There has been a remarkable change in the way we look at the gluten in our diets lately. I have read in Woman’s Magazine that eliminating gluten from our diet is said to contribute to increased energy, thinner thighs, and reduced belly bloat. Who doesn't want that?
Gluten is a protein found in the grains wheat, barley, and rye. Most of us unknowingly love it, because gluten gives our favorite foods that special touch: It makes pizza dough stretchy, gives bread its spongy texture, and is used to thicken sauces and soups.
Since somewhat eliminating it from my diet my well being has improved and so has my weight.There are plenty of healthy foods to eat without gluten. Lean meats, poultry and fish along with the long list of vegetables; but being Italian, I started to miss pasta.
After a fast search, I picked up a package of rice sticks also known as rice noodles as an experiment to see if these quick-soak type noodles would replace the Italian pasta in the dishes I grew up with. I found that they are similar in size to thin vermicelli noodles but hold their shape a little better.
If using them in a hot sauce, a 10 minute soak in warm water is all that is necessary. For cold dishes, a 2-3 minute boil will give them the perfect texture to grasp onto the sauce. They are excellent in salads and made for stir-fries.
Rice sticks also are completely gluten-free, a treasure for those with celiac disease or allergies who can’t tolerate gluten at all but love their pastas. But you don't have to have an allergy to reap the benefits of eating these noodles.
The following is a recipe using these rice sticks along with the end of summer tomato crop surplus. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
This is a great way to use your summer tomatoes. Rice sticks won’t get soggy, so the dish can sit without distress as a cold pasta salad. It’s good each way, hot or cold.
3 medium-size ripe tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
2 teaspoons balsamic or sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 (3-ounce) cans of Italian tuna in olive oil or 6 ounces cooked fresh tuna, cut into small bite-size pieces
1 tablespoon capers, rinsed
10 imported black-pitted oil-cured olives, halved
5 basil leaves, torn
8 ounces rice sticks
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cut the tomatoes in half and with a strainer over a bowl, squeeze out the seeds. Press the seeds against the strainer to extract the juice; discard the seeds.
Place tomatoes in food processor and pulse to a small chop. Pour into a medium-size bowl then mix in the garlic, salt and pepper, balsamic vinegar, tuna, capers, olives and olive oil. Allow to marinate 25 minutes while you soak and cook the rice sticks.
If you prefer, cut the noodles in half with kitchen shears. Place the rice sticks in a large bowl, and cover with boiling water. Soak for 10 minutes or until pliable, and drain.
When the water comes to a boil, salt generously and add the rice sticks. Boil 2 minutes until tender but still al dente, then drain. Toss at once with the tomato mixture and the basil, and serve. Makes 4 servings
Do Ahead: The tomato topping will keep up to 2 days in the refrigerator. The soaked drained noodles will keep in the refrigerator for three or four days in a tightly covered container.
If you plan to serve this cold, you can make it up to an hour ahead of time; toss again before serving.
Buon Appetito From Amelia's Kitchen
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