Gluten-Free Pasta with Artichoke Hearts, Raisins & Pecans

Gluten free pasta with pecnas and artichokes from Karina Gluten-Free Goddess
Sexy gluten-free pasta for two.

When I learned I had celiac disease, the first thought I lurched into was: Pasta! No more pasta? That was December 2001 and it was a cold, dark day, indeed. I was devastated. I *heart* pasta. I lurve pasta. Just the very thought of pasta perks up my appetite and sparks my desire for saucy food and spicy romance. You know, sultry jazz and candlelight. Spaghetti dripping with garlicky olive oil. Pesto coated penne. Putanesca sauced linguine. Roasted vegetable stuffed lasagna. Creamy shells. The soft reliable comfort of macaroni and cheese.

My pasta love runs deep and true.

No wonder. My husband and I honeymooned in Tuscany, Italy. Talk about love food! Honey Baby, we have been in love- and in love with Italian food- ever since. Why? If it isn't obvious, let me count the ways.

Start with sensuous and fruity extra virgin olive oil. Or the intoxicating mingle of garlic and fresh lemon. Balsamic vinegar drizzled on a roasted peach. The brilliant combo of basil leaves and pine nuts. Soft, creamy globes of mozzarella sliced thin and snuggled in between disks of juicy ripe tomatoes. Crisp white wine and nibbles of salty sweet Parmesan. Oh my.

What's not to love, Dear Reader?

We indulged our senses for two aromatic and glorious weeks, painting the rolling Tuscan landscape, shopping at rustic family markets, juggling our pochade boxes with bags of tender spring artichokes, tubs of garlic infused olives, and wrapped wedges of divine cheeses. Not to mention, the local wines. And yes, the semolina pasta. When it comes to food and cooking, Italy sets the bar high for flavor.

So as any sensitive and perceptive reader might guess, the revelation of celiac disease was more than ironic. It felt criminal.

A sour and nagging sort of grief swept through me as I imagined a life without pasta that first gloomy, gluten-free night. And please know, Dear Heart, I'm making every effort not to be dramatic, but honestly, there's only so much you can do with a potato.

Giving up rustic loaves of crusty bread was hard enough, but finding a pasta we could live with was even harder. And, oh yes, we did try- cooking up various gluten-free alternatives to our favorite imported semolina pasta. Some were corn based. Others were potato or rice based. We were routinely disappointed. The spaghetti was either starchy or gummy, dense or mushy. Not qualities you look for in a noodle. One night I actually cried. It wasn't pretty.

Then, as karma– or luck– would have it, one clear-as-a-bell spring day, I found a slim and shiny package of Tinkyada Pasta Joy spaghetti in our local supermarket. A small miracle! In spite of my crusty cynicism, hope was quietly rekindled. I read the label ardently. It was whole grain brown rice pasta, with rice bran! Hmmm. This was good. My heart leapt. It did. (I know, I know, Darling, it sounds way over the top and goofy and ridiculous, but those of you diagnosed with celiac disease and gluten intolerance understand. These are big moments. Emotional moments. Good pasta, for many of us, is worth its weight in gold. Or at least, silver.)

That very night I stood in my humble Cape Cod kitchen and salted the clunky pot of simmering water with anticipation. I stirred the thin golden strands with all the expectancy of a child on the eve of a birthday. And Dear Cherished Reader, as you may have long ago guessed, I was not disappointed. I had finally found gluten-free pasta worthy of devotion. Ardor. Puttanesca sauce. Yes! One of my favorite comfort-love foods was back.

And in honor of that happy event, I offer you one of my favorite autumn-winter pasta sauces.

New Mexico Sunset by Karina Allrich
Sunset view, New Mexico

A Seductive Gluten-Free Pasta Recipe: Spaghetti with Artichoke Hearts, Raisins and Pecans

Last night was cold and windy here in the high desert. The dark came way too early. I cooked up a batch of my favorite gluten-free spaghetti, and tossed it in a savory sauce that evokes the best of autumn with a touch of fall sweetness, garlic, and crunch.


3/4 lb gluten-free pasta
4-5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4-5 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1 10-oz package frozen artichoke hearts, thawed, chopped
2 teaspoons dried basil
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup pecan pieces, chopped, briefly toasted in a dry skillet
A splash of Calvados or Cognac (may omit)
1/2 cup shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Sea salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste


Add a tablespoon of sea salt to a large pot of water, and bring it to a rolling boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions until it is al dente.

While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet, and add the garlic; stir just until the garlic begins to soften and turn golden. Add the chopped artichokes and stir; season with basil.

When the artichokes soften, add the raisins and a splash of Calvados; shake the pan and cook lightly - just until the pasta is ready. When the pasta is done, drain and transfer it into the waiting skillet.

Toss the pasta into the sauce to coat; add the pecans and sprinkle with half of the Parmigiano-Reggiano; toss again and stir in the pecans and cheese.

Season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste. Spoon into warm shallow plates and serve immediately with a dusting of the remaining cheese.

Servings: 2-3

Recipe Source:

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mare said...

In the early days, I remember standing in the kitchen sobbing noisily as the bread machine churned out another doorstop. I also remember quietly sobbing in the grocery for gratitude of some small gratitude.

Celiac disease tends to make even the best of us obsessive – food obsessive.

I make bread manually now with 90% success.

Pleased to hear that following your hearts to New Mexico was the right decision at the right time.

Suzanne said...

I agree that Tinkyada probably has the best pastas in terms of consistency and traditional flavor. But have you tried Heartland's Finest?

These are made with bean and corn flours, and they are quite wonderful. Unlike the Tinkyada, they are more delicate -- and you do really have to be careful to not overcook. (They cook in less than 5 min.) But they have wonderful flavor and (when not overcooked) very delightful consistency. Heartland's Finest also sells Expandex, which is this really great product to add to baked goods, to increase elasticity. My own home experiments suggest that it actually does work to some degree. But I do digress.

My husband loves the Heartland's pastas -- and they are also higher in fiber and nutrients than the finely processed rice pastas. I just realized that I sound like an "ad" for these people. I have nothing to do with the company! Just love their products. They have some new flours out that I have not yet tried.

Kalyn said...

I have a friend who hasn't been diagnosed with celiac disease, but is sensitive to wheat. Thanks for the recommendation. I'll send her this link. (I should check this out for myself too. The rice bran might make this really good for South Beach if it's a brown rice pasta. Hmmm.)

Lynn Barry said...

I love you! This is something dear to my heart too. I have put up with the sucky GF pastas and missed pasta like I used to have it too...I will look for this kind. THANK YOU SO MUCH!

Shaheen said...

I am new at this but just realised that a lot of my traditional food from India is based on rice flour, which if I am not wrong, is gluten free. We even have our version of home made rice pasta! Would it be useful for u to have those recipes?

Kathy said...

Oh, YES! I so agree with you about Tinkyada. Once I discovered their pasta, I have been A-OK with being celiac! My family doesn't even remember what "normal" pasta tastes like anymore because Tinkyada is all we serve around here.

Tuscany was the place I realized that it was the quality of the ingredients that made all the difference. It was where I learned how simply those Italians put a meal together was consistently scrumptious! I loved Italy.

Rockstar Gone Soft said...


Back from China after three weeks and I never thought I'd be more happy to be home with my Celiac partner, cooking up our G-F favorites! I thought China would be an experience that I would cherish forever. It quickly, after day four of twenty-one, turned into the most horrifying experience since adolescence! I won't get into the details here, but I would like to offer a thanks for the Balsamic Vinagar Chicken Recipe I found from you the day I got home and cooked for Brandon and I. It was the best food I had had in over a month... in China. But more importantly, tonight I came home after a long day in the theater and had nothing to put together for dinner. It was getting late and so i delved into the staples of the freezer, refridgerator, and pantry. I found a few fat free, free range chicken breasts in the freezer which made me think of you. I sliced them up, partially thawed, quite thin and marinated them in my memory of your Balsamic Vinegar Chicken Bake. As the chicken drank in the juice, I flash sauteed some red and green peppers and a fat Vidalia onion in a fry pan in a bit of E.V. olive oil. That done and put aside, I pulled the chicken strips out and sauteed them with a litle of the Balsalmic Marinade in the same pan. While all this was going on, I heated up some Organic brand Cream of Portobella soup out of the little box. Dinner was picture perfect but my camera is still full of China pix so i have no shots of the feast. A layer of Balsamic Chix on the bottom of a wide soup bowl, covered with seasoned Portobella soup, topped with sauteed red and green peppers and vidalia onions, and finaly sprinkled with fresh grated Parmesan. My Baby was stunned that I pulled this one off without stopping by the grocery store on the way home from the theater. I love cooking Gluten-Free! It's always such a challenge and i always feel so good at the end of the meal! (And all of the G-F cooking means I really do usually have all of the above ingredients hanging around my house)

Thanks for your shout out while I was in China!

Keep inspiring me... PLEASE!

John B.

rowena said...

Accch! If I had to go without pasta...absolutely NO WAY.

dave said...

Reading this article was like Deja Vu for me! I too am a true lover of pasta. I was diagnosed with Celiac in 2004 and just like you my wife and I spent many disappointing nights eating mushy spaghetti and clumpy fettuccini. Until we found Tinkyada in the local Whole Foods. It is the closest thing to "real" pasta that I have found (when properly prepared). My only issue with them is that they have yet to come out with a Manicotti, one of my favorite dishes. They have lasagna noodles, but after a failed attempt to substitute these, I gave up on the idea. I'll keep my eye out for it!

And to the poster "rowena" who said "Accch! If I had to go without pasta...absolutely NO WAY" . . . you have obviously never experienced the ill effects of Celiac Disease.

Guinchogirl said...

I've been on the quest for appetising gluten-free pasta too! Over here in the UK, I found the Rizopia brand to be quite good :)But now, thanks to your fabulous post, I've just found a place that supplies Tinkyada pasta over here :) I can't wait to try it!


Karina said...

Hey Mare! It's a rough one, isn't it? I'm glad you've conquered the bread thing. The Holy Grail. ;-)

Hi Suzzanne! I have not... I haven't come across it around here; but thanks for the tip; other readers may be able to find it. Lucky for me, I can get Tinkyada in town.

Hi Kalyn! The brown rice pasta with rice bran is the best, I think. They make several different kinds - some with just brown rice [no bran] and others with white rice...

Hi Lynn! Right back atcha, Babycakes!

Hi Shasheen! How sweet of you! Actualy, because I am so happy with my Tinkyada pasta, I don't feel the need to make my own. If - however - I get a craving for making ravioli - I'll let you know!

Kathy - I couldn't agree more - with everything you said about Italy. I hope to return someday...

Hey JB! Great to see you. Hope the China trip was groovy. Thanks for this wonderful post. Your recipe sounds DE-lish. How can you go wrong with balsamic and extra virgin olive oil? I ask you. ;-)

Hey Rowena. I know. I did cry. Twice, in fact. ;-)

Dave - I would love manicotti, too. I was thinking of trying to make thin crepes - like canneloni.

Hi Sarah! Nice to see you again this side of the pond! Glad you can finally find Tinkyada there!


It's all good.

dave said...

Karina, if you posted a recipe for GF cannelloni (which could be modified for manicotti as well) I would love you forever . . . platonically of course :)

Anonymous said...

Tinkyada is amazing, I also like the nutty taste of Rizopia organic wild rice pasta and think it's worth a plug while we are on the subject. I find it fairly forgiving, a couple extra minutes isn't going to make a soggy mess. I've tried many other GF pastas, but wouldn't recomended them. -- Brian

Gwenhwyfar said...

I completely understand when you were talking about breaking down and crying. I've done it many many times over the last year. I don't have Celiac Disease but I was recently diagnosed with Kidney disease. It's been a real hoot, let me tell you.
I can't have salt (I have to keep my intake at the lowest I can possibly get it. About 10 - 15% of the daily recommended intake.) and it makes the grocery shopping I used to love so much a maze of disappointment and frustration.
Luckily I bake and I cook, so I've started modifying recipes to work for me. And as much as I would love to say that I'm okay with all of this, it would be more honest to say that I'd punch a toddler just to be able to eat a pickle some days.
Eat well,

Anonymous said...

When I started to read your article about pasta and was reading your agony pouring out about losing the love of your palate, I thoought to myself "ooh.. I've got to tell her about the pasta with the cute little bunny on it!" but as I read on I was amazed to see you had found my favorite pasta too. It's the one spaghetti my husband doesn't even know is not his typical pasta. Sing the Tinkyada Joy Song, Sister!

Anonymous said...

Hi Karina, I found this site by accident while looking for the name of a GF Italian pasta I had. Very cool. I have gluten intolerance and many other allergies from mercury poisoning (supposedly) sending my system sideways. Here's my challenge: at least at this time, I am also reacting to Potatoes AND to Rice which basically cuts 90% of gluten free products that substitute with these items (as in potato starch or rice flour) and so corn pasta or quinoa is my current alternative. Any ideas you have on this? I had a pasta sent by a friend while I was working in China, and it had corn pasta plus one other ingredient (which I cannot recall, but I think it might have been some kind of legume) and it was the BEST I'd had since diagnosis... If you have any ideas--please share--meanwhile I'm reduced to mainly protein & veggies--but at least I can still have chocolate!

Thanks for creating this site and being the gluten free goddess you are! Amandah

Karina said...

Hi Amandah, I have tried Mrs. Leeper's pasta- from Australia. They make at least one or two corn pastas, and maybe a corn + quinoa? There's one called Bionature, and another, BiAglut, that have soy flour- but don't know the exact ingredients (I avoid soy and beans so I haven't looked further). There's also a quinoa company that (I think) makes a quinoa + soy pasta.

Are you allergic to brown rice or white rice? Or both?

Tinkyada makes brown rice pastas and a fantastic white rice spaghetti- ironically, it turns out I'm allergic to brown rice, but NOT to white rice.

Crazy! Good luck with your search.


~M said...

Where do you find frozen artichoke hearts? All I can find are the canned ones, though Whole Foods' brands sells them canned in water. As always, thanks!

Karina Allrich said...

~M- Trader Joe's has bags of frozen artichoke hearts in the frozen veggie section. They're so popular they often sell out so check back if you don't see them.

Anonymous said...

This looks fantastic (newbie at gluten free/dairy free/egg free and 2yrs at being a veggie). I have tried follow your hearts cheeses and can't stand them, so I'm not sure what to do about a cheese sub here. Would this be missing a lot without the cheese? Please advise and great site! Thanks!

Karina Allrich said...

I make this recipe without the Parmesan now. It's still delicious. To be honest, I don't even miss cheese. I've lost the taste for it (I've been GF|CF|EF|SF since June 2007).


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