06 August 2009

Gluten Free Summer Pasta Bonanza

I love Top Chef. Although most of the contestants can be pretty annoying, there is also so much creativity and passion there that it is great fun to watch. During the summer doldrums, Bravo is showing Top Chef Masters which is like a quick elimination series of fairly well-known chefs. I don't know about you, but I certainly wouldn't want to go up against Michael Chiarello, Rick Bayless and Hubert Keller. (I'd gladly go against Art Smith as long as he couldn't serve fried chicken...)

This week's episode had the chefs catering a lunch for Zooey Deschanel. Apparently she is not only an actress, but also a singer in a band and had just returned from a tour. She is both vegan and gluten-free, and the chefs had to work around that to develop their dishes. They seemed to equate this with being in one of Dante's circles of hell...

Most of the dishes looked pretty good, and the vegans seemed to enjoy them. But, for once, this is one challenge where I think I could've placed, even if not won, the competition. The chefs had $300 for about 15 people. Instead of $20 a plate, I wanted mine to be less than $5.

I used baby zucchini, small patty pan squash and eggplant for my main veggies. You can obviously use whatever you like or have on hand. The final touch is some grated Cheezly Mature White Cheddar vegan 'cheese' which is gluten free. If you do not have a gluten restriction, Cheezly cheese with artificial bacon bits is a terrific topper for this dish. Sheese also makes an amazingly good blue cheese alternative that would be great on this dish but you'd need to check if it is gluten-free.

Quinoa linguine should be available in most health food stores or organic markets. I got mine online from Barry Farms.

Gluten Free Summer Pasta Bonanza

1 large red bell pepper
2-3 sweet banana peppers
1 medium eggplant, cut into 1/2 inch slices
1 handful of cherry tomatoes per serving
Sliced veggies, about 1 1/2 cups per person: eggplant, yellow squash, zucchini, etc
1 medium onion, sliced thick
2-3 cloves of garlic peeled
4 oz quinoa linguine per serving
olive oil
1 oz Cheezly Mature White Cheddar 'cheese' grated
1 - 2 Tbs chopped fresh herbs (thyme, oregano, tarragon, etc)

Light your grill and preheat it. Start the water boiling for the pasta.
When the grill is ready, lightly coat your vegetables with oil and grill until they have grill marks and are tender. The tomatoes should be tossed in a grill-proof pan with oil and the garlic and grilled in the pan to catch all their juices.

Remove the veggies to a chopping board.
Peel the peppers and discard the tough skins and seeds.

Add pasta to the water and cook about 6-7 minutes, and drain.

Meanwhile, add the tomato, sweet banana peppers, garlic, onion and half the red bell pepper to a blender. Add 1 Tbs of olive oil and 1/2 tsp of salt and blend until it is fairly smooth.

Chop the grilled veggies into chunks or strips.

Drain pasta and toss in a bowl with some of the tomato-pepper sauce.

Place the coated pasta on the serving platter and top with the veggies. Sprinkle with the grated vegan cheese, if desired. Toss the chopped herbs over the top and serve.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. have just gone gluten free again, so perfect that you have this recipe mmmm Can't eat a lot of cheese....but ooooh I love it :-)

  3. If you can get them, several of the vegan cheese substitutes available here have at least some gluten-free, dairy-free flvours. Both the Cheezly and Sheese brands are more than acceptable substitutes for 'real' cheese and most versions are gluten-free. I think both brands are available world-wide.

    The quinoa pasta I used was mixed with some sort of corn flour instead of a wheat product to make it gluten-free, but the taste was excellent.

    Cheers, Richard