In celebration of World Pasta Day on October 25, Chef Viola Buitoni offers her advice on how to cook gluten-free pasta. We’ll also share our favorite pasta picks, ingredient pairings and links to fantastic gluten-free pasta recipes.
Who is Viola?
Viola Buitoni is a native Italian living in the Bay Area with her family with over thirty years of professional experience in Italian cooking.
Viola is the Italian cooking instructor for 18 Reasons and The Civic Kitchen. For the past ten years, she has taught passionate home cooks the everyday art of Italian food. Viola also leads food culture tours to Italy and promotes awareness of Italian food imports.
Although I haven’t had the pleasure yet of meeting Viola, we’ve followed each other for years on Instagram where she shares her colorful cooking adventures and on her website. She most recently asked me to judge for the Good Food Awards where she served as the Co-Chair of the Grains Category. Her knowledge of food runs deep!
A Few Questions for Viola about Gluten-Free Pasta
1. Are you gluten free? How did you come to know about the nuances of gluten-free pasta?
As an Italian, pasta is a mainstay of what I eat and teach. Although, I’m not gluten-free, I’m sensitive to the needs of many people who have to practice living without gluten for their well being. I have watched the transition of gluten-free pasta from a pharmacy item to a gourmet product with a profile all its own.
2. According to NPR, Italy has more than 4000 Gluten-Free Restaurants even though the rates of Celiac (1% are consistent with the rest of the world.) Why do you think there is an overall awareness and support of gluten free options throughout Italy?
Italian food has a ton of gluten-free options. To many people’s surprise, we eat a lot of foods that are naturally gluten-free. As a result, creating a delicious menu that doesn’t involve gluten isn’t much of a stretch.
3. What are a few important things to consider when purchasing a store bought gluten free pasta?
The flour and provenance. I have really been enjoying legume based pasta. Most of it comes from the center of Italy which has the best legumes.
4. Any tips for how to cook gluten-free pasta at home, from scratch?
Find a good flour and play with it until you come up with something satisfying and easy to work.
5. What ingredients pair well with gluten-free pasta?
I find that gluten-free pasta pairs well dressed with seasonal vegetables diced and cooked al dente. The firm soul of the vegetables provide a good contrast for the softer mouth-feel of the pasta.
4 Tips to Cook Gluten-Free Pasta
- Never rinse pasta because rinsing can strip the top starch layer released during cooking. This alters temperature which removes flavor and nutrients. Starch is the matchmaker to the marriage of pasta and sauce, without it they’d be unable to form the attachment we so cherish. Instead….
- Toss in a bit of starchy cooking water, the starch and oil binding will keep your pasta tender and give a creamy mouthfeel.
- Use a shallow, wide pot rather than a tall stockpot. A pound of pasta requires 2 to 3 quarts of water.
- a wider pot makes it easier to use a handheld strainer to fish out the cooked pasta rather than transporting a pot of boiling water to the sink and pour it into a colander, a much better effort and safer.
- the shorter distance between pasta and heat source makes for more even cooking. Indeed when I use a stockpot, I often find bits of over cooked pasta stuck to its bottom.
- Leave it al dente, and dress it in the saucepan to favor the absorption of the sauce into the “flesh” of the pasta rather than just the coating of its surface.
Our Gluten Free Pasta Picks
Straight from our Zestfull friends!
Chef and Cooking Instructor- Cooking with Viola Buitoni
They have a gluten free line of pastas made with corn, rice, green pea and red lentils that are organic and artisan made.
A clear winner with many folks that will please any palate! Grain free options too.
This is one of my favorite gluten-free pastas. The addition of veggies give the noodles a wonderful flavor and texture. You don’t need much more than to add good olive oil and lemon zest.
In the last ten years, we’ve followed a gluten free diet. Our options have grown exponentially to include many brands we love and enjoy regularly.-Karen, Gluten Free Food Blogger – Healthy Gluten Free Family
This is the one we serve to guests and everyone loves. And they’re not being polite- they are an honest crew!
This pasta is from Italy, has great flavor and comes in many shapes. It is one of the few brands we’ve found with small pasta which we love to use in soups.
Even more gluten-free pasta options
Feeling ambitious and want to make your own gluten-free pasta?
- Homemade Gluten Free Pasta– Healthy GF Family
- Fresh Chickpea Pappardelle with Buttered Chanterelles and Wine -Bojon Gourmet
- Our favorite Gluten Free Pastas– Healthy GF Family
- Spicy Tomato Chickpea with Olives and Greens (Vegan Option) – Bojon Gourmet
- Gluten Free Gnocchi with Ricotta and Cherry Tomato Sauce– Salima’s Kitchen
- Lemongrass Chicken Pad Thai– Ming Tsai
- Gluten Free Chicken Broccoli Lo- Mein– My Gluten Free Kitchen
Check out our other guides on Zestfull!
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Shahla is a mom of two girls who live with environmental allergies such as asthma and eczema. Their food allergies include tree nuts, peanuts, sesame and other seeds. Shahla is trained as a Natural Chef who wants to share the comfort that cooking has brought her family. She believes that everyone, regardless of dietary requirements, deserves a plate full of color and flavor.