Although we aren’t a gluten-free household, I’ve been experimenting with non-wheat pastas — brown rice, quinoa, soba — some of which happen to be gluten free. Much as I like the taste of these nouveau noodles, not to the mention the health benefits of adding variety to my family’s diet, I’ve found cooking gluten-free pasta to be a sticky business. All goes well until the pasta is drained, then things go quickly south as it cools into a clump.

Has this happened to you?

Lucky for both of us, I recently spent a couple of days working with Jeffrey Larsen, a food stylist who is somewhat of a gluten-free guru. I told him of my gluten-free woes and he gave me a few pointers.

Following Jeffrey’s advice and a bit of my own trial and error, here’s my “gluten-free pasta cooking handbook”:

1) Use a large pot and lots of water.

2) After you add the pasta to the water, stir to break up the noodles so they don’t stick together as they cook.

3) Follow the instructions for cooking times listed on the package, but always taste before you drain to be sure pasta is just right.

4) While the noodles cook, fill a large bowl with tap water and plenty of ice. Once the pasta is done, drain through a colander and immediately dump it into the icy water. Let it cool down for a minute or so, and then drain again. If you can’t be bothered with all this water bath business, at the very least, rinse the drained pasta under the tap after cooking. Of course by now your pasta has cooled. Simply rely on your hot pasta sauce to get it warm again, or gently reheat it in your pasta pot (perhaps with a drizzle of oil).

I’ve tried this technique twice now and it works.

Don’t you love that?

For those of you who want to soak up more of Jeffrey’s gluten-free wisdom, he teaches baking classes in San Francisco. You can find out more about that by going here.

For those of you who want a terrific sauce to go with this, I’ll be posting Saucy Slow Cooker Turkey Meatballs next week.

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  1. Pamela
    09.13.2012 at 7:49 AM #

    I do ‘love’ it! I will try this for sure~~~thanks Katie!

  2. 09.13.2012 at 8:27 AM #

    We have many extended family members who are gluten free so I have been using gluten free pasta for a while now. Now that my husband is trying gluten free we will be even more immersed in the GF world. My favorite GF pasta it TJ’s corn pasta. I also use their brown rice pasta which is very tasty and filling. I agree that the rice pasta can be a bit sticky even after rinsing with running water. I will give Jeffrey’s ice immersion method.

    • katiemorford
      09.13.2012 at 8:29 AM #

      Thanks Humaira. I always love getting readers’ product recommendations.

  3. Heather
    09.14.2012 at 3:31 PM #

    I do this and it really helps!

  4. 05.16.2013 at 7:18 PM #

    Great idea! I just had this dilemma last week with quinoa spaghetti. Thanks for sharing!

  5. julia
    09.15.2013 at 10:10 AM #

    Supposedly the “Italian way” to cook pasta is never to rinse after cooking because it takes off the starch that gives pasta its flavor. Any thoughts?
    Also I find that gluten free pasta will not reheat which means cooking the exact amount I need, how does one figure that out?

    • katiemorford
      09.15.2013 at 9:42 PM #

      Hi Julia

      You are right. Traditionally pasta is never rinsed. But a traditional Italian would probably never use quinoa, brown rice, or any of the other gluten-free pastas either. This method is specifically for dealing with the stickiness of these types of pastas. It’s not traditional in any way, but makes cooking with gluten free noodles much easier. As for figuring out how much pasta to use, I usually figure about 3 to 4 ounces of pasta per person for a main course, 2 ounces for a younger child. Hope that helps. Good luck!

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