Pasta for this post was kindly provided by Beldolce. All opinions are my own.
Have you ever noticed just how many different ingredients can be used to make gluten free pasta? There's brown rice, chickpea, corn & quinoa blends, corn & rice blends, edamame, almond flour ($$$), yellow peas, cauliflower, black bean (nope ?♀️), and probably several others I didn't think of.
I actually just gave away a box of lentil pasta I was too scared to try. Lentils are often cross contaminated with gluten containing grains, similar to how oats are, so I don't personally eat them.
Aside from the lentil pasta, I think I've tried most of those varieties I mentioned. It's nice to have a wide variety due to individual allergies and intolerances but I've started to think some of these are more complicated than they need to be.
Recently, Beldolce contacted me about trying a pasta I'd never had before - 100% organic corn. So simple and no other ingredients!
Alright, I know if any of you are like me then nothing I have to say about this pasta, nor this recipe matters until I clear something up first:
Nothing to fear here!
I completely trust Beldolce to provide a truly gluten free product. I think by now, we've all seen brands offer "gluten free" foods only to completely disregard the very real possibility of gluten cross contamination when made alongside gluten-containing product offerings. That is not the case for Beldolce at all.
Beldolce gluten free pastas are not only certified gluten free but also (here's my favorite part!) made in a certified gluten free facility.
Being a family business, Beldolce places high value on both family and tradition. As stated on their website:
At Beldolce, we believe everyone in your family should be able to experience traditional italian cuisine - without any sacrifices. This is why we use 100% Italian-grown corn, sourced according to fair trade principles, and an artisanal process to craft a gluten-free pasta with the same taste and texture as a traditional wheat flour pasta.
If there's one thing celiac disease and gluten intolerance is prone to lacking, it's inclusivity. Everyone works around it differently but Beldolce is doing their part to make sure no one is left out by using a product that's not only safe but also on par with the pastas "everyone else" is eating. (Seriously, share it with your dinner guests, they'll never know it's gluten free!)
As I mentioned, I'm all for not over-complicating a food like pasta but I did wonder if one simple ingredient, corn, could possibly capture how I remembered this classic comfort food. Turns out, this is everything I'd expect from a pasta. It's a very traditional taste with no off-flavors from strange ingredients and it achieves a satisfying al dente texture every time. You know why I switched to rice pastas for a while? It was because I needed something that could easily be made mushy when my son was starting on solids. Those days are well-behind me and I definitely have an appreciation for a good, al dente pasta after that!
I had a hard time deciding what kind of recipe to use this pasta in. I tried both the penne and fusilli varieties and finally decided I'd try the fusilli in a taco noodle casserole. The fusilli held onto the sauce really well and was small enough to fit on a fork alongside the other ingredients.
I don't think I've ever made a taco noodle casserole before so I wasn't even sure what to put in it beyond typical taco fillings and pasta. It would definitely need some sort of sauce to bring everything together and ensure it doesn't dry out in the oven.
I had enchilada sauce on hand but figured that would be too strong to just mix in as-is. I came up with a creamy, "cheesy" enchilada sauce (yes, it's dairy free) that doesn't overwhelm the dish with that strong enchilada sauce flavor. I think it might be my favorite sauce I make and I'm trying to come up with more ways to use it!
It's so easy to make too. I just mixed enchilada sauce with some full fat coconut milk and meltable dairy free "cheddar" shreds. Melt it down and it's ready to use! After mixing the fusilli into the sauce, I realized I could stop there and have a perfectly delicious, simple vegan pasta recipe. It really didn't need anything more.
However, I kept with my original idea and added in ground beef taco meat, beans, corn, fire roasted tomatoes, and topped with more dairy free cheddar. Again, you could leave the meat out for a vegan version.
Fifteen to twenty minutes is all it takes to bake everything and the pasta didn't dry out at all. I left mine in a little longer because I really enjoy an extra crispy edge on my casseroles but just enough time to melt the cheese is all you need.
Beldolce gluten free pasta will be available to order online soon. It can also currently be purchased at multiple BJ's locations across the Northeast as well as the BJ's website.
Note 9/15/2023: It doesn't appear that Beldolce gluten free pastas are available anymore. For now, I've found Schär pastas have a similar taste and consistency and I also enjoy liveGfree pastas from Aldi which cook a little softer but are a budget-friendly option.
Gluten free fusilli is mixed with dairy free creamy enchilada sauce, taco meat, corn, beans, tomatoes, and DF cheese baked into a casserole.
- ¾ C gluten free mild enchilada sauce, see notes
- ½ C full fat coconut milk
- 1 C dairy free meltable cheddar shreds, divided (I used Daiya.)
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 250g gluten free fusilli
- 1 batch taco seasoning
- 1 C fire roasted diced tomatoes
- ¾ C canned corn, drained
- ¾ C canned black beans, drained and rinsed
- optional toppings: fresh cilantro, fresh sliced scallions, jalapeno slices, salsa, sour cream, pico de gallo, avocado slices, or anything else you might enjoy over tacos.
- Preheat oven to 425ºF.
- I found it easier to start all stovetop cooking at the same time. To do this, you'll need a large pot, a small pot, and a skillet.
- Add about 2.5 quarts of water to your large pot and place over high heat. The enchilada sauce, coconut milk, and ½ C of the dairy free cheddar will go in the small pot over medium-low heat. The ground beef goes in the skillet over medium-high heat.
- - Keep an eye on the water - when it reaches a boil, stir in the noodles then stir just occasionally for 11-12 minutes until it reaches al-dente at which point you can remove from the heat and drain.
- The sauce needs to be gently whisked fairly often to prevent the cheese from melting into a large mass. It's done when everything is throughly combined into one uniform sauce.
- The beef needs to be crumbled with a spatula until it is fully cooked. Once cooked, stir in the taco seasoning and remove from heat. A few tablespoons of water can be added to make it easier to stir the seasoning in.
- Add drained noodles to the completed sauce and stir to coat (you may need to use the large pot again if the sauce pot is too small).
- Stir the tomatoes, corn, and black beans into the seasoned ground beef.
- Finally, combine the beef mixture and noodle mixture into a large casserole dish (a 9x13 is perfect) and stir to combine. Top with the remaining ½ C shredded dairy free cheddar and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the cheese melts. I like to have crispy edges on my casseroles so I tend to bake them longer but if you don't like that texture, keep the bake time on the lower end of the range - everything's fully cooked and still warm so you really just need to melt the cheese at a minimum.
- Allow to cool for a few minutes then slice to serve. Top with any of the optional toppings listed in the ingredient section, if desired, and enjoy.
- Potential allergens contained in this recipe may vary due to brands of ingredients used, product reformulations, etc. Please verify that all your ingredients are safe for you to consume and always be mindful of allergen cross contamination while cooking.
- Note that some enchilada sauces contain gluten. Double check that yours is gluten free. I used Hatch brand.