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Recently, I had one of those days when just about everything annoyed me. When I'm in a mood like that, the thing I crave, more than anything, is a bowl of homemade pasta—it's just what I need to feel centered and calm. But being gluten-free, that's become a bit more difficult. Thing is, I've tried making fresh gluten-free pasta before and I've never really loved it.
My previous attempts produced pasta that was far too gummy or gritty. Yet I wanted to try again. Part of me wonders if this yearning was a bit of self-sabotage, a desire to make something I thought would flop. Another part of me thinks it was hope.
Instead of putting together a complex flour blend, I simply scooped some brown-rice flour and added a little tapioca starch and xanthan gum to it. After whisking them together, I added two eggs and stirred everything together with a wooden spoon. It was by far the simplest gluten-free pasta recipe I'd ever attempted. The dough looked so beautiful that I couldn't help but smile. I rolled it out and cut it into fat ribbons.
After a quick boil in salted water, I strained the noodles. They had plumped up nicely during cooking, but didn't look bloated and weren't falling apart at the edges, two issues I'd dealt with before when testing gluten-free pasta recipes. I sauteed a little garlic in a lot of butter, grated some Parmesan, and finished the pasta with a little lemon zest.
I couldn't believe it: This fresh gluten-free pasta worked.
Over the next two weeks, I continued making pasta. I ran it through my pasta maker. I made fat ravioli. I cut it by hand. Again and again, this simple mixture of brown rice flour, tapioca starch, xanthan gum, and eggs made delicious pasta. The biggest difference between this pasta and traditional fresh pasta is that you can't roll it as thinly. If you use a pasta machine, don't roll it on the thinnest setting. I've found that stopping on the second-to-last setting works best. You also don't want your sheets to get much longer than 12 inches. When the pasta is longer than this, it tends to break as it goes through the cutter.
Keep those two things in mind and you'll be rewarded with amazing gluten-free fresh pasta, to make on good days and on not-so-good days. In fact, I think it tastes even better on gloomy days, but that's just me.
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