Trader Joe's Brown Rice Pasta

Yassss! We're finally getting sun again! I can't tell you what a huge difference sunlight makes - just a few minutes at the beginning of the day when you get up and when you leave your office/school/where ever you spend your day makes such a difference. People are suddenly kinder and have loads more patience than they did a month ago. Knowing that we're at the tailend of the dreary, freezing months and only a week and a half from Daylight Savings leaves people visibly happier, a huge weight off our collective shoulders.

When the world goes from this...

When the world goes from this...

With that in mind, let's talk about the food that will go with all those fresh garden veggies headed our way! Or at least the ones we're picking up at winter farmers markets or grocery stores near home.

...to this!

...to this!

As I've found out over the past few months, I am a huge fan of Trader Joe's - specifically, their gluten free products (I've always been a fan of their samples and cheap wine bins!). Even thinking of just their pancake mix, sandwich bread, and taco shells, they seem to have a gluten free product for whatever you're in the mood for. Today we're venturing into their pasta world, but in a less direct way than you're likely expecting. Instead of going the real Italian pasta dinner route, we treated TJ's Gluten Free Organic Brown Rice Penne like, well, brown rice. 

We started off with small pieces of chicken breast seared in a little olive oil on the stove, then added in green beans, zucchini, and finally a whole can of tomatoes (San Marzano or any related brand is perf). Once the pasta was ready, we served our high-in-protein-and-veggies-low-in-hating-yourself-after-eating stew of sorts over the penne, which was cooked just like any regular pasta.

I would definitely recommend serving this brown rice penne as a fun brown rice side instead of a standalone pasta. Between local gluten free pasta and versions as simple and accessible as Barilla's gluten free pasta, there isn't really a need to settle for a pasta that doesn't taste like it's gluten-full cousin if you don't have to. On it's own the brown rice penne is chewy and flavorful - ever so slightly gummy but not in a way that turns you off at all. I treated this as a brown rice that had a cool shape, and as that it was a delicious side for my dinner. As a standalone pasta though it didn't have the traditional bite or flavor that I was expecting, and was a little too dumpy for what I was expecting - there was nothing wrong with it, but not a true pasta in my book (although I'm Irish so...).

If you're looking for an additional carb to complement stewed veggies or maybe even as a mac and cheese though, this could fit the bill. I think that's where we're headed next - mac and cheese world. This guy seems like he can manage a big hit of cheese and some time in the oven. I'll let you know how that goes!