Wimbledon tennis champion Novak Djokovic seems to be a strong favorite to win the US Open this year, what with his recent two Grand Slam victories and a near-perfect record year-to-date.
Djokovic attributes this resurgence in his career partly to a change in his diet. He now follows a strict gluten-free diet, which means he doesn’t eat anything that has wheat in it, and that includes white bread, cakes, pizza and pastries made with flour.
I wonder if he knows about rice noodles. These noodles are made of rice flour and are gluten-free because rice itself has no gluten (even if sticky rice is sometimes referred to as glutinous rice). With rice noodles, it will be like eating his favorite pasta, except the pasta wouldn’t be made of flour but of rice.
Here’s a recipe for a gluten-free “pasta” dish: rice noodles with a thick tomato-meat sauce. Because the carbohydrates in rice are a good source of energy, this recipe is good not just for Djokovic but for other tennis players as well (including my other favorites Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Andy Roddick and the now retired Justine Henin and Martina Hingis), though they may not be following a gluten-free diet.
Non-tennis champs out there may want to try this recipe, too. (For a gluten-free chocolate chip cookie recipe, visit www.normachikiamco.com).
Rice Noodles with Rich Tomato Sauce
400 g rice noodles
Water, for cooking the noodles
¼ c olive oil
½ c chopped onions
4 cloves garlic, diced
½ c diced green or red pepper
½ kg ground beef
Salt and pepper
1 can (800 g) whole tomatoes (do not drain)
½ c tomato paste
½ c water
1 c tomato sauce
1/3 c pitted green or black olives (or more, if desired)
2 tbsp sugar
2 bay leaves
½ c fresh basil leaves, cut into strips
Grated parmesan cheese (optional)
Cook rice noodles in enough water to cover until tender but still firm (al dente), around two to three minutes (or follow directions in package). Drain noodles and set aside.
In a large cooking pan, heat olive oil over low heat and sauté onions until transparent, around two minutes. Add garlic and green pepper and sauté a further one minute. Turn up heat to medium and add ground beef. Season beef with salt and pepper and cook-stir until beef is thoroughly browned.
Break up whole tomatoes into smaller pieces, then add to the pan along with the tomato paste, water, tomato sauce and olives. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then add sugar and bay leaves. Lower heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes. Add basil leaves during last minute of cooking.
Serve over prepared rice noodles. Sprinkle with cheese if desired.
A 150-g pack of tomato paste makes about ½ cup.
A 250-g pack of tomato sauce is equal to 1 cup.
You may also used canned crushed or diced tomatoes instead of whole tomatoes.
Rice noodles are available in supermarkets, usually in the shelf where they sell noodles for pansit or in the shelf where they sell Thai products (a good type of rice noodles is hofan noodles, made in Thailand).
For more stories and recipes, visit www.normachikiamco.com.