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I recently discovered a book called Ratio by Michael Ruhlman that teaches home cooks like me the codes to making anything in the kitchen. Ruhlman says that every food, from pasta dough to muffins, has a ratio and once you know that ratio, you can make just about anything.
I’m just starting to read and discover the codes and can’t wait to share more about what I learn on my blog and if they work for gluten-free cooking and baking as well.
The first dish I decided try is the ratios spelled out for Ruhlman’s pasta verde or spinach pasta. Could I make a gluten-free spinach pasta using his ratios for regular spinach pasta?
The answer is a resounding, “Yes!”
However, let me back up a bit. I first needed to figure out how to prepare the spinach. Ruhlman writes that I need to blanch, shock and squeeze the spinach. Blanch, shock and squeeze what?
So I turned to Google to figure it out and learned that I could boil the spinach in hot water for 1 minute to blanch it, then add the spinach to a bowl of ice water to shock it. Once it was cool enough to the touch, I could use my hands to squeeze out the excess liquid. Done, done and done!
And now for the ratios.
Ratio for Gluten-Free Spinach Pasta
Ruhlman says that the ratio for pasta is 12 ounces of flour to 6 ounces of egg. I actually bought this exact kitchen scale just so I could weigh my raw ingredients! Ruhlman says the ratios work by weight, not by volume. That said, most home cooks (like me – and you) cook using measurements, so I learned that 12 ounces of flour is just over two cups of Bob’s Red Mill 1-to-1 Gluten-Free Flour Blend (about 2 cups + 2 and 1/2 Tbsps). Each large egg is about 3 ounces.
I decided to make my recipe a little larger (because my family eats pasta like nobody’s business!) so I used 18 ounces (or just over three cups) of gluten-free flour and three large eggs (I just upped the ratios).
While the ratios worked well, I found myself adding in a little extra flour because the dough was too sticky. That said, for all intents and purposes, the ratio for pasta verde worked well in my new recipe for gluten-free spinach pasta.
While putting everything together was easy to do, I find that one of the challenges of making homemade pasta – particularly this gluten-free spinach pasta – is that it takes a lot of time. The dough is easy to make, but rolling the dough and cutting it into even strips, it takes a lot of work.
I’m lucky because I have this gorgeous electric pasta machine that flattens and cuts the gluten-free pasta dough into beautiful, even strips. My mother-in-law purchased it for me a while ago as a birthday gift and let’s just say I’ve gotten good use out of it.
That said, I understand an electric pasta machine is expensive, so another option is to simply cut your pasta using a pasta-cutting rolling pin (check these out – they’re so cool!) or simply to use your rolling pin to flatten the dough, then use your pizza cutters to cut the dough into long strips. Both work well.
I easily spent an hour assembling and cooking all the parts of this gluten-free spinach pasta. I kept asking myself if the effort and time spent making this pasta was worth it. While it does take time, I do think the effort is worth it in the end. If you’re gluten-free and love pasta (like me), you know that nothing comes as close to mimicking pasta made with wheat flour than when you make your own homemade gluten-free pasta.
Is your mouth watering yet?
Thanks to Ruhlman for giving me the ratio I need to make homemade pasta on a whim. Now that I’m armed with this new gluten-free spinach pasta recipe in my gluten-free recipe arsenal, you can rest assured that my family and I will be enjoying homemade pasta quite often.
Now I need to decide what Ruhlman Ratio I want to test next…
Gluten-Free Pasta Verde (Spinach Pasta)
- 8 ounces raw spinach
- 3 cups Bob's Red Mill 1-to-1 Gluten-Free Flour Blend (plus extra for flouring the surface) (about 18 ounces)
- 4 large eggs
- Dash of Kosher salt (reserve for water - do not add to dough)
- First blanch, shock and squeeze spinach. To do this, add spinach to a boiling pot of water for 1 minute (blanch).
- Then drain and put spinach into an ice water bath (shock).
- Once spinach is cool to the touch, squeeze out all the excess liquid.
- Add spinach to food processor and pulse 5-6 times to chop spinach.
- Add flour and eggs to food processor and continue to mix all the ingredients until the dough comes together in a ball. You want your dough slightly sticky but not crumbly. I had to add a little more than two tablespoons of extra flour to get the right consistency.
- Remove dough from food processor and place onto a floured surface.
- Knead the dough slightly to incorporate a little extra flour as needed. Again, you don't want the dough to stick to the surface or your rolling pin, but you don't want it too dry either. The right consistency is somewhere in the middle.
- Roll and cut dough as desired either using your pasta machine or flatten the dough with your rolling pin and cut into desired noodle size using your pizza cutters.
- Place pasta in boiling, salted water for about 45-60 seconds until al dente.
- Drain and toss pasta with sauce of choice (I tossed my the pasta with olive oil and Kosher salt).
- Serve immediately.