These delicious, time-honored recipes bring out the best of Italy.
The center of every traditional Italian meal is a heaping bowl of homemade pasta. My family’s Sunday dinners consisted of piled-high platters of spaghetti and meatballs, trays of steaming manicotti and giant pans of bubbling lasagna. Boisterous relatives would gather around our kitchen table and dive in as if it were their last meal.
The word pasta literally means “paste” in Italian. Originally, it was a paste made from flour, water and salt. Years later, a fancier version emerged with the addition of eggs and it was called “Sunday pasta.”
The time-honored tradition of pasta-making was handed down from mother to daughter or, in my case, aunt to niece. The table was loaded with lofty mounds of flour, a half dozen eggs, warm water, a vessel of olive oil and a rolling pin—all that was needed to make ravioli, spaghetti, lasagna and fettuccine.
One of my favorite childhood memories is of my Aunt Carmel preparing homemade pasta on a large wooden board in her meticulous kitchen. Within minutes, using only her hands and a rolling pin, she’d create perfectly even, thin fettuccine noodles piled high on the floured board. She always claimed a pasta machine would slow her down. And I believe it would have.
For most people, homemade pasta equals comfort food. For those living gluten-free, homemade pasta is more akin to a culinary miracle. Now with these recipes and a little practice, you can make homemade gluten-free pasta with ease. Some recipes require a food processor and a pasta machine. For others, a bowl and a whisk are all you need.
Mix and match your homemade pastas with the classic Italian sauces. They take only minutes to make. Buon appetito!
Fresh & Flavorful Sauces
MAKES 3½ CUPS
This quick sauce is simple and flavorful.
Use high-quality canned tomatoes for best results.
2 (28-ounce) cans whole tomatoes in basil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
1 tablespoon sugar
¼ teaspoon salt, more to taste
-Fresh ground pepper, to taste
¼ cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1. Place tomatoes with juice in a food processor or blender and process just until smooth.
2. Transfer tomato puree to a saucepan and warm over medium heat.
3. Stir basil, oregano, sugar, salt and pepper into warm tomato puree. Bring mixture to a slow simmer and cook about 15 minutes, stirring frequently, until tomato sauce resembles a thin oatmeal. Do not overcook. Taste and adjust seasoning accordingly.
4. In a small pan, heat oil and add minced garlic. Cook until garlic is light brown or just beginning to color. Add oil and garlic to tomato sauce, stirring to combine. Serve warm sauce over cooked pasta.
Each ¼ cup contains 62 calories, 4g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 280mg sodium, 6g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 4g sugars, 1g protein, 2 Est GL.
MAKES ½ CUP
Top ravioli with this wonderful, nutty-flavored sauce. Simple and tasty, it just takes about 2 minutes to make.
6 tablespoons butter or dairy-free buttery sticks
¼ cup minced fresh sage leaves
-Parmesan cheese or dairy-free alternative, for garnish
1. Melt butter in small skillet over medium heat.
2. Add sage leaves and simmer until butter begins to turn a light brown color.
3. Remove from heat and pour over cooked ravioli or pasta of choice. Garnish with Parmesan cheese and serve.
Each ¼ cup contains 313 calories, 35g total fat, 22g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 90mg cholesterol, 5mg sodium, 2g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 0g sugars, 0g protein, 0 Est GL.
Lemon Artichoke Sauce
MAKES 1 CUP
A refreshing sauce made with artichoke hearts, lemon and herbs, this recipe is perfect on homemade pasta. Light and delicate, it takes only minutes to prepare and makes enough for 1 pound of pasta. For more robust flavor, add a pinch of red pepper flakes or a tablespoon of capers.
1 lemon, juiced
1 (14-ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
⅓ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons butter or dairy-free alternative
3 cloves garlic, chopped
½ cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
-Salt and pepper, to taste
-Pinch of red pepper flakes or 1 tablespoon capers, optional
½ cup Parmesan cheese or dairy-free alternative, optional
1 pound cooked pasta
1. In a small bowl, place lemon juice and artichoke hearts, stirring to combine. Let sit 30 minutes, drain and set aside.
2. In a medium saucepan, heat olive oil and butter. Add garlic and cook 1 minute. Add artichokes, cooking (turning occasionally) until they are a light-golden brown, about 12 minutes.
3. Add wine and reduce by half, about 5 minutes. Add parsley, salt and pepper. Add red pepper flakes or capers, if desired. Cover and simmer 2 to 3 minutes.
4. Add sauce and ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, if using, to cooked pasta. Toss ingredients to evenly coat the pasta. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top, if desired.
Each ¼ cup contains 270 calories, 24g total fat, 6g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 15mg cholesterol, 39mg sodium, 9g carbohydrate, 5g fiber, 1g sugars, 2g protein, 2 Est GL.
MAKES 1 POUND
This versatile recipe can make different types of pasta, depending on the attachments on your machine. Follow the recipe exactly. Your dough should feel like soft modeling clay. Since egg sizes vary greatly, use 2 extra-large eggs or 3 small ones for best results. If the dough is too dry, add an additional ½ to 1 teaspoon water when blending dough in the food processor. If it’s too wet and sticky, use a little flour blend on your rolling pin and on your hands. This recipe can be made with egg replacement.
1¼ cups Mary’s Baking Flour Blend
¼ cup tapioca starch/flour
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
½ teaspoon salt
2 extra-large eggs or 3 small eggs
1 tablespoon olive oil
1½ tablespoons warm water
1. Place flour blend, tapioca starch/flour, xanthan gum and salt in a food processor and pulse to combine ingredients. Add eggs, oil and water and process until dough forms a moist ball.
2. Transfer dough to a cutting board and shape it into a 4-inch disk. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest 30 minutes.
3. Cut dough into 8 equal pieces. Using a lightly floured rolling pin or your hand, flatten each piece into a rectangle the size of a playing card.
4. Feed the pasta into the widest setting of an electric or hand-crank pasta machine, running it through to create a pasta ribbon. Fold the pasta ribbon in half, end to end, and run it through the machine once more. Adjust the machine to a narrower setting (setting 3 works best for most applications), and put dough through 2 more times. When done, the dough should be about 1/8 to 1/16 inch thick. (Thickness is up to you and the cooperation of your dough.)
5. Place dough ribbons on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and cover with plastic wrap. Continue rolling out remaining dough. If you’re making pasta for ravioli or lasagna, you’re done.
6. If you’re making spaghetti, linguini or fettuccine, add the appropriate attachment to the machine. Cut dough ribbons to desired length and feed them through the machine.
7. Place finished pasta on another parchment-lined baking pan and dust with gluten-free flour blend, tossing pasta with your fingers to keep pasta from sticking together. Cover pasta with a clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap until ready to cook.
8. To cook pasta, place noodles in a pot of boiling salted water. Cook just until tender yet firm (2 to 3 minutes for fettuccine, 2 minutes for spaghetti, linguini and capellini). Taste a strand of pasta often to determine doneness.
9. Drain pasta (no need to rinse).
Serves 4 to 6. Each serving contains 180 calories, 5g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 79mg cholesterol, 232mg sodium, 31g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 0g sugars, 4g protein, 19 Est GL.
For Egg-Free Pasta, omit the eggs. Add 1½ teaspoons Ener-G egg replacement to dry ingredients. Combine 1 tablespoon flax meal with 7 tablespoons hot water; let cool. Add this mixture to dry ingredients in step 1, along with oil and water. If dough isn’t moist enough to form a ball, add more water, a teaspoon at a time. Dust dough with gluten-free flour if it’s too sticky to handle.
TIP Boiling water may cause thin, delicate pasta to separate and fall apart. To prevent this, bring the water to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer before dropping in the pasta. Let pasta “set” 1 to 2 minutes before turning up the heat again.
MAKES 8 TO 10 CREPES
Simple to make and easy to handle, these tasty crepes can be used as a light pasta to make manicotti, cannelloni and lasagna. Crepes can be made ahead. Stack them, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate in a zip-top bag up to 5 days. This recipe can be made with egg replacement. See instructions below.
¾ cup Mary’s Baking Flour Blend
-Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs (such as a combination of flat-leaf parsley, basil, oregano)
4 large eggs
1 cup milk of choice
2 tablespoons butter or dairy-free alternative
1. In medium bowl, mix flour blend, salt and herbs.
2. In a separate bowl, mix eggs and milk.
3. In a 12-inch crepe pan or 12-inch non-stick frying pan, melt butter. Whisk melted butter into egg mixture to combine.
4. Whisk egg mixture into dry ingredients until batter is smooth and silky.
5. In the hot pan (it should be lightly greased from the melted butter), pour just enough batter to cover the bottom of the pan (about ¼ cup). Swirl the pan until the batter reaches the edges. Cook until the edges of the crepe start to pull away from the sides of the pan and the middle begins to firm, about 1 minute. Flip crepe with a spatula and cook on the other side, about 1 minute. Slide crepe onto a plate and repeat with remaining batter. Crepes can be stacked without sticking.
Each crepe contains 106 calories, 5g total fat, 3g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 93mg cholesterol, 50mg sodium, 11g carbohydrate, 0g fiber, 2g sugars, 4g protein, 7 Est GL.
For Egg-Free Crepe Pasta, omit 4 eggs. Add 3 teaspoons Ener-G egg replacement to dry ingredients before adding the herbs in step 1. Mix well. Combine 2 tablespoons flax meal with 6 tablespoons hot water to make a gel. Let cool. Mix gel with milk in step 2. Batter will be thick; add 4 to 6 tablespoons of water or milk of choice, 1 tablespoon at a time, to thin the dough.
Lasagna, Ravioli, Gnocchi
MAKES 8 TO 10 SERVINGS
8 ounces fresh mozzarella or dairy-free alternative
1 cup ricotta cheese or dairy-free alternative
3 tablespoons milk of choice
2 tablespoons fresh, finely chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley
1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese or dairy-free alternative, divided
-Salt and pepper, to taste
-Pinch of ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 red, orange or yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 pound crimini mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 medium zucchini, thinly sliced
½ teaspoon finely chopped fresh Italian flat parsley
½ teaspoon sea salt
-Pepper, to taste
-Easy Marinara Sauce or tomato sauce of choice, divided
1 recipe prepared Homemade Pasta, Homemade Crepe Pasta or gluten-free lasagna noodles (See Shopping List on right)
1. To make cheese filling, cut mozzarella into ¼-inch slices and set aside. In a medium bowl, combine ricotta cheese, milk, parsley, ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Mix together until creamy. Set aside.
2. To make vegetable filling, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and sauté 1 minute. Add pepper slices and sauté, about 3 minutes. Add mushrooms, zucchini, parsley, sea salt and pepper. Sauté until mushrooms are golden brown and veggies are al dente.
3. Preheat oven to 375°F. Set aside a 9×13-inch baking dish.
4. To assemble lasagna, add ½ cup marinara sauce to baking dish. Place pasta ribbons or 2 crepes end to end, covering the bottom of the pan. Layer ½ cup sauce over the pasta, ⅓ of the vegetable filling over the sauce and ⅓ of the mozzarella slices and cheese filling over the vegetable filling. Sprinkle ¼ cup Parmesan cheese over the cheese filling. Place more pasta or 2 crepes over the Parmesan cheese and repeat the layering process. Top with more pasta or 2 crepes, remaining ½ cup sauce, remaining mozzarella slices and cheese filling and remaining Parmesan cheese. Cover baking dish with lightly oiled foil.
5. Place lasagna in preheated oven and bake 30 to 40 minutes or until lasagna is thoroughly heated.
6. Remove from oven and let rest uncovered 15 minutes. Cut into squares and serve.
Each serving with Easy Marina Sauce contains 396 calories, 23g total fat, 9g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 87mg cholesterol, 969mg sodium, 32g carbohydrate, 3g fiber, 8g sugars, 17g protein, 17 Est GL.
TIP If using store-bought lasagna noodles, cook them al dente before making this dish. Precooking is not required for Homemade Pasta or Homemade Crepe Pasta in this dish.
Spinach Ricotta Gnocchi
MAKES 30 GNOCCHI
Making gnocchi was my favorite job as a child. Rolling the dough into little pear-shaped balls and dropping them into bubbling water was as much fun as eating them. Traditionally made from potatoes, this recipe is a delicate version of an old classic. It can be made with egg replacement.
4 tablespoons unsalted butter or dairy-free alternative, divided
½ pound baby spinach leaves
2 tablespoons minced shallots
1 cup ricotta or dairy-free ricotta, well drained
⅓ cup Parmesan cheese or dairy-free alternative
3 large egg yolks, beaten
¼ cup tapioca starch/flour, more for rolling dough
3 tablespoons potato starch (not potato flour)
-Pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
-Salt and pepper, to taste
-Rice flour, for dusting
-Easy Marinara Sauce or Brown Butter Sage Sauce
1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Grease a 9×13-inch baking dish by melting 2 tablespoons of butter in it. Set aside.
2. In a skillet over medium heat, melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Add spinach and shallots. Sauté, stirring frequently, until spinach is dry and almost sticks to the pan. Transfer mixture to a food processor or blender and process it into a puree. Alternatively, cut it fine with a knife.
3. In a large bowl, place ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, egg yolks, tapioca starch/flour, potato starch, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Add spinach puree to bowl and mix until combined. Refrigerate dough 30 minutes.
4. Dough will be soft and sticky. If it’s too moist to hold together, add tapioca starch/flour, 1 teaspoon at a time, until you can work the dough. Using 2 teaspoons or your hands, shape dough into pasta the size of a pecan. Drop gnocchi into a bowl of rice flour and roll them in the flour, dusting off excess flour. Place gnocchi on prepared baking sheet.
5. Preheat oven to 350°F.
6. Fill a 6-quart pot 2/3 full with salted water. Bring to a light boil and drop gnocchi into simmering water, about 10 at a time. Let gnocchi cook 5 minutes, stirring gently once or twice to make sure they don’t stick together. Remove them from water with a slotted spoon.
7. Arrange gnocchi in a single layer in prepared baking dish (melted butter should cover the bottom). Pour sauce of choice (Easy Marinara Sauce, or Brown Butter Sage Sauce) over gnocchi.
8. Place gnocchi in preheated oven and bake 15 minutes until heated through. Serve hot.
Serves 5. Each serving without sauce contains 241 calories, 16g total fat, 9g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 169mg cholesterol, 192mg sodium, 15g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 0g sugars, 11g protein, 8Est GL.
Serves 5. Each serving with Easy Marinara Sauce contains 414 calories, 27g total fat, 11g saturated fat, 0g trans fat,169mg cholesterol, 976mg sodium, 31g carbohydrate, 4g fiber, 11g sugars, 14g protein, 13 Est GL.
For Egg-Free Spinach Ricotta Gnocchi, omit the egg yolks. Combine 1 tablespoon flax meal with 3 tablespoons hot water to make a gel. Set aside to cool. Mix 2 teaspoons Ener-G egg replacement with 4 tablespoons water. Add flax gel and egg replacement mixture to wet ingredients in step 3 to replace 3 egg yolks. Do not cook egg-free gnocchi in boiling water. Instead, bake them with sauce an additional 5 to 10 minutes (20 to 25 minutes total) until done.
Giant Mushroom Ravioli
MAKES 12 TO 15 LARGE RAVIOLI
2 large egg whites
½ teaspoon salt, more to taste
-Pinch of pepper, more to taste
¼ cup cream or unsweetened coconut milk beverage
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 ounces chopped wild mushrooms, such as shiitake, porcini, oyster or crimini
2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs (such as a combination of oregano, thyme, basil, parsley)
¼ cup Parmesan cheese or dairy-free alternative
1 recipe (1 pound) uncooked Homemade Pasta
-Egg wash (1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water) or ¼ cup milk of choice or water
-Gluten-free flour blend, for dusting
1. To make the filling, place egg whites, salt and pepper in a food processor and whip 2 to 3 minutes until egg whites begin to stiffen. Add cream in a slow, steady stream, pulsing to create a mousse. In a sauté pan, heat oil. Add mushrooms and herbs and sauté 3 to 5 minutes until mushrooms begin to brown. Add mushroom mixture and Parmesan cheese to mousse and pulse the food processor until ingredients are blended and minced. Adjust seasonings. Refrigerate filling 30 minutes before using.
2. Make Homemade Pasta dough according to instructions. Cut dough into 8 equal pieces. Flatten each with your palm or with a rolling pin lightly dusted with gluten-free flour, forming each piece into a rectangle the size of a playing card. Cover with plastic wrap.
3. Using an electric or hand-crank pasta machine, feed the pasta into the widest setting. Fold dough ribbon in half, end to end, and run it through the machine once more. Adjust the machine to a narrower setting and put the dough ribbon through 1 or 2 more times. (For ravioli, the dough needs to be thin but pliable; try setting #3.) You should end up with eight 8×4-inch pasta ribbons.
4. Place dough ribbons on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and lightly dusted with gluten-free flour. Cover with plastic wrap. Continue rolling out remaining dough until all dough is used. Place dough ribbons on prepared baking sheet and cover.
5. Brush pasta ribbons with egg wash or milk of choice. Place 1 tablespoon filling in the middle of a pasta ribbon every few inches, to make about 3 to 4 ravioli per strip. Be careful not to overstuff ravioli or they will be hard to seal.
6. Brush another similar-size pasta ribbon with egg wash or milk of choice and place it over the top of the strip with the filling. Using your fingers, gently press around the filling to seal. Cut edges with a knife or ravioli cutter using the beveled edge. Each ravioli will be about 3×4 inches. Repeat with remaining pasta ribbons.
7. Using a spatula, transfer ravioli to another baking sheet lined with parchment paper and lightly dusted with gluten-free flour.
8. With a slotted spoon or by hand, gently place ravioli in a pot of boiling salted water. Cook ravioli until firm but tender, about 7 minutes. Remove from water with a slotted spoon and drain completely.
9. Top ravioli with your favorite sauce and serve warm.
Serves 15. Each serving without sauce contains 102 calories, 4g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 49mg cholesterol, 206mg sodium, 13g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 0g sugars, 3g protein, 7Est GL.
Serves 15. Each ravioli with Brown Butter Sage Sauce contains 144 calories, 9g total fat, 4g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 61mg cholesterol, 207mg sodium, 13g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 0g sugars, 3g protein, 7 Est GL.
For Egg-Free Ravioli Filling, omit 2 egg whites. Combine 2 tablespoons cornstarch or arrowroot powder, salt, pepper and cream of choice in a saucepan. Add ½ cup cool water and blend well. Heat mixture on low setting, stirring until it begins to thicken. Add cooked mushrooms and herbs, stirring until thick. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Transfer mixture to a food processor. Add Parmesan cheese and process to create a mousse. Proceed with recipe as instructed.
TIP Pasta can be frozen up to 2 months. Package it in single serving sizes for an easy meal that’s ready in minutes.
MAKES 6 CUPS
2 cups brown rice flour
2 cups white rice flour
1⅓ cups potato starch (not potato flour)
⅔ cup tapioca starch/flour
1. Mix ingredients together. Store in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator until used.
Each cup contains 564 calories, 2g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 4mg sodium, 127g carbohydrate, 4g fiber, 7g protein.
Mary Capone is creator of Bella Gluten-Free allergy-friendly baking mixes (bellaglutenfree.com) and author of The Gluten-Free Italian Cookbook (The Wheat Free Gourmet Press), available at GlutenFreeAndMore.com.