Welcome to the next installment of Gluten Free Substitutions! How are all of your gluten free cooking & baking efforts going? In case you missed last week, I am currently accepting submissions for a roundup of everyone’s gluten free kitchen experiences, the good and the bad! Just remember only a few weeks left to email me (jenncuisine at gmail dot com) your submissions to be featured in the big roundup!
This week I want to talk to you about making pasta. Making pasta from scratch at first sounds like a daunting project, but really it’s not, and the results are more than rewarding. It can be complicated like a stuffed ravioli (because I always choose complicated first), or simplistic, adorned with a basic sauce with rich flavors. Trust me, once you try fresh pasta, you’ll be trying to make time for it every day!
Luckily, for those of us that are time-pressed, making pasta by hand is not a necessity on a gluten free diet, thanks to the numerous options of ready-made pasta available to buy. In fact, if you never wanted to make pasta by hand, you could definitely get away with it. Afterall, quality store-bought GF pasta can still turn into an awesome lasagna, or even a classy mac & cheese:
And there is nothing wrong with living in store-bought pasta land. I use boxed GF pasta at least a couple of times a week, and have no problem admitting it. It’s one of the easiest one-ingredient substitutions one can make to turn a meal into gluten free goodness. But if you have the time for just a little effort, it’s worth it to make fresh pasta by hand. It doesn’t have to be incredibly tedious, it just takes a little time. If you are new to making fresh pastas, I might suggest some ricotta gnocchi, which only require a dusting of any generic GF flour, and are light and fluffy – more of a dumpling than a pasta really, but paired with a fresh pesto and some butter, it becomes a delectably rich “pasta” dish.
The first gluten free homemade pasta I ever made was not an easy pasta though. I chose to do a stuffed pasta. I took a guess at the flour mix and just went for it. Now I wasn’t a complete novice at making homemade pasta before (what am I talking about? of course I was a novice! I’d only done it twice in my life before attempting GF ravioli, ha!), but I had a bit of an idea of what to look for. The toughest part by far was keeping the dough from drying out, surprise surprise. But I got it all together and it worked, instantly becoming a family favorite.
I learned the next time to portion out the dough into smaller sections, keeping each one wrapped tightly – only rolling out, cutting and stuffing a little bit at a time. An assembly-line process worked really well – I could roll it out while my husband worked on cutting them, and then along with my sister-in-law we all worked on stuffing and sealing them quickly, this time making tortellini (and getting a little better with my camera):
And now I regret starting my GF homemade pasta experience with a complicated stuffed pasta. Not because it was super challenging or didn’t come out well (because it did!), but because I remembered all of the work that went into making the filling, then the dough, then cutting the rounds, then filling and sealing them… and I no longer became motivated to make simple pasta.
Last week, I was watching some random cooking reality contest tv-show and the challenge was to make a pasta dish in under an hour. I decided, “Hey, I can do that!” and made some myself. Using just an all-purpose flour blend, eggs, and a little bit of salt, I made some fettuccine sized pasta that cooked great, and incorporated a quick creamy mushroom sauce on top (if you haven’t noticed, I have a thing for mushrooms on pasta). I’m so glad I did, because I taught myself a very valuable lesson – homemade pasta doesn’t have to be complicated, and it doesn’t have to take forever. It does take a little practice to get the right “feel” for the dough, but it’s not impossible, and you definitely shouldn’t feel intimidated by it! Oh and the taste of fresh pasta…. boxed pasta can be great….but fresh? Well it just doesn’t compare!
Tips for Homemade Gluten Free Pasta –
- Let dough rest before working with it. Keep it wrapped in plastic wrap so it doesn’t dry out.
- GF dough, as always, is a bit more fragile, so be gentle, especially with hanging & drying.
I tend to lay flat rather than hang.
- To help keep it moist while rolling, only work with a section of the dough at a time.
- If stuffing pasta, a finger lightly dipped in water can help to seal the edges.
- Typically one needs a bit more eggs than the normal (2 c. flour : 3 eggs) ratio.
Don’t try to force more flour in than the dough will hold.
- Parchment paper is always your friend.
- My best experiences have been with rather starchy flour mixes (50% or more).
- Be creative!
Also linked to – Gluten Free Wednesdays
Have you tried homemade GF pasta before? How did it come out? Any unexpected challenges or bits of sage wisdom for success?