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.