after a long day at work. Others who stop by the grocery store to pick up fried chicken. Some who say “We’ll just order a pizza.”
For me, it’s always about “what am I going to cook tonight?”
This is one reason why I’m big on menu planning; knowing I have a plan makes the end-of-the-day process so much easier! When you’re gluten-free, the fried chicken and pizza are still options, but, unless you are very lucky, you’ll need to make them yourself. Most fast food choices require a lot of work or risk-taking (cross-contamination anyone?).
It’s also the reason I keep fast, easy-to-prepare items in my pantry. One of those staples is gluten-free pasta. I can have a pasta meal on the table in thirty minutes, and, let’s be frank, it tastes way better than a fast food hamburger. Seriously.
Many grocery stores now carry gluten-free pasta (check the top or bottom shelves as slower-moving items are generally shelved there). If your store doesn’t stock GF pasta, ask the store manager to order some for you. Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s also carry GF pastas. The last time I visited Whole Foods, I was surprised by the increased variety and the (slightly) lower prices.
Or you can order from Amazon or other online retailers. Note: you may have to order a large quantity, but, in my experience, gluten-free pasta keeps forever. Right now, the most popular options for GF pasta are rice, corn, or quinoa. I like rice for its consistency, corn for the deeper flavor and ability to hold its shape, and quinoa for the healthy factor.
I keep spaghetti, penne, and lasagna noodles on hand at all times (I keep thinking someday I’m going to use the lasagna noodles to make a sort of pappardelle pasta to go with short ribs; this hasn’t happened yet, but it’s a great plan!). Barilla recently released their gluten-free pasta line, and I was pleased with how their elbow macaroni held up in my macaroni and cheese.
Making pasta night easier is the fact that I keep ingredients for sauce on hand as well. Generally, I have the makings for a tomato-based sauce in my pantry (using canned tomatoes instead of fresh in these instances). Almost always, I have pesto in the refrigerator. Definitely, I have the ingredients for a quick olive oil, garlic, and lemony sauce. Heck, whipping up a quick Alfredo sauce has become almost second nature!
The best part? Knowing I have the makings for a fast, delicious meal on hand is a great relief on those days when I need an emergency meal.
What are your favorite quick, weeknight pasta combinations?