Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Gluten-Free, Paleo Fresh Pasta


Since going gluten-free five years ago, I've missed the taste of fresh pasta, its perfect texture readily absorbing the flavors of heirloom tomato sauce, roasted garlic alfredo, or carbonara. After several unsuccessful attempts to make gluten-free pasta at home, I finally admitted defeat and sold my pasta machine. When I went paleo about three years ago, pasta of any sort became a distant memory. 

Recently I tried Cappello's gluten-free, grain-free pasta, and instantly fell in love with the tender, chewy texture. I did not fall in love with the price. At $11 a pop, it was a splurge - certainly not something I could put on our weekly menu. That was a bummer, because with Rich being pescatarian and me paleo, it's tough to find healthy meals that satisfy both of our dietary preferences without resorting to salmon every night.

I am thrilled to say, that is about to change. Pasta is back on the menu!

I created a gluten-free paleo pasta recipe that is easy to work with and tastes amazing. The ingredients are similar to Cappello's, but theirs is made "primarily with almond flour and cage-free eggs" according to their website whereas mine has a more traditional ratio of flours to eggs, with nearly equal parts tapioca starch and almond flour.

It make delicious lasagna noodles, fettucine, and ravioli. I've already made this recipe three times, including a Roasted Butternut Squash Ravioli with Ghee, Sage, and Toasted Oregon Hazelnuts (recipe to come).


You can make this recipe with a rolling pin and parchment paper. That is what I did to test the recipe before investing in another pasta maker (this is my third). The simple machine makes the task easier and yields a thinner noodle that holds up better to cooking. I bought mine at World Market for less than $40.

Tips for Making Homemade Gluten-Free Pasta:

  • Humidity affects the dough. If you're making it on a rainy day or you live in an environment with high humidity, you may need to add just a touch more tapioca flour. 
  • Unlike pasta dough made with gluten, this dough does not tolerate stretching. It should not be draped over a dowel to dry and should be carefully hand-fed into the pasta maker. Actually, this reality makes working with the dough using a rolling pin easier. 
  • Be patient. The first time you make the dough, you may find it temperamental. Make sure you have enough time and energy to focus. (Definitely don't drag out your SLR camera on the first try!)  

Gluten-Free, Paleo Fresh Pasta Recipe

Yields 2 servings

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons tapioca starch (50 grams), plus more for dusting 
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons almond flour (45 grams)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon guar gum
1 large egg

1. Mix the tapioca starch, almond flour, sea salt, and guar gum in a small mixing bowl.

2. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the egg. Use a spatula to stir it around, slowly incorporating the flours until the dough comes together into a ball. Place the dough onto a sheet of parchment paper and dust lightly with tapioca starch.


 3. Divide the dough into four to six pieces and cover all but one with a towel or plastic so that they do not dry out. Flatten one of the dough pieces with your hand or a rolling pin until it is about 1/4-inch thick.

4. Set the pasta maker to the first setting, #1, which is the widest. Run the dough through the machine twice. If it tears, fold it back onto itself and run it through again. If it sticks, dust lightly with tapioca starch.

5. Set the pasta maker to the next setting, #2, and run the pasta dough through it twice. Reduce the setting again to #3 and run the dough through twice. You can stop at this setting for a slightly thicker noodle, or drop the setting to #4 and run it through twice more. That is the setting I used in the photographs here.



6. Dust the pasta sheet with tapioca starch. This will help prevent the noodles from sticking to one another once they are cut. 

7. Attach the fettucine attachment to the pasta maker and re-attach the hand crank to the attachment. Carefully feed the flattened dough through to cut the sheet into individual noodles.


8. Lay the pasta onto the parchment sheet and allow to rest while you repeat steps 4 through 7 with the remaining dough. Be careful not to incorporate too much tapioca starch into the dough as you process it.


9. Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Carefully slide the noodles from the parchment paper into the boiling water and quickly stir with a pasta spoon. Set a timer for 90 seconds. Stir once or twice if the noodles are sticking to one another or to the bottom of the pot.

10. Drain in a colander and transfer the noodles to the sauce or serving dish.

 

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Chewy Vegan Gluten-Free Brownies


Last night after a full day of surfing and our weekly family grill night, Rich said he was craving brownies. I love having a stocked pantry that allows me to whip up whatever sounds yummy at the moment. Good quality cocoa powder is a must. My favorite is Equal Exchange Baking Cocoa, which is fair trade and has such a profound impact on all of my baked goods. A baking cupboard full of gluten-free flours is helpful, too.

The foundation for this recipe came from my much loved (and smeared with lots of chocolate) copy of Babycakes by Erin McKenna. However, I changed the recipe substantially, skipping the applesauce, chocolate chips, and xanthan gum. I also used palm shortening instead of coconut oil and used brown sugar in place of white sugar because the complexity of brown sugar complements chocolate so beautifully, which I learned about 10 years ago from Nigella Lawson in How to Be a Domestic Goddess.

These brownies are crispy on the edges and decadently chewy on the inside. We ate them straight out of the pan while they were still so hot they burned our mouths and crumbled everywhere. Hey, surfing burns a lot of calories. We were hungry! They are even better once they cool off a bit.

Yields 15 small squares 
1 cup garbanzo (chickpea) flour
1/4 cup potato starch
2 tablespoons tapioca flour
1/2 cup good quality cocoa powder
3/4 cup brown sugar* or coconut palm sugar  
2 teaspoons double-acting, aluminum free baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 scant teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup palm shortening
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup hot water
1 tablespoon powdered sugar* (optional)

  1. Preheat the oven to 325F. Line a 6x8-inch baking dish with parchment paper. 
  2. Combine the garbanzo flour, potato starch, tapioca flour, cocoa, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium mixing bowl. 
  3. Add the palm shortening, vanilla extract, and hot water and stir until just combined. 
  4. Spread the mixture into the baking dish and smooth with a spatula. Bake for 27 minutes. The top will still be slightly jiggly. 
  5. Allow to rest for at least 30 minutes before sifting powdered sugar over the top, slicing and serving. 

*Note: If you are vegan, look for a vegan brown sugar and powdered sugar. Alternately, use coconut palm sugar and skip the powdered sugar.