multigrain_penne_rigateSeveral years ago I discovered gluten-free products from the Italian company Schär. Their gluten-free pasta is excellent and they make a decent buttery cracker among other things. Their tagliatelle pasta is probably my favorite item from the line. The wide noodle is similar to what you’d find in a high end restaurant that offers fresh pasta. We use it in place of fettucinni because we’ve not found a gluten-free fettucinni we like. We’ve tried all the major brands, but only really liked the version from Celiac Specialties, which has since been discontinued.

Recently, I found a new (to me) gluten-free pasta from Schär. It’s called Multi-Grain Penne Rigate and it’s made from corn, rice and buckwheat flours. I was glad to see a pasta made with a healthy grain like buckwheat. I don’t like the taste of plain buckwheat noodles at all, but I could tell by the color of the Schär pasta it was not going to taste like buckwheat pasta. It is the last ingredient in the multi-grain pasta, after all. The pasta was rather yellow in color – not bright yellow like pure corn pasta. It’s not gray like pure buckwheat pasta, but there are actually tiny specks of gray in the pasta.

We had some ricotta cheese in the fridge that needed to be used up so I decided to whip together a quick version of baked ziti – or rather baked penne. I used Shelton’s ground turkey for the meat, Ragu for the sauce (doctored up with Italian Spice from Alchemy Spice), ricotta cheese and low fat shredded mozzarella cheese. I didn’t follow a recipe but just eyed everything. I had a pound of meat and maybe three cups of the meat/sauce mixture. I had about a cup and a half of the ricotta cheese and three cups of the mozzarella.

After cooking and draining the entire box of pasta, I added the meat/sauce mixture and all of the ricotta and half the mozzarella cheese to the pan. Using the pan I cooked the pasta in kept me from having to clean a mixing bowl. I mixed everything together and poured it into a lightly greased 9″ x 13″ casserole dish. I then  sprinkled the rest of the mozzarella cheese on top. I baked it in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes. You could use spinach instead of meat or just add it to make the dish more healthy. You could use shredded chicken or ground beef, of course. The possibilities are endless really. Here are many baked ziti recipes from Recipe Zaar. Just remember to use all gluten-free ingredients. In this previous post, we rounded up a few pasta recipes from the gluten-free blogosphere.

The result of my quick baked penne experimient was a great tasting – though quite heavy – pasta entree. The pasta was excellent, with a perfect texture. I’d love to find more Schär pastas made with this combination of grains. It tastes even better than the tagliatelle and has more of both fiber and protein. Italians know how to do pasta right and with this item, Schär really hit a home run!

Excerpt from the Schär website:

Schär products and a lecture by Anne Lee were featured as part of a gluten-free meal served at the American Culinary Federation of Chef’s meeting in Milwaukee, March 22, 2010. In addition to the delicious gluten- free meal, New Grist’s gluten-free beer was served along with a wonderful pairing of wines and desserts.

Now that is impressive! Maybe it’s the start of more chefs becoming aware that we expect to be served delicious gluten-free food. And if something is good enough to serve us, it can be served to glutenoids as well. Just don’t tell them it’s gluten-free. At least, not until after they rave about how wonderful it is!