A Couple of Tasty Pasta Dishes

Friday 24 January 2014


As you all know I occasionally get sent products to try.  I was recently contacted and asked if I would like to try some of  the Garofalo range of gluten free pastas.  New to the UK since last autumn it is made with a combination of corn, quinoa and rice.  I'm not normally a fan of quinoa, but I figured that it wouldn't really matter if it was in a pasta and not served as a grain on it's own.

I was sent a package of Penne Rigate and a package of  Casarecce.  (Don't ask me to pronounce that last one!)  As you can see from the package they looked just like regular pasta.

From their page:

Can a producer of ‘normal pasta’, using a raw material containing the best gluten, produce an excellent gluten free pasta? The answer is in our philosophy and focus on the product: Good taste is a right. 

We set our selves the objectives of creating a product with the knowledge that Garofalo pasta is synonymous with the experience of taste. We knew that the flavour could not be the same due to the different raw materials, but it was of great importance to us to produce a Garofalo pasta that was no better or worse in flavour, just different. It was not to be just for those on a gluten free diet but a new cooking opportunity for everyone. It was equally important to produce a healthy product, which in the end might even be better than normal pasta. 

We have worked extensively on this line, which is not produced in our factory because of the risk of contamination with our pasta containing wheat, and remain in control at all levels from the raw materials to the production methods. The results are a product that is extremely good, especially when compared to the gluten free products currently on the market, but we are confident we can improve it even more. The phrase “it’s good considering it’s gluten-free” is not enough, we believe the pasta can reach the levels of pasta made with durum wheat semolina.  

I decided to cook and present what I was sent in two different ways so that I could see how it performed.  The first was to cook it and make a type of macaroni and cheese with it.  I used the Penne for this as it was the most suitable.

Here it is cooked and draining.  As you can see it looks like any other type of pasta which has been cooked. I had in mind to do a macaroni and cheese type of casserole with this, adding broccoli for extra colour, fiber and taste.    


I folded both into a delicious cheese sauce and then poured them into a casserole dish, topped the casserole with more cheese and then baked it until it was golden brown. 

You would be hard pressed to tell this pasta from any other kind of pasta.  It looked completely normal.


It tasted completely normal as well, although I did find it to be a bit chewier in consistency, but this is something which could be handled well by simply cooking it for a bit longer, and of course texture is all a matter of taste.   Some people like their pasta a little firmer and on the al dente side.  I do sometimes and I don't at others.  With a mac and cheese type of dish I would have liked it to be a bit softer. 

Other than that there was no discernible different, truly.  This was fabulous.  I thought the pasta tasted nice, just like any other pasta and had I not known it was gluten free I would not have been able to tell.   I gavew it a 10 out of 10 for taste, and performance.  Well done to the Garofalo people.


*Broccoli Mac & Cheese*
Serves 4

Better than anything from a box and good for you too!  

3/4 pound of uncooked pasta
1 broccoli crown, stalks peeled and chopped, broken into florets
2 TBS butter
25g of plain flour (1/4 cup)
1 small onion, peeled and minced
450ml of milk (2 cups)
225 ml of chicken stock (1 cup)
1/2 pound of cheddar cheese, grated (2 cups)
salt and pepper to taste
pinch of cayenne pepper  

1 TBS butter, melted
4 TBS Parmesan cheese
4 TBS soft white bread crumbs
4 TBS grated cheddar  
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to the boil.   Tip in the pasta and cook according to package directions, adding the broccoli stalks and florets for the last 3 to 4 minutes.  

While the pasta is cooking make the sauce.   Melt the butter in a medium saucepan.  Add the onion and saute lightly without browning.  Whisk in the flour once the onion is softened.  Cook for a minute, then slowly whisk in the milk and stock.  Cook, whisking constantly over medium high heat until the sauce bubbles and thickens.  Remove from the heat and whisk in the cheese, salt, pepper and cayenne.  Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.  

Preheat the oven to 190*C/375*F/ gas mark 5.  Butter a casserole dish.  Drain the pasta well, rinse and drain again.  Stir the pasta and broccoli into the sauce and pour the mixture into the baking dish.  Mix together the topping ingredients and sprinkle over top evenly.  

Bake in the heated oven for 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown.  Serve hot.   


For the Casarecce I decided that I would make a sauce that it could be stirred into.  Something which would cling to all those folds and get into those crevices.


A simple sauce of tinned tomatoes, herbs, and pasta sauce, with onions, garlic and two cheeses to make it creamy.  Nicely flavoured. 

A sauce it could just be stirred into and not cooked in.


Once again it performed really well.  Other than the fact that once again it was a bit chewier than I normally like, you would not have been able to discern any difference between this and the regular pasta, which again could be easily remedied by cooking the pasta in it's initial cooking for a tiny bit longer, and also is a matter of preference and taste.  It tasted great and the sauce worked well with it. I gave it a ten out of ten as well. 

*Creamy Tomato Skillet Pasta*
Serves 4  

A bit of this and a bit of that combine to make a really quick, easy and delicious pasta dish!  

1 pound of uncooked pasta
1 TBS olive oil
1  onion, peeled and finely minced
1 fat clove of garlic, peeled and minced
1 400g tin of chopped tomatoes in tomato juice (14.5 ounce tin)
1 family sized jar of tomato pasta sauce
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried parsley flakes
salt and black pepper to taste
1 (250g) package of cream cheese (8 ounce)
90g of grated Parmesan Cheese, plus more to serve (1/2 cup)  

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to the boil.   Add the pasta and cook according to the package directions.  Drain well and rinse.  Drain again and set aside.  

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet.   Add the onion and saute to soften without browning.  Once softened add the garlic,  Cook for one minute until very fragrant.   Add the tomatoes and bring to the boil.  Cook for a couple minutes, then stir in the pasta sauce, herbs and salt and pepper to taste.  Simmer for about 10 minutes, then whisk in the cheeses and allow them to melt.  Stir in the pasta and heat through.  Serve hot with more Parmesan for sprinkling at the table.   


Altogether I was very happy with both pastas.  I don't have a problem with wheat but we have friends with a son who does and it's nice to know that there are more and more products out there that are available for people with a gluten intolerance.

Giving up gluten without compromising flavour or texture is the premise behind the Garofalo lines of pasta products.  With a wide range of types and high attention to production and product performance Italy's most popular pasta makers have come up with a real winner here. 

The Garofalo lines of gluten free pastas are available online via Ocado and Nifeislife.

Many thanks to the people at Garofalo for sending me these pastas to try out!

1 comment

  1. Oh they both look wonderful! Pasta is still a favorite in this house!
    Mary x


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