Even those with gluten and egg allergies can enjoy fresh pasta with the following tips on making gluten-free and vegan pasta at home.
I picked up a new pasta maker from Williams Sonoma in my beautiful South Granville neighbourhood in Vancouver. This baby essentially rolls your pasta dough into a uniform thickness which you can then use for lasagna, stamp into ravioli or feed into the fettucini or linguini cutter for noodles.
Once cut, noodles and sheets can be dried on a pasta rack or laid flat on a tea towel.
Tip Number 1: Fresh pasta will keep in the fridge for up to one week or freeze for a few months.
I have several friends with allergies to items such as eggs or gluten or simply are trying to go low carb for health reasons. Taking up the challenge of researching low carb, vegan and gluten free fresh pasta recipes, I came up with several options for my beloved friends.
Recipe number 1 is a reduced carb/gluten and vegan recipe that basically substitutes a little under half of the white flour with a grain flour or bean flour. I chose to use chickpea (garbanzo) and fava bean mix flour by Bob’s Red Mill, but quinoa flour, (brown) rice flour or amaranth flour would do as well.
Pasta dough #1
3/4 chickpea/fava flour
1 1/4 white flour
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp oil
1/2 cup warm water
Make a well with your dry ingredients. Pour the oil and some of the water into the well and start to incorporate some of the flour into the liquid, being careful not to break “the well wall”. Trust me; it’s a fantastic mess that it makes. Gradually add more water as needed to moisten all the flour. It will seem like you don’t have enough water, but this dough should not be sticky or soft. You will have to use your hands to knead the dough and have it start to stick together. It will be kind of dry compared to other doughs. Let it rest by wrapping in plastic wrap and sitting it on the counter for about 20 minutes.
Divide the dough in quarters and roll out with a rolling pin thin enough to feed into the pasta machine on its largest setting. There will be lots of cracks and uneven edges; that’s okay. Take the first rollout and fold over in thirds or half. Turn 90 degrees and feed into the roller again. Do this a few times, adjust the thickness level one level thinner and repeat until you have the desired thickness you want.
Tip number 2: Don’t give up! Working the dough more and more will yield success and nicer and nicer looking dough. Though it may be feasible to do pasta dough entirely by hand, I found this pasta roller invaluable and made the job so much easier. It’s a manual, hand-crank machine, so you still feel like YOU made this pasta all by yourself. No cheating with this baby!
Once you’ve got your dough the thickness and texture you want, you can then cut into noodles, lasagna sheets, stamp into ravioli, etc.
This dough was my favourite one in taste AND texture. I guess that’s because it was the most like regular white pasta but with a bit nuttier taste from the chickpea/fava flour. Absolutely delicious. The texture was stretchy but not too chewy like rice noodles and didn’t fall apart like some wholewheat pastas do. I gave #1 five out of five stars. I got the original recipe from a blog called Blogging Over Thyme.
Pasta dough #2
1 1/2 cups of chickpea/fava flour
2 tbsp ground flax with 6 tbsp water, soaked and stirred until a paste forms
This dough is gluten free and vegan as well. Instead of using white flour or egg to bind the dough, I used ground flax seed that had been soaked in water to make a paste. Ground flax is a common substitute for egg in many recipes. In general, use one tablespoon of ground flax seed to three tablespoons of water. I just took flax seeds I had in the cupboard and ground them in the blender until I got the consistency I wanted. A coffee grinder or mini food processor would work too.
This pasta turned out very tasty and held together okay. It was much like the consistency of whole wheat pasta. It wasn’t as stretchy as #1 but didn’t fall apart really easily either.
I gave #2 four stars out of five, only because I like the stretchiness of white pasta better, but I did have a coworker tell me he really liked this one.
Pasta dough #3
2 medium eggs
1 1/2 cups chickpea/fava flour.
This dough is gluten free but not vegan, as I used an egg as the binder this time. While this pasta looked okay on the plate, I found the taste of this pasta to be not that great. The texture was terrible. It fell apart very easily, and I didn’t even want to finish my plate. I gave it zero stars out of five. This simple flour and egg recipe seems to be very common on the internet, but this little foodie is really not impressed with egg pasta I guess. No thanks!
Tip Number 3: Fresh pasta boils at a much faster rate than dried pasta, so 3 to 4 minutes should suffice. Not only is fresh pasta tastier, but it’s ready faster! Careful not to overcook the pasta, as it will fall apart more easily when overcooked than dry pasta.
Tip Number 4: Pastas #1 and #2 microwaved just fine at lunchtime the next day as well without breaking up. Just ensure again you don’t overcook it the first time. In fact, the microwaveability of homemade pasta was sort of my litmus test as to whether the recipe would get nixed or not. When I said my coworker liked the flax pasta, he was tasting it the next day after it had been microwaved! On that fact alone, I should really give the flax pasta four and a half stars
On another note, the internet seemed to be laden with many gluten-free pasta recipes and many vegan recipes, but it was tough to find ones that were both. Of the ones that were, they really seemed to want to use xanthan gum or corn starch or egg replacers. Pasta dough needs a binder like albumen or starch to keep the elasticity of it. I’m not keen on using corn products if I don’t have to since corn is a major allergy trigger. Also, corn products and byproducts are really overused in the processed food industry. For that reason I wasn’t keen on using xanthan gum either since it is a sugar derivative originally from corn. There were a few recipes that used arrowroot powder/starch or tapioca flour/starch, but since I found two that seemed to work and required only a few easy-to-find ingredients, I was happy with those.
Tip Number 5: The other nice thing about using alternative flours like chickpea, amaranth or quinoa is that you’re getting higher protein and/or whole grains and lower carbohydrates. Bob’s Red Mill has a huge variety of flours, some of which are organic as well, but personally, I exhaust my resources in the bulk bin at Whole Foods first (many of which are also available organic). Bulk bins are usually more cost effective and require less packaging.
Hope you enjoy these pastas and have fun experimenting with different flours and ideas.
Cheers and good eats,
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