Today's dinner was an interesting one. It was the brown rice ziti with San Marzano tomatoes. This pasta is gluten and vegan free, and locally made in Canton, MI by Mamma Mucci's pasta company. That alone makes this dish worth trying.
The vegan and gluten friendly noodles are topped with fennel, spinach, and San Marzano tomatoes. It doesn't say it in the menu, but the sauce also includes green olives. San Marzano tomatoes are a variety of plum tomatoes, and are considered by many Chef's to be the best sauce tomatoes in the world. The commercial production of the San Marzano variety is most closely associated with Italy, seeds for the variety are available worldwide.
I'm really happy that we added a gluten-free item to our menu. Guests often ask about items being gluten free, and it's so rare to have a pasta dish that they can eat. However, here's a warning: gluten free noodles do not taste the same as regular noodles made with flour. The flavor is the same, but the texture is different- kind of rubbery and a little chewy. If you are expecting them to be the same, they won't be...but even though it's a different texture it is still enjoyable. The fennel is really something different in the dish. At first I wasn't even sure what it was, because I don't think that I have had fennel before. When I was reading about fennel, I thought it was incredibly interesting that it is the main ingredient in absinthe. I thought it to have almost a slightly pickled flavor, although it was not pickled as it is used in this dish.
Overall I really enjoyed eating this dish. I was happy to be able to try both the famous San Marzano tomatoes and gluten free pasta all in one dish. It was creative, and a great option for vegetarians, vegans, or those that are affected by gluten. Being none of the above, I still enjoyed the dish and would order it again. It was different that the food I am used to trying, and it really made me expand my thinking about vegan food...it's not that bad..actually, it's pretty good! Give it a try, I think that it will surprise you as well!