With so many new gluten-free pastas coming on the market on all the time, there has never been a better time to live gluten-free. A few years ago, there were only a few brands of pasta available, now there are dozens! And each one is made with different ingredients and combinations, so even among brands a rice pasta may taste different – since they can add other gluten-free grains to blend with it.
Eating gluten-free pasta doesn’t have to be a let down anymore. They actually taste great! But it all comes down to personal preference in regards to each pastas taste and texture. This is where you really need to do a taste test to determine what you like best. Choose one pasta from each of the categories listed below, then boil them up and see what you think!
Quinoa – similar in taste to a whole wheat pasta. Although it is usually always blended with other flours, so look at the ingredient list to find out what else is included. Sometimes can be blended with amaranth, which can have an unpleasant aftertaste for some.
100% Brown Rice – generally the most popular, due to its mild flavor. Is the closest in flavor and texture to regular white pasta.
100% Corn – Like rice pasta, corn has a relatively mild flavor and has a similar texture to regular pasta.
Blend – brown rice & corn, corn & quinoa, quinoa & rice… If you’ve tried all the other types and still haven’t found a clear winner, then here is where you’ll find your favorite. Gluten-free pasta blends combine the best tastes and textures of each grain/seed/flours into one palate-pleasing noodle.
Step by Step Instructions
- Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil with 1 Tbsp salt. Pour pasta in, stirring frequently. Start taste testing pasta after 7 minutes, then every 1-2 minute after that. Depending on what shape of pasta you are cooking, times could range from 8-12 minutes.
- Remove from heat when the pasta is soft, but still has a bit of firmness (al dente) in the center. Rinse thoroughly, and drain well. While regular pasta you generally don’t rinse (its starch leaves the noodle ‘sticky’ so the sauce will stick better), gluten free pastas can be quite ‘gummy’ in texture if their starch is not rinsed off – but it’s all personal choice!
- Transfer pasta into bowl and toss with sauce. Let sit with the sauce for about 5 minutes. This allows the starches in the pasta to be released into the sauce, which helps the sauce to stick to the pasta.
- If making a cold pasta salad, once the noodles are al dente, immediately drain the noodles and let them sit in an ice water bath until the noodles are cold. This will stop the cooking process. If let to sit and cool off naturally while you are preparing the remaining salad ingredients, the noodles will still continue to cook and you could end up with a mushy noodle in the finished salad.
- If using noodles for a baked pasta, where cooked noodles are combined with sauce then baked in the oven for 30-60 minutes, you’ll need to under cook the noodles slightly to start with. Boil the noodles for half the time as recommend on the package, drain and let sit in an ice water bath for a few minutes. Drain and lay the noodles out on a clean towel and gently pat dry. Add the pre-cooked noodles to a greased casserole dish, add the remaining ingredients and follow the directions as indicated by your recipe. In some cases you can add dry noodles into a baked dish, as long there is a lot of moisture in the sauce, however you may end up with an overall ‘gummy’ texture from the starches released into the sauce.
- Unfortunately you cannot save leftovers, so only make what you need. All gluten-free pastas will harden when chilled, becoming very inedible.
There are more gluten-free pasta options on the market now than ever before, all made with a variety of ingredients. With a little trial and error, you’ll be sure to find a favorite!