Fussellette has recently discovered that she is a celiac and can no longer digest wheat gluten. So now when we have her for dinner we have to take that into account, and can no longer offer the very dough-heavy meals that are traditional favourites for our Newfoundland friends.
Friday here in St. John’s was a snow day. The whole city, including the court systems, the municipal and provincial governments, were shut down due to a sudden snow squall. Fussellette decided to brave the winter weather, however, and made it to our house for dinner. In honour of the weather, I decided on some form of comfort food, and in my mind that usually equals pasta. For Fussellette, that means gluten-free pasta. This recipe makes enough for four servings.
Fortunately Sobeys has a large selection of gluten-free flours to choose from. Just remember, however, when you’re baking with gluten-free flour, such as a rice flour, you still need a thickener, such as a starch, and a binding agent to replace the gluten. Usually the binding agent is something called xanthan gum.
So to make this pasta, I had to do some mixing.
In a bowl, mix 1 1/3 cup brown rice flour, 2/3 cup arrowroot starch, 1 teaspoon xanthan gum, and 1 teaspoon fine sea salt. Whisk that together thoroughly.
In a smaller bowl, whisk together 2 large eggs and 2 large egg yolks. Save the whites for an omlette or meringue or something. Add in 2 tablespoons olive oil and 2 tablespoons water and mix again until it’s fully combined.
Now comes the fun part. You can simply pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredient bowl and stir, or you can do it on the counter in the old fashioned way. Dump the dry stuff carefully out on your work surface. Using a scraper, make a deep well in the centre.
Carefully pour in the egg mixture.
Using the scraper again, and your hands, start mixing the flour into the egg. Work quickly, or your egg may form a river that will wind its way off your counter top. The scraper, I found, is handy for cutting through the dough to make sure it mixes properly.
It should be cohesive but not tacky. Feel free to add more flour or water if you’re not getting the right consistency. Form the finished dough into a long cylinder and cut it into four sections.
Flatten those sections, wrap them tightly in plastic, and refrigerate them until you’re ready to make pasta.
You have a few options in how to make your pasta. You could roll it out by hand and then cut it into long strips, but there is so much room for error in that, especially if you are working with a gluten-free pasta that barely sticks together on its own.
I opted to use a pasta maker. This one here seems to be the standard one. My parents own the same one so I know how to use it. Most people who have a pasta maker own this one. You can find them pretty cheap in second-hand stores. I guess people get them as wedding presents and then never use them. That’s where this one came from, and it had never been used before we busted it out.
So we used our awesome machine to thin out and cut our pasta into linguini. We were originally going to go with spaghetti but we were concerned the pasta wouldn’t hold together all that well if it were smaller. I recommend using two people to operate a pasta maker. It may be awkward trying to figure out whose arms go where, but it’s handy to have one person operate the crank while the other feeds the dough through the machine and pulls it out the bottom to prevent tangling.
We laid the cut pasta out for a few hours to dry a bit, just to make sure it wouldn’t completely dissolve when we cooked it.
To cook, add a pinch of salt and a few drops of olive oil to your water before you boil it.
Fussellette said that this pasta was better than the stuff she finds at the store, because once the gluten-free pasta is dried it is hard to cook it all the way through and she says it’s often chewy on the inside. Because this stuff is fresh it takes only about 6 minutes to cook and you know it will be nice and tender throughout.
Stay tuned on Wednesday to see what we did with it!