At the moment I have a mini-obsession with broccoli and ever since seeing this recipe by Jamie Oliver I have been wanting to emulate it. Since I’m avoiding high carb foods and having a dicey relationship with wheat, I went for Spelt pasta instead (from here) and the dish turned out to be a keeper.

You will need (for 2 portions):

– 80g Spelt pasta per person (more if very hungry)

– 1/4 – 1/2 broccoli head, chopped into florets; halve each floret if more than bite size

– 1 cup white sauce (or a gluten free white sauce if need be)

–  1 cup chunks of cheese; I used a mixture of Asiago and Mature Cheddar

– 1 egg

– 1 teaspoon oregano

– 1 teaspoon ground pepper

Choose 1 pot and 1 pan; where the pan will fit over the pot you’re boiling your pasta in without touching the water’s surface.

Start boiling the slightly salted water and place the pan on top. Place the white sauce, cheese, oregano and pepper in this pan. Stir occasionally and after some minutes the cheese will begin to melt. When the cheese has melted remove the pan.

By this time the water will be boiling. Throw in the pasta and broccoli and boil for 6-7 minutes. That is just enough time for both the pasta and the broccoli to cook. In the mean time crack an egg into a separate bowl and whisk it lightly.

Drain the pasta and add to your sauce, immediately adding the egg and stirring vigorously. The egg will cook with the pasta’s heat. If you’re not satisfied with this method, place on the burner for just a few seconds and the egg will cook that way.

Serve piping hot with a sprinkle of fresh pepper if desired.

This is a quick comparison of different kinds of pastas. I have tried a few varieties and so far Spelt has remained a favourite because it imparts a slightly nutty flavour without being overpowering or artificial. It also causes the sauce to stick well, as evidenced by the picture above. The down side is that it tends to go from under-cooked to slightly mushy in the space of a minute, so do check it often the first time you’re cooking it just to be safe and establish which timing is right for you. Another great advantage is that it feels like a lighter meal when compared with the same weight regular wheat pasta.

Please note that Spelt is NOT gluten-free, but it does have a lighter gluten load, which makes it acceptable for some coeliacs to handle.

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A couple of days later, I decided to try corn & rice pasta in the quest for finding my favourite non-wheat pasta. As you can see from the picture, corn/rice pasta has a yellowish tinge and spelt pasta is dark brown/grey.

I followed the instructions on the packet which said to cook them for 9-10 minutes. Removing them from the heat and draining after 9 minutes, I thought I’d overcooked them. Everything about the texture while stirring in a touch of olive oil and consequently the sauce led me to believe that I was about to have a mushy dinner. Yet when I did try it I realised that there was quite a bite to it. It was as though the immediate outside of the pasta was slightly overcooked whilst the inside felt gummy. You could barely tell the difference between this pasta and your run-of-the-mill wheat pasta, both in appearance and in taste; which I can see as a great advantage for people who love pasta but just cannot tolerate glutens. It feels slightly different, but it’s a small price to pay for avoiding the side effects while enjoying a good plate of pasta just like everybody else. In the very distance you can just about taste the corn and rice, giving it an ‘earthy’ feel. In the end my friends and I definitely agreed on one thing – despite it being very filling (we could barely finish 500g between 5 people) it does not make you feel bloated afterwards.

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Corn / Rice pasta from here, served with cherry tomato arrabiata sauce and grated Grana Padano.

(This is a sponsored post; however opinions are always my own)

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