Pasta 1-2-3

Need a delicious gluten-free meal in a hurry? Take 3 pantry ingredients: brown rice pasta, fire roasted diced tomatoes, and tuna packed in olive oil, add a few favorite seasonings to make it your own, and you’ve got dinner in not much more time than it takes to boil a pot of water.

Brown rice pasta is delicious in its own right. I often ate it even before giving up gluten. But you have to cook it right.

Cooked correctly, brown rice pasta has a wonderful bite, slightly softer than semolina pasta, but not gummy or sticky. Just about every package you’ll ever find says BE CAREFUL NOT TO OVERCOOK. Don’t ever disregard that warning.

Tips for cooking brown rice pasta

If you’re not accustomed to cooking brown rice pasta, choose a short macaroni style like penne. Less likely to stick to each other than a long pasta such as spaghetti. Brown rice pasta is very mild tasting. Generously salt the water to bring out its flavor. Turn off the burner about 2 minutes before the suggested cooking time is over and place a lid on the pot. When the time is up, check the doneness and always rinse well in cold water after draining.

Pasta improv

A 28-ounce can of fire roasted diced tomatoes sauces a 16-ounce package of pasta perfectly. I add one 5-ounce can of tuna packed in olive oil, but you might prefer two. Or if you’re vegetarian, maybe you’d rather add mushrooms instead.

While the water boils, prepare the sauce. I start with the seasonings:

  • crushed garlic
  • fresh oregano and thyme
  • sea salt (not too much salt at this point, the canned tuna contains added salt)
  • freshly ground pepper
  • a generous pinch of ground chili
  • smoked paprika to bring out the smokiness of the fire roasted tomatoes

Heat a large pan over medium and drain the olive oil from the tuna into the heated pan. Add your choice of seasonings and cook several minutes. If anything sticks, add a spoonful of tomato juice from the can. Next add the tuna and cook a couple minutes more, stirring to combine well. Finally add the can of tomatoes, juice and all. Bring to a simmer and taste. Add a pinch of sugar if desired (I like coconut palm sugar) and adjust the other seasonings as well.

By now your brown rice pasta should be done. Drain and rinse well in cold water. Make sure the water is drained well after rinsing, then add the cooked pasta to the sauce in your pan. Combine gently and heat thoroughly, until the pasta is hot again and any liquid in the pan is reduced. Splash a bit of good quality olive oil in if desired, and serve.

Have fun!

This is not a “recipe”. Don’t worry too much about measurements or duplicating my ingredients exactly. Relax and have fun with it. If you’re unsure how much to use, add a little, taste and add more if needed. Remember you can always add more, but you can’t take it away.

Use your imagination and the ingredients in your pantry to make it different each time. Olives go great with tuna. Sheep’s milk feta is wonderful with fire roasted tomatoes. Fresh basil. Dried herbs. Minced onions and celery. Chopped green veggies. What would you add?

Lemongrass Mahi Mahi

Marinades are one of those irresistible improvisational creations. Not much in the way of science to worry about usually, just imagine the flavors you love and swirl them together in a sea of deliciousness.

The only problem one encounters occasionally in improvisational marinades is happening upon utter perfection, and having no way to duplicate exactly what you’ve done. A way around this would to be measure everything carefully as you go and write it all down, but that takes away half the fun.

This Lemongrass Mahi Mahi is one of those problems…

Serious. Died-and-gone-to-heaven good.

I don’t have the measurements for you, but I do remember what I mixed together. You’re on your own for the proportions. Luckily for both of us, marinades are rather forgiving concoctions. Here’s what I used:

  • coconut milk
  • minced garlic
  • minced red & green Thai chilies
  • lemongrass, sliced & smashed
  • green onion, sliced crosswise
  • celtic sea salt
  • coconut sugar
  • galangal powder
  • amchur powder

Cook as desired and serve over brown rice, with romaine lettuce leaves for scooping. (Or go paleo-style and skip the rice, just serve with romaine.)

Lemongrass can be bought fresh or frozen in Asian supermarkets. You can even grow it yourself if you live in a warm climate. Lemongrass gives bright, citrus-y notes to curries, soups, and marinades, and goes particularly well with garlic and chili.

You can cook with lemongrass in one of two ways. First, like in my marinade above, in large pieces used for flavor and removed before eating. Smashing the lemongrass with a large cleaver helps release more flavor. The second way is to cut the lemongrass into small pieces and pulverize them with a mortar and pestle or food processor, then add to food before cooking.

Galangal powder is available in Asian and Indian markets. Galangal is a relative of ginger root and tastes a bit like peppery ginger. It is used in Thai and Indian cooking. It goes well with fish, as well as garlic and chili. A little goes a long way. Like ginger, galangal can also be used fresh.

Amchur powder, or ground dried green mango, can be found in Indian markets or online from Rani’s World Foods. Amchur has a sour, acidic taste and is used in curries and chutneys. In marinades it makes a good tenderizer. Use it with fish and other meats, in vegetable curries, and wherever you’d like to add a bit of tart flavor.

What’s your favorite marinade mixture?

Salmon Nasi Goreng

Nasi Goreng, or Indonesian fried rice, is a lively dish, full of spices and a variety of flavors. Classic ingredients include chicken, shrimp, eggs, tomato, and cucumber, however Indonesian cooks frequently use whatever meats and vegetables are fresh and on-hand. So don’t be afraid to use your creativity to add your own special touch with favorite items.

One of my favorite Nasi Goreng combinations is salmon, haricot vert (French green beans), onion, and campari tomato. The bright, colorful veggies make it as beautiful to look at as it is delicious to eat.

A bit of tomato, a bit of chili… If you like Spanish rice, you’re sure to enjoy this version of Nasi Goreng. Thanks to the Bamboe instant seasoning mix, it’s so easy to create Indonesian-inspired dishes of your own. (more about Bamboe) My family likes spicy food, so I usually add two seasoning packets to turn up the heat, but I made it with one packet here for you.

Day-old rice is much easier for cooking fried rice. There’s less moisture and stickiness. It’s a great way to use up leftover rice, too. If you absolutely must cook your Nasi Goreng with fresh rice, leaving it out to cool first should help some.

Salmon Nasi Goreng

Salmon Nasi Goreng

Ingredients

  • 4 cups day-old brown jasmine rice (or your favorite long-grain rice)
  • 2 six-ounce cans wild salmon, packed in water, no salt added, drained
  • 1-1/2 cups onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cups Trader Joe's frozen French green beans, chopped in 1/2" pieces (or regular frozen string beans)
  • 1 cup Campari tomatoes, quartered (or halved cherry tomatoes or chopped Romas)
  • 2 tablespoons garlic, minced
  • 1 package Bamboe Nasi Goreng spice mix (or two packages if you like spicy)
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk (light coconut milk is OK)
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil (I used coconut oil)
  • sea salt to taste (optional)

Instructions

  1. Drain water from salmon, then combine drained salmon, coconut milk and spice mix in a bowl. Set aside to marinate.
  2. Chop onion, green beans, and tomatoes, and mince garlic. Set each aside in a separate bowl until needed.
  3. Cook the chopped onion in the oil in a non-stick skillet or wok for 5 minutes on medium heat, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add the chopped green beans, mix well with the onions, and cook until green beans are heated through, stirring occasionally.
  5. Add the minced garlic, mix well, and cook for 1 minute.
  6. Add the marinated salmon, mix well, and cook until salmon is heated through, stirring occasionally.
  7. Add the rice, mix well to combine all ingredients, and cook until the rice is heated through, stirring occasionally.
  8. Taste to check the seasoning and add sea salt if desired.
  9. Add the quartered tomatoes, mix gently, and cook for 5 minutes.
  10. Enjoy!
http://www.laurawestkong.com/gff/2011/salmon-nasi-goreng/