There was a time when following a gluten-free diet meant saying goodbye to bowls of comforting pasta, but that has changed. Gluten-free pasta has come a long way, with many options that continue to grow in number.
But while it's easy to get your hands on gluten-free pasta, cooking up a satisfying spaghetti dinner can be another hurdle altogether.
To make sure we all get over that hurdle in fine form, Shauna James Ahern, the blogger behind Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef and author of the newly released Gluten-Free Girl American Classics Reinvented, shared some of her pro tips for cooking better gluten-free pasta every single time.
1. Check pasta doneness by taste, not time.
Suggested cook times on pasta boxes are helpful, but don't rely on those times alone as an indicator of doneness; instead, taste for doneness. Often the suggested cook time may be just a little bit too much, leaving you with sad, mushy pasta. To get the al dente pasta of your dreams that's cooked through yet still firm, start tasting a few minutes before the cook time suggested on the package.
2. Don't forget to salt the water.
On its own, gluten-free pasta is really pretty tasteless. It needs seasoning, in the form of salt, just like regular pasta. After the water comes to a boil, add enough salt to make the water taste like the ocean (about 1/4 cup for a large pot of water), before adding the pasta. Don't worry, the pasta won't absorb all the salt, but it will give it some much-needed flavor.
3. Make just what you need.
We all love leftovers, but they don't always love us. Shauna mentions that storing cooked gluten-free pasta is tough. In fact, she rarely does it herself, and doesn't recommend it: "Here is where the lack of gluten really does make the pasta suffer." For more enjoyable pasta, cook just the amount that's needed.
4. Let the cooked pasta sit in the sauce for 5 minutes before serving.
This is actually an Italian trick, which Shauna tells me is perfect for gluten-free pasta. "This resting allows the starches to fully release from the pasta and into the sauce, which helps to hold everything together." It's important to splash a little bit of the cooking water on top of the pasta and sauce; let it sit for five minutes, then stir everything up!"
Do you have a favorite brand or variety of gluten-free pasta? Share in the comments!