Gluten-Free Lasagna with Brussels Sprouts & Cherry Tomatoes

I eat a lot of pasta. I’ve eaten a lot of pasta my entire life—pastina for breakfast as a baby, small shaped mixed with cheese as my first meals I made myself, and multiple family meals a week with my dad’s meat sauce, with grilled veggies, with sauce from the Italian market, with butter when I was feeling sick. Pasta makes up part of the essence of my soul. So while I do strive to eat naturally gluten-free foods as much as possible, gluten-free pasta is the one “replacement product” I can’t live without.
Wonderfully cheesy lasagna packed with sauteed Brussels sprouts and cherry tomatoes (AND it's gluten-free!)At this point, I’ve tried almost all the brands and shapes and blends of gluten-free pasta (though that’s a topic for another post). It’s been so long at this point (almost eight months!) that I no longer really feel like there’s a difference between regular and gluten-free dried pastas. After all, pasta is really mostly a vehicle for sauce. Naturally, gluten-free lasagna lends itself particularly well to being exactly like the real thing. So when I saw this recipe for Brussels sprouts lasagna on How Sweet Eats, I knew I had to adapt it.
Wonderfully cheesy lasagna packed with sauteed Brussels sprouts and cherry tomatoes (AND it's gluten-free!)And adapt it I did. I didn’t just make it gluten-free, which was a pretty easy switch. Brussels sprouts AND mushrooms AND tons of cheese just sounded like too much savory-ness to me, so I decided to swap the mushrooms for cherry tomatoes, which help counter with some sweetness. I also used mozzarella instead of provolone, because mozzarella makes up part of the essence of my soul too.

Gluten-Free Lasagna with Brussels Sprouts & Cherry Tomatoes (adapted from How Sweet Eats)
2 small shallots, diced small (about 1/4 cup)
2 gloves garlic, minced
10 ounces brussels sprouts, trimmed and sliced (if you’ve got a Trader Joe’s, cheat and buy their shaved Brussels sprouts)
16 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved (big mama ones quartered)
16 ounces ricotta cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons grated pecorino cheese, divided
1 package gluten-free lasagna noodles
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons gluten-free all-purpose flour (your blend must contain a starch)
2 cups milk, left at room temperature for about 20 minutes
1/4 tsp nutmeg
red pepper flakes
olive oil

Prepare your lasagna parts
Set a large pot of water to boil. When water is boiling, add noodles and cook for four minutes less than package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water and then either soak in an ice water bath or coat noodles with olive oil.

Meanwhile, heat enough olive oil to coat the bottom of a large skillet. Add shallots and cook until softened and beginning to turn translucent, 2 to 3 minutes, then add in Brussels sprouts and garlic and season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, then add in cherry tomatoes and more salt. Cover skillet and cook another 8 to 10 minutes, stirring once or twice, until you can burst your tomatoes a bit. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Add flour and whisk together, stirring constantly for 2 to 3 minutes until well-combined and smelling delicious. Slowly pour in milk in a steady stream, whisking as you go, until all the milk is in. Switch to a spoon and keep stirring constantly, making sure to scrape the bottom and edges of your pot, until sauce thickens and magically becomes bechamel, about 5 to 8 minutes. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and nutmeg. Remove from heat.

In a medium bowl, combine ricotta, 2/3 cup mozzarella, and 1/4 cup pecorino.

Assemble your lasagna
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Spread 1/4 cup bechamel at the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish. Lay three noodles down. Top them with 1/3 the cheese mixture (you will probably need to use your fingers to spread it around), 1/3 the vegetable mixture, then 1/3 the bechamel. Top with three more noodles, then repeat the cheese/veggie/bechamel layering process (now using 1/2 of what you have left). Top with three more noodles, then use the rest of the cheese/veggie/bechamel. Cover with three more noodles, then sprinkle top noodles with reserved 1/3 cup mozzarella and 2 tablespoons pecorino. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving (it will be the longest 10 minutes ever).

P.S. Sorry for the absence in posting! You can thank my mom for kindly nudging me texting me and blatantly calling me out to post.

Oven-Roasted Tomato Sauce [with BUTTER]

Winter is a great time for extensive cooking projects (lasagna, for example, or veggie burgers). But it’s also a great time to be lazy and just throw some stuff in the oven while you watch Pitch Perfect for the seventh time.
Oven-roasted tomato sauce recipe is SO easy and great for tricking people into thinking you cooked for hoursI make sauce on the stove all the time, but I’d never tried roasting tomatoes for sauce in the oven before. I’d also never gotten a recipe to look exactly like the picture in the magazine before.

This sauce is so easy that even all of you who claim you can’t cook can make it—all you have to do is dump your ingredients in a baking dish and put it in the oven. That’s it. Not kidding. This is the ultimate lazy person’s dish, and also the ultimate dish for tricking people into thinking you did way more work.
Oven-roasted tomato sauce recipe from Bon Appetit
The recipe as printed in Bon Appetit calls for quite a bit of garlic. I really love garlic, but I still thought it was too much, so my recipe below includes less than they call for. If you’re really opposed to anchovies, you can definitely omit them and not miss too much, but they do add a nice savory-ness (real word) to the sauce.

Oven-Roasted Tomato Sauce with Butter (adapted from Bon Appetit)
1 28-ounce can whole, peeled tomatoes (without added salt)
5 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
2 anchovy fillets packed in oil
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) salted butter, cut into pieces
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
salt and pepper, to taste
freshly grated parmesan cheese
pasta of your choosing

Preheat oven to 425. Crush tomatoes with your hands as you add them to a glass* 8×8 baking dish. Add garlic, anchovies, butter, red pepper, salt, and pepper, stirring to combine.

Bake tomato mixture for 45 minutes, stirring things up about halfway through; anchovies and garlic should be very soft. Using a fork or snazzier mashing tool, mash up garlic and anchovies and stir to evenly distribute. Add some parmesan and stir. Combine sauce with cooked pasta, stirring until well mixed. Divide between bowls and top with lots more cheese, because cheese.

P.S. This recipe is way more fun to make if you keep pronouncing butter as BUTTEEEEEEH.

*Stonewear is okay, just do not use a metal pan — metal can sometimes react with the acid in the tomatoes and that is not a flavor you want.

Gluten Free Restaurant Review: Bistango in Murray Hill

When I first announced that I was going gluten free, nearly every person who gave me advice suggested I eat at Bistango in Murray Hill. It’s also on nearly every list if you’re Googling gluten free resturant options in NYC, so I knew I had to try it. I went with my gluten-eating mom so we could try the full range of the menu, and I’m happy to report that both of us came away totally stuffed and totally happy.
Great gluten free Italian food at Bistango! Check out the review at CakeIsTheOnlyThingThatMatters.comAs soon as we sat down the waitress asked if anyone at the table had any food allergies or intolerances. When I told her I was gluten free, she explained that (whether it explicitly stated so or not), every single dish on the menu could be prepared gluten free. Considering another restaurant I went to this weekend told me, “well, there’s cream in the sauce” when I said I was gluten free (seriously), this was very exciting.

The thing I really liked about Bistango was that they catered to everyone’s needs without even needing to ask. They brought me a little plate of gluten free bread, but they gave my mom regular bread, and they gave us separate little dishes of garlic olive oil so we wouldn’t have to worry about gluten crumbs.
Great gluten free Italian food at Bistango! Check out the review at CakeIsTheOnlyThingThatMatters.comBurrata is definitely one of my top 10 foods ever. Thank you for not having gluten, cheese.
Great gluten free Italian food at Bistango! Check out the review at CakeIsTheOnlyThingThatMatters.comAlso incredibly exciting about Bistango’s menu: stuffed pastas! I’ve had a variety of dried gluten-free pasta in the past few weeks, but I thought I was kissing cheese-filled pasta goodbye. Bistango has a number of gluten-free ravioli, tortellini, manicotti, and other stuffed pasta options, and you can pick whatever sauce you want. I never make myself pink sauce, so I ordered that on my spinach and ricotta ravioli. The pasta itself could have had a tad more flavor, but the filling and sauce were good! My mom had regular pasta in a short rib sauce and really enjoyed it, so this is definitely a great place to go with people who can eat gluten.

Almost the entire dessert menu is gluten free (and they have some dairy free options too, if you have a dairy restriction as well). Since we were so full my mom and I shared creme brulee (naturally gluten free!), and I got a slice of key lime pie to take home. The creme brulee was excellent. The key lime pie was pretty good but definitely needed whipped cream (I grew up eating a LOT of key lime pie though, because it’s my dad’s favorite dessert and he’s very picky about how it’s made, so I do scrutinize key lime pie more than most people). I definitely want to try copying their almond crust though.
Great gluten free Italian food at Bistango! Check out the review at
Bistango also does brunch, so I plan to go back soon to check that out! They also have lots of non-pasta options at all meals, so if you’re trying to eat mostly naturally gluten free food, they have that too.

VERDICT: 4.5 out of 5 stalks of wheat stars

Exploring Gluten-free Pasta [Summer Vegetables Recipe]

Gluten-free pasta with summer squash and broccoli from
I eat a lot of pasta. It’s a fallback item I always have in the house, and something I’ve had multiple times a week since I started eating solid food (it’s a side effect of being half Italian). So I knew that when I went gluten free that this would be one of the most important things to find a good substitute for. Taste wasn’t really a concern for me, as I think all pasta basically tastes the same and is mostly just a good companion to various sauces and toppings. My big concern was texture: I eat my pasta al dente, full stop. I’d heard from a number of people that rice pasta has a tendency to get gummy, so I decided to buy a few brands of quinoa pasta to see what I like best, putting aside my extreme grumpiness that gluten-free pasta is sold in smaller quantities and much higher prices than semolina pasta.

The first brand I tried was Ancient Harvest, which is a blend of quinoa and corn. And it was surprisingly good! I cooked it for about 7 minutes and the texture was pretty close to regular pasta’s, and the taste was good too. Unfortunately, I learned the next day that this pasta does not hold up well as cold leftovers, so I’d strongly recommend only cooking the amount you plan to eat in one sitting (the recipe below makes 2 to 3 servings). But hot the pasta did quite well, even tossed with just veggies and no real sauce to speak of.

This is a really easy dish to make and shouldn’t take you longer than 30 minutes. It can easily be made with regular pasta too, which is what we did in my apartment; I had it with my GF pasta and my roommate had it with regular–we just each mixed the veggies in in our own bowls. Like all things, it is vastly more delicious with cheese, but is good without it too if you’re also dairy free.

Summer Squash & Broccoli (Gluten-free) Pasta

1/3 large or 1/2 small onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium zucchini or summer squash (I used one of each), cut in quarters lengthwise and diced
10 ounces broccoli florets, preferably organic
olive oil
salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes, to taste
8 ounces gluten-free pasta, or regular pasta, any shape of your choice
2 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, diced (optional)
grated pecorino romano cheese, for serving (optional)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt once boiling.

Heat enough olive oil to comfortably cover the bottom of a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook until softened and translucent a bit, stirring occasionally, about 6 minutes. Add garlic, stirring constantly for 30 seconds. Add broccoli, more salt and pepper than you think you need, and a large pinch of red pepper flakes, and stir to combine. Cover and let cook, undisturbed, for 4 to 5 minutes. Uncover and stir. At this point your broccoli will probably have absorbed most of the oil, so add more as needed. Then add in zucchini and stir. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add your pasta to the boiling water, stir and set the timer, then go back to your vegetables. Keep stirring occasionally until veggies are tender but still a bit crisp, and browned a bit in places. Taste for seasonings and add more if necessary.

The vegetables and pasta should finish around the same time. When pasta is done, drain, then combine with veggies and more olive oil. Divide into bowls and top with more olive oil and with cheese, if desired. You don’t have to tell anyone how many times you add more pecorino to the bowl, I promise.