Raise your hand if you love pasta?
Just kidding, that was a rhetorical question – I know you love pasta.
With the discovery of white rice pastas, of which their are almost as many varieties as there are for wheat pastas, quick & easy pasta dinners have re-entered my life. White rice pastas are essentially the Asian equivalent to European pastas. “Never seen them in stores,” you say? You’re probably right, as American markets tend to only carry one or two white rice pastas, however, enter an Oriental market and you will find aisles full of the stuff. Just like European pastas, there are wide rice noodles, angel hair rice noodles, flat and short rice noodles, there are even white rice elbows, which we used in our Macaroni & Cheese recipe.
Cooking rice pasta is nearly identical to cooking wheat pasta – the pasta goes into a large pot of boiling water, you wait until it’s al dente, you drain it, shock it with cold water to stop the cooking, then you use it as you wish. That is with some exception however, as some rice noodles need only to be soaked in water for a short amount of time before use, but those are for another recipe.
The noodles we used in this dish are as wide as fettuccini, long, transparent, flat and they come all wrapped up in several big bunches in the bag; sometimes they’re labeled as “large rice sticks.” As soon as the mound of noodles hits the water, they start to fall apart from one another and cook separately, like wheat pasta. When looking for these noodles in the market, they may be labeled as simply as “rice sticks,” which admittedly isn’t very helpful as there are many different sizes and shapes of “rice sticks.” What’s important is to look at the shape and size of the noodles – if they fit the description above, then you’re good to go.
Now that you’ve forgotten what I was talking about before that photo, I’ll enact a change of subject right……………… now!
The sauce that dresses our al dente rice noodles is a simple, one-blender, no-pot sauce that can be assembled in five minutes. Think of its flavors like a fresh, Hispanic take on pesto – cilantro, avocado, olive oil, and lemon juice are whipped together to form a creamy, bright, salty, & tangy sauce that sparks up the monotonous life of your tastebuds. On top of being flavorful, this sauce is rich in omega-3 fatty acids (thanks avocado) as well as heart-healthy antioxidants (shout out to olive oil)!
While pasta + sauce is pretty great by itself, the combination can be elevated to new heights when an extra element is added. Why not something chewy, salty, and meat-y in its essence; how about jackfruit? No, I’m being serious. Jackfruit’s potential is light years beyond a skimpy, $14 sandwich from some hipster eatery in Silverlake.
This monstrous fruit (it seriously looks like a ticking time bomb from outer space), can be cooked, sliced, and served in a thousand different ways, so it’s a shame that it gets so pigeon-holed in the culinary world – in fact, jackfruit is just as diverse as pork. This time around, we marinated canned jackfruit pieces with cilantro, olive oil, salt, onion powder, and chili powder to create a tantalizing, mouth-watering jackfruit that’s both chewy and meaty. While I’ve been dying to get my hands on entire, unripe jackfruit, it’s nearly impossible, as most whole jackfruits on the market are ripe, with sweet orange flesh, which cannot be used interchangeably with young jackfruit. Thus, canned and boxed jackfruit is the best choice for the home cook. Plus, who really wants to hack into a spiky, 15 lb fruit? Okay, maybe I do just a little.
Side note: We made this meal while a buddy of ours who eats meat was around, and when he tasted it, he said that the jackfruit looks, feels, and tastes just like pork.
All in all, this dish is:
- 30 minutes
- Bursting with bright & savory flavors
- Chewy, creamy, and meat-y
- Filling & packed with healthy fats
- Lectin-free, vegan, and gluten-free
If you like what your taste buds are tellin’ ya, leave behind a nice rating, share your thoughts with us in the comments, or show us your creations by tagging @noeggsorham on Instagram.
Go Forth & Devour,
Kim & Ryan
Lemon Avocado Pasta with Sautéed Cilantro Jackfruit (lectin-free, gluten-free, & vegan)
Al dente, fettuccini style white rice pasta is coated in creamy lemon avocado sauce laced with toasted garlic. Served alongside meaty cilantro chili jackfruit pieces and topped with nutritional yeast.
- 1 14-oz can of young jackfruit, thoroughly drained
- 2 tbsp cilantro, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 tsp each: salt, onion powder, chili powder
Pasta & Sauce
- 6.5 oz (1 block) large rice sticks*
- 3 medium cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 1/2 tbsp buttery coconut oil*
- 1 medium-sized, ripe avocado
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp cilantro, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- sprinkle of nutritional yeast
- extra cilantro
- Fill a large pot (6-8 qt) 3/4 of the way full with water. Add a very large pinch of salt, place on a lid, and bring to a boil over high heat.
- In a cake or pie pan, mix jackfruit together with cilantro, olive oil, and seasonings. Using your hands or two forks, pull apart the jackfruit into small pieces without completely shredding it. Let rest at room temperature for at least 10 minutes.
- Once water boils, add in pasta and cook – stirring every couple of minutes – until pasta is tender to your liking; 10-12 minutes.
- Drain pasta into a colander and rinse with cold water. When ready to use, rinse with hot water to loosen it up.
- Place avocado, olive oil, cilantro, lemon juice, and a heavy pinch of salt together in mini food processor or personal sized blender. Blitz until mixture is creamy; about 10 seconds.
- Place a medium nonstick pan (10-12 in) over medium-high heat. Once hot, add in jackfruit and all of its marinade. Cook – stirring a couple times throughout – until the jackfruit is lightly browned on a few sides; about 6 minutes.
- Place the same pot the pasta was cooked in over medium-high heat. Add in buttery coconut oil and allow it to melt. Toss in the garlic and cook until it’s lightly browned; about 1 minute.
- Toss pasta into garlic & butter mixture and gently fold to combine – we find tongs to be the best tool for the job. Once coated, add in all of the avocado sauce and gently fold to combine. Heat until hot; about 3 minutes.
- Serve pasta immediately, topped with or served alongside sautéed jackfruit. Sprinkle with a generous serving of nutritional yeast and extra chopped cilantro.
- Store any leftovers in an airtight container for up to three days. Re-heat in a small pan over medium heat with a touch of olive oil until hot; about 6 minutes.
*Rice sticks will be cheaper in an oriental market as opposed to online, I’ve just included the link as a reference of what to look for when shopping in stores.
*If you don’t have buttery coconut oil, sub with olive oil.