There was a time, not so very long ago, when I would have chosen no pasta at all in preference to gluten free pasta. Thankfully I'm not allergic, but my mum is wheat intolerant, so from time to time I end up eating dishes made with gluten free pasta. The available options have certainly improved a lot over the past few years, to the point where this idea no longer sends me running for the hills.
I still wasn't quite sure, though, when Orgran offered to send me some of their buckwheat pasta to sample. Would I be unnecessarily replacing perfectly good pasta with an "okay" substitute for no reason at all? I'm not very familiar with buckwheat, though - did you know it's related to rhubarb?! - so I decided to give it a go.
I wanted to give the pasta a fair trial without smothering it in sauce, so I made myself a simple pasta salad for lunch. This easy pasta dish is one of the staples I remember eating most often as I was growing up. Loads of memories are triggered by tossing lemon juice and olive oil through a huge pan of pasta and vegetables; it takes me straight back to the kitchen of my childhood home. We used to eat it hot straight away, but the leftovers were always wonderful cold, as well.
One of the hardest things with gluten free pasta is stopping the cooking at the right point, and I did still have this problem: it went very quickly from "nowhere near ready" to "slightly softer than I like it", without much space for catching that perfect al dente moment. However, it was a pleasure to eat, in texture somewhere between white and wholemeal wheat pasta, and with a fairly neutral flavour. I'd certainly be happy to serve this to gluten-free friends.
4 large carrots
1 small head of broccoli
1 tin red kidney beans
2tbsp olive oil
2-3tbsp lemon juice
salt & black pepper (to taste)
- Prepare the vegetables: chop the carrots into circular slices, and the broccoli into florets.
- Bring a large pan of water to the boil.
- The carrots will need 10 minutes in total (assuming you like them al dente), so look at your pasta packet and subtract your pasta cooking time from this to work out when to add the pasta. (For very heavy pasta you might need to add the pasta first, but normally it will be at the same time or a little after.)
- With 5 minutes remaining, add the broccoli florets to the pan.
- If you're planning to eat your pasta as a hot meal, add the red kidney beans (well rinsed) with a couple of minutes to spare.
- If you're making a cold salad, drain the cooked pasta and vegetables and rinse in cold water before adding the beans.
- Toss through the olive oil, and season with lemon juice, salt, and pepper to taste.