Cooking In The Time Of Coronavirus: Gluten Free Vegan Pesto Pasta That Doesn't Taste Gluten Free Or Vegan

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Cooking In The Time Of Coronavirus: Gluten Free Vegan Pesto Pasta That Doesn't Taste Gluten Free Or Vegan

If you've been to the grocery store lately, then you know. The shelves are bare and trying to put a damn meal together is positively maddening. You think you've got half a recipe set, and then the one major thing you need to make it work is gone. I mean, the store I went to yesterday was out of onions. Onions! How does anyone make anything without onions? Practically everything I make starts with a basic carrots-onions-celery soffrito! As if that weren't rough enough, we're renting a condo right now so I don't have access to the normal things that would be in a normal kitchen. Like any kind of seasonings or more than one sauce pan.

But, despite breaking down in tears at least twice yesterday, I am always up for a challenge. Many of my best recipes came from times when I was super broke or unable to go to the grocery store for some reason and had to make do with whatever was in my cabinet. I'm hanging with my parents for the month, so my dad asked me to make pasta with a pesto cream sauce, as that is one of his favorites and, conveniently, doesn't involve a ton of ingredients. Plus almost any other kind of pasta would require at least one onion. But alas! Not only did Publix not have onions, they also did not have normal heavy cream or normal pasta. Hell, they didn't even have any damned half-n-half. It was madness.

They did, however, have dairy-free heavy cream and gluten-free quinoa pasta. And so, despite being warned by many on Twitter that it wouldn't thicken and that it would be weird ... I made it work.

Now, in the headline I did say that the recipe was vegan, but I should note that they did, thankfully, have shredded parm/reggiano at the store so I threw a ton of that in. But I think that if you really did want to make it vegan, you could probably skip that or use whatever substitute they have.


Cup, cup and a half of pesto
1 pint Silk Non-dairy Heavy Cream (or, if you have access, a pint of regular heavy cream)
About a box of whatever pasta you have — regular, gluten-free quinoa, whatever
2 cloves of garlic
Olive oil
Cherry tomatoes
Shredded Parmesan or Parmesan-Reggiano, if you want
Crushed red pepper, if you want

So first you're gonna mince up your garlic and sauté it for a hot minute, til it's clear. Take that out, put it to the side. Then, pour your heavy cream or fugazi vegan heavy cream into a sauce pan and heat it on the medium-high setting until it starts to boil. Then turn it down to a simmer, pour your garlic and your pesto in, crack some pepper in, add your shredded parm, your crushed pepper, if those are things you want. If you want the tomatoes to be hot (I don't, actually? I think the cold tomatoes provide a nice contrast), throw them in there as well and keep stirring for like three minutes.

Then you make your pasta. I should hope you know how to boil pasta. Just do that. When that's done, drain, pour the sauce on, stir it up and plate it. If you didn't cook your tomatoes and prefer them cold like I do, toss them on the plate all decorative-like.

And really, that's about it. You can add whatever else you like, but that's the basic thing. It's super easy, though a lot easier when you have all of the correct ingredients and you don't have to run into the bathroom and cry in the middle of making it because you're afraid it's going to taste like coconut (the non-dairy heavy cream has coconut and is a little sweet) and have no proper cooking utensils or full understanding of the oven you are working with.

This actually came out way, way better than I thought it was going to! It honestly didn't even taste that much different from when I make it with normal ingredients. I am always worried that I'm going to be in a position where I'm going to have to cook things for people with dietary restrictions, and it's good to know that I can have this at the ready. If I were a vegan or lactose intolerant person, I would be pretty jazzed! Also the quinoa gluten-free pasta was more normal-tasting than I expected, and definitely better than the kind I had when I lived with a girl who had Celiac's ten years ago.

Hopefully we'll soon get back to having fully stocked grocery stores with onions and everything, but in the meantime, don't be too afraid to experiment with sub-optimal ingredients. You may surprise yourself.

And now you may have OPEN THREAD!

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Robyn Pennacchia

Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse


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