7.06.2011

gluten-free ratio rally: pasta


"Betta's pasta recipe was one egg for every etto of all-purpose flour . . . At Babbo, Mario compensated for his being unable to find a reliable supply of half-wild, genuinely small-farm eggs by tripling up on the yolks he could get: for every pound of flour (call it four etti), he'd use three eggs, plus eight yolks, not to mention salt, a dribble of olive oil, and a little bit of water."
—Bill Buford, Heat

And that was how Mario Batali's pasta recipe came to be widely known. Not the pasta recipe printed in The Babbo Cookbook, but the recipe actually used at Babbo. An until-that-moment secret recipe.

Obviously, any pasta that Mario Batali serves at his restaurant is going to be wonderful. It seemed entirely appropriate, then, to use that as my jumping off point when working on this month's Gluten-Free Ratio Rally topic of fresh pasta. I also liked the parallel it drew for me, knowing as I do that Josh and his cooks at 40 Paper base their unique pasta recipe on the same one Buford famously announced to the world. My gluten-free version might not be that much of a departure from theirs!

I first discovered the joys of making gluten-free pasta when I got Shauna's book, and began obsessively making her pasta recipe. It is not an exaggeration to say that a whole new world was opened up to me. A world featuring the glories and versatility of fresh pasta. It's no secret that I was over the moon.

And until now, I have felt no need to experiment with Shauna's recipe; it worked, I loved it, why change it?

But when Jenn challenged us to develop our own fresh pasta recipes using the ratio approach, I was excited to find out how much wiggle room there is in gluten-free pasta making. If I used different flours than Shauna did, and different amounts of them, would I end up with a product I liked as much as hers? And what if I used Batali's recipe instead as my guide for the quantity of eggs?

Well, the Batali vs. Ahearn worries were unfounded. Once I looked more closely at the recipes, I found that they were actually very similar, insomuch as they both greatly increased the amount of egg used compared to more traditional pasta ratios. This was encouraging, and further validated my devotion to Shauna's recipe, while permitting me to use Batali's recipe as my starting point without fear of failure.

I played with flours a bit, replacing the quinoa flour Shauna recommends with millet flour, a grain that I've been loving a lot lately, and which doesn't have that back note of bitterness I always detect in quinoa. I used a little less gums, a little more egg, and realized triumphantly when I began rolling it out that I had made a perfect-textured dough. No parchment was needed, and very little flour was used as I rolled it, because this dough was soft and pliable and not at all sticky!

It cooked up wonderfully, with a flavor that was so clearly and deliciously pasta, yet was so different from any of the dried gluten-free pastas on the market, that it made me wonder once again why I ever buy the dried stuff. In the time it took for my pot of water to boil, I had the pasta rolled and cut and waiting to be cooked. Packaged pasta is not a time-saver!


In addition to fazzoletti, I also made ravioli, just to find out if I could. You see, at 40 Paper they recently tried out a new pasta recipe, which worked great for all preparations except ravioli: it lacked the necessary additional pliability, and cracked when filled. But my pasta? No issues at all! There wasn't even a sense that I should handle the dough carefully, that it might split if I was too hurried. It just worked, plain and simple. And it felt wonderful. I filled them with a lemony ricotta mixture threaded with spring onions, and tossed them with butter-sautéed wild mushrooms. Eaten outside, in the summery late-night air, they were the perfect supper. (Oh, and the solution to 40 Paper's pasta problem? More egg yolks. I'm beginning to think that therein lies the secret to pasta greatness.)
 

So there you go. Yesterday I encouraged you to push past any pastry fears you may have and make a pie, and today I'm telling you that making fresh gluten-free pasta is as easy as boiling water. It's all about expanding your horizons around here right now. Confidence and trust, people. That's all it takes. That, and maybe some extra egg yolks.

Here are all the other participants in this month's Gluten-Free Ratio Rally. Thank you so much to Jenn of Jenn Cuisine for hosting this month's Rally! Please be sure to check out her blog, where she's also got the complete rundown of all the Ratio Rally posts. There are some delicious pasta dishes being blogged about today, so you may become just as fresh-pasta-obsessed as I am! And if you're on Twitter, you can follow the gluten-free pasta conversation with the hashtag #gfreerally.

Brooke from B & the Boy made Ravioli with strawberry filling and chocolate berry sauce
Caneel from Mama Me Gluten Free made Multi-grain fettuccine
Charissa from Zest Bakery made Linguini with smoked salmon and creamy vodka sauce
Erin from The Sensitive Epicure made Ravioli with shrimp, spinach, mushrooms and cheese filling in browned butter
Gretchen from Kumquat made Vegetable lasagna
Jean of Gluten-Free Doctor Recipes made Gluten-free fettuccini
Jenn from Jenn Cuisine made Tagliatelle with smoked salmon, peas and parmesan
Lisa from Gluten Free Canteen made Lokshen kugel
Karen from Cooking Gluten Free made Homemade gluten free pasta
Mary Fran from Frannycakes made Pasta with pink vodka sauce
Meaghan from The Wicked Good Vegan made Vegan gluten-free homemade pasta, in creamy artichoke tagliatelle
Meg from Gluten-Free Boulangerie made Fettuccine with sun-dried tomatoes
Pete and Kelli from No Gluten, No Problem made Tortellini
Rachel from The Crispy Cook made Smoked paprika noodles with garlic scapes and herbs
Shauna from Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef made Gluten-Free Fresh Pasta
Silvana from Silvana’s Kitchen made Lemon-poppy pasta with tomato, corn and basil
TR from No One Likes Crumbley Cookies made Tomato basil pork raviolis


Fresh Fazzoletti (Handkerchief Pasta) with Wild Mushrooms & Spring Onions
Yields 4 servings

The ratio for this pasta is 4.5 parts flour to 3.5 parts egg

For the pasta:
100 grams corn flour
65 grams tapioca starch
60 grams millet flour
2½ tsp xanthan gum
100 grams (approximately 2 large) whole eggs
75 grams (between 4 and 5) egg yolks
10 grams (just over 2 tsp) extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp fine sea salt

For the final dish:
4 oz/113 grams mixed wild mushrooms (I used crimini, shiitake, and oyster)
4 Tbsp/57 grams unsalted butter
4 spring onions, white and green parts thinly sliced
4 tsp whole fresh thyme leaves
an 8-inch length of a leek scape, thinly sliced into discs (alternately, use a garlic scape)
4 handfuls of spicy mixed baby greens
4 Tbsp/57 grams unsalted butter
1 recipe fresh fazzoletti
fresh lemon juice, to taste
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for garnish

Make the pasta dough:
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flours and xanthan gum and mix on low until thoroughly blended.

Add eggs,  egg yolks, olive oil, and salt and mix on medium speed for 3 minutes. Dough will come together in a ball and be slightly tacky to the touch.

Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or up to overnight.

To roll out by hand:
Cut the dough into 8 pieces. Work with one piece at a time, leaving the rest wrapped in plastic. Roll the dough out on a floured board (I use tapioca starch), dusting the surface with additional flour as needed. The dough should be pliable and stretchy, almost bouncy. Roll the dough out as thinly as possible, aiming for a long rectangle. If the dough gets too long to work with, feel free to cut it in half, covering one piece with plastic while continuing to roll out the other half to your desired thinness.

To roll out with a pasta roller:
Cut the dough into 4 pieces. Work with one piece at a time, leaving the rest wrapped in plastic. Roll the dough out by hand on a floured board (I use tapioca starch), dusting the surface with additional flour as needed, until the dough is about ¼-inch thick, or just thin enough to fit through your pasta roller at it's largest setting. Continue rolling the dough out using your pasta roller, starting at the largest setting, and working down until the pasta is very thin, but not tearing as it goes through the roller. On my roller, I go down to the #5 setting.

To make the fazzoletti:
Use a knife or pizza wheel to cut the pasta sheets into square-ish pieces. Toss the fazzoletti in a bit of corn flour or tapioca starch, to prevent the pieces from sticking together. Cover to keep pasta from drying out.

To make the final dish:
Put a large pot of salted water on to boil.

Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan set over low heat, sauté the mushrooms and 4 Tbsp butter with a large pinch of salt until the mushrooms are soft, about 3-5 minutes.

Add the spring onion, thyme, and leek scape, and continue to sauté over low heat.

When the pot of water has come to a boil, add the pasta rags and cook just until al dente, about 2-3 minutes. Drain pasta and add to the pan of mushrooms.

Add the baby greens and the other 4 Tbsp butter and gently toss to combine everything, cooking until the butter has melted and the greens are wilted. Season with lemon juice, kosher salt, and pepper, and divide between 4 plates. Top each portion with a generous amount of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. Serves 4.

25 comments:

  1. Your post has inspired me. This was my first attempt at ever making any kind of pasta, but now I'm so excited to try all sorts of other kinds! This is beautiful!

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  2. You'll find me in the kitchen making those ravioli....I haven't tried more egg yolks, but I bet it does make the pasta way more pliable. Thanks, Tara!

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  3. Always my go to site in the rally. Love the ravioli will be making it soon.

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  4. Yum yum yum! Beautiful photos for a beautiful dish. Thanks for sharing. It truly looks wonderful and satisfying!

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  5. This is truly inspiring!!!

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  6. Your photo has made me so hungry! If I weren't going to my Inlaw's for dinner, I would try to make this pasta tonight.

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  7. I love the simplicity of your dish(es). And love your no fear stance in approaching your take on fresh pasta. Egg yolks are great for GF: act as a binder and an emulsifier. I feel like I can taste this just by looking at your photos. Yum.

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  8. Caneel - Thank you! The wonderful thing about fresh pasta is that as soon as you nail down a good recipe, there are SO MANY things you can do with it! Have fun exploring new kinds!

    Lisa - Watch out - once you make ravioli, you're going to want to make tortellini, and agnolotti, and cappelletti . . at least I do!

    Karen - You're too kind. I hope you do make ravioli soon!

    charissa - Thank you! Satisfying is exactly the right word to describe this pasta.

    Anna - Thank you, I'm glad I inspired you!

    Sammy - We need to make a giant batch of pasta and do a family-style dinner soon. Have fun with the in-laws!

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  9. Erin - Thanks! In the summer, especially, I'm a big proponent of 'simple is best.' Mostly because it's also the quickest way out of the kitchen! And yes, egg yolks are miraculous.

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  10. what a great post! thanks for sharing all of your pasta thoughts and experience. and your delicious looking recipes...

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  11. Oh dear! Such beautiful pasta!! One suggestion is to use HimalaSalt pink salt from Sustainable Sourcing (here's their website: https://secure.sustainablesourcing.com ). Really, it makes such a difference, and it's gluten-free too (they have their own facility, so no cross-contamination).

    Thank you for the excellent directions and photos--I simply MUST make the Fazzoletti with mushrooms and onions! Mmm!!!

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  12. Love ravioli, they are the one thing I miss for the simple convenience of having a bag frozen for a quick meal. But your recipe inspires me to think a bit longer term. I think making it fun for the kids to help would make everyone happy.

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  13. gretchen - Thank you!

    Deb - Thanks, and I hope you do make the pasta!

    Jean - You're so right. Now I want to make another batch of ravioli & freeze them to have on hand for busy weeknights. And there are so many varieties of stuffed pastas - it would be fun to give kids a batch of pasta dough and let them come up with their own unique shapes!

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  14. Hi! I'm so happy to have found your beautiful blog and this fabulous looking gluten-free pasta recipe! I've been checking out all the great pasta ratio rally recipes, and yours really makes me want to go try and make some gluten-free pasta right away. Maybe I can FINALLY put my pasta maker (that I got as a wedding present 11 years ago) to use!

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  15. EA - Thank you! I'm glad you've found me! And I hope you do get that pasta maker out - it's such a satisfying feeling to make your own pasta. Good luck!

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  16. Heat, is a great food adventure book! Tara, your pasta dish looks lovely.

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  17. Allison - Thank you, and thanks for visiting!

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  18. Sounds complicated but gluten free pasta is definitely worth it. Thanks for sharing!

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  19. Michael - Far from complicated, actually! Maybe slightly more so than dried pasta from the store, but, as you say, it is definitely worth it! And if you have a pasta roller, the entire process is very easy, and very quick. Thanks for reading!

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  20. I am so excited about your gluten free pasta. Growing up we always made homemade German noodles for special occasions. When I went gf we could never recreate them. I am going to have to try again. Thanks for the inspiration! I love your recipes.

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  21. nicki - Thank you! Let me know how the noodles come out!

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  22. Tara - Thank you!! I have been talking myself out of making GF pasta for about a year now - though for the last couple of months I have been returning again and again to this recipe and thinking... Maybe?

    Today I jumped in the deep end - and discovered I could swim!!! A wonderful recipe that is as delicious as it is a pleasure to make. My family all enjoyed it: I made beef ravioli, prawn tortellini and spinach/ricotta agnolotti. I am unreasonably proud of myself. Thank you so much!

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    1. Oh Sara, that's great news! All your pastas sound delicious. I'm so glad you took the plunge!

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  23. This was my first time making pasta; used your recipe and couldn't believe how easy it was. Also used a pasta machine for the first time. The texture of the dough was perfect and it made superior fettucini. I'm hooked!

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  24. I have always been a kind of person who loves to try different recipes .... and i would like to thank you for this amazing recipe... i am going to try this out very soon and let you know how it came out...

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