I grew up in the Portland area, with three Trader Joe's surrounding me. And never went in to one! WHY?????
I moved to Tucson and waited 2 years before attempting a shopping trip! WHY???
When I finally went in to one, it was like I had died and gone to heaven. We shopped there every week for the next two years, doing more than half the grocery shopping there (with the rest done at the farmers market and at either Wild Oats or Food Conspiracy Co-op). Even now, in Seattle, I still make an effort to hit up a Trader Joe's at least once a month for our monthly stash of chips, granola bars, toilet paper, and olives despite the 8 mile trek. Moral of the story, run to your nearest TJs and give it a try!
When I went gluten free, the hardest thing was not being able to buy all my favorites. I lived on the whole wheat pasta, and woven wheat crackers, and the salad dressings. Ahhh, the salad dressings.
During my chip run two months ago, I discovered the most fantastic thing! Brown rice pasta - labeled gluten-free. It was like Joe had read my mind (or noticed that their whole wheat pasta sales were down. I seriously lived on that stuff). And, I think I'm in love. Both bags disapeared pretty fast. First, it tastes great. Pretty close to Tinkyada, if not right on. I should do a taste test some time. Second, it comes in 1 pound bags. Tinkyada's pasta comes in 12 ounce bags. 16 ounces is the right amount for a jar of sauce, and makes our pasta meals stretch just right. I usually get 4 dinner servings and two lunch servings out of a 16 ounce bag. And third, it's half the price of Tinkyada. I paid $1.99 per bag. Can't beat that!
Now, the downsides are this. You can not do the "energy saver" cooking method that Tinkyada mentions. This pasta cooks much faster. Mine has only been taking about 10-12 minutes to cook. It also has a tendency to stick to the bottom of the pot if left unattended, so be sure to give it a good stir every minute or so. Finally, it doesn't come in as many fun shapes. So far, I 've seen penne, spirals, and spaghetti. Hopefully we'll get more shapes as the product becomes more popular.
Greens, Beans and Pasta - Aglio e Olio style
By Paula Karrer, Tucson CSA
On Sunday, I cooked up this pasta dish. It was fantastic. The original recipe is found here. The Tucson CSA site has a fantastic recipe section for cooking just about any vegetable on the planet. This is necessary because the Tucson CSA shares often contain just about every vegetable on the planet. I still miss picking up my vegetables every week. It was the best part of my Tuesday.
1/2 lbs dried Canelloni beans or 2 cans
16 ounces pasta (I used spirals)
Good quality EVOO
3-4 cloves green garlic or to taste (I love garlic)
Chili powder (or chili flakes. I used powder 'cause that's what I had)
2 bunches of greens, washed and sliced into pieces (I used swiss chard and spinach)
1/2 C broth (I used chicken, but feel free to use beef or vegetable)
Soak beans overnight in filtered water. In the morning, drain, place in pot, and cover with 1" filtered water. Bring to a boil, let boil for at least 10 minutes, then reduce heat and simmer until soft. This takes between 1-2 hours. Drain, rinse, and refrigerate.
30 minutes before serving, bring pasta water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for about 8 minutes, or until almost done.
Meanwhile, wash green. I usually fill up my largest bowl with water and swish 1 bunch of greens at a time. Then, I run them under cold water until all the dirt is gone. Slice or tear into bite size pieces. Add to the pasta water at about 8 minutes (you may need to do this earlier for greens that take longer to cook, like kale). Cover pot and let greens steam (you may need to turn down the heat a bit to prevent the water from boiling out).
In your serving dish, cover the bottom with olive oil. Crush garlic with a press or with a heavy knife. Add to dish. Sprinkle salt, chili powder, and paprika to taste.
When the pasta and greens are cooked, drain and add to serving dish. Add the chicken broth. Stir everything until combined. Sample and adjust seasonings as needed.
Optional add-ins. The original recipe calls for parmesan cheese, which would be nice on top if you can eat dairy. My dearest husband also insists on ham on top of every vegetarian dish I make. He says it was a necessary ingredient. I liked mine meatless. Finally, when reheating this for lunch, I felt inspired and added nutritional yeast on top. It was fantastic.