Anyone who’s ever tasted freshly made pasta would concur that it is BY FAR tastier than the pre-packed dry ones.
I had always wanted to make pasta at home, and had even borrowed my grandma’s manual pasta maker to give it a shot. It stayed in my cupboard for several months, and I never had the chance to try it. At least not for wheat pasta.
But things changed after I’d been diagnosed with Coeliac: I had to make the switch to gluten-free pasta, and honestly, I wasn’t ready to keep on buying measly ready-made spaghettis that cost more than triple their gluten counterparts. The time had come for me to finally take the plunge into pasta making. And I found out that it is the kind of activity that you can easily do in your own kitchen, as often as your pasta appetite compels you to.
You just need to keep your pasta maker in sight!
Or you may not even need one in the first place: lot of pastas can be made just by using a rolling pin and a knife or a cutter. No wonder pasta was an essential fare way before supermarkets were born…
So yesterday, I needed to put together a quick meal for the family, and had some stripped boiled chicken and chicken stock ready in my fridge, as well as some remaining grated cheese from the previous night’s mexican salad. So I thought I’d prepare a pan of “Poulet aux Nouilles” (haha… I don’t know why this dish has a reversed french name in this country… we’re weird people). It’s basically just chicken and fettuccine which we gratinate in the oven. One of my husband’s favorites, even the gluten-free version (yes, we cook only glutenless food at home – GF for all!).
QUINOA NOUILLES AU POULET
To make any kind of pasta, always follow the basic ratio of 100g of flour + 1 egg / person. Easy.
You can always adjust it during kneading, but it is the safest place to start. You can use a blend of different flours to fine-tune the taste you’re trying to achieve. For this recipe, I went for half-half rice and quinoa flours.
Ingredients for the pasta:
- 150g quinoa flour
- 150g brown rice flour
- 3 eggs
I usually grind my own flour, right when I need it. Using freshly ground grains is substantially more wholesome: it beats ready-made flour both in taste an nutrients (I will write an extensive post about home-milling soon).
Ingredients for the gluten-free sauce:
- An onion
- About 2½ cups of homemade chicken stock
- 3 to 4 tbsp of any of the following (or a mix): precooked rice powder, rice flour, tapioca, or any flour from the GF grain of your choice!
- About a tsp of butter (if you have an issue with butter, you can use oil; I personally decided to avoid the latter)
- Spices to taste (cracked black pepper, white pepper, ground nutmeg, homemade garlic powder)
I threw everything in my blender for about a minute, then heated it up in a small saucepan till it started to thicken. It’s a shortcut for a tasty béchamel when you do not have much time on your hands.
So here’s how it goes:
1. Mix the dough (about 5 min)
2. Let it rest (about 10 min)
3. Roll and cut the dough. It may look complicated to you, but you have to know that it only takes the time you’ll need… to boil the water you’ll cook the pasta in!
4. Prepare the sauce while the pasta’s cooking
5. Bake in the oven for 15-20 min
… et voilà!
You can click on the photos for a better view / slideshow
Using a manual pasta maker is loads of fun. I can’t but highly encourage any fresh pasta lover to invest in one. Mine, which is one of the best italian made machines, costed me as much as… say 8 gluten-free spaghetti packs (20 if you’re going for the regular wheat ones). Definitely worth the investment! If you’re a techie, you may want to have a motorized version (more expensive of course), but I don’t know to what extent you can have control over the rolling and cutting. Also, if you happen to have a stand mixer, a Kitchen Aid for example, you can buy a pasta rolling attachment or ravioli maker.
BUT, as I said before, rolling a cutting pasta can be done without the use of a pasta machine. It would take a bit more time, but once you get a hang of it, it may not be that much time consuming. Fettuccine, which is a very basic pasta type, can be achieved this way:
1. Cut dough to pieces slightly smaller than a tennis ball
2. On a dusted surface (kitchen counter), roll long rectangles about 1.5mm thin, using a regular rolling pin
3. Cut using a roller cutter (what you use to cut a pizza)
You can hang your noodles on anything: clothes hangers, chop sticks, be creative. You can also simply lay them down on a clean kitchen cloth.
I will be writing about 100% manual pasta making in the future, so keep your rolling pins ready. And do get yourself a simple shaker to fill it with flour, it will come in handy in most of your kitchen activities, especially ones that involve dough.