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This post appears in the Personal Touches in the Kitchen challenge.

How to Cook Gluten Free Pasta to Avoid the Mush


Gluten Free Pasta with Marinara Sauce http://www.fearlessdining.com

Have you visited a restaurant and found that the staff went so far above and beyond to help you that it left you with a happy feeling inside?

I am constantly amazed at how kind and helpful restaurant employees can be.

Being gluten free for medical reasons, I rely heavily on the restaurant staff to make sure our family doesn’t get sick when dining out.

From the wait person who helps us muddle through the menu trying to find out what items are safe to eat, to the chef who took a few minutes to leave his busy kitchen to answer my questions about cross contamination. I am forever grateful.

There are so many good quality restaurants to choose from these days. It is these little things that set them apart from each other and keep customers coming back.

Every once in awhile through these acts of kindness, I learn something new that improves how I cook in my own kitchen.

My husband and I wanted to try to a new Italian restaurant, Sorrelle Italian Bistro, that opened up just a few minutes from our house. When I called to ask if they had any gluten free options, the owner told me they didn’t have gluten free pasta dishes. The owner then offered something wonderful. She told us that if we brought a bag of our own gluten free pasta, they would create something special for us.

No restaurant has ever offered something like this and we were intrigued.

We decided to give this new restaurant a try and packed a bag of gluten free pasta in my purse. When our pasta dishes came out, I couldn’t believe how delicious the pasta was. It was firm. It is the first gluten free pasta I could say was really al dente!

When I cooked gluten free pasta, I usually ended up with something a little mushy. Over the years my kids have been brainwashed to accept “mushy” gluten free pasta. After a while, they forgot what real firm pasta was even like.

The restaurant used the same brand that I use and I couldn’t figure out what they could have done differently. I was so curious to know how they cooked the pasta. When I complimented the owner, I begged for her secret. She told me exactly how they keep the pasta al dente. I am so excited to share this simple tip with you. It has put gluten free pasta back on the menu in our home.

It all starts with an ice bath she explained. It halts the cooking process immediately so the pasta doesn’t continue to cook in the colander. If you drain your pasta in a colander, or drain it and leave it in the pot, the heat from the pasta continues cooking the pasta and you can end up with mush.

I decided to give the owner’s tip a try.

ice bath

Add ice and water to a medium sized bowl.

pasta about to be dumped

Hot gluten free pasta about to be added to the ice bath.

pasta on ice

Chill for 2-3 minutes until the pasta is cooled. If the ice didn’t melt all the way, remove any ice cubes that remain in the pot. Drain the pasta in a colander.

And now for a really quick and delicious sauce to heat our pasta back up.

smash garlic

With a large knife, smash two garlic cloves with the flat part of the knife.


Heat a pan with olive oil and saute the garlic until it becomes golden. Add fresh basil.


Add in organic tomato sauce and capers. Simmer for 10-15 minutes for flavors to blend. Add salt and pepper to taste.

garlic and basil

Add the cold pasta and it warms up quickly with the sauce. Toss and serve hot.


Quick and Easy Marinara Sauce

Author: Sandi Gaertner

Gluten free quick and easy marinara sauce

  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 can organic tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • cooked gluten free pasta
  1. In a large skillet, heat olive oil on medium heat.
  2. Add garlic and saute until golden.
  3. Add fresh basil and saute another 2 minutes.
  4. Add tomato sauce, capers, oregano, salt and pepper.
  5. Reduce heat and simmer the sauce for 15-20 minutes.
  6. Toss with cooked gluten free pasta and top with freshly grated parmesan cheese.
  7. Serve hot.

I am proud that this article about my amazing customer service experiences can be a part of Bon Appetit’s Out of the Kitchen series. To read more stories, go to Bon Appetit’s Out of the Kitchen on their Community Table. #outofthekitchen #epicurious

I would love to hear about your experiences where a restaurant went above and beyond to make your dining experience special.

Want to meet purveyors who are making a difference with their customers? Check out BonAppetit.com’s “Out of the Kitchen”, an ongoing exploration of the relationships that build and sustain the food industry. See how hyper-local food markets operate and how their focus on quality and service keep customers coming back for more.


Read the original on: Fearless Dining

Fearless Dining, Sandi Gaertner

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I love to help people who are gluten free discover how easy it is to cook and bake gluten free. Kid-friendly recipes are my specialty. Recipe developer, food photographer, brand ambassador.