Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Thoughts-a about gluten-free pasta

Today's post was inspired by this post on glutenous vs gluten-free soba. It is a thorough comparison of the two, so if you're interested in learning more about soba, or just want to see an academic type apply precision to food comparisons, check it out!

I love pasta, but not all gluten-free pasta is lovable. There's some really good stuff out there, and the pasta you prefer may depend on the dish you're making. The great thing about gluten free pasta is that there is so much to experiment with! I'm no Martha Stewart, but here's what I've learned about gluten-free pasta based on my [limited] cooking experience.

1. Don't be surprised if your pasta tries some textural tricks. Some pastas might harden if you save leftovers. I don't know why, but you can cook pretty some gluten-free pasta within an inch of its life and it will re-harden in the fridge. Its a hard-knock life for g-free pasta. Either that, or g-free goes totally softy. Don't be surprised if other pasta goes in the complete other direction and absorbs every liquid around it, including those in other containers in the fridge. It may inflate and get soggy, which will leave you with some pasta-like mush. FYI: Gluten-free pasta is especially prone to bloat in soups. Play around with different types of pasta, like corn, quinoa, multigrain, and rice to figure out what works for you.

2. Some gluten-free pastas make the water milky as they boil. It doesn't really affect your enjoyment aside from having to look at an oozing pasta porridge during the preparation process, but it happens sometimes. Try not to overcook gluten-free pasta because that will make the disintegration worse. 

3. Cooking times vary quite a bit depending on the blend and the shape, so be sure to read the box. Some multigrain blends cook in as little as 5 minutes, other rice types can take as long as 18. Some boxes' directions are just lies, though, so be sure to check on your gluten free pasta a few times during cooking. Gluten-free pasta can be a finicky little beast, but it is worth the effort!

4. Rice pasta tends to be mushy. I don't mean Asian-type rice noodles, but rather noodles that are designed to be like Italian pasta. There are some notable exceptions to this rule, like Tinkyada, but in general if you're going to be baking or simmering in a sauce or soup, or doing some other extensive cooking, I wouldn't recommend pure rice pasta. 

5. Corn pastas tend to be rubbery. This works out great if you're making something like baked ziti or mac & cheese or soup, but can be a little chewy if you plan to make a cold pasta salad or just want buttered noodles. 

Here are some of my favorite pastas, which have been kitchen-tested for satisfying texture and taste.
For general use:

For lasagna:

For your multigrain cravings:

For baked dishes:

Do you have pasta that you like or dislike? Do you have a favorite spaghetti or pasta that holds up well in soup? Any tips, tricks, or observations? If so, drop a comment at the bottom of this post! I'm always looking to improve my familiarity with the growing g-free options on the market!


  1. Thanks for the writeup (and the link!). I've been wanting to try a GF pasta in my minestrone soup recipe. I'll give one of these a try. Does the corn-based pasta have the flavor or smell of corn at all?

  2. Oops. Lost this comment in the shuffle. I don't really notice a corn flavor or smell in pasta, but I also haven't had wheat pasta in 3 years. I've found that the longer I am gluten free, the more I forget about what regular products feel, smell, and taste like. What I do notice is the corn pasta is a lot rubberier than other pastas.

    Good luck with the recipe and let us know how things turn out!