Zucchini, tomato and feta cheese sauce on gluten-free pasta

by Jeanne on February 13, 2009

in Pasta & rice, Presto Pasta Nights, Recipes - gluten-free, Recipes - vegetarian

20081201---ZucchiniTomatoFe 

I have been feeling guilty lately.  No, not the usual stuff about eating too much, drinking too much or not going to the gym.  I was tidying up files on my PC and discovered my bulging archives of weekly newsletters that I religiously used to send to my family and friends.  Every week!  6 pages or so!!  I read them now and I marvel at the level of detail that I included – every meal cooked, every movie seen, every bit of gossip at work – and at the way I retold even the unhappiest situations in a humorous way.  They provide a wonderful record of how I spent amost every day from September 2002 until about October 2005.  And they provided a weekly connection with the people I love the most.

What happened in October 2005?  Well, nothing cataclysmic – I just got a bit swamped with newsletters in the wake of our jam-packed trip to the US, and of course a certain food blog was taking up increasing amounts of time… and soon the newsletters became sporadic rather than like clockwork.  These days they are positively rare.  And as a result I walk around permanently feeling a little guilty that these days I spend more time with my online blog friends than I do writing to the people I've known my whole life. 

But that doesn't mean that they (or all the great memories we made!) are not constantly on my mind.  The Meadows Monday supper club.  Loreley holidays.  Aerobics at the church hall.  Monty Python audio tapes.  Dinner parties at Summerville.  Unlimited Three of a Kind.  The Egg and Fox.  Dancing the the Beatles in the lounge.  Quarters when we were house-sitting.  Limelight, Cadillac Jacks, Jack Ruby's, Tequila Sunrise (awwwww) and the infamous Pig Night.  I remember them all, and I miss all of you, even when I don't write.

What brought on this wave of nostalgia?  The other night I found a packet of Orgran gluten-free pasta, bought when my oldest friend Andrea visited in the summer.  She was so excited by the huge range of gluten-free stuff available here that we went a little overboard and bought faaaaar more food than we could eat during her stay!  I ended up inheriting some of the gluten-free stuff we bought – including this pasta.  I have not up to now tried gluten-free pasta as it is usually quite a bit more expensive that wheat pasta, and I am lucky enought not to have a problem with gluten, so I was curious to see what it was like.

Gluten-free pasta is generally made with either corn, rice or quinoa, each of which has subtly different properties.  Quinoa pasta tastes distinctly like quinoa; corn pasta has a a sneaky poporn-like flavour; and rice pasta tastes neutral and is good at soaking up the flavours in a sauce.  Orgran also make a corn pasta, but the one we got was rice and vegetable fusilli with spinach, beetroot and tomato.  It's a very pretty pasta in its raw state, with a jelly-baby sort of translucence, unlike wheat pasta, and vivid vegetable colours.  As with all non-wheat pastas, make sure you follow the package preparation instructions carefully, use plenty or water, and add salt and oil to the water to prevent clumping.  The rice pasta also seemed to make the cooking water more gloopy than wheat pasta, so be sure to drain and rinse well and don't overcook!

And the verdict?  I somehow expected the rice pasta to fall apart during cooking and be a soggy mess.  So much for preconceptions!  It cooked perfectly as dente and although the spirals did have a tendency to split into two, if I hadn't known that this was gluten-free pasta I woudl certainly not have guessed from the taste or texture.  The sauce is one of my favourite easy, low-fat standbys and is on regular dinner rotation at Chez Cooksister.  As an aside, the colours of the sauce exactly matched the colourt of the raw pasta – how's that for being a domestic goddess:  colour co-ordinated recipes ;-)

20081201 - ZucchiniPastaCollageWeb

ZUCCHINI, TOMATO & FETA PASTA (serves 2)

Ingredients:

1 large zucchini, thinly sliced and each slice quartered
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
1 tsp sugar
150g feta cheese, crumbled
enough pasta for 2 pasta (I used Orgran gluten-free rice & vegetable pasta)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
olive oil

Method:

Prepare the pasta according to the package instructions until al dente.

In the meantime, heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a large fryng pan and sauteé the onions and garlic until they begin to soften.  Add the zucchini and continue to sauteé until it also starts to soften.

Add the tinned tomatoes and sugar and allow to simmer until the zucchini has softened as much as you like, and the sauce is heated through.  Check for seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste.

Drain the pasta, rinse and return to the pot.  Add the sauce and about half the feta cheese to the cooked pasta and mix well.

Serve with the remaining feta crumbled on top.

I had really hoped to get this up in time for the 100th edition of Presto Pasta Nights, the pasta-centric event founded by the lovely Ruth of Once Upon a Feast… but sadly there just weren't enough hours in the day :) So instead, I'm sending it to Wiffy of Noob Cook, who is hosting next week's PPN.

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

deeba February 14, 2009 at 1:14 pm

You are quite the diva of colour co-ordinated, & might I greedliy add, delicious food! YUM YUM Chez Cooksister, that pasta looks mighty fine to me! xoxox

Reply

deeba February 14, 2009 at 1:18 pm

I think my comment got nibbled up…so I’m trying again. You are quite the diva of colour coordinated, & might I greedily add, delicious food! YUM YUM Chez Cooksister…this pasta is beautiful!

Reply

nina February 14, 2009 at 2:08 pm

This is interesting…I bought some gluten-0ree pasta a while back and it cooked down to a mushy mess….your recipe looks light delicious and something I would want to try!!!

Reply

Manggy February 14, 2009 at 2:55 pm

Ooh! Doesn’t that look delicious? Now you’ve inspired me to do a side-by-side taste test! :D
About the newsletters… I can’t even imagine how much time those took up? Weekly at 6 pages each?!

Reply

elra February 14, 2009 at 4:23 pm

This is what we need, light, gluten free, and delicious.
Cheers,
Elra

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Peter February 14, 2009 at 4:46 pm

What a gorgeous and health-wise dish…Feta rules!

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noobcook February 15, 2009 at 4:51 am

Your pasta dish looks so fresh and delicious, and the colours are stunning too. Thanks for taking part in PPN! =)

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Mr Cook February 15, 2009 at 1:10 pm

Yesterday I tried to do it. It was very delicious to the taste. But my looks not so well, as on a picture

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grace February 15, 2009 at 5:27 pm

you feel guilty? i probably wouldn’t recognize the gym if it moved itself into my bedroom. :)
great dish, jeanne–all you had to say was “cheese sauce.” :)

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mysterycreature February 15, 2009 at 5:40 pm

What beautiful pasta! Recently I have been buying big bags of coloured past from Lidl… but this pasta s so much prettier than the cheap stuff now in my cupboard! Food and art go together so well on your blog!

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Ruth February 16, 2009 at 11:33 am

Beautiful pasta. It is wonderful that there are so many options today for the gluten challenged.
Sorry you missed the Big Presto Pasta 100 bash, but very happy you made it this week. Hope to see you as often as your schedule allows.

Reply

NAOmni February 17, 2009 at 3:04 am

Whew talk about amazing!
NAOmni

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Peter February 19, 2009 at 4:07 pm

Jeanne, that pasta looks almost like candy! The pasta is fresh, lite and full of Feta!

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maris February 21, 2009 at 3:46 am

I love feta cheese! It’s great in salads, pasta, even omelets..

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sunita March 7, 2009 at 5:05 pm

That looks so beautiful. Anything with feta in it, and I’m all ears (and eyes) :-D

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Karine November 9, 2009 at 10:53 pm

I have yet to try the combo sage and butternut squash because it seems delicious! Thanks for sharing:)

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