I love and adore whole grains. I’m hard pressed to think of a food group I’d crave more if I were stuck on a desert island (well, perhaps I’d choose veggies first—but it would be a tough call!). There are few whole grains I don’t like, and I try to use lots of them (especially ancient grains) in my cooking.
As someone who loves all things grainy, I was highly disappointed to realize that I really dislike whole wheat pasta. I love whole grain bread, considerably more than even the most perfect baguettes or sourdough slices or squares of focaccia. So why not whole wheat pasta? Why do I find it so tough, so flavorless, so totally antithetical to all of my ideas of what a great bowl of pasta should taste like?
Fortunately, I was introduced to rice pasta some years ago, and I have never looked back. Rice pasta has both whole grain goodness and a tender, authentic texture—the best of both worlds. It can be confidently served to vegans, gluten free eaters, and pasta lovers alike, which makes it a perfect dinner party or potluck food. It’s great, and I’m always on the lookout for standout new brands.
My latest find is brown rice pasta from Jovial Foods, and it’s a new favorite.
I’m so glad that I found this brand. Jovial Foods was founded by a husband and wife team, Carla and Rodolfo. The couple met when Carla was studying Italian abroad for a year, and Rodolfo was in Italy studying agriculture. They shared a passion for food, and they became more passionate about transparency and authenticity within the food industry when their young son showed sensitivities to certain kinds of wheat. Today, Jovial Foods is known for its commitment to gluten free and Einkorn-based grain products. The latter is self explanatory, while Einkorn is a form of wheat that predates dwarf wheat; some people who have trouble digesting conventional wheat products find this low-gluten form of wheat more tolerable.
In addition to its fantastic array of gluten free and Einkorn pastas, Jovial also sells chopped organic tomatoes and high quality, extra virgin olive oil. You can learn more about how the company produces its olive oil, which is made with three ancient varieties of olives grown in the Veneto region of Italy, here. The organic, diced tomatoes are grown on small, organic, family farms in Italy and packed within hours of harvesting (without any salt or additives). They’re packed in a special organic tomato purée that’s prepared in small batches, a similar process to home canning. Having grown accustomed to the salty, acidic taste of most conventional canned tomatoes, I was really surprised and delighted at the delicate taste of these.
In addition to the gluten free pastas, tomatoes, and olive oil that I was lucky enough to sample, Jovial also makes Einkorn-based cookies, flour, and wheat berries, as well as gluten free cookies (sadly, the cookies contain eggs, but perhaps a vegan variety will emerge soon!). All jovial products are 100% organic and crafted in small batches.
When Jovial shared its lovely products with me, I was determined to create a dish that would showcase their taste and integrity. What better or more authentic choice than a vegan spaghetti and meatball dish?
This recipe was such a pleasure to make and eat, and Steven enjoyed it as much as I did. The base is simple: cooked brown rice spaghetti and a simple, 15-minute marinara sauce. The white bean balls, which are made with cannellini beans, quinoa, and walnuts, are what make it a little special.
There they are, before and after crisping in the oven. They are super tasty, not to mention nutritious. To save time and the recipe easy for busy nights, try prepping the marinara or the bean balls in advance. I love the fact that the balls require no sautéing–just whip them up in the food processor and get started. An additional shortcut for the dish is to use your favorite store-bought brand of marinara sauce, which will save you the time of preparing your own (even though this particular marinara is nice and quick).
|Spaghetti and White Bean Balls (Gluten Free)|| |
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup white or yellow onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 28 ounces chopped, peeled, or crushed tomatoes (this is 1½ jars Jovial Foods crushed tomatoes)
- 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
- ⅛ teaspoon black pepper (or to taste)
- 2 teaspoons organic sugar
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- ½ cup walnuts
- 1 large clove garlic, roughly chopped
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 8 large sun-dried tomato halves (about ½ cup, packed), soaked in hot water for about 20-30 minutes and chopped
- 1 cup cannellini, Great White Northern, or navy beans
- ¾ cup cooked quinoa
- 1 teaspoon dry oregano (or two teaspoons chopped fresh oregano)
- Black pepper to taste
- ½ teaspoon red wine vinegar
- 12 ounces brown rice spaghetti
- Chopped basil
- To make the white bean balls, preheat the oven to 375F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the walnuts, garlic, and salt in a food processor fitted with the S blade. Process until the walnuts have been ground up.
- Add the sun-dried tomatoes, beans, ½ cup of the quinoa, oregano, black pepper, and vinegar to the food processor. Pulse until the mixture is uniform and well mixed, but the beans retain some texture. Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl and add the remaining ¼ cup cooked quinoa. Mix everything together with your hands. Shape the mixture into sixteen 1-inch balls. Place the balls onto a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, or until the balls are golden brown and crispy, stirring once halfway through. Set the cooked balls aside.
- To make the marinara sauce, heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for 4-5 minutes, or until the onion is soft and clear. Add the garlic and cook for one or two minutes, or until the garlic has become fragrant. Add the tomatoes, salt, pepper, sugar, oregano, and thyme. Simmer the sauce for 10 minutes or until it has thickened slightly.
- To prepare the pasta, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook for 10-12 minutes, or until tender. Divide the pasta into four bowls. Top each with about ½ cup of sauce, 4 bean balls, and a sprinkle of basil. Serve. Leftover bean balls (if you have any) will keep for up to four days in an airtight container in the fridge.
What a wonderful, homey meal. And if you happen to prepare it for one or two people, you can use leftover bean balls in salads.
In order to give CR readers a chance to sample Jovial foods directly, the Jovial company has generously offered one luck reader a package of Jovial products, including gluten free pasta, jarred tomatoes, and olive oil. The same foods that I’ve been lucky enough to try!
The giveaway is open to US and Canadian residents. Enter below to win this taste of Italy!
I hope you’ll all enjoy getting to know this family-owned company and their delightful products. Also, check out the Jovial Foods website for details on how you can win a free trip to Italy!
That’s it for today, friends. I’ll be back tomorrow with a wonderful new green recovery story.