I have a habit of packing up leftovers with the best of intentions and then never using them. This habit is much different than my penchant for freezing raw ingredients like egg whites, bananas on the turn and filling the stock container because I have absolutely no problem using the raw ingredients. In our house, we rarely eat the same thing twice and leftovers somehow get left in the cold and I really hate wasting food. To be fair, we rarely have leftovers but every once in a while there is a container tucked in the fridge. This dinner was borne out of a container of beautiful barbecued chicken drumsticks and beets and Miss N.’s request for spaghetti.
I am also unable to make a decent “white sauce” for pasta. I’m serious, the delicate creaminess combined with a great flavour always escapes me. I can only achieve one aspect of a North American cream sauce. I don’t know why and if I want something more traditional-like I have to rely on Mr. … I am sure you have noticed that I am dancing around calling this sauce “alfredo”. That is because that heavy white sauce all gluten-intolerant people fear is not actually alfredo. In my trusty and very old “Mama Leone’s Italian Cookbook” has a beautiful recipe for Fettucini al’Alfredo of Rome and the sauce is simply 3/4 cup fresh creamer butter and 6 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan. How simple is that?
All of that ramibling aside, I didn’t follow my own strict food rules. This is totally the North American version of alfredo. Ahem. In a way. Remember how I have to cheat when it comes to creamy sauce? Here’s how:
one sweet onion
3 gloves garlic
1/2 block medium tofu
splash of soy milk
S&P to taste
1. In a pan on medium heat add the diced onion. Sweat the onion to release its juices and begin the caramelization. You are not actually going to brown the onions, just cook until translucent.
2. Add the garlic.
3. The tofu (the secret ingredient!): blend it until smooth in the blender. I use a medium tofu and with just a splash of milk it is efficiently turned into a really thick “heavy cream”. Yeah, that’s right. Add it to your onions and garlic. Stir until heated through.
When you pasta is cooked al dente, don’t you dare rinse it. I’ll be very unhappy with you. Why? All that starch on the pasta (yes, it is on gluten-free pasta) binds the sauce to the pasta and that’s how you get flava! Really. To prevent the pasta from sticking together put it back in the empty pot and spoon some of the sauce over the pasta and stir. When ready, plate your pasta then pour the rest of the sauce over the pasta. Ta da! Fancy pants pasta at this point it is completely vegan. For the next part you can nix the chicken if you want to keep it vegetarian.
We’re not done.
The Chicken and Beets
3 cooked chicken drumsticks (mine were barbecued by Mr. the night before.)
barbecued beets (again, barbecued by Mr. Barbecue)
a handful of herbs from the garden*
1. Dice the chicken (obviously once it is off the bone!) and quarter the beets. I used striped candy beets from Ted Hutton at the Halifax Farmer’s Market.
2. Sauté in a hot pan with olive oil.
3. In your pestle and mortar mash up your herbs with coarse salt (the roughness of the salt helps break up the herbs) and a dash of olive oil.
4. Add to the chicken and beets. Stir for a minute then add this to your plated pasta. If you read this recipe the timing is off, obviously don’t plate the pasta then do the chicken. I’m sure you can all multi task!
*The herbs: It’s up to you. The sauce on the pasta is a lovely base that supports your preferences. I used a generous handful of garlic chives, minette basil and purple basil.
Top the chicken with slices of parmesan, obviously I used a goat parmesan from Rancher’s Acres and it was perfectly firm and crumbly with just a great punch of saltiness. There you have it, perfectly gluten free, full of protein and you can use up some leftovers! Feel free to mix up the veggies, I always see a recipe as a loose guide. In fact, I was sewing the other day when I realized I rarely follow directions to anything… sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t but I follow my own vision. You should do the same.