Meatballs #3 and Review: Ancient Harvest Pasta

I have my meatballs totally dialed in. They’re not only delicious, but they’re also super tender. And gluten-free to boot!

Meatballs - dry non-meat ingredients

Start with the non-meat ingredients:

1/2 cup potato flakes
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/3 cup water (or beef stock)
3 Tbsp dry parsley
3 Tbsp chopped garlic
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp basil
2 eggs

Mix all that together so you get a spicy, gummy paste.

Meatballs - meat and wet stuff

Then add 1 pound of ground beef and 1 pound of ground mild Italian sausage. You could go with the spicier sausage if you want, but I’m not that adventurous.

Smoosh it all together with your hands. I wear my always-useful powder-free disposable vinyl gloves for such things. Buying a big box of them was the best cooking/cleaning/hair-coloring move I ever made.

Roll into meatballs. Depending on size, you’ll get 30-45 of them. I like them about this big:

Meatballs - size

Where one can nest perfectly inside a tablespoon. That gets me around 40 meatballs. Again, I’m baking them on a wire rack above a foil-lined cookie sheet. I guess you don’t need the foil, if you don’t mind cleaning meat drips from your cookie sheet. Me, I’m a fan of easier cleanup. Since I still have to scrub the wire rack.

Bake at 400° for 15 minutes. Middle-ish rack in the oven.

After they came out of the oven, I tossed a few into some defrosted and reheated meat sauce and let them bubble while I cooked up a single serving of noodles.

I found the Ancient Harvest quinoa pasta on sale at the Whole Foods, at 2 boxes for $4. I used the ol’ food scale to measure out 2 ounces of dry pasta, which as always, doesn’t look like that much.

Quinoa pasta

I then counted — turns out 2 ounces is just about 50 “garden pagodas”. Just like the De Boles “spaghetti style” pasta, I wonder if there’s some non-wheat reason why they can’t call this stuff radiatori. And it shows you how much wheaty pasta I used to eat, that I know the name of this shape.

Anyhoo, while the pasta is gluten-free (made from quinoa flour, corn flour, dried bell pepper and dried spinach [for the colors]), it’s certainly not a low-carb food. That 2-ounce serving packs 205 calories, 46 grams of carbohydrate, and only 4 grams of fiber. Still, eating it didn’t bloat me up afterward, and no next-day weight gain from water retention, so all is well. It boils for 6-9 minutes (I went the whole 9, after my De Boles experiments) with the strict warning DO NOT OVERCOOK. I wonder how gummy and/or gross these things get if you let them boil for too long. There’s also a warning that the water will turn yellow from the corn starches, which indeed it did.

At 9 minutes, the texture was just right. A very authentic pasta feel, with the slightest al dente bite. The plain white noodles really didn’t have a flavor of their own, which is a nice contrast from the distinctive rice flavor of the De Boles. The colorful noodles also tasted like standard red-pepper or spinach wheat noodles. Since it’s been a number of years, I’d clearly forgotten that I’m not the biggest fan of those pasta flavors. Next time I’d get this stuff, but in an all-plain variety. Looks like Ancient Harvest also makes spaghetti, linguine, elbows, shells, and rotelle (which they can say, but they can’t say radiatori?!) among others.

Meatballs on gluten-free pasta

Delicious! I’m giving the plain noodles a 9 out of 10.

This plate is so full, by the way, because we got rid of most of our large (10″) plates and now almost exclusively use the Corelle luncheon plate (8-1/2″) for everything. You can get them at Wal*Mart for a couple of bucks apiece, if you don’t have a nearby Corning/Revere factory store. Which we don’t. Seriously, Orlando is the home of outlet malls, and there’s no Corningware to be had. Absurd! Anyhoo, we mixed-and-matched geometric patterns.

I packed away the rest of the meatballs, putting some in the fridge and some in the freezer. They microwave beautifully from both places.