Gluten-free pasta perfected

A chef noodles around for the right formula.

When Sotto restaurant opened in Cincinnati last year, Chef de Cuisine Danny Combs accommodated guests’ gluten-free requests by substituting commercial gluten-free dry pasta in recipes for his signature dishes. “I spent a lot of time developing menu items, but when I tried them with the gluten-free products on the market, they turned out tasteless and limp,” he says. So he decided to make his own fresh pasta dough, combining various gluten-free flours to achieve the best result. “Through trial and error, we honed the recipe, though it isn’t suited to all shapes. Noodles that are as thick as they are wide, such as ravioli, tonnarelli and cappellacci, have the best texture,” says Combs. Now, one day a week, he makes the gluten-free pasta  in a temperature- and humidity-controlled room inside Sotto’s kitchen. 

Short Rib Cappellacci

Finding the right formula wasn’t as simple as mixing special flours with water and eggs. Combs added xanthum gum as a binder to mimic gluten  and replaced the water with milk to form a workable  dough. Even so, the dough falls apart easily and can’t be rerolled, so  it’s best to nail it the first time. Combs also found that cutting the dough into thin strands results in a pasta that’s too soft. 

Smart swaps

Instead of ...Try this ...
Semolina and double-zero flourBlend of cornstarch, tapioca starch and brown- and white-rice flour  
SpaghettiGluten-free raviloi



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