Gluten-Free Comfort Foods | Vegetarian Times Skip to main content

Gluten-Free Comfort Foods

What if you woke up one morning and found that most of your favorite foods had to be eliminated from your diet for good?

That used to be the scenario for the 1 in 133 Americans with celiac disease—anything made with wheat, barley, rye, or malt became off-limits due to gluten content. That meant no bread, no granola bars, no pasta, no pizza. Not even beer or veggie burgers. Even more people deal with some level of gluten intolerance, sometimes called non-celiac gluten sensitivity, which includes a wide range of symptoms, from digestive upset to weakness and fatigue.

The solution? Supernutritious, gluten-free recipes that are tasty enough to become your new comfort-food favorites. The recipes and shopping tips on the following pages are a great resource, whether you're already savvy about gluten-free cooking, just getting started, or looking to learn more.

Gluten is a sticky plant protein that gives dough heft and elasticity and lends instant thickness to sauces. But gluten isn't the only game in town. Try the following stand-ins:

almond flour
• brown or white rice flour
• corn flour (masa harina)
• cornmeal
• soy flour

• potato starch
• tapioca flour/starch
• xanthan gum (replaces gluten in baked goods so cookies stay together and breads rise)

A handy guide to the best gluten-free pastas for your recipes.

Tasting notes Bold, nutty flavor with a chewy texture and firm, dense bite. Check the package to make sure no wheat flour has been added.
Best shapes Spaghetti and spirals hold their shape and won't stick together.
How to use it Serve with Asian-style sauces and stir-fries or cheese sauces that complement buckwheat's flavor.

Tasting notes Reminiscent of popcorn; for best texture, choose a blend of corn-quinoa pasta.
Best shapes Elbows, rotelle
How to use it Add to baked pastas or toss lightly with cream, cheese, or pesto sauces that complement the corn flavor. Don't use in pasta salads—it can get tough when cooled.

Tasting notes Compact but tender texture and neutral flavor; look for brands that blend potato and rice or corn.
Best shapes Long strands, such as fettuccine and spaghetti, that benefit from potato pasta's tenderness.
How to use it Toss with light, brothy sauces that coat the strands and keep them from sticking together.

Tasting notes Whole-grain flavor; closest in texture to whole-wheat pastas.
Best shapes Shells, rotelle, pagodas
How to use it Try spicy or bold-flavored sauces that stand up to the flavor.

Tasting notes Mild, neutral flavor; firm, somewhat grainy texture easily absorbs other flavors.
Best shapes Firm ones (e.g., penne, shells) that won't fall apart or turn gummy if overcooked.
How to use it Serve with tomato-based sauces that stick to the noodles.

Health & Nutrition: