Although it may be a bit tedious and exhausting, making homemade pasta is becoming my new favorite hobby. When my dear friend, Ashley, had said she hadn’t had ravioli in years because she can’t ever find them gluten free, I knew I just had to fix that for her. I said to give me a little bit of time to practice and research gluten free flours before I make them for you. I wanted to make sure I got a hang of making ravioli with standard flour before I took gluten out of the equation.
Since Pasta Fest went so well, I felt ready to tackle gluten free pasta dough. I just needed to do my research. First, I wanted to get a good recipe. I found some that I thought would be promising, including one from internationally renowned chef Jamie Oliver. However, most of these recipes had terrible reviews. The reviews on Jamie Oliver’s recipe was basically saying, I know you are a phenomenal chef and all, but this is just awful.
The recipe I went with was actually a recipe on the website of one of the Gluten Free flour brands, King Arthur. It had good reviews and didn’t have a laundry list of ingredients. It was almost as simple as my pasta recipe I have been using, only adding xanthan gum (which is common in gluten free recipes). It also did not list salt as an ingredient, but I added about the same amount I have been in my other pasta dough. I would not recommend making a dough of any sort without a little salt.
Now, I just needed to find a good gluten free flour. The recipe said to use gluten free all-purpose flour. When I was at the store, I found some varieties of GF all-purpose baking flour, noted to be good for making breads, pancakes, etc. I didn’t think that was what I wanted so I kept searching. I found a brand called Cup4Cup that had a large pouch of all-purpose flour.
It was in the whole foods section of Giant. It honestly was the only thing available in terms of all-purpose gluten free flour at giant. They had a decent selection of Bob’s Red Mill products, but nothing that was all-purpose flour. I know I would have had a much better selection at Whole Foods or another specialty grocery store. I just didn’t want to go all the way to Whole Foods (and by that I mean a store that is 10 minutes away instead of just down the street).
If you are not used to using gluten free flour, the first thing you are going to notice is how much more expensive it is than standard flour. I wanted quality ingredients to go into this dish, so I figured it would be worth paying for a good product.
The pasta dough came together very well. After kneading and resting the dough, it was visually and texturally very similar to the regular pasta dough. If I handed it to someone and didn’t say it was gluten free, I don’t think they would have known.
While using the pasta roller, I started to tell that the gluten was missing. It was a tougher dough so it did not want to roll as easily through the pasta roller. I also had to make a different kind of judgement call to determine when it was done with the first setting on the pasta roller and ready to move onto the next one. The dough was not getting that super smooth texture on its surface, so I was looking for a particular shape of the dough before moving on.
Additionally, since this flour is more fine than regular flour, in order to avoid the dough breaking in the machine, I stopped the rolling after setting #7, leaving out #8 and #9. This resulted in a slightly thicker dough and therefore ravioli than with the standard flour.
For the filling, I used the filling of these mushroom ravioli from Half Baked Harvest. You simply can’t go wrong with mushrooms, ricotta, fontina, and parmesan cheeses stuffed into pasta! Instead of using the rosemary butter sauce that accompanied this recipe, I used the brown butter sage sauce recipe from Food & Wine that I used for Pasta Fest.
I served these ravioli with a side of Brussels sprouts. I started by frying some chopped pancetta in my cast iron skillet. I then added a large bag of Brussels sprouts (halved lengthwise) into the pan to allow them to saute for just a few minutes. I drizzled them with olive oil and seasoned them with Italian herbs (basil, oregano, thyme), seasoned salt, and pepper. I had been preheating my oven at 400 degrees and popped them into the oven to roast. A few minutes before ready to serve, I turned on the broiler to allow them to crisp. Finally, I finished off the Brussels sprouts with freshly grated parmesan cheese.
The whole meal was delightful. It was a perfect fall meal! The Brussels sprouts got a lot of flavor from the salty pancetta. The ravioli filling was creamy and light, and the brown butter sage sauce accompanied it well. The pasta itself was really good. I was surprised how well it turned out when I am not accustomed to using gluten free flour. I could tell just slight differences between this pasta and glutinous pasta, but it tasted really good in its own right. It wasn’t just good for a gluten free pasta.
What I learned from this is that when it comes to gluten free recipes, it is best to trust those who are accustomed to and understand gluten free flour, rather than someone who is just good at cooking. I am glad I found this recipe.
I am really glad I got to share this meal with my friends, especially because it was a handmade pasta dish that Ashley could eat. After we ate, Desiree, Ashley, and I watched reruns of the Holiday Baking Championship until we just about crashed.