Fourth Time's a Charm?

I used to be pretty handy in a kitchen.  That was once upon a time when I had a kitchen.  And kitchen tools.  And when I still thought gluten was my friend.  It's hard to eat gluten-free anyway, but especially "on-the-road."  I hate to say it, but there have been times in the last 3 months when the very fact of something being gluten-free has out-weighed the ingredients.  French fries from 5 Guys for lunch, anyone? They have a dedicated fryer.  

That said, my body and mind have been feeling the heat of the junk we have eaten this summer. I make a lot of sides with fresh veggies and no one here ever suffers shortage of fresh fruit, but I still feel less energetic and healthy than before.  

While we were at the Gluten & Allergen Free Expo in NJ last weekend, I was paying more attention to labels again.  I was impressed with some and less impressed with others.  We stopped by the booth of a company called Le Veneziane to try a cookie when the vendor started telling me about their pastas.  I had never heard of this brand, so he told me all about how they are the most popular gluten-free brand in Italy.  I took a peek at the display packages and decided to blow him off because the package said it was a corn pasta.  

I am, indeed, a pasta snob.  I <3 Italian food.  Pasta was my go-to.  I miss a simple bowl of noodles with butter, pepper and Parmesan cheese more than most anything, so when I say we've been through the gamut of gluten-free pastas, I am very serious.  I have discovered many pastas that absolutely don't work and very few that pass.  

Corn pastas never pass.  They are mushy and leave the water starchy and they taste like polenta...good in its own right, but certainly not pasta to enjoy with a cream sauce loads of garlic and veggies.  

Nevertheless, the package of cute bow-ties caught the kids and they begged over and over for it.  Easy enough to get out of that one...it wasn't for sale.  He was trying to get the brand name out.  And then he did it.  He told the kids they could be his official testers.  There would be no bowing out.

It's been sitting on my counter haunting me with its corn cob picture since we got home Sunday.

Tonight was a big gluten-free fail.  I started with an ancient grain pilaf that turned to mush.  I tried to make some pizzas and the tomato sauce had gone bad.  I cut open a cantaloupe to find it was past prime, too.  

So I figured that I could go 4 for 4 with the mushy corn noodles, and put some water on to boil.  First the water wouldn't come to a boil and then my sauce almost burned (cheese sauce.  I needed a little comfort food after all the failure.)  when the water finally came to a boil, I poured some salt and the noodles into the pot.  I stirred and was surprised when I could still see the noodles because the water wasn't cloudy.  

After 6 minutes they seemed done, so I reluctantly tasted one and wouldn't you know it!? Al dente perfection.  Wha??? I thought maybe I was so hungry I misjudged, so I drained the noodles and mixed in the cheese sauce expecting them to fall apart with the mixing, but  I must say, the presentation was pretty nice.
I sat back and watched the kids try their mac n cheese and waited for the whining.  They are pretty partial to Annie's boxed macaroni.  But amazingly they all claimed it was delicious.  When I took my first bite I had to agree! The texture is good, the flavor is good and Le Veneziane may be a family favorite now.  GraceAnne wanted to be sure we can get more, (none of our local stores carry it, we will have to order it.) and Allan said it tastes just like a "real" noodle!  Those two are our resident gluten consumers, so considering it matched their standards for pasta, I think we have a major winner!

Despite the package being pretty small (8.8oz) it filled all five of us nicely with veggies on the side and even left a bit over for seconds.  

I am going to give Le Veneziane a couple of thumbs ups and suggest you try it if you're looking for a yummy GF pasta!  

What's your favorite GF pasta? What do you miss most from your gluten days? Have you found it difficult to transition from regular cooking/eating to a GF lifestyle?  

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