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On a recent visit to Jovial Foods in North Stonington, CT, I discovered how great gluten-free pasta can be and uncovered a few tips for turning it into delicious, quick meals every time.

Lots of water, a little salt and a simple recipe are a few of the essentials, says Carla Bartolucci, owner of Jovial Foods.

Carla prides herself on getting a meal on the table in the time it takes to cook the pasta. To do that, she cooks the vegetables with the pasta so everything is ready at once.

She made our fabulous (and very simple) lunch that way.  It begins with Jovial’s new Farfalle (bow tie) pasta, a treat in itself.  

Gluten-free pasta dishes have to be wetter, she says. Brown rice absorbs a lot of extra liquid. She saved some cooking water to add back to the sauce as she prepared our lunch of farfalle with broccoli, baby kale, ground turkey and cannellini beans.   I’ve made a version of it several times, using the vegetables on hand.  If yours are quick-cooking veggies, add them for the last couple of minutes but be sure the water is boiling before adding them.  

Here’s the yummy recipe.   

1, 12-ounce box Jovial Farfalle (Bow Tie Pasta)
2 cups fresh broccoli florets
4 cups baby kale, snipped with scissors
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, peeled and cut in half lengthwise
½ pound ground dark meat turkey
1, 13oz jar (about 2 cups) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Bring a 4 quart pot of water and 1 tablespoon of salt to a boil. Add the farfalle, broccoli, and baby kale. Do not lower the heat. Cook the pasta according to the instructions. If you like your vegetables crisper wait 2 minutes before adding the vegetables to the pot.

While the pasta is cooking, add the olive oil and garlic to a large sauté pan and cook over low medium heat until the garlic become fragrant, about 1 minute. Use a slotted spoon to remove the garlic and discard. Add the turkey and sauté until no longer pink. Add the beans and heat. Add about ½ cup of the pasta water and simmer until sauce has thickened slightly.

Drain the pasta and veggies and add to the turkey mixture. Toss well. Drizzle with more olive oil and add cheese to taste and serve with additional cheese.

Recipe From Beth Hillson
Serves 2 to 3

I was in Charleston, South Carolina for a conference recently and could not leave without trying some of the outstanding cuisine for which Charleston is know.  A signature dish, shrimp and grits, was served everywhere.  Some chefs added other seafood, ham or sausage, and some flavored their dish with Cajun spices.  I wish I could have sampled each one. Since most are gluten free, that wasn’t such a far-fetched idea — if I had only had a few extra days.  If you go to Charleston, be forewarned that some chefs add flour to their shrimp and grits.  So check before diving in.

Shrimp and Grits is truly comfort food.  Each bite was pure heaven.  But, what really fascinated me was the grits – chewy and flavorful beyond anything I had eaten before.  One restaurant told me they buy them from Anson Mills in Columbia, SC.  As soon as I got home, I ordered from them.  How great to bring a touch of the South to my Yankee kitchen.

All of Anson Mills’ grits are labeled gluten free.  Unfortunately, their products do not come with instructions for preparation.   You’ll have to refer back to their web site for that or use the ones I call for.  Here’s the recipe I created using Anson Mills’ quick white stone-ground grits.  This can be made with other grits, of course.  Follow the product instructions for the ratio of water to grits.

To Make the GritsShrimp and Grits
3 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 cup quick white stone-ground grits from Anson Mills or another brand
2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 tablespoons grated cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese
Additional salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper

To Make the Shrimp Mixture
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 chicken or pork Andouille sausage (about ¼ pound), cut into thin slices
3 ounces smoked ham, cut into julienne strips
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, divided
12 large shrimp, peeled, and deveined if necessary
1 clove garlic, minced
Pinch of Cajun seasoning
1 large tomato, chopped
1/4 cup sliced scallion (about 3 scallions)
1/4 cup white wine or water

Make grits: Bring water, salt, and 1 tablespoon butter to a boil in a 3-quart heavy saucepan. Whisk in grits and cook at a bare simmer, covered, stirring frequently, until grits are tender and have begun to thicken, about 30 minutes. Remove from the heat.  Stir in cream and the cheddar and Parmesan cheese.   Add additional salt, if needed, and several grinds of black pepper.

While the grits are cooking, make the shrimp mixture. Set a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat. Add olive oil.  Cook sausage and ham stirring until sausage is cooked through and ham is golden, about 3 minutes.

Transfer sausage and ham to a plate with a slotted spoon. Add 1/2 tablespoon butter to skillet and heat until foam subsides. Cook shrimp, garlic and Cajun spice, turning, just until shrimp are cooked through, about 3 minutes. Stir in sausage and ham.  Add remaining 1/2 tablespoon butter tomato and scallions.  Toss until tomatoes are wilted.  Add wine and cook down about 2 minutes, stirring and scraping up any brown bits in skillet.  Season with salt and pepper.

Serve shrimp mixture over grits.