You know how a recipe for a pasta dish will always say, “cook the pasta according to package directions”? Yeah. Forget that. I bet the package itself says “cook the pasta according to package directions.” I don’t know, though. I haven’t looked in, like, forever. I have made so much gluten-free pasta over the years that I have become quite the insufferable braggart about the whole business. I want to show you how to make the most gorgeous, lighter and healthier feel-better-serving-it-to-your-family-every-Tuesday-even-in-New-Year’s-Resolution-season sort of gluten-free macaroni and cheese. But first? First, you’re gonna need your very own bragging rights. You need to know how-to boil gluten-free pasta so it’s perfectly al dente, not at all gummy, and holds up as good as or better than any gluteny dried pasta you’ve ever had.
It’s all about the rolling boil, the foaming pasta water, the changing color of the pasta, and then the rinsing. Do this tonight, and you’ll feel like a rock star. Trust me. I’m a professional (told you about the bragging).
There are some really great pasta dishes in my New Cookbook. But you won’t be satisfied if your GF pasta is gummy & weepy. So let’s get to work:
How To Boil Gluten-Free Pasta—the right way!
4 quarts water
1 pound (16 ounces) dried gluten-free pasta, any style (I used Tinkyada spirals)
2 tablespoons coarse salt
Bring water to a rolling boil in a large pot over high heat. Set a couple pieces of the dried pasta aside to help you recall the color of it dried. Add the salt to the pot, followed by the remaining dried pasta. Stir to combine and to make sure none of the pasta is sticking to the bottom of the pot (or to itself). Continue to boil on high heat, stirring occasionally, until the water returns to a rolling boil (about 2 minutes), and then begins to bubble vigorously and to foam (another 5 to 7 minutes, depending upon the size & shape of the pasta). Turn down the flame a bit if necessary to keep the pot from boiling over.
Once the pasta water has foamed considerably, begin stirring the pasta more frequently and checking the color of the pasta. Once it has lightened in color (usually another 2 minutes), test a piece to ensure it has no dry center but is still a bit firm. At that moment, remove the pot from the heat and drain off all the pasta water. Rinse the pasta thoroughly with warm tap water (or cold tap water if you are serving the pasta cold), then toss with oil or butter to ensure that the pasta doesn’t stick to itself.
If not serving immediately, place into a lightly oiled bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap until ready to serve. Store any leftovers in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator. Can be reheated in the microwave.