I’ve missed Gnocchi big time. Pasta was never a great love of mine, but gnocchi and I had a thing going on. Besides bread, it is my most mourned food since going gluten free years ago. Honestly, I’ve not yet been ambitious enough to try to hand at homemade gluten-free gnocchi but finally found a crazy delicious packaged rice and potato gnocchi made by CoraBella. This isn’t a sponsored post, just one gluten-free chica helping another out! I’ve used them boiled, bake and pan fried and have never been disappointed.

This is one of my toddler’s favorite dishes. She says gnocchi are “fluffy ‘ronis (as in macaroni)” and I totally agree. She houses the broccolini as well and I think she’d be just fine licking the pesto “sucker” style from a spoon. It’s rich and nutty with a different texture than traditional pesto and keeps in the fridge well. I throw it on everything from eggs to sandwiches to grilled corn! You can’t go wrong!

Roasted broccolini on a yellow plate

gluten-free gnocci with broccolini and pecan pesto


  • 2+ cups fresh basil, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup pecans
  • 1/4 cup parmigiano reggiano
  • 1/3+ cup extra virgin olive oil, enough to reach desired consistency
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoons salt

~ Blitz all ingredients in blender until smooth. Add oil until desired consistency is reached. Jar and refrigerate. This keeps well in the fridge.

  • 1 pound broccolini, washed and cut
  • oil olive to toss
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 package gluten-free gnocchi, boiled per directions
  • fresh parmigiano reggiano, shaved
  • 2 or so Tablespoons Pecan Pesto

~ Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spread broccolini on baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Toss to coat then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast 10 minutes or so until desired doneness is reached.

~ Boil gnocchi per package directions. Strain and return to pot.

~ Toss gnocchi with Pecan Pesto. Add roasted broccolini and toss well to coat. Add more pesto if necessary. Plate and top each dish with shaved parmigiano reggiano.


gluten-free gnocci with broccolini and pecan pesto













When Molly was up for showing me how she makes homemade lasagna noodles rolled entirely by hand I was pumped. I can’t eat them but, man was I happy to shoot her making these beauties (and housing all the layers between noodles)! This lasagna was a BIG hit in our houses. It’s chock full of flavorful vegetables and the perfect satisfying dish for any meatless Monday (or wednesday, or thursday…). I actually think I like it better than it’s meaty cousin. GASP! Shhhh don’t tell, snitches get stitches!

Molly’s artisanal noodle making was so very beautiful to shoot that I’ve included more images than usual to take ya’ll on the “maker’s” journey with us. Kick back and enjoy because there’s plenty of work to come when you make and roll your own lasagna noodles the old-fashioned way;) You can do it! Let’s see those muscles!

Woman cracking an egg into a pile of flour to make pasta.

Woman cracking an egg into a pile of flour to make pasta.

Woman kneading dough to make pasta.

Woman pulling and flipped fresh rolled pasta dough.

Woman cutting freahly made lasagna noodles.

Sauteed pan of vegetables including squashes, onion and tomatoes.

Woman assembling a vegetable lasagna with homemade noodles.

Woman assembling a vegetable lasagna with homemade noodles.

Woman assembling a vegetable lasagna with homemade noodles.

Woman spooning vegetable sauce.

Woman assembling a vegetable lasagna with homemade noodles.

  • 3 c.+ All purpose flour
  • 4 Eggs
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 1 tbsp of warm water
~ Form a volcano shape with the flour and sprinkle with a pinch of salt.
~ Crack eggs into the well of the flour.
~ Using a fork begin to beat the eggs and slowly draw in the flour the combine. As the dough starts to come together, use your hands to knead. Add warm water or more flour to get a tacky, yet firm consistency.
~ Let the dough rest for 1 hour. Divide dough into 4 equal parts. Using a rolling pin roll (or a pasta maker if you have one!) out each ball like your life depends on! Roll the dough to approximately 1/8 of an inch or thinner.
~ Use a paring knife to cut each sheet into 3-4 inch strips. Each sheet will yield 3-4 strips. Lay the strips out flat to dry while make the ragu and herbed cheese fillings.
  • 1 28oz can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 14 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 Yellow Squash
  • 1 Green Zucchini
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper
  • 1 Yellow Bell Pepper
  • 1 Large Yellow Onion
  • 1/4 c. chopped fresh herbs (we used Basil, Thyme, and Rosemary)
  • 1/4 c. light dry red wine (we used Pinot Noir)
  • 1/4 c. grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 tsp. minced garlic
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
Chop all of the fresh veggies into bite size pieces. For the squash and zucchini quarter then slice.
~ Heat olive oil to a large skillet at medium heat. combine squash, zucchini, peppers, and onion to skillet. Saute for 5-7 minutes until all of the veggies begin to soften.
~ Add garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.
~ Add in tomatoes and red wine. Let the mixture cook down stirring occasionally to break up whole tomatoes. Season with parmesan cheese and salt and pepper to taste. Allow the mixture to simmer for approximately 30 minutes. Turn off the heat and let stand for another 30 minutes.
  • 1 container whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 c. Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 c. chopped fresh herbs (we used Basil, Thyme, and Rosemary)
  • Fresh ground pepper
Combine all ingredients and stir well add more pepper and herbs to your liking.
Layering and baking: 
~ Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
~ Use an 11X13 baking dish to layer the lasagna in. Coat the bottom of the pan with the veggie mixture and then lay down the first layer of pasta. Add a thicker layer of the veggie mixture on top of the pasta and then dot with tsp. size spoonfuls of the HERBED cheese mixture. Layer again with pasta and repeat. You should have enough pasta and filling for four layers.
~ After the last layer of pasta, add the last of the veggies and cheese plus shredded bits of mozzarella cheese, more herbs, and pepper. Bake for 35-45 minutes until the cheese is bubbly and lightly golden! Let it cool for 10-15 minutes for serving. Voila : )
 Homemade vegetable lasagna with handmade noodles.

I have an undying love for good meatballs! For so long I went without meatballs because I couldn’t concoct a gluten-free recipe that had the soft juiciness of a real meatball. Omitting bread completely made a cheesy but super firm literal ball of only meat. Meh. The gluten-free sandwich bread I use in this recipe is fantastic! It’s from Trader Joe’s and contains all kinds of ancient grains as well like teff. It has a killer texture, just perfect. This recipe would also be wonderful with plain, old gluten-y bread so everyone wins!!

I also learned that toddlers LOVE meatballs! I promptly made a double batch and froze them after the searing process. Ya know we’re always in need of more quick, real meals especially now with a kiddo to feed!

Copyright Crystal Cartier all rights reserved 2016

  • 1 cup of your favorite gluten-free sliced bread, torn into small pieces with no crust
  • 1/2 cup grated onion (use that food processor if you can!)
  • 1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon smashed garlic (~2 cloves)
  • 1/3 cup parmesan, shredded
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 egg
  • 16 ounces ground beef (80/20) or 13 ounces beef and 3 ounces pork
  • olive oil, enough to sear meatballs
  • jar of your favorite pasta sauce
  • fresh basil

~ Mix torn bread and grated onion in a bowl, combining well so that the bread becomes saturated with the juices from the onion.

~ Combine next 6 ingredients and mix well. Then add meat and combine well once more.

~ Roll them into consistently sized balls, taking care not to roll too tightly.

~ Heat oil in a frying pan over medium heat, brown meatballs on all sides OR place on a foil lined cookie sheet sprayed with cooking spray and bake uncovered in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes.

~ Place meatballs in a large sauce pan and cover them with sauce. Simmer meatballs in sauce until completely cooked through, usually about 10-15 minutes.

~ Serve with, of course, more cheese over pasta, Garnish with basil.



Hi guys!

I don’t know about you, but as the days get longer I find myself working later and later. All that sunshine keeps me going until dusk! Unfortunately that means it’s pretty late by the time I wind down and think about dinner. It’s a busy life and we all need a few basic recipes as start points for a quick, easy, and moderately healthy dinner and this pasta recipe is one of my “tried and trues”. Sometimes I throw in some halved cherry tomatoes or sauteed squash, or broccoli….you get the idea;) It’s easy and filling without being too heavy for summer. Not to mention it’s a great vehicle for random garden veggies and any herbs you have floating around!

Personally I love this dish for its use of spring peas. Yum!

Copyright Crystal Cartier 2012 all rights reserved

Copyright Crystal Cartier 2012 all rights reserved

  • 2-3 strips uncured bacon, chopped
  • 10 ounces fresh spring peas
  • 1 pound pasta (I recommend fresh tortellini, spinach stuffed tortellini sing in this dish!)
  • 1 package crimini mushrooms, sliced
  • smashed garlic
  • rosemary infused extra virgin olive oil
  • fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • shaved parmesan
  • salt and pepper

~ Cook pasta per package directions and strain.

~ In a large sauce pan, boil water and blanch spring peas for 2-3 minutes. Strain.

~ Cook chopped bacon until crispy, remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a plate of paper towels.

~ Reserve about 1 tablespoon of the bacon fat in the pan, add garlic and saute sliced mushrooms.

~ In a large bowl, toss pasta with cooked peas, mushrooms, chopped basil, bacon, and parmesan. Drizzle with rosemary infused olive oil and toss again. Salt and pepper to taste.


Copyright Crystal Cartier 2012 all rights reserved

Copyright Crystal Cartier 2012 all rights reserved


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mahi mahi pasta salad crystal cartier los angeles fod photographer

This week’s post is a salute to leftovers. I’m not big on eating yesterday’s meal again, especially when meat is involved, but today we’ll do a cold lunch from a hot dinner. Cold pasta salad is a great way to finish up cooked meats that don’t reheat so well. The last post on Mahi Mahi yielded a considerable amount of delicious, moist fish. Today we’ll make leftovers new with pasta, herbs and even fruit!

Ingredients: penne pasta, fresh fennel bulb with fronds, lemon zest, and fuji apples

  • fill a large bowl with water and squeeze lemon juice in the water
  • slice 1 fuji apple and submerge slices in lemon water to keep them from browning
  • pluck some fronds from the fennel and set aside
  • slice fennel bulb into bite sized pieces
  • zest a lemon
  • toss cooked penne pasta with 2 tablespoons olive oil and the juice from 1 lemon until coated
  • fold in chunks of cooked mahi mahi, apple slices, and chopped fennel bulb
  • garnish with lemon zest and fennel fronds

It’s a gorgeous, healthy and hearty dish! Enjoy!

penne pasta crystal cartier los angeles fod photographer

apples crystal cartier los angeles fod photographer

mahi mahi pasta salad crystal cartier los angeles fod photographer

food photographer, food photography, los angeles, crystal cartier


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