Violets and Amaranth

Eating weeds and gaining grains: an adventure in eating


Pasta! a new and wild fronteer

Almost everyone I know likes pasta.  Some people I know are down right picky about pasta.  I even have a friend of Italian ancestry for whom I will never cook pasta, or risotto, or anything Italian.  I know it will never be right, so I make other genres of food for him and his family.

If you or someone you know is gluten-free, the topic of pasta has probably come up once or twice.  You can buy gluten-free pasta, but that breaks down into 3 categories:

1) Rice Pasta: as you may have noticed, I’m not a fan of rice flour… yet.  I’m sure it has a good purpose and I will discover it!  Rice pasta is mushy.  It has a poor texture, and does not reheat well.  It really falls apart.  Rice pasta is a different texture than Asian rice noodles (which are an acceptable use of rice flour in my world ;-).  But, if you’ve ever tried to use Asian rice noodles as spaghetti noodles, you know it just isn’t the same thing.

2) Corn Pasta: this has become our saving grace in the noodle world.  It has a good texture, cooks in about the same time as wheat pasta, and I think it reheats well.  The Geographer, on the other hand, does not care for them reheated, and he is the gluten-free person in our home, so that opinion counts.  Other drawbacks include that it is really hard to find; only one grocery near us carries it, and they cost about $3.50 for 12 ounces of pasta (yikes!).

3) A Corn/Rice combo:  This is by far the best option out there from a texture perspective.  The noodles end up almost exactly like traditional wheat noodles and reheat very well.  But, like corn pasta, they are hard to find, and cost even more at $4.00/ 12 oz box.  On the upside, they come in more shapes than corn pasta.

So what are we to do?  Ration out the pasta meals?  Not likely.  The Geographer tells me regularly that I could serve spaghetti every day and he wouldn’t get tired of it.  Before going gluten-free mac and cheese was a regular feature of weekend lunches in our house.  It seems like its time for me to experiment with making my own!

In mid-January I actually made pasta, and it was edible, in fact, it was quite good.  I found the recipe in Bette Hagman’s Gluten-Free Gourmet.  She offers 2 recipes for pasta, and I opted for the Bean Flour Pasta.  We’ve had such good luck with bean flour, it seemed as good a place as any to start.  She also wrote that she had made those noodles without egg, another bonus for me.

Bette Hagman’s Bean Flour Pasta

As I formed the ball, I added in cornstarch until the dough won’t take any more and the dough is firm and dry.

I put the dough on a cutting board and tried to roll it as thin as possible.  This step was especially hard for me.  I’m rarely able to roll a dough very thin, and this dough definitely could have rolled more thinly if I had more oomph behind my technique.  I then tried to slice it into strips and shape it.  It sliced easily. My son even helped me make fun shapes, like bow ties.

The past can be cooked immediately, or it can be frozen uncooked, although I haven’t tried freezing the dough yet.  We cooked the noodles as we would any pasta noodle using boiling salted water.  The recipe says it will take 5-7 minutes to cook.  If you have supper-thick noodles like I did, it will take more like 20 minutes to a half hour.  Our noodles weren’t perfect, and the thickness was the main problem.  They did taste great though, and they reheated perfectly the next day.

Cooked, but thick noodles

The finished product

Now that I’ve jumped over the hurdle of homemade noodles, I can’t wait to experiment more.  I want to try the other noodle recipe in The Gluten-Free Gourmet.  I also can’t wait to get a noodle press.  I haven’t tried making noodles again, and it is in large part due to lack of a noodle press.  Besides, with the right attachment, I could then make ravioli.  Something the Geographer never gets to have and a dish I miss.  Nothing beats stuffed noodles.  I look forward to sharing that adventure with you!

4/2/11: Updated to make this post more compliant with copyright law.  Thanks!

1/26/12: Made some spelling updates