It’s amazing how time flies. As I was making my pasta dinner last night, I thought about the fact that it was nearly ten years ago that the low-carb diet trend became so overwhelmingly popular. The trend was generated by claims that dietary programs such as Atkins and the Zone helped their followers to lose weight chiefly by eliminating or restricting the amount of carbohydrates they consumed. (I can’t help but think of the scene from Austin Powers in Goldmember when Fat Bastard says “I tried going on a diet, you know. The Zone, you know, ‘Carbs are the enemy,’ eh?”). At the time, it seemed like everyone was following a low-carb diet. I just remember thinking then (and now) that those diets sounded absolutely ridiculous. But then, I’ve always believed that most, if not all, fad diets completely miss their mark by placing the most emphasis on weight-loss rather than on overall health. Besides, I don’t believe that anything could ever convince me to completely forego pasta.
So when I cut out gluten about a year ago in an attempt to heal my gut and began feeling better, I was initially extremely disappointed. Yes, I sound crazy for being upset over feeling better, but I never had any intention of cutting out pasta or bread from my diet (who would want to do that?). With time, thank goodness, I have come to realize that there are so many other delicious gluten-free pasta and bread options out there that I never will have to give up my beloved carbs.
My cravings for pasta are, and always have been, constant. It seems that spaghetti is one of those classic dishes that never fails to satisfy my cravings. As much as I love spaghetti, though, I’ve only made it a handful of times. Instead, my husband–who mastered the dish years ago–always prepares the food on spaghetti night. As competitive as I am it pains me to admit that I bow down to his delicious spaghetti. But I must give credit where credit is due: my husband is a fantastic cook. Not only that, he is the one who initially inspired me to get into the kitchen and begin cooking. And for that, I am eternally grateful.
Alas, my husband’s spaghetti includes meat and gluten-based pasta noodles which means that I’ve gone without spaghetti for almost a full year. I know it sounds silly, but I’ve been afraid to try my hand at the dish for fear that no gluten-free and vegan version could ever live up to my husband’s spaghetti. Recently, though, my overwhelming craving for spaghetti has forced me to finally make an attempt at my own version. Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been diligently searching out spaghetti recipes and testing different options to see what I like and what I don’t like, what works and what doesn’t work. I’m happy to say that I’ve found a couple of recipes, including this one, that really hit the spot.
This Sun-dried Tomato Pesto Pasta is definitely not your traditional spaghetti, but I enjoy the fact that it’s much lighter and combines some unique ingredients for a really delicious flavor. Rather then using your typical oil-soaked sun-dried tomatoes, I opted instead to use these dried “Just Tomato Bits”
I think I go through a bag of these in a week because it’s just so easy to toss them into soups and onto salads and pastas. I’m sure it would be much cheaper to make my own, but I haven’t gotten to that point yet
Because I’m still trying to avoid gluten, I substituted gluten-free rice spaghetti-style pasta for the traditional spaghetti noodles. I must say, although these noodles are not exactly the same, they are pretty comparable in texture and flavor.
Overall, I’m really happy with this dish! It’s completely different from the traditional spaghetti that my husband makes, but it certainly satisfies my spaghetti cravings. Not to mention, this lighter version is the perfect pasta dish to enjoy during the warmer Spring and Summer months. I will definitely be making this again very soon!
- 4 oz. gluten-free spaghetti rice noodles
- ½ cup sun-dried tomato bits*
- 1 cup hot water
- 1 large clove garlic, sliced
- ¼ cup walnuts
- ½ cup lightly packed basil leaves
- 2 Tbs. olive oil
- 1 Tbs. nutritional yeast
- ⅛-1/4 tsp. sea salt
- pinch of red chili pepper flakes
- For topping:
- a couple of large basil leaves, sliced chiffonade
- 10-15 pitted kalamata olives, thinly sliced
- 2 Tbs. walnuts, roughly chopped
- reserved sun-dried tomatoes
- First, rehydrate the sun-dried tomatoes in hot water. I let the tomatoes soak for at least 30 minutes to ensure that they get really soft.
- Prepare the spaghetti rice noodles according to the package directions. (I added a little bit of olive oil to the boiling water because I find that it softens the noodles a bit).
- While the noodles are cooking, add ⅔ of the soaked tomatoes to your food processor, reserving the rest for mixing in with the pasta later. Next, add a few tablespoons of the sun-dried tomatoes soaking liquid to the food processor and pulse a few times to break up the tomatoes.
- Add the garlic, walnuts, basil leaves, olive oil, nutritional yeast, sea salt, and red chili pepper flakes. Blend everything together until fully combined, adding more of the soaking liquid as needed.
- When the spaghetti noodles are ready, toss them in a large bowl with the pesto, the reserved sun-dried tomatoes, the chopped walnuts and the sliced olives. Top with the sliced basil leaves.
- Serve and enjoy!
Adapted from here.