September 26, 2010

Italian Inspiration (Gluten-Free)

I can safely say that recipes are my own creation nine times out of ten. I pride myself in the creativity that comes through in a lot of my dishes because I spend a lot of time thinking about food pairings and new ideas to share with you all. However, sometimes I like to pull inspiration from other people. I'm stubborn in that I usually don't like to follow someone else's recipe to a T; I like to play around with it and customize it a bit. I guess I like everything I make to have personal touches, regardless of where it comes from. Tonight's dinner is inspired by Giada De Laurentiis' pasta alla formiana, but with a Krystina twist.

Gluten-free eggplant pasta bake
Inspired by Giada De Laurentiis
- 3/4 cup gluten free penne, dry
- 1/2 medium eggplant, cut into 1/4" slices
- 1 cup perfect marinara sauce, or preferred tomato sauce
- 1/2 tsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp dry oregano
- Pinch o' red pepper
- S&P, to taste

The instructions are the same as in Giada's recipe, except that I used a round 8" Corningware dish and I ladled more sauce over the top layer of eggplant to keep everything moist. Also, check it after about 40 minutes - if it looks dry, add a little more sauce. Check to see if it's cooked through by piercing it with a fork; if there's little to no give, it's done!

I was super nervous about making this because I really wasn't sure how it'd turn out. For all I knew, the gluten-free pasta could have fallen apart and the eggplant could have turned into eggplant chips. Luckily, the oven did its magic and everything was cooked to perfection.

I know there's some debate as to how much you have to change a recipe in order to call it your own, so I definitely give credit to Giada's recipe since that is what got my creative juices flowing. I really liked the eggplant in place of tomatoes; it tasted vaguely like eggplant parmesan without the grease and cholesterol.

The thing I liked most about this dish was that the pasta was sticky and slightly crisp around the edges. It reminded me of the baked rigatoni I had so much growing up. My favorite part of baked pasta is the little clumps! I was very satisfied with how this came out and I'm glad I decided to make it gluten-free so more people can enjoy it.

Time for some gentle yoga and relaxation to ease into the new (busy) week.


  1. So I officially love this idea! Eggplant parm is the best, but after cutting down my cheese consumption to near nothing, my body isn't sure how to react to a big helping like in a traditional dish. This looks absolutely fab!

  2. Sprinkle a little nutritional yeast for a "cheesy" taste if you'd like, but it totally doesn't need anything cheesy! Plus the pasta adds more substance and makes it a complete meal.

  3. Sounds good. I have some Japanese eggplants needing to be used.... Oh, and eggplant crisps - if not burnt, are really tasty.

  4. I'm sure they are, but they definitely wouldn't have been tasty in this. I wanted it nice and soft. :D