Raising kids can be much more fun when you all love doing most things together. Kitchen time is never dreaded, as they always love to come help and beg for some of the kitchen goodness. Just as my kids love teriyaki chicken, they also love to ask for a scoop of roasted vermicelli noodles each time we make the Lebanese vermicelli rice recipe.
The Lebanese vermicelli noodles are worth every bit of effort put into them, as they have that great aroma and nutty flavor, which I take to a different dimension with my choice of spice, but is it gluten-free? In this expository, we will explore Lebanese vermicelli rice gluten status and possible health risks, and we will also provide you with a gluten-free recipe that you will fall in love with.
Gluten: Why is it a concern?
Gluten is a storage protein found in grains like barley, wheat, and rye. It is responsible for the elastic texture in dough and the chewy texture in bread, and it is also the reason why baked goods like bread, cakes, and donuts maintain their shape. Just think about it as a natural binder and texturizer.
But for celiacs or people with non-celiac gluten sensitivity, consuming a gluten-contained food can lead to symptoms that are not pleasant at all, such as digestive issues, brain fog, fatigue, IBS, and more. If you’re unsure about your gluten intolerance status, you can check out this checklist.
This is why it is essential to steer clear of any food or snack that contains gluten for a celiac or gluten-sensitive person. This will not only help reverse the damage already done, but it will also prevent unwanted symptoms.
What is Lebanese vermicelli rice?
You can’t talk about five foods in Lebanon without mentioning the Lebanese vermicelli rice. It is popular, cherished, and known for its distinctive aroma and delicate flavors. This dish is basically made with rice, vermicelli noodles, salt, and butter.
The rice used for this delicacy is a long-grain variety such as basmati or jasmine, which I prefer for its floral notes and nutty aroma. Since the Lebanese vermicelli rice isn’t meant to be sticky, the rice is thoroughly washed to eliminate excessive starch, ensuring it cooks evenly and doesn’t become too sticky. This meticulous process is very important to achieve the light, separate grain character of Lebanese vermicelli rice.
As for the noodle component, thin, short strands of pasta, such as vermicelli noodles, are used. These vermicelli noodles are toasted in butter or oil (but hey, never allow your noodles to be toasted in oil, as the butter gives the whole dish a texture and flavor that you’ll always crave). This process of toasting enriches the nutty flavor of the vermicelli, which impacts the entire dish.
Traditionally, the vermicelli is sauteed in butter until it becomes golden brown, ushering in a flavor base for the rice. Then the rice is added to the already toasted vermicelli, and they are both cooked together, during which the rice absorbs the essence of the vermicelli noodles.
In most cases, spices like cumin, bay leaves, and cinnamon are added to enhance the complexity of the dish. I most often use the versatile Lebanese vermicelli rice as a side, accompanying stews, grilled meats, or my most cherished vegetable dishes.
Is Lebanese vermicelli rice gluten free?
Traditional Lebanese vermicelli rice is not gluten-free. While the rice and other spices are usually free from gluten, the vermicelli noodles used in this dish are derived from wheat, making it not gluten-free.
For wheat-based vermicelli noodles, gluten helps to retain moisture, acts as a binding agent, contributes to the chewy, firm texture, and also aids the noodles to rise and expand by trapping carbon dioxide produced during leavening or fermentation.
However, there are lots of alternatives to the traditional wheat-based vermicelli noodles. These alternatives are derived from corn flour, rice flour, or a combination of both. If you are eating at a restaurant, enquire about the noodles used and if they used the same utensils for gluten-contained food and gluten-uncontained foods (as this could lead to cross-contamination).
Alternatively, it is best to make this delicacy yourself as you decide what is used or not, and I have an awesome easy-to-follow gluten-free Lebanese vermicelli rice recipe in the later part of this article.
Is Lebanese Vermicelli Rice Healthy?
Unfortunately, Lebanese vermicelli rice is not healthy as a staple in your diet. Toasting vermicelli in oil or butter helps enhance its taste, but it also increases the calories and saturated fat content. Excessive consumption of saturated fat could lead to an increase in cholesterol levels and an increased risk of heart disease.
The healthy status of this meal can be enhanced by using whole grain rice whose bran and germ have not been extracted, like brown basmati rice or whole grain jasmine rice, which is a great source of dietary fiber, protein, B vitamins, and minerals like phosphorus, magnesium, and selenium, which contribute to your overall health.
Brands that offer gluten-free vermicelli noodles
These are the noodles I use instead of wheat-contained vermicelli noodles, and they work just fine.
- TANISA Organic Rice Vermicelli Noodles.
- Chang’s Rice Noodle Vermicelli.
- Recheis Gluten-Free Short Vermicelli.
- King Soba Organic Vermicelli Noodles
Thai Kitchen Gluten-Free Thin Rice Noodles
Does Lebanese vermicelli rice contain gluten? Final Thoughts
Lebanese vermicelli rice does contain gluten, as the vermicelli noodles used in this recipe are made from wheat. However, there are other alternatives that you could use instead, such as vermicelli noodles made from rice flour, corn flour, or both.
Being on a restricted diet doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy this delicious Lebanese meal; you only have to make use of gluten-free alternatives that will taste just as good (if not better).