The 6 Best Types of Gluten-Free Pasta and Noodles

Gluten Free Pasta Recipe: What Is Gluten?

The word “gluten” comes from the Greek words glee (glue) and thalia (knowledge). The word gluten refers to a protein found in grains such as wheat, barley, rye, spelt or kamut. These proteins are responsible for giving these foods their characteristic texture and flavor. They are also responsible for making them less digestible than other types of carbohydrates.

There are two main types of gluten: gliadin and gliadins. Gliadin is the type found in wheat, while gliadins are found in rye, spelt and barley. The former is what gives bread its structure; it’s why bread sticks to your teeth when you eat too much of it. The latter is what makes up most of the grain products used in pasta sauce, pastas and cereal bars.

Gluten is not only found in wheat, but also in oats, millet, rye and barley. It’s even present in some fruits like apples and pears. However, the majority of people with celiac disease cannot tolerate gluten at all. Celiac disease affects 1% of the population worldwide and is characterized by an immune response against gluten found in wheat and related cereals. Symptoms include abdominal pain, diarrhea, weight loss and malnutrition.

These symptoms appear hours after a person with celiac disease eats foods containing gluten.

A less-severe form of gluten intolerance is called non-celiac gluten sensitivity. People with gluten sensitivity experience similar gastrointestinal problems to those with celiac disease but their immune systems react differently to gluten. They do not have Marsh 1 and 2 lesions, and they can sometimes tolerate trace amounts of gluten without ill effect.

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How To Cook Gluten-Free Noodles

Gluten-free pastas come in many shapes and sizes. No matter the type of gluten-free pasta you choose, it is essential that you cook it right. If you don’t, you’re likely going to be eating rubbery gluten-free spaghetti that no one wants to eat. Follow these tips when cooking gluten-free pasta to get the most out of your meal:

Use plenty of water: You’ll want to start with at least 4 quarts of water for every 8 ounces of gluten-free pasta. Of course, you’ll also need to add the gluten-free pasta, which will displace some of the water. But you don’t want your noodles to be sitting in a pool of water because that will make them mushy.

Let the noodles boil vigorously: You’ll need to let your gluten-free pasta cook for at least a minute or two after it rises to the surface. You’ll know it is ready when it has a slightly firm texture that’s not quite al dente. If you’re using gluten-free spaghetti, you’ll need to let it cook for three minutes before removing it from the heat source.

Don’t overcook: While all pasta should be a little undercooked when you remove it from the heat, gluten-free pastas should definitely not be over-pasta. Overcooking gluten-free pasta turns it into a sticky, gooey mess that tastes nothing like pasta. You’ll know your pasta is overcooked if you bite into it and it has a crunchy center.

Stir and season: No matter what type of pasta you use, the way you treat it after it’s done cooking is going to be the same. Before you drain the water, make sure to stir it. Pasta swells as it cooks and if there are clumps, they will continue to swell and may burst, leading to a mushy texture.

After draining, you can add gluten-free sauce directly to the pot. If you’re going the traditional route and using a gluten-free pasta for your meal, reserve about a cup of the pasta water before you drain the noodles. Add some of that water if you need to in order to adjust the thickness of your sauce. Pasta water is also great for loosening up dried out sauces so make sure not to waste it.

With gluten-free pasta, you do not have to worry about overcooking it. You can let your gluten-free pasta sit in the pot of sauce for as long as you need and it will not break down into a mushy, sticky mess.

Gluten-Free Noodles Are Easy To Cook

Gluten-free pasta isn’t a specialty food that you need to eat only at certain restaurants.

Sources & references used in this article:

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Utilization of sorghum, rice, corn flours with potato starch for the preparation of gluten-free pasta by SMR Ferreira, AP de Mello, MCR dos Anjos… – Food chemistry, 2016 – Elsevier

Gluten-free precooked rice pasta enriched with legumes flours: Physical properties, texture, sensory attributes and microstructure by A Bouasla, A Wójtowicz, MN Zidoune – LWT, 2017 – Elsevier

Effects of protein enrichment on the properties of rice flour based gluten-free pasta by S Phongthai, S D’Amico, R Schoenlechner… – LWT, 2017 – Elsevier

Rice-buckwheat gluten-free pasta: Effect of processing parameters on quality characteristics and optimization of extrusion-cooking process by A Bouasla, A Wójtowicz – Foods, 2019 – mdpi.com

What can play the role of gluten in gluten free pasta? by A Marti, MA Pagani – Trends in food science & technology, 2013 – Elsevier

Performance of quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa Willd) flour in the manufacture of gluten‐free spaghetti by LC Caperuto, J Amaya‐Farfan… – Journal of the Science …, 2001 – Wiley Online Library

Characterisation of gluten-free pasta through conventional and innovative methods: Evaluation of the uncooked products by M Mariotti, S Iametti, C Cappa, P Rasmussen… – Journal of Cereal …, 2011 – Elsevier