By Michelle Edelbaum, "A New View on Food ,"March/April 2012
When she’s not co-hosting the Emmy Award-winning ABC talk show The View, running or playing with her three young children, you can find Elisabeth Hasselbeck in her kitchen. Hasselbeck, who has celiac disease, recently published her first gluten-free cookbook, Deliciously G-Free (Ballantine Books, 2012). We caught up with the celebrity to talk about her love of cooking.
You got your start in television as a contestant on Survivor 2 in 2001. How did it change your diet?
I hadn’t been in great health since 1997—I was in a constant state of discomfort. After three days in Australia I started to feel better. While everyone else was crumbling I had energy! I was eating rice, and fish if we could catch it, and that was pretty much it. When I came home I started eating all the food I previously ate and felt sick again. I thought, “Either I’m really allergic to the United States or it’s something I’m eating.” Once I removed gluten from my diet I started to feel as good as I had in Australia.
You come from an Italian family that loves to cook. How do you balance that with being gluten-free?
While working on the cookbook, my mom and I made a gluten-free version of my grandmother’s penne and meatballs recipe. I closed my eyes at the table while I was eating it and my daughter Grace said, “Mommy, are you remembering what it was like to be little?” I was literally brought back in time. It was so nice to have that moment with my family.
Do you ever cook for your co-hosts on The View?
I’ve hosted a couple of tailgates and cooked my favorite gluten-free recipes on an episode of The View. The barbecue chicken sandwiches went over really well. The chocolate cupcake wowed Barbara [Walters]. Whoopi [Goldberg] thought the pulled pork was great. I knocked Joy [Behar]’s socks off with the baked penne (see recipe below).
Hasselbeck is the honorary host for the 9th Annual More Magazine/Fitness Magazine Women’s Half Marathon in New York’s Central Park on April 15, 2012.
The pasta-lovers in your life are going to be spoiled by this recipe— it tastes just like the one that my Mama put on the table every weekend. The aroma brings me back to the days of “sneaking” a bite before it even got to the table. My grandmother would just smile at me as though to say, “I won’t tell a soul. I am just so happy you like it!” Note from EatingWell: This recipe calls for the Pasta Sauce in another recipe, Mama's Spaghetti and Meatballs. You will need to double the sauce for the Baked Penne.
3 to 4 cups Pasta Sauce (recipe follows)
1 teaspoon salt
1 pound gluten-free penne or ziti
12 ounces low-moisture mozzarella, cut into 1/2-inch cubes or shredded
3/4 cup grated Romano or Parmesan cheese
Grated Romano or Parmesan cheese, for serving (optional)
Warmed Pasta Sauce, without the sausage and meatballs, for serving (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
2. Remove half of the meatballs and half of the sausage pieces from the pasta sauce. Set the sauce aside. Slice the meatballs and sausage, and set them aside.
3. Add the salt to a large pot of water and bring the water to a boil. Add the penne or ziti and cook for 6 to 7 minutes. (The pasta should be harder than al dente because it will continue to cook when baked.) Drain the pasta and return it to the pot.
4. Add about 2 cups of the pasta sauce to the pot and mix with a wooden spoon until the sauce is evenly distributed. Reserving 2 tablespoons of each cheese for the topping, add the mozzarella and the grated cheese to the pasta, and mix with the spoon. Then, reserving 1⁄3 cup of each for the topping, add the slices of meatballs and sausage. Mix gently with the wooden spoon.
5. Spoon about 1/2 cup of the pasta sauce over the bottom of a lasagna pan or a 9 × 13-inch baking dish. Spoon the pasta mixture over the sauce, spreading it out evenly. Sprinkle the reserved mozzarella, and then the reserved grated cheese, on top, and cover the pan with aluminum foil.
6. Bake penne until the corners are bubbling, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove the foil and bake uncovered for 7 to 10 minutes, until the top is lightly browned.
7. Remove the pan from the oven, cover it with foil, and let it stand for 10 minutes. Then cut the baked penne into squares (like lasagna), and serve with extra grated cheese and warmed pasta sauce on the side, if desired.
Mama’s Spaghetti and Meatballs
I mentioned the significance of this meal to me in this book’s introduction: it was part of my childhood and was one of the things I missed most when I initially went g-free. Now, thanks to the great work of my mom, who translated my grandmother’s recipe from glutenous to g-free, you too can enjoy it. As we say in my family,“Buono, buono!”
Serves 10 (Makes about 2 cups of sauce and 30 meatballs)
1/2 cup gluten-free hominy grits or coarse cornmeal, or crumbs from 2 slices gluten-free bread
1 1/2 pounds ground chuck
1 egg, beaten lightly
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons grated Romano or Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon light olive oil or canola oil, or more if needed
Tomato and Meat Sauce
1 pound gluten-free sweet or hot Italian sausage
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, minced in a food processor
3 28-ounce cans crushed tomatoes
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 or 4 fresh basil leaves
2 pounds dried spaghetti
1. Prepare the meatballs: In a small bowl, combine 1. Tablespoons of water with the grits, cornmeal, or bread crumbs. Mix to moisten; the grits/cornmeal/crumbs should be damp but not wet. Set aside.
2. Place the ground chuck in a large bowl. Add the egg, garlic, parsley, grated cheese, salt, and pepper, and mix with a wooden spoon. Add the moistened grits/ cornmeal/ crumbs and mix, first with the spoon and then with your hands, just until the ingredients are combined.
3. Shape the meat mixture into meatballs about the size of golf balls.
4. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, and add the oil. Working in batches so as not to crowd the skillet, and adding more oil as needed, cook the meatballs until they are browned, minutes. As they are cooked, transfer the meatballs to a plate and set aside for use in the tomato sauce, or cover and refrigerate or freeze until you are ready to make the sauce. The meatballs will keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days and in the freezer for up to 3 months.
5. Prepare the sauce: Cut the sausage into 2-inch pieces. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or other large, heavy pot, and brown the sausage on all sides in the oil. Add the minced onion and cook it with the sausage until the onion is soft and light brown, about 4 to 5 minutes.
6. Add 1 can of the crushed tomatoes to the pot. Fill the can about one-quarter full with water, swish it around to rinse out the can, and pour the water into the pot. Stir, scraping up the brown bits from the bottom of the pot. Add the remaining 2 cans of tomatoes, rinsing each can with . can of water as before and adding the water to the pot. Add the sugar, salt, pepper, and basil leaves, and stir to mix. Add the meatballs and stir.
7. Bring the sauce to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally; then lower the heat to a slow simmer. Simmer the sauce for 30 minutes, or longer if desired. (I like to simmer the sauce until I see that the oil has risen to the top.) Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.
8. When you are ready to serve, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook according to the package directions. Then drain, and serve topped with the pasta sauce.
Photograph: Courtesy of Elisabeth Hasselbeck
Recipes: Courtesy of Deliciously G-Free (Ballantine Books, 2012)