With the summer months now upon us, warm heavy dishes have seemed to lost their appeal.  We instinctively reach for ice-cold wedges of watermelon, chug back water from glasses that clink with ice, and savor ice-cream that drips languorously down our hands as it melts.

Summer also brings forth memories of barbecues, potlucks, picnics, and cold salads.

Fortunately, living in Northern California, it’s reasonably chilly year round, so hearty stews and hot tea never loses its appeal.  However, on those few days where the thermometer threatens to reach the mid-60s, sometimes a cool lunch just seems to hit the spot.

Enter this gluten-free cold pasta salad, with an Italian twist.

I made this dish yesterday, after having letting the marinade and flavors soak for a couple hours.  I polished off the leftovers today, and I actually do not recommend this.  Unlike gluten pasta, brown-rice pasta becomes hard and grainy after sitting in the fridge overnight.

I suggest you prep this dish a few hours before you plan on eating it, but not too much sooner than that.

Perfect post-nap snack: quick sugar, right to the bloodstream.

Believe it or not, after all my grousing about not sleeping last night, I actually curled up for a nap this afternoon!  I slept for about an hour, and it was wonderful.  I pulled my robe over my eyes and rested my head down on the couch, and before I knew it, my kitten was curled up behind my knees and I was out like a light!

I feel so much better and refreshed now.  I’m still a bit groggy, though, so forgive me for my wonky voice today (I can tell that I’m a bit “off” so I’m sure it’s super-obvious to you guys).

After being awakened by the arrival of my Amor, home for lunch, I stretched, prepared him a quick sandwich, and attacked some fresh fruit.

Rainer cherries are here!  I had a couple dozen or so, and half of a personal-sized watermelon.  The watermelon was at its peak ripeness, and was delicious.

After consuming my leftovers, I was still a bit peckish, so I enjoyed this bar:

It may masquerade as health food, but you know I ate it for the chocolate!

Mmm, tasty.  It has a mild chocolate taste, but it’s more of a hint of chocolate than a full-blown chocolate experience.

The seeds sort of gel up, though, so I was picking goopy blobs out of my teeth.  Yum, right?  Right.

I love this company, though.  I ordered them through Nutiva, and they had the best customer service.  The bars were here just a few days after I ordered them, and I think I paid 26$ for 36 bars…and they gave me three free!  I only ordered 33, but I guess they were like, “Oh, what the heck,” and let me have the freebies. (I ordered 11 of each type of bar, and they come to a dozen in a box.)

Is that cool or what?

They also have a ton of generous coupons and free shipping to keep their products affordable.  I’d definitely order from them again.

Anyway, onward, to lunch!  I’ve only been teasing you about this recipe since yesterday, so I might as well put you out of your misery, ne?

I love peas and tomatoes, so it was only natural that they'd wind up together in this dish.

If you’ve never cooked with gluten free macaroni elbows before, take heed!  It’s not the same as plain old gluten elbows.

You know how you can just dump some macaroni into a pot of boiling water, ignore it for twelve minutes, then come back and have perfectly al dente noodles?

Nope.  Does not work the same way with gluten free noodles.  You’ll have to watch them the entire time.

Fortunately, this recipe is a snap and doesn’t require multi-tasking, so you may focus all your energy on cooking your elbows to perfection.

Doesn't it look pretty?

In a medium sauce pan, bring the water to a boil.  I filled the pot up about 2/3 to 3/4 of the way.  Too much water is better than not enough.  If you don’t add enough water, the noodles wind up starchy and clump together.

Yuck.

I didn’t salt my water and didn’t miss the salt, but you may if you so wish.  Since salt and I don’t generally tend to get along, I avoid it.  It works for me.

No words, just pure flavor explosion.

Add 1/2 cup of gluten-free brown rice macaroni elbows to your pot.

Pick out one of the elbows before you dump it into the water, and stick it to the tip of your tongue.  March around your house, announcing to anyone who will listen, “Hey!  I can lick my elbow!  Wanna see?”  Appreciate the eye rolls.

Wait, strike that.  You don’t want to do that.  If you even ignore your noodles for .01574 seconds, they’ll clump.  Save your elbow tricks for later, okay?

As soon as — and not a second later — your noodles hit the water, start stirring.  With your free hand, set your timer for 9 minutes.  You don’t want your other hand to stray from stirring your noodles.  It’s that serious.

It's worth the effort, I promise.

Stir for the full first minute that they’re in the water.  Stir nonstop for that first minute.  Don’t pause your stirring for anything.  If your nose itches, tough.  You’re out of luck.

After the first minute has passed, you can breathe a bit.

Just a little bit, though.  Don’t want to relax too much, now do we?

I thought not.

While your noodles boil, start chopping your tomatoes.  I used 1/2 medium tomato, and chopped it into reasonably small pieces.  You don’t want them to be too small, though.  At least keep them bigger than the peas.

Has a minute passed?  Stir those noodles!  If foam starts to appear at the top of the water, skim it off.

Good job.

I can't wait to make this again.

Prepare your dressing.  In a small ramekin, mix together 1/2 teaspoon oregano, 1/4 teaspoon basil, 1/4 teaspoon dry dill weed (why does that sound like an insult?), 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil, and 2 teaspoons of balsamic vinegar.

Check on your noodles again.  Just to clarify, check your noodles every 45-seconds to minute, and skim off the foam as you stir them.

Follow that rule, and you’ll have no trouble with your pasta.

When nine minutes have passed, test a noodle.  It should still be somewhat firm, but not crunchy, and give easily underneath your teeth.

Does it do that?

Good.  You did it right the first time.  Well done.  I think it took me two or three tries before I mastered it, so you pretty much pwn me.

This would also make a delightful side dish next to a larger entrée. The choice, however, is all yours.

Drain your noodles, but don’t rinse them.  Transfer them to a large bowl and dump 2/3 cup frozen peas directly onto the noodles.

Do not thaw your peas!  The frozen peas actually act as an integral part of the cooling-down process of making this dish.  As the peas thaw, the noodle dish will cool.

They just have rockin’ synergy like that.

Add in your tomatoes and your dressing, then place in the fridge for a couple hours, until ready to serve.

Top with fresh cracked black pepper.

Mmm, yum!

Recipe?  Here ya go!

Cold Italian Pasta Salad (Gluten Free):

1/2 cup gluten-free elbows

2/3 cup frozen peas

1/2 medium tomato

1/2 tsp oregano

1/4 tsp basil

1/4 tsp dill

1/2 tbs olive oil

2 tsp balsamic vinegar

Cook pasta, then drain.  Do not rinse.  Add peas, tomatoes, and seasoning, then chill for two hours or more, to taste.

Enjoy!

Thanks for reading!  I have no idea what I’ll eat for dinner, but I’m sure it’ll be good.  Be sure to check back to find out.

❤ Kaz

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