¡Balela, balela!

You guys, I love Costco. I have always kind of loved Costco. When I was a kid, my mom ran a small snack store at my elementary school, and while I don’t think it was as effective a fundraising tool as she’s hoped, my sisters and I had a fabulous time helping to pick out the inventory at Costco. I will admit to an embarrassing affinity for Oberto Beef Sticks, and mom’s snack station was my enabler.

In college, I mostly used my Costco membership to buy toilet paper once a year. And then, through my twenties, Costco and I lost touch. I don’t think there was a Costco in Denver when I lived there…and I didn’t have a car in Boston…by the time I moved to DC, Costco was a distant memory.

And then Sarah entered my life. Sarah brings a Midwestern sensibility to all things, including bulk purchasing, and she offered to add me to her Costco membership even before we started dating. So now I have this rad ladyfriend and access to pounds and pounds of inexpensive quinoa. And giant loaves of gluten-free bread. And a stepladder that only cost $19.99!

Quieres balela conmigo?
¿Quieres balela conmigo?

On our most recent trip to Costco, in addition to the stepladder, I picked up a container of something called Balela. This kind of breaks my unwritten rule of not buying prepared things I could easily make for myself, since it’s basically beans and beans with some spices. But it was 38 ounces! And it was both vegan and gluten free! And I could do so many things with it! Also, balela sounds like an awesome dance that Enrique Iglesias might sing about, or maybe a lady that you met at the beach on vacation!

Except then I got it home and I couldn’t think of a single thing to do with it. I mean…it’s basically just beans and beans.

Last week, I packed it for lunch with some brown rice. The flavor is very similar to tabbouleh, it just needed something more.

Looking promising...
Looking promising…

In lieu of sticking it in a pita, which it was apparently designed for, I needed to come up with my own serving suggestion. So here we go: balela with sauteed zucchini and Barilla gluten free noodles – sort of a Mediterranean pasta salad. I wish I had some olives or capers to add, but this seems way more interesting than last week’s beans and beans and rice combo, right?

Also, have you tried Barilla’s gluten free pasta? I’d sort of missed them, since my neighborhood supermarket keeps the “special” gluten free brands in the natural foods part of the store and the gluten free versions of mainstream brands in another. Sidenote: these are often waaaaaaay cheaper than what you find in the natural foods section, which is annoying. I was paying close to $5 for gluten free oatmeal packets until I found Chex brand gluten free oatmeal in the cereal aisle. For $1.99.

Anyway, my ladyfriend’s sister bought Barilla pasta for me when we were in Florida over the holidays, and it’s definitely the best gf pasta we’ve tried. We don’t have to make two different batches of pasta when we cook together anymore, which makes life way easier. I don’t think Barilla’s gf is significantly less expensive than the other gf brands I’ve tried, but I’ve gone through three boxes of this, while at least four unfinished packages of other gf pasta collects dust in my pantry, so I guess I’m a convert.


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