Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Gluten-Free Meatballs & Spaghetti... Yes, it can be done!

You guys, I'm really successfully doing it! (I sort of half expected to start crying and give this up after a day) but now in day 3 I'm gluten-free and going strong (even though I did have a dream about bagels the other night.)

On Day 1 I made a FANTASTIC and delicious Braised Coconut Spinach & Chickpeas with Lemon and served it with rotisserie chicken (provided by the good folks at Whole Foods... they do a fabulous job of rotisserying - is that a word?) The recipe calls for a pound of baby spinach but I used 12 oz of baby spinach and 6 ounces of BABY KALE because I saw it at Whole Foods and couldn't resist (yay, extra vitamins and antioxidants?)

But here comes the real crux of my post... MEATBALLS! 

Let me tell you about meatballs. Once upon a time I was scared of meatloaf. Why? I didn't know what it was. Back in my younger days (college) I was invited over to my then-boyfriend's house for dinner and his mother fixed me meatloaf. I was terrified. My family was not a Meatloaf Family. But then I realized when she served it that meatloaf is really just one big meatball served in a pan. Also sort of like eating a hamburger without the bun. I like hamburgers. I like meatballs. Hence, meatloaf ain't so bad!

So when drawing up recipes for my gluten-free experiment I thought that meatballs would be gluten-free. Why? I was always under the impression that meatballs were just round hamburgers. Again, wrong. Apparently I have so much to learn about meat. Meatballs (and meatloaf) also include breadcrumbs. A lot of them.

I found this great recipe for making meatballs (but of course, it is loaded up with breadcrumbs) so I thought about what I could do for a substitution. I searched around my cupboard and the internet and settled on crushing up some Rice Chex (which are gluten-free!) and Rice Krispies (the gluten-free variety... NOTE: Regular Rice Krispies are NOT gluten-free, we'll get to this in my next post.)

I crushed these up, added JUST A TOUCH OF WATER, some Italian spice and baked a little so the spices mixed in. It worked out pretty well to add some "filling" to the meat for the meatballs. I added bits of sliced onion also to boost up the flavor.

Of course, this was my first time making meatballs, so what do I know? They sort of fell apart a little while cooking. Is this normal? I tried not to pack them too tightly as the recipe warned, maybe I should have packed them a little harder... either way, they pretty much stayed together enough to actually be meatballs in the end. I cooked them on the pan for a while but I was worried they were just searing the outsides and not cooking through so I also baked them for 10 minutes in the oven while the pasta cooked on the stove.

The outcome: Delicious! They were soft, moist, and very tasty! Also, the gluten-free pasta, made from rice, tastes exactly like normal pasta. Score.

Bonus: Here's my cat in a bowl. Isn't she cute? And no, I didn't cook dinner with this bowl, don't worry.

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