Gluten Free Baked Penne

Today’s hearty baked pasta dish is pure comfort food!  A great choice for a potluck or casual family dinner, everyone will want to dig into this tasty casserole.  I use a combination of gruyere cheese with its superb melting qualities and parmesan cheese in the topping for a crispy contrast.  I sneak a few healthy veggies into the mix for even more flavor and texture.  Who’s hungry?

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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup grated Gruyere cheese
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1/2 sweet onion, cut into large dice
  • 6 cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 small zucchini 1/2″ dice
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • olive oil
  • 8 oz. ground beef
  • 8 oz. ground veal
  • 3/4 tsp. Tuscan seasoning, divided
  • 2 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. oregano
  • 1 tsp. basil
  • 8 oz. gluten free penne
  • cooking spray
  • 1/3 cup gluten free seasoned breadcrumbs
  • Italian parsley for garnish

Preparation:

Grate the cheese and set aside.  Add olive oil to a large nonstick skillet over medium low heat.  Cook the onions until they are translucent, then add the mushrooms, zucchini and garlic.  Sprinkle with 1/2 tsp. Tuscan seasoning.  Remove from the pan and set aside to drain in a colander to remove excess liquid.

In the same pan, add more olive oil along with the ground beef and ground veal.  Season with 1/4 tsp. Tuscan seasoning.

Break up the meat with a spatula and stir until completely browned.  Clear a space in the center of the pan and add the tomato paste.

Let it toast for 1 minute then stir it into the browned meat.

Add the tomato sauce, sugar, oregano and basil.  Cover and bring to a low simmer for 10 minutes.

Heat water for the pasta and cook according to package directions.  Stir the cooked and drained veggies into the meat sauce.

Drain the pasta and add to the pan with 1/2 cup gruyere cheese.  Toss to combine.

Mist a casserole dish with cooking spray and fill with the pasta and sauce mixture.  Drizzle the top with olive oil and top with 1/3 cup breadcrumbs and 1/3 cup parmesan cheese.

Cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes at 350º.  Use tongs to carefully remove the foil and broil for 2 minutes to crisp up the top.

Garnish with Italian parsley and bring to the table.  Serve with extra parmesan cheese and marinara sauce.

Notes ♪♫ Not all gluten free pastas are created equal.  I used Jovial Brown Rice Penne in this recipe.  My favorite brand, it holds up especially well in casseroles, where even after boiling and baking it maintains a great al dente consistency.

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Gluten Free Stuffed Shells

This meal has been on my bucket list for a while.  It was a few hours in the making, but worth every minute and a great thing to make on a Sunday afternoon.  The veal and zucchini stuffing has a nice pop of flavor!

The gluten free shells are delicate and prone to breakage, so be sure to cook a few more than needed just in case!

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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 sweet onion, minced (about 1-1/2 cups)
  • 1/2 small zucchini, minced (about 1 cup)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • fresh ground pepper, about 6 grinds
  • sea salt, to taste
  • 1/4 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • splash of white wine (about 1/4 cup)
  • 8 oz. ground veal
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 oz. Italian cold cuts of choice (about 3 slices)
  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 tbsp. parmesan cheese plus more for topping and serving
  • 4 oz. gluten free pasta shells (about 30 shells)
  • cooking spray
  • 15 oz. marinara sauce, homemade or purchased
  • fresh basil and Italian parsley for garnish

Preparation:

Use an electric chopper to process the onion, zucchini and garlic to a fine mince.  Heat 2 tbsp. olive oil in a stainless-steel skillet, add the minced vegetables and season with salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder.

Stir frequently and cook down until reduced by half.  Add a splash of white wine and continue stirring until most of it has evaporated.  Remove from pan and place in a colander to drain and cool.

Wipe the pan clean, add 1 tbsp. olive oil and brown the veal, breaking it up with a spatula.  Season with more salt and pepper.

Mince the cold cuts and add to the veal.  You can use prosciutto, pancetta or whatever you have on hand.  I happened to have a few slices of Italian Salame left over from an antipasto, and it really made the flavor pop!

Continue stirring frequently until most of the liquid cooks off, then add the browned meat to the colander to drain.

In a clean bowl, whisk 1/2 cup ricotta cheese with 1 tbsp. grated parmesan.  Stir in the veal mixture.

Cook the shells according to package directions, stirring gently so they don’t break.  Drain in a colander.

Coat a casserole dish with cooking spray and spread one ladle of sauce on the bottom.  Arrange the shells in the pan, then fill them with stuffing.

Spoon a little more sauce over the filled shells, and sprinkle with more grated parmesan.  Cover tightly with foil and bake for 30 minutes at 350º.

After 30 minutes, use tongs to carefully remove the foil.  Broil on low for 5 minutes.  Garnish with fresh parsley and basil.  Serve with extra sauce and grated cheese.

Notes ♪♫ It wasn’t easy finding these gluten free pasta shells from Farabella.  Currently out of stock on Amazon, I was lucky to spot them at a local shop.  If you can’t get them where you live or you can’t have corn pasta, these Brown Rice Pasta Shells from Tinkyada are a good stand-in.

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