The Nice List: Pesto Pasta
The holiday season is in full swing, and the temptation to overeat is in full effect. One of my biggest pet peeves is potlucks because there usually isn't a gluten free dish, and if there is, it may or may not be 100% gluten free (or it's just a plain salad). So as you grace the potluck tables this year, hopefully you'll bring this dish to ease your mind.
Choosing the Pasta Flavor
Every pesto is different, but the key is to find one that is light and build-able, meaning you can add other spices and flavors that will easily compliment the dish. Starting with the basics for a pasta can be hard, especially a gluten free one. The main ingredients, or the base of your pasta dish, is one of the most important decisions you'll make when cooking your dish. Your first step is to choose a pasta (gluten free or wheat if you can).
I prefer to use a brown rice pasta, instead of corn pasta, because the rice pasta is easier to cook, holds flavor and can be eaten al dente. In my opinion, it's the closest you'll get to a wheat pasta, especially if you've recently become a gluten free advocate. You can find brown rice pastas at your local Whole Foods, Trader Joes or another specialty store. I prefer Tinkyada's brown rice pasta.
As for pesto, I try to find a pesto that's not too creamy, mostly because of the high caloric content, but also because it may not be gluten free. A lot of times, pasta sauces contain wheat, such as alfredo. For a simple pesto, I use the Whole Foods brand, and have found it to be very tasty and light. I added garlic to the pasta for additional flavoring and it is delicious! I think it's important to know exactly what you're eating, and you can do that by reading the nutrition labels on the foods you're buying.
Adding a side of vegetables, in this case, broccoli and mushrooms, will easily compliment other food items at potluck gatherings. It can also survive on its own. I oven-roasted these vegetables for about 15 minutes, turning them over after 8 minutes for even cooking. Before putting them in the oven, I put the vegetables in a bowl and tossed them with olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic. You can add additional seasoning, however, I'd recommend keeping it to a maximum total of 4 spices in a large group setting.
As for surviving the holiday season's parties and gatherings, everything in moderation. Fill your plate with vegetables first, and anything else should follow in small increments. It's that time of year when everyone wants to be on the nice list, so make sure you're nice to your body! Making these types of decisions can make you feel good and stay in control of your eating while ringing in the new year!