Thursday, 20 November 2014

Pasta - Fresh, Home Made and Gluten Free...... Yes...... really!

I have wanted to make gluten free fresh pasta for ages. I have no idea why I have waited until now. Laziness? Possibly...... Worry that it is too difficult? Maybe.....

Either way, spurred on this month by a foodie challenge : Pasta Please (which I have never actually entered before), I decided it was time to give it a go.......

I haven't made pasta for years. Although we were given a pasta machine as a wedding present, our little girl followed shortly after and time became a premium, juggling child care with busy jobs and sleepless nights (which unfortunately, went on for years). A few birthdays on came the diagnosis of Coeliac Disease and our usual brands of fresh pasta were off the menu.

It really is time to tackle this........ With an Italian heritage on one side of the family, I was raised on pasta. I recall my grandmother's kitchen being draped with the stuff.... freshly made and drying on every available surface. Why shouldn't my daughter experience similar memories and develop the skills to make GF pasta herself?

Although I did a bit of research on other GF pasta recipes across the net (of which there seem to be relatively few), I have pretty much started from scratch (apart from a comparable flour to liquid/egg ratio (which seems to be relatively standard).

Regular readers will recall that a while back I discovered a flour I had not used before (glutinous rice flour) which I had tried out when making GF Jaffa Cakes. Available in Thai shops and oriental grocers, one of the particular qualities that was notable when I used this flour was how malleable the dough became. This flour absolutely had to be incorporated into the pasta mix.

I also have discovered another new ingredient : modified tapioca (or cassava) starch which helps to mimic the qualities of the gluten missing from gluten free flours, but seems to be slightly more natural than xanthan gum. This had to be tested too, although in view of the need for pasta dough to be extremely pliable and stretchy, I decided to combine the two together. I figured this would lessen the need to use excessive amounts of xanthan gum, which can give a slight bitterness if used in larger quantities, but still allow me to have some control with an ingredient I know well.

Modified Tapioca/Cassava Starch can be found on the internet in the form of a product called Isabel's Baking Fix in the UK. In the States it is sold as a product called Expandex Modified Tapioca Starch.

And so to the pasta-making.......

The recipe here is my second attempt. Actually, the first (seen draped over the pasta drier) worked really well too, but I wanted to get it thinner, cut narrower, see whether it would still hold together with less xanthan gum and alter the flavour slightly (which meant changing the flour combinations).

I am so excited...... This is the first tagliatelle we have eaten in about 4 years! I love tagliatelle...... the way the sauce coats the thin ribboned strips, the way it chews, the versatility...... But trying to find gluten free tagliatelle has always been fruitless...... You can get dried corn and rice versions of spaghetti, penne, fusilli and lasagne, but I have never yet come across tagliatelle.

This pasta dough is amazing..... It looks like pasta...... acts like pasta....... rolls like pasta....... cooks like pasta........ and most importantly tastes like pasta......  It doesn't disintegrate when you cook it a minute too long. It kneads...... yes...... really! I haven't kneaded anything in years......... I was dancing round the kitchen at the opportunity to feel the dough pummelling in my palms....... My daughter was so enthralled by the process and the sensation of kneading, I almost had to wrestle the dough out of her hands to fulfil my own need to push, pound and manipulate my fingers in the squidgy dough.....

And how simple was it to make? Throw it in the food processor and apart from kneading and rolling, it was done! It does require lots of kneading to get it to roll smoothly, but I found that if you run it through the pasta machine a few times, kneading between each rolling, this develops the texture superbly. This is worth the time....... Everything I read about home-made gluten free pasta suggested not to roll it any lower than the third thinnest setting. On my first attempt, I followed this advice, but it was too thick for us. The second attempt I took down to the second level and it worked perfectly. I tried going to number 1 and this was paper thin and holding well, but I am not that confident with a pasta machine (yet!) and I struggled to handle it through the tagliatelle cutter. Well I say 'I'..... actually, my daughter was pretty much taking over the rolling process and at 9, seemed more competent than I was!

We have now tried this pasta with a whole range of sauces and they have all been great. The pasta shown here has been simply coated in mushrooms gently sautéed and mixed with pesto. Perfect!

I am so pleased to be sharing this pasta that I am going to send it off to a few challenges this month :

Pasta Please (my motivator for getting on with the task) with Cate's Cates on behalf of Tinned Tomatoes, who this month challenge us to make our own pasta.

Cook, Blog, Share, with Lucy at Supergolden Bakes.

Eat Your Greens with Shaheen at Allotment to Kitchen, on account of my pasta's beautifully flavoursome pesto sauce.

Alphabakes with Ros at The More Than Occasional Baker and Caroline Makes. November's letter is 'H', so I'm going with Homemade for this one.

Family Foodies with Lou at Eat Your Veg and Bangers & Mash, who this month go Veggie!

Gluten Free Fresh Pasta (serves 4)


90g brown rice flour
30g gram flour
20g sorghum flour
40g tapioca flour
30g glutinous rice flour
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
2 teaspoons modified tapioca starch (I used Isabel's Baking Fix, but in America they have Expandex)
2 teaspoons xanthan gum
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon cold water
extra GF plain flour (rice, sorghum or blend) for kneading and rolling.


  1. In a food processor, weigh and mix together the flours, salt, modified tapioca starch and xanthan gum.
  2. Add the eggs, oil and water and mix together until a dough forms.
  3. Tip the dough out onto a floured surface, and knead by hand for about 5 minutes until really smooth.
  4. Cut the dough into 4 pieces and set the pasta maker to the highest flat-roller setting. Flatten each piece of dough with your fingertips and set aside three pieces under a damp cloth until ready to use.
  5. Run the first piece of dough through the machine and then re-knead by hand on a floured surface. You may want to do this a couple of times, or until the dough comes through smooth. Be patient. The rolling-kneading process helps the dough to become more 'glutinous' so that it starts to behave like normal pasta.
  6. When you are happy that your rolled dough is working like pasta should, gradually reduce the thickness settings until your pasta has been rolled to the 2nd narrowest setting. You may want to lightly flour the roller and/or pasta dough before you start to put through the machine, to help it to run smoothly. Place the rolled pasta on a floured sheet under a damp cloth until ready to cut into shapes (or cut straight away before moving onto the next piece of dough).
  7. Repeat the process with the remaining pieces of dough and cut your pasta into your chosen shape or use the rolled dough to make ravioli, lasagne, etc.
  8. Set your cut pasta aside on a floured tray until ready to use. If not using that day, refrigerate or freeze.
  9. To cook your pasta, place in boiling salted water with a drizzle of olive oil and simmer for about 3 minutes until al dente. 
Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-14 unless otherwise indicated


  1. I have never made pasta - gluten-free or not. I have always wanted to and have a pasta machine somewhere... I love your post, so detailed and the dish looks so delicious! Thanks for linking to #CookBlogShare it is a total joy to see your recipes

    1. Thank you Lucy. I love to share them! If you get a chance, I would definitely try making pasta (with or without gluten). Apart from anything it is great fun....... and eating it will put a smile on your face!

  2. I have seen gf tagliatelle in some larger Asda stores, if you have one near you.

    Just a little warning about sweet rice / glutinous rice flour that you can get in Asian supermarkets - it isn't certified gf as they don't necessarily use separate grinders so there is the risk of contamination from gluten. The only brand that is certified gf is by Bob's Red Mill but it is considerably more expensive. Obviously I don't know how sensitive your daughter is to gluten and it may be that she is fine with the stuff brought from Asian supermarkets. I am very sensitive and therefore don't risk it. Just thought I would mention it :)

    1. Thanks Kirsten. I have looked in Asda, but not seen any tagliatelle locally...... maybe we have a duff store!
      Thanks for the warning about the flour. My daughter is coeliac and shouldn't eat any gluten. We know about it pretty quickly if any slips through and so far we have been fine with the glutinous rice flour that we have used. I will make sure I stick with the brand I am currently using for now as it seems ok, but if we get a hiccup, there are a couple of other makes (including Bob's) which are out there (although the other 2 I have seen are North American and may take a bit of tracking down on this side of the pond). I will keep a close eye!!

  3. Oh wow! Your tagliatelle are perfect! I must say making your own pasta is bit of an effort but then... when you come to eat it you realize it was all worth it! To get that beautiful and fresh taste of homemade goodness you only have to make pasta yourself.
    And you really are original here with your gluten free version. This is going to be a very popular post Kate and very useful for many people indeed. Bravissima!

    1. Thanks Alida..... I hope it is shared far and wide...... it worked so well and tasted so good. I would love for other people to enjoy it too. It reminded me just how much I have missed real pasta.... I think it is going to reinvigorate our mealtimes!

  4. That is so funny! A pasta machine is on my Christmas list and I was asking on Facebook last week whether you needed a really good one or whether a cheapy one would do! My new year experiments are going to be gluten-free pasta too! Great to see you have cracked it. There are a few ingredients in yours that I don't want to use or can't get so will have to get cracking on my proposals. I have done all the research...just don't have the maker!!!

    1. Good luck with your pasta Vicki..... Now I've discovered how good it tastes, there will be no looking back! Actually, I was surprised at how easy it was in the end......I don't know enough about pasta machines to know a good one from a bad one, but ours is from a company called Imperia and seems pretty solidly made!

  5. Oh wow! How exited I am to try this! Great idea to use glutinious rice flour, I can really imagine that working. I've always put off attempting to try making my own GF pasta, but really want to try it out now. Genius! Does it store overnight or do you have to make it and cook it the same day? Well done, so impressed :)

    1. Thanks Katie. It stores for several days in the fridge...... just like 'normal' pasta!! And still tastes just as fresh. Let me know how you get on! x

  6. Looks amazing. I love the photo of it all drying on the stand!

  7. Looks amazing! I'll have to use your recipe :)

  8. Wow that does sound amazing - I have tried quite a few gf things since my sister and niece became celiac but I have not tried gf pasta but I love pasta so I cam imagine how much you must love having some good stuff and kneading is such fun esp with a kid (though my little girl loves kneading just a bit too much). I also haven't seen a pasta drier but it makes sense. Now I really need to give my pasta machine some love

    1. Absolutely Johanna. Nothing beats fresh pasta..... and it is definitely great to knead again! Get that pasta machine out!!!!!

  9. wow fresh pasta that is gluten free! I love how inventive you are and your preserverance with trying recipes. I've not made my own pasta although I keep meaning to and bought a pasta machine ages ago. This is the insipiration I need to make my own. Love your pasta drying rack - I need one too! Thanks for entering AlphaBakes.

    1. Thank you! You MUST get the pasta machine out. It is way easier than you expect (and worth every mouthful!)

  10. I am very very impressed. Thank you so much for sharing with EatYourGreens.

  11. Wow, Kate, this is wonderful! I'm so sorry I haven't replied before this, my life got eaten by politics and then by singing. I'm amazed and impressed that you wound up with something you could knead - my only attempts at gluten-free flour were incredible friable and dry and wouldn't knead at all.

    Thank you so much for participating in the challenge!


    1. Thanks Catherine. I'm pretty excited about it too..... it will be a regular in our house now..... looks like I may need extra freezer space for batch-kneading!

  12. A mightily impressive make Kate, well done you!!! It sounds spot on, and I'm betting your all rejoicing at having pasta back in your lives! Thanks for linking up to November's Family Foodies Vegetarian event.


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