In my pursuit of easing Sam’s transition into the GF lifestyle, I have, as an occasional treat; tried to make replications of some of his favorites like the boxed macaroni and cheese, pizza, chicken nugget Happy Meals (yep, he has had chicken nugget “Happy Meals” since going GF! Stay tuned…) and Spaghetti O’s.
The mac and cheese, pizza and Happy Meals have been relatively simple to recreate. Spaghetti O’s on the other hand have been more of a challenge. I had to ponder that one for a while. Even though I have been GF for 4 years, it has probably been 25 years since I had Spaghetti O’s! I have been straining to remember the “unique” (to be kind) flavor of what my sisters and I referred to as “canned stuff.” I remember as a child during summer breaks from school coming indoors from the hot, humid, sticky Ohio mornings, after playing kickball in the street and asking mom, “Can I have some canned stuff for lunch?” Canned stuff meant either Franco American’s Spaghetti O’s or Chef Boyardee’s assorted varieties of pretty much the same thing, just different shaped noodles.
Canned Stuff was like Filet Mignon to a 6 year old. 😀
After a Google search, I found several recipes for homemade Spaghetti O’s, printed one up and with a few GF modifications, here it is (please see my notes after each entry in the original recipe):
GF Spaghetti O’s
3 cans Tomato Soup (I used 2 aseptic cartons of Trader Joe’s Creamy Tomato Soup)
1 can Water (I omitted the water since the TJ’s tomato soup is not condensed)
1 cup Milk (I omitted this too)
1 lb. Small Pasta Rings, Alphabets or Stars (I used Felicia’s GF Ditalini Pasta, which is 100% Rice Pasta)
6 oz. Velveeta Cheese (go slowly, I added 2 oz. at a time and tasted along the way. If you add too much, the tomato soup sauce will thicken as it stands… A LOT, trust me!).
- Cook and drain pasta according to package directions. Mix all ingredients together, heat through until cheese is melted.
I am going to try a different pasta next time; a corn based pasta, La Veneziane Anellini. T he circle shape on this pasta is more like the O shaped pasta from Spaghetti O’s, just smaller. The Felicia brand Ditalini looks more like the tip of a ridged penne pasta that had been cut off. The rice pasta also ended up more chewy/gummy than I like, but I may have overcooked them. The directions didn’t specify a cooking time so I just used the Tinkyada pasta cooking time (16 minutes). If I use this pasta again, I would taste test it after 10 minutes of boiling to check the texture.
A friend of mine who can eat gluten said she thought the taste was pretty spot on, but thought Spaghetti O’s were sweeter than the homemade GF version. I will add something to the recipe next time, maybe some corn syrup (but NOT high fructose!)
As you can see in the photo, I made an attempt at mini meatballs. I followed a recipe that I already have and cut the seasonings in half. The “canned stuff” meatballs that I remember pretty much had zero taste. While the meatballs were good, I wouldn’t call them a GF replica of Spaghetti O’s meatballs so back to the drawing board I go. In the meantime, you can always slice up some hot dogs to throw in!!