Ask-the-Chef with Corbett Monica Tackles Your Gluten-Free Questions

Welcome back Chef Corbett Monica, Executive Chef of Bella Monica Restaurant and owner of the Bella Monica Gluten-Free Flatbread Company!  

If you have a question, please send them to and check back soon for answers!

Question: I get stuck always making a simple marinara sauce with pasta. What are some ideas for really easy-to-make pasta sauces?

Answer: This is the best time of year for creating tasty & healthy pasta dishes. Gardens and farmer's markets are overflowing with summer's bounty from fragrant basil to endless varieties of heirloom tomatoes. Dishes become colorful and fun eat. Start with a sauce like a basil & arugula pesto or a good quality evoo or even your simple marinara and add in some grilled or sautéed veggies. Grate or shave some hard cheese to add richness. For a meaty boost, add crisp pancetta. Always top the pasta with fresh, chopped herbs. They brighten the flavors and their aromatics will put a smile on your face even before you take a bite!

Question: I want to learn more about pairing wine and food. Where do I start?

Answer: A fun way to begin your discovery of food & wine pairings could be to host a party where you ask each guest to bring a bottle and a complimenting dish. You will get a quick introduction to various wine varietals and flavors. Remember, there are no stead fast rules you must abide by. Eat & drink what you like. Certainly, specific foods & wines do pair better than others but the point is to simply enjoy the flavors the farmers and the vintners create. There is an old saying in Italy "if it grows with it, it goes with it", meaning that an area's soil is the common denominator.

Question: My husband won't eat polenta because he says it's bland. How can I spice up my polenta?

Answer: For your husband, add more cheese and butter!!! Just like corn on the cob, some call it bland raw or by itself, but almost everyone loves it with a little butter and salt. Actually he's correct; polenta is bland on its own. Historically it was eaten as a “gruel” to fill the belly in the cold, lean winter months when little else was available. Today polenta can be a great vehicle for delivering a tasty meal. For a twist, bake polenta thin and top with mushrooms, sausage & fontina cheese. Or with meatballs, marinara sauce & mozzarella. As a replacement for French toast, pour a mixed berry syrup over a couple of baked slices.You can go savory or sweet!

Buon Appetito!

2 comments (Add your own)

1. Brahim wrote:
It's a pleasure to find someone who can think so callery

Sun, October 14, 2012 @ 11:51 AM

2. Sailor wrote:
Great article, thank you again for wriintg.

Fri, April 19, 2013 @ 12:35 PM

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