Anyone who has ever had an even slightly unpleasant reaction to gluten will understand the problems faced by coeliac sufferers. While freshly baked bread might look and smell delicious, it’s just not worth the painful gut reaction.
Of course, those with a gluten intolerance do have other options available, including gluten free bread and gluten free pasta. These products have become more readily available over the past few years, as increasing numbers of people have caught on to the benefits of reducing gluten in their diet.
Cooking gluten free pasta is a relatively simple process, as is the case with regular pasta. Understanding a few insider tips and tricks can, however, help you create delicious dishes the whole family will enjoy.
How to cook gluten free pasta
Use olive oil
Gluten free pasta tends to be quite starchy, which can cause it to stick together in the pot. One way around this is by adding just a small amount of olive oil during the cooking process. There are arguments against this tactic, with some home cooks believing that olive oil reduces the ability of sauce to stick to pasta. However, a teaspoon or so of oil shouldn’t have a detrimental effect and can prevent your pasta from becoming lumpy.
Another strategy you can use to prevent your pasta from sticking together is frequently stirring throughout the cooking process.
The pasta will release most of its starch within the first few minutes of being exposed to the boiling water, meaning you should be stirring constantly throughout this time. Once you feel confident that the pasta is not sticking together, stirring every few minutes should suffice.
Use plenty of salt
This is the case for gluten free pasta and regular pasta varieties alike. Most types of pasta are made from very few ingredients. On its own, pasta can taste quite bland. By salting the water, you are helping give the pasta a flavour in its own right, adding an extra type of seasoning to the overall dish.
Opinions vary as to how much salt you should add to a boiling pot of water. When it comes to flavour, we all have different preferences, so it’s best to experiment for yourself. Try adding around a tablespoon of salt to a four-litre pot of boiling water to really taste the difference that salted water can make.
In a dream scenario, one would simply pop a pot of gluten free pasta on to boil, step back and let it do its thing. If you were to follow these steps, you would probably arrive back to find your gluten free pasta had stuck together, forming one giant ball of dough.
It’s important that you check the pot constantly. While it’s a good idea to follow the packet instructions, be aware that you might need to cook your pasta for a shorter or longer period of time, depending on the size of your pot and how hot the water is.
Save some pasta water
Speaking of water, the last tip we can give you is to save some of that pasta water! This applies when cooking gluten free pasta and regular pasta.
Salty, starchy pasta water can be used to help season your sauce and can prevent your pasta from becoming too dry.
Gluten free pasta bake
One of the best ways to enjoy pasta is laden with meat and vegetables, topped with cheese and popped in the oven to form a delicious bake. This gluten free recipe serves 4.
● 375g gluten free pasta
● 1 tbsp olive oil
● 6 chicken thigh fillets, cut into bite-sized pieces
● 1 brown onion, finely chopped
● 4 cloves garlic, minced
● 500g butternut pumpkin, cut into 3cm pieces
● 200g mushrooms, washed and chopped
● ½ chicken stock
● 300ml cream
● 1 cup tasty cheese, shredded
- Preheat the oven to 180 ℃.
- Cook the gluten free pasta according to packet instructions. Remember — add oil and salt, stir constantly, and don’t throw out all of the pasta water!
- While the pasta is cooking, heat a medium sized saucepan.
- Add the olive oil and chicken, cooking in batches until all pieces are lightly browned.
- Remove the chicken from the pan.
- Add the onion, garlic and pumpkin. Cook these ingredients for approximately 5 minutes, until the onion is soft and the garlic is fragrant.
- Add the chicken back to the pan alongside the mushrooms.
- Add the chicken stock and cream to the pan.
- Bring the entire mixture to the boil.
- Add the pasta and the reserved cup of pasta sauce.
- Mix all ingredients until thoroughly combined.
- Place the mixture in an oven-proof dish. Sprinkle the tasty cheese evenly on top.
- Cook in the oven for 10 minutes until the cheese is melted and golden.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes before serving — enjoy!