When you find out you cannot eat gluten, one of the first foods you worry about living without is pasta. There’s a certain mourning involved, imagining a trip to Italy without a mound of fresh fettuccine.
Guess what? The Italians make great gluten-free pasta, since many of their citizens have celiac sprue. You can buy a package of gluten-free pasta at the farmacia and take it to the best restaurant in town, where they will make the pasta of the day for you.
When we first started making pasta, we tried our favorite gluten pasta recipes with gluten-free flours, without much success. It took us about fifteen different recipes and wranglings with flour combinations before we figured out the right ratio of flours to liquids. Now, at least once a week, when we want a quick meal, we pull out flours and make homemade pasta.
2/3 cup (70 grams/2.5 ounces) corn flour*
1/2 cup (70 grams/2.5 ounces) quinoa flour
1/2 cup (60 grams/2.125 ounce) potato starch
2 teaspoons xanthan gum
1 teaspoon guar gum
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 large eggs
4 egg yolks from large eggs
Sift the corn flour, quinoa flour, and potato starch into a large bowl. Add the xanthan gum, guar gum, and salt and stir. Sift the entire mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer.
Put the eggs and egg yolks into the bowl of dry ingredients. Run the stand mixer on medium speed with a paddle attachment until the dough feels fully formed, about 3 minutes. The final dough should feel firm yet still pliable, a little like play dough.
If you are using a pasta machine, cut the ball of dough into quarters and roll out each piece of dough to about a 1/2-inch thickness. We like to roll out each piece between 2 pieces of parchment paper. Lightly flour both sides of the dough with a bit more potato starch. Run the dough through the machine, increasing the setting each time, until the dough is paper-thin and long. If the pasta sheet starts to break, it is thin enough.
If you are making the dough by hand, we suggest you cut the ball of dough into 8 pieces, and then cut each of those pieces in half, so they are about the size of golf balls. Roll out each piece of dough as thin as you possibly can.
For fettuccine, use the fettuccine setting on the pasta machine. If you are cutting the dough by hand, you want ribbons of pasta, about 1/4-inch wide. For spaghetti, use the spaghetti setting on the pasta machine. If you are cutting the dough by hand, you want thin strings of pasta.
For ravioli, cut the rolled-out pasta into 2-inch-square pieces. Dollop the filling in the middle of a square of pasta. Brush the edges of the pasta with an egg wash. Place another pasta square on top and press down, crimping the edges. (Having a ravioli cutter on hand helps with this process.)
For lasagna, leave the pasta in long sheets.
To cook the pasta, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Put the pasta shape of your choice into the boiling water. When the pasta rises to the surface, take a little piece and taste it. You should be able to bite into it without it falling apart. (With gluten-free pasta, it’s a fine line. One moment it’s al dente, and the next it’s one big ball of mush, so watch the pot.) Cooking times will vary for the different shapes. Fettuccine generally takes 4 to 5 minutes, spaghetti 3–4 minutes. Ravioli takes a little longer, about 5–6 minutes. The cooking times will differ in each kitchen, depending on how thin you were able to roll out the dough. Let your taste be the judge.
*Note: You have some wiggle room with different flours here. Tapioca flour works as a replacement for the potato starch, as does cornstarch. You might try sorghum or brown rice if you cannot eat corn. However, be sure to substitute by weight instead of volume.