Thursday, March 8, 2012

Fresh Gluten-Free Pasta

Today I made lunch for 30 young airmen who just arrived on base here in England. Homemade basil and cheese lasagna, mixed greens with Caesar dressing, fresh garlic bread, and double chocolate brownies. The ultimate in comfort food lunches.

Unfortunately, it wasn't the immense amount of prepping, cooking, serving and cleaning up that kept me from enjoying it with them. It was the wheat.

So what's a newly gluten-free gal to do when it's time for lasagna and she can't find gf pasta in the health food section of the local market? Make my own. Sure, you can buy gluten-free lasagna noodles online. But where's the fun in that? Plus, I'll be honest, I kinda just wanted to prove it could be done.

Yields enough pasta sheets for one 9x13 pan of lasagna 

2 cups gluten-free flour blend (I use rice, potato and tapioca), plus more for dusting
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
2 teaspoons xanthan gum
2 medium eggs
2 medium egg whites
cold water

Sift the dry ingredients together in a small mixing bowl. Make a well in the center and add the eggs, egg whites and about two tablespoons of water. With a fork, whisk together the eggs slowly incorporating more and more of the flour. Continue mixing and adding water a tablespoon at a time until you have a cohesive dough. You will have to get your hands in to fully incorporate all of the ingredients. Ultimately, you're looking for a fairly soft dough, similar to stiff play dough, but much softer than a regular fresh pasta dough.

Place the dough on a floured surface and shape into eight small balls. Roll each in flour and flatten into oblong discs. Because the dough lacks the wonderful elasticity gluten provides, it will not respond well to being stretched by a pasta maker.

Set up your pasta maker on a clean, dry and floured work surface. Make sure you've "cleaned" the machine first by running a gluten-free piece of dough through several times to remove any residue.

Run the first piece of dough through the machine on its widest setting. Fold lengthwise and repeat. You may have to flatten the dough more with your hands before running it through the machine. Adjust the pasta maker settings to produce a thinner and thinner sheet until you are satisfied with the results. Place the finished pasta on a floured surface and dust the top of it with flour.

Allow to rest until you're reading to assemble your lasagna. I do not recommend making linguine or spaghetti this way for two reasons 1) the dough is extremely temperamental and 2) most markets have a lovely selection of gluten-free versions of these pastas.

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