I first learned about the company through a contest they ran, with maybe the best grand prize ever: a week in a villa outside Lucca, Italy, learning about pasta from Jovial’s artisans and taking cooking classes with the Gluten Free Girl and her husband, the Chef (note: the winners have been announced, but there are spaces open for other people to join the adventure).
Jovial Foods is one of those companies that hits all the right marks: their gluten-free products are
- certified gluten-free by the Gluten Intolerance Group
- made in Italy on traditional bronze dies
- packaged sustainably
Plus, I’d heard the pasta cooked up phenomenally. When I opened the package, there were gluten-free cookies in it along with the pasta.
My cup, it runneth over.
So first things first, let’s talk about the gluten-free chocolate cookies. They were awesome. Chocolate cookies with just a bit of resistance, filled with a chocolate-hazelnut filling. YUM. Plus, they were conveniently wrapped in 2-packs inside the box. If I were better at sharing, I could have made a lot of people happy with these cookies.
Second things second, the pasta. All of Jovial’s pasta is made of two things: brown rice and spring water. They sent me two shapes: the familiar penne rigate plus one I’d never seen: caserecce.
I dove into the familiar first. The timing on the box is for the entire package of pasta — more than one carb-loving girl could or should eat — so I was a little nervous that I’d over- or under-cook my smaller portion of penne. It wasn’t a problem; unlike with some gluten-free pastas that turn on a dime from OK to mush, Jovial’s was resilient and held up well.
For the sake of science and knowledge, I ate some of the pasta with only a little olive oil and salt. It was delicious, and I would have never guessed it was pure rice pasta from the toothsome texture. Bonus: it held up well overnight in the fridge, and when I tossed it in with some veggies the next day it was just as good.
Because the caserecce was an unfamiliar shape (here’s an excellent explanation of caserecce), sort of a rustic curvy S of a pasta, I turned to the experts for recipes: my Italian friends.
The most delicious suggestion I got involved scallion, bacon, radicchio and cream cheese. I followed instructions, and my only regret is that I couldn’t get a photo to share with you all. Delicious, and the pasta itself has just the right amount of space to hold onto sauce.
All in all, I highly recommend you pop over to Jovial Foods and take a look at their gluten-free offerings. One note, though: they do also carry a lot of Einkorn. This is NOT gluten-free — stick to the items labeled gluten-free, and I think you’ll be quite happy indeed.
The recipe for caserecce, you ask? I happily oblige:
- Cook the pasta as instructed on the box
- Drain it, but reserve a bit of the water to thin the sauce with
- Heat a bit of oil in a skillet/sauté pan
- Add a scallion cut into small pieces, and cook until it becomes transparent
- Add small cubes of good, thick bacon
- Before the bacon has a chance to get crunchy, add some julienned radicchio (mine was cut into strips about 2” long)
- Give everything 2-3 minutes to cook down, and at the last minute add a good dollop of cream cheese or neufchâtel cheese
- If the sauce is too creamy, add the hot water reserved from the pasta (or some fresh hot water) to thin it out
- Combine with pasta
- Pour yourself a glass of wine