You know, we hear and read a lot of stuff about balance. The hardest part for me on any “diet” is missing the dishes I love the most. That to me is imbalance. So when it comes to pasta (or your current craving of choice), what to do when you can’t eat gluten (or dairy, or sugar, or whatever your favourite foods contain that you can’t have). Well you get creative and you find a substitute.
Skillet Paleo Penne Alfredo. I love a good Alfredo pasta. Well I love a good tomato pasta too. Ok, I love pasta. Easier. So to satisfy those cravings without straying, I have to get creative and think outside the box. The pasta is almost a no-brainer for most. You can find gluten-free versions all over the place now. They’re just as popular as the regular stuff. My problem was finding something that still tasted good but wasn’t rice based. I tried some pea flower based pasta and that didn’t work well for me. Along came Mr. Lentil (that’s not the brand of pasta, the is just what I am calling the lentils). Lentil pasta!! I know, it’s not on the paleo diet, but I use that as a guide anyway. I am allowed to eat it as per my intolerance list so why not have it? Done.
Sauce. How does one create Alfredo sauce without butter, cheese, and cream. Well there are a thousand recipes online to replace each of those components with a vegan or paleo substitute, and I am intrigued by all, but I didn’t want to go through the process of recreating each element, and then combining all elements to make the sauce. The point of this dish was to be simple and delicious and cooked in one pan. SIMPLE. OK Sean, simple is coconut milk and a thickener. Yeah. That simple. It worked out beautifully.
I know Romanesco is not a popular vegetable for most, but I had it in the fridge from my recent crop share pickup, so I wanted to use it. The same with the peas. For me, cooking is based on inspiration. Inspiration from ingredients I have around me. Romanesco can easily be replaced by broccoli as they have a similar flavour profile. Peas, well you can’t substitute fresh peas! They are awesome and readily available. And the green of all of these ingredients was speaking volumes to me. I saw the red lentil pasta, with all green veg, and white creamy sauce in my head and I couldn’t get it out.
I used italian sausage in this paleo alfredo penne dish because I think the Italian seasoning brings a nice balance. If you want to make this dish vegan, simply skip the italian sausage and add the italian seasoning or even just fresh tarragon. I prefer fresh herbs, but you can use dry. Add the dry slowly though, and taste regularly as rule of thumb states you use roughly half dry ingredients to fresh. I wanted more of a ground meat in this dish, so I removed the sausage from its casing. You don’t have to. You could technically also use ground pork with italian seasoning and have a similar result. I fried this separately as I didn’t want to overcook the veg.
Now, for the question that is on some minds out there. One pan? Not boiling the pasta first? Listen, you can use a pot for the pasta and it will turn out the same. I just wanted to prove to myself that I could create a one pan pasta dish. And I did. I will say that watching the lentil pasta cook and absorb the water is definitely not the same as wheat pasta. The water gets thicker and starchier as it reduces and is absorbed. If you want to avoid that, cook the pasta separately. I won’t be hurt or upset. Promise.
So that’s all folks. Get your skillet out, grab some lentil penne pasta, a can of coconut milk, and get cooking. Don’t forget, I like to hear how you did….. like, try, comment, share. Peace.
Paleo Penne Alfredo
- Prep Time: 20mins
- Cook Time: 35mins
- Total Time: 55 minutes
- Yield: 2-3 servings
- Category: Paleo
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1 tbsp arrowroot powder
- 1/3 Cup garlic scapes
- 1/3 cup scallions
- 1/3 cup peas
- 2 tbsp chiffonad basil
- 2 mild italian sausage links de-skinned and chopped
- de-pod peas if they are not already out of the pod
- finely chop garlic scapes (or garlic cloves)
- finely chop scallions
- chiffonade the basil (6-7 leaves) : See notes for chiffonade
- remove sausage link meat from the casing
- heat a skillet on med to med
- add a small amount of olive oil (1 tbsp) to the hot skillet
- when oil is hot, add the scallions and garlic scapes (if you are using garlic cloves, wait to add with the peas)
- add the peas and romanesco
- when peas are turning a darker green, add the basil and stir thoroughly for 1 minute
- remove greens from the skillet
- add 1 tbsp oil to the pan
- when oil is hot, add the sausage meat and chop up to almost look like ground meat
- keep working and stirring until cooked through
- remove from the skillet and set aside
- add water to the skillet and turn up heat to med-high
- salt the water with 1 tsp salt
- when the water starts to boil, add the uncooked lentil penne noodles
- allow the noodles to cook until the water is nearly evaporated
- stir often when the water is nearly gone
- while noodles are cooking, whisk the arrowroot flour into the coconut milk
- when noodles have nearly absorbed all of the water, add the greens and sausage back into the skillet
- turn heat back to med
- add the coconut milk/arrowroot flour mixture
- stir until thickened
- taste and add salt and pepper as necessary
- serve and enjoy!!
- Chiffonade is a fancy word for the very simple technique of slicing basil (in this case) into very thin ribbons. This is accomplished by rolling the leaves into one another then slicing thinly across. I hope to include a video of this technique, but for today I will have to send you to google. Sorry.