Easy Roasted Tomato Basil Capellini | Gluten Free + Vegan

Guys! Hi! I've been drowning in wedding photography and am now returning to this blog! Listen. I'm Italian. And three years ago, when the powers that be told me I could no longer have gluten, or dairy, and about a billion other things, I had a bit of a bad reaction. It involved a lot of crying, spazzing, and laying on the floor crumpled up questioning, "Why?" While I was down there, I also questioned why my forefathers decided to settle in the Midwest as opposed to, I don't know, Hawaii or New Zealand. 

I still have not received answers.

Guys! Hi! I've been drowning in wedding photography and am now returning to this blog! Listen. I'm Italian. And three years ago, when the powers that be told me I could no longer have gluten, or dairy, and about a billion other things, I had a bit of a bad reaction. It involved a lot of crying, spazzing, and laying on the floor crumpled up questioning, "Why?" While I was down there, I also questioned why my forefathers decided to settle in the Midwest as opposed to, I don't know, Hawaii or New Zealand. 

I still have not received answers.

Well, I'm happy to say I'm no longer in a state of panic. While it has been a major life adjustment, I am accustomed to my new way of life - eating only whole foods, reducing chemicals and refined sugars, and basically making everything myself. Whenever I stray from my diet, I feel like crap for about a week - and I've quickly realized it's not worth it. More on my diet here.

So, I've been on a quest to recreate some of my favorite Italian dishes, which involve about 90% gluten and dairy products, to see if I can regain my Italian heritage. I achieved it with this gluten free capellini amazingness. It's so mega easy. And I've made it a hundred times... you know, just to make sure it works right.

Step 1. Preheat to 400. Take 2 pints of grape tomatoes. If you're feeling extra adventurous, get the heirloom ones. Wash em. Even though you're gonna buy organic, right? Pour em on a cookie sheet and coat in olive oil, kosher salt and pepper. Pop em in the oven for about 15 minutes, depending on the size. You want them to be a bit wrinkly, but not cooked to death. Knaw mean?

Step 2. Boil 8 cups of water. And yes, it's important that you measure it because otherwise the salt ratio won't work. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1.5 tsp. salt to the water. 

Step 3. Get a giant skillet. Add 3 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of vegan butter on low heat. Add to this, 4 cloves of minced or grated garlic and stir around so it doesn't burn.

Now a moment to discuss olive oil. The other day, I was at my parents house and I looked at the back of their olive oil bottle and the ingredients were: 90% soybean oil, 10% olive oil. This is EXTREMELY common. Bottled oils contain all sorts of cheap, nasty fillers and it's very important to buy organic, pure oils. Since oils are delicate and sensitive to light and heat - they need to be in a dark, glass bottle. I love Colavita products because they are high quality and come from a great family-owned business, originating in Italy.

TIP: you should be using organic garlic. There's a lot of nastiness in conventional garlic, which comes from very sketchy parts of the world. I buy the fresh peeled kind and put it all in the freezer and just take out cloves as needed. They also chop/grate much easier when frozen (and bonus, it isn't sticky).

Step 4. Right about now you should probably need to add your pasta. Now listen and listen good - the pasta will make or break this. Gluten free pastas are iffy and here are the ones I've tried that taste awesome: Jovial Brown Rice spaghetti / Trader Joes Brown Rice + Quinoa spaghetti / DeBoles Rice Angel Hair (this is the most appropriate given capellini is angel hair) / Tinkyada Brown Rice spaghetti / Live Gfree spaghetti (Aldi's brand). The GFree pasta is actually my favorite, taste wise, you can't distinguish from traditional pasta. Using corn pastas will result in a MUCH thicker pasta water, which you'll be using for the sauce. And one pasta you should absolutely AVOID is Hodgson Mills. OMG! It's so bitter and awful. Anyway, pour a box in.

Step 5. Wash about 25 basil leaves and chop. Add this into the skillet, still keeping it on low. Add in 1 tablespoon of fresh thyme. Parsley is good to add too. You know, whatever. Also add 1 tsp of salt to this concoction. Stir it around and keep on low. { If you like some kick to your food, this is where you'd add a few red chili flakes }

Step 6. Take the tomatoes out and let them cool for a second.

Step 7. You're not going to drain your pasta because you'll be using the pasta water. Take some tongs and transfer capellini to the skillet and mix around with sauce. Add some of the pasta water to your desired consistency - more water will make a thinner sauce and vice versa.  Note: If you are using the Live GFree spaghetti, it gets very thick and so I don't end up with "water" - it's more of a sauce consistency after it boils. So I just plop it all in. You could thin with water if you want. Add the tomatoes and mix it all together. Note, the longer the pasta sits the more it will thicken up. So leftovers will be thicker.

Top with fresh basil and pine nuts. And, like, parmesan if you tolerate dairy or a vegan option.

EASY ROASTED TOMATO AND BASIL CAPELLINI

This is a gluten free, vegan version of a popular Italian dish that will make you feel like you're not missing out on a thing! [Serves 2-3]

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 box of gluten free capellini or spaghetti [see notes] 
  • 8 cups water
  • 6 TB olive oil divided (4 for sauce, 2 for water)
  • sea salt + pepper
  • 2 pints grape or cherry tomatoes
  • 1 TB vegan butter
  • 4 minced garlic cloves
  • 25 basil leaves
  • 1 TB fresh thyme
  •  [optional red pepper flakes]   

INSTRUCTIONS:                  

  • Step 1. TOMATOES: preheat to 400. Take 2 pints of grape tomatoes.  Pour em on a cookie sheet and coat in olive oil, kosher salt and pepper. Pop em in the oven for about 15 minutes, depending on the size. You want them to be a bit wrinkly, but not cooked to death. 
  • Step 2. PASTA: boil 8 cups of water. And yes, it's important that you measure it because otherwise the salt ratio won't work. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1.5 tsp. salt to the water. 
  • Step 3. SAUCE: get a giant skillet. Add 3 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of vegan butter on low heat. Add to this 4 cloves of minced or grated garlic and stir around so it doesn't burn. Wash about 25 basil leaves and chop. Add this into the skillet, still keeping it on low. Add in 1 tablespoon of fresh thyme. Parsley is good to add too. Also add 1 tsp of salt and some pepper. Stir it around til wilted then turn off heat. [If you like some kick to your food, this is where you'd add a few red chili flakes]
  • Step 4. Add pasta to boiling water [see notes below]
  • Step 5. Take the tomatoes out and let them cool for a second.
  • Step 6. You're not going to drain your pasta because you'll be using the pasta water. Take some tongs and transfer capellini to the skillet and mix around with basil sauce. Add some of the pasta water to your desired consistency. More water will make a thinner sauce and vice versa. If using the Live GFree or corn pasta, it will already be a thick consistency so you'd need to add water to the dish to thin if desired. Add the tomatoes and mix it all together. Note, the longer the pasta sits the more it will thicken up. So leftovers will be thicker.
  • Taste and adjust salt + pepper. Top with toasted pine nuts, fresh basil and parmesan or vegan equivalent!

NOTES on GF pasta: Gluten free pastas are iffy and here are the ones I've tried that taste awesome: Jovial Brown Rice spaghetti / Trader Joes Brown Rice + Quinoa spaghetti / DeBoles Rice Angel Hair (this is the most appropriate given capellini is angel hair) / Tinkyada Brown Rice spaghetti / Live Gfree (my favorite). Using corn pastas will result in a MUCH thicker pasta water, which you'll be using for the sauce. And one pasta you should absolutely AVOID is Hodgson Mills. OMG! It's so bitter and awful.

Wondering who's the mysterious wordy genius behind these posts? Follow this little rabbit trail to read more About Me! The use of the term genius is open to interpretation.