I am an Italian American and I grew up on pasta. Literally. I ate pasta 3 to 4 times a week, as much as I could really. I love pasta. But as I grew up, I realized that my body didn't love it so much. Not so much the pasta but the protein that is in traditional pasta called gluten.
Gluten is the protein in wheat, barley, oats and rye. It is also in kamut, spelt, and farro among others. So if you have a gluten intolerance, it is essential that you stay away from traditional pasta. Gluten intolerance can cause minor imbalances in the body such as hives or bloating but if you have a severe allergy like me, it can create much more damage to the body like serious levels of inflammation causing many surface symptoms like headache, nausea and chronic fatigue. But the real kicker is that it can spin into an auto immune disease called Celiac which is what happened to my body. You can read more about that journey on my 'About Me' page.
Even if you do not have Celiac or a severe gluten allergy, many people have reactions to eating gluten like weight gain, constipation, mood swings and digestive upset. The only way you can truly determine if you have a sensitivity to gluten is by completely taking it out of your diet for an extended period of time through an elimination diet. We will talk about elimination diets in the coming weeks. Stay tuned :)
No matter what your relationship to gluten, it is great to have choices. And there are several non-gluten pasta choices you can make to replace the wheat pasta most of us are accustomed. Brown rice pasta, buckwheat pasta and vegetable "pasta". The latter is a super option because it is filled with fiber, is low carb and will make the Paleo peeps happy. ( They Paleo lot does not eat starch.) The best choices for vegetable pasta are spaghetti squash and zucchini. Zucchini can be shaved with a potato peeler into ribbons that resemble fettucini or my favorite way to make zucchini pasta is with a spiralizer. You can grab a Paderno brand spiralizer for about $30 at amazon.
Spaghetti squash is easily roasted in about 30 minutes and then the only task you have is to scrape it out of its skin. Simple, yeah?
Zucchini and Spaghetti Squash Pomodoro
(1) 2-3 lb spaghetti squash, halved lengthwise and de-seeded
1 large or 3 small zucchini, spiralized or ribboned
(1) 24 ounce can of San Marzano tomatoes, crushed
1 small shallot, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced or finely chopped
1 small carrot, finely diced
1 pinch red pepper flakes
1 tsp dried Italian seasoning
salt and pepper to taste
4 ounces fresh buffalo mozzarella (optional)
fresh oregano and basil
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place spaghetti squash flesh side down in a baking pan filled with an inch of water. Roast until the skin of the squash is tender, about 30-45 minutes.
While the squash is roasting, prepare the pomodoro sauce. In a medium saucepan add a tablespoon of olive oil, garlic and shallots. Saute on low heat until the shallot is a bit translucent and the garlic is fragrant. Add in the carrots and saute for a few minutes. Next comes the tomatoes, the crushed red pepper and the Italian seasoning. Stir to combine. Bring to a low boil then turn down heat to a low simmer. This sauce is quick and only takes about 20 minutes to fully come to flavor. Salt and pepper to taste.
Once the squash is cooked, let it cool until you can handle it. Put the zucchini and squash into a medium bowl and gently toss to mix. Add in about a half cup of the pomodoro sauce to coat the pasta. *If you are not using the mozzarella you can skip this next step.
*Place the pasta in a 9 x 11 roasting pan, top with the mozzarella and broil on high for a few minutes until the mozzarella is melted.
Remove from the oven and top with more pomodoro sauce and fresh herbs. Enjoy! Enjoy!