Hurray this is my first pasta post! I’m so excited to share this recipe with you – for all who are gluten intolerant like me, I love pasta and I could eat it every day like the Italian’s do! Before I discovered quinoa pasta, I actually felt depressed knowing I couldn’t eat traditional whole wheat pasta the way I used to, let’s also say I kissed a lot of “gluten free pasta frogs” before I met quinoa pasta. For me, it rivals 100 percent whole-wheat pasta, (we are talking about unrefined, non-white, pasta here).
Taste test whole-wheat vs quinoa? Whole-wheat pasta has a distinct bite to it, when done al dente, it’s more nutty, and sometimes even bitter. Depending on the brand bought, texture, flavour and thickness varies. Whole-wheat pasta often tastes better paired with substantial sauces. Quinoa pasta is lighter in flavour, a little softer in texture as compared to whole-wheat, density wise I find it more brittle/delicate than whole wheat. Quinoa pasta is also not often made from pure quinoa, it’s mixed with other gluten free grains that have a mild, non descript taste – therefore, it suits lighter, less heavy sauces. Both varieties, whole-wheat and quinoa are best eaten cooked right out of the pasta water. If you aren’t going to do so, expect them to get drier and taste a little bit like cardboard. You were warned here first!
Left: granoro gluten free quinoa pasta Right to left: Thai basil, sliced pitted black olives and capers, garlic, anchovies Centre: cherry tomatoes
Health benefits of quinoa vs whole-wheat? Quinoa is much higher in protein than whole-wheat, asides from it being a great tasting gluten free pasta. Both type of pastas are high in fiber, with quinoa being rich in magnesium, phosphorus and iron. Whole-wheat is high in vitamin B, magnesium and selenium. Quinoa is also high in anti-inflammatory phytonutrients and flavonoids, whole wheat on the other hand can lower the risk of heart disease, diabetes and asthma.
So it you aren’t gluten intolerant, eat either type of pasta’s for more variety in your diet. And if you are vegan, vegetarian or choose to eat less meat daily, I highly recommend quinoa pasta to supplement your protein.
The umami ingredients that create a little fifth flavour magic in this dish – for the omnivores there’s a little anchovy (this is so good…) in this recipe, if you are vegetarian or vegan sub that out for red miso (equally great!). Not forgetting, the capers and pitted black olives that give it an unforgettable flavour.
And now onto the recipe, before we get to that I would like to add that a great tasting pasta also starts with the best quality olive oil you can get your hands on – mine was from a vineyard bought from a trip last year to Perth (I would collect olive oils like souveneirs if they were not so heavy to lug home) – see the insane yellow deliciousness! Let your taste buds be your guide. And don’t be afraid to use lots of olive oil! The dishes cooked in Italy all taste amazing because of this key ingredient!
I used a stove-to-oven cast iron pot to get my sauce going. Don’t be alarmed, it’s alot of oil, but hey, this is extra virgin olive oil! Cook with garlic, olives and capers on low heat.
Add in cherry tomatoes here.
Add your anchovy paste here. Cook for 2 mins till tomatoes soften just a little. I’m going to bake this with a covered lid for a while if you have time, if not just toss with pasta. (If doing a vegan version, add your red miso last just before pasta comes together)
Pop the pot of it straight into the oven covered of course at 160C for 30 mins – to let the flavours concentrate.
Add in your cooked pasta, if your quinoa pasta instructions say to cook for 10mins do exactly that, taste your pasta for doneness before adding it to the pot. (If going the vegan, vegetarian route, stir in your red miso at this point and then serve). If not, stir gently and set aside.
I like to add a few pieces of seafood to my pasta, these are wild prawns grilled atop a searing hot grill! Oil, pepper and salt your prawns before they go on.
When they get curly, they are almost cooked, have a quick check and set aside. Leave them alone on the grill and they will begin to stick.
Plate up your pasta, with the prawns right on top! Garnish with chopped Thai basil and serve! Are you drooling yet? I sure am:) Tag me if you make this at #taystesg and enjoy every pasta noodle!
Quinoa umami pasta with Cherry tomatoes & Thai basil
Gluten free, Vegan Options
Utensils – One stove to oven pot, spatula
8 tablespoons extra virgin best quality olive oil
4 cloves sliced garlic
12 pieces pitted black olives sliced
3 teaspoons brined capers
1.5 cups fresh cherry tomatoes halved into 2 pieces
3 teaspoons anchovies mashed into paste/red miso paste(vegan option)
12 prawns, butterflied, deveined
Salt and pepper
250g gluten free quinoa pasta
One salted pot of water for boiling pasta (1.5 tablespoons of sea salt to 2 litres of water)
- Prep all the ingredients for the quick sauce. Set aside.
- In a small pot that can be transferred from the stove to oven, on low heat add extra virgin olive oil, garlic, black olives, capers. Cook for a few seconds before adding in cherry tomatoes.
- Let the ingredients soften a little before adding in anchovy mashed paste. At this point, the sauce is pretty tasty. (For vegan version use red miso instead). You may choose to serve this with hot pasta now.
- If you have another 30 mins to spare, pre heat your oven to 160C, take your pot off the heat of the stove, cover and transfer to the oven, and cook for 30 mins.
- If cooking your quinoa pasta, this is the time to do it now whilst your sauce flavours are concentrating in the oven. Cook in salted water as per the instructions on your pasta box.
- Remove pasta from heat, set aside and reserve one cup of pasta water for later.
- After 30 mins, when your sauce in the pot is ready, add in your cooked quinoa pasta and stir gently, combining all the ingredients. If it seems a little dry add a bit of pasta water to hydrate the pasta. (If making a vegan version, this is the point to add the red miso to preserve as much probiotic activity as possible, and then top with Thai basil and serve).
- On a hot grill, cook your butterflied, deveined prawns that have been marinated with oil, salt and pepper.
- Once cooked, assemble your pasta as per the picture.
- Top with chopped Thai basil and enjoy!
Always taste your food. That includes your pasta when following the instructions on the box. For quinoa pasta sometimes the cooking times do vary a little, if the centre is still hard it needs to be cooked longer.
As with other alternative grain pastas, quinoa pasta should be eaten soon after it’s stirred together with the pasta sauce for a great tasting dish.