It’s chestnut season in Italy and on my recent trip to Tuscany, I was fortunate enough to learn some of my family’s traditional recipes made with this symbolic fruit, which they like to call, “La Regina dell’Autunno” – the Queen of Autumn.
In various regions of Italy, chestnuts were an important sustenance for the poor. For many centuries, the chestnut tree was, and still is called “albero del pane” or “the bread tree” because chestnut flour was produced and then from this, bread. The chestnut has starred in the culinary history of many civilizations and today, chestnuts are highlighted in many Italian food festivals because the chestnut culinary creativity is endless!
Chestnuts also have several beneficial and nutritional properties such as vitamin B and phosphorus that can contribute to balancing the nervous system and potassium, which has been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular issues.
There are several different traditional recipes that were shared with me and I thoroughly enjoyed every single one. Today, I will share with you one of my favorites, which I have converted into a gluten-free alternative – Fresh Homemade Pasta with Chestnut Flour. We also made two delicious sauces too choose from – a pancetta (bacon) and pecorino cheese sauce and a delightful sauce made with porcini mushrooms and sausages. And since we had some tomatoes, we decided to make a simple sauce of tomatoes and fresh basil. They were all quite devine.
Below is the gluten-free fresh pasta recipe. We made spaghetti, but you can use the same dough to make tagliatelle or lasagna. And since we like to use every little single piece of dough, we made smaller pieces to add to soups.
Fresh Gluten-Free Pasta With Chestnut FlourCuisine: Italian
Gluten Free & Dairy Free
1/2 cup fine yellow corn meal, for kneading + dusting
1/2 cup rice flour for kneading + dusting
1 1/4 cup gluten-free pasta flour, sifted
1 1/2 cups chestnut flour, sifted
3 eggs, room temperature and lightly beaten
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons water
1/4 teaspoon of salt
Sift together fine yellow corn meal and rice flour. Mix well and set aside.
Prepare two large baking sheets lined with a clean dish cloth and sprinkled with a few tablespoons of the corn meal and rice mixture. Set aside.
In a mixing bowl or on a work surface, sift together the flours and make a well in the center of the mound.
Add eggs, olive oil and water to the center of the well and begin mixing the dough with your fingertips, bringing the flour towards the center, and then knead with your hands. Dust your work surface as needed. Because this is a gluten free pasta dough, there’s no gluten to stretch and “activate”, but kneading ensures a smooth dough. Knead dough until you have a homogenous and smooth dough (the dough will be a little harder and less elastic than the glutinous one). Cover dough with plastic wrap and let it rest in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.
After the resting time, cut the dough into evenly sized pieces, which you will work with one at a time. While you work with each piece of dough, keep the rest covered under a damp cloth so they they won’t dry out. Lightly flour the work surface with the cornmeal and rice mixture and flatten each piece of gluten-free pasta dough just enough to be able to insert it into the roller of the pasta machine. Flour generously both sides and pass the flattened piece through the pasta machine, starting on the widest setting. Then fold it in half. Pass it between the two rollers again then fold it in half again. Repeat this step 3 or 4 more times until you get a smooth pasta sheet. Generously dust the pasta sheet and feed it through the next narrower setting on the pasta machine. Repeat this step once or twice without folding it in half. Proceed in this way, gradually decreasing the distance between the two
rollers, until your desired thickness is obtained. (Each pasta machine has different setting, so consult the manual of your model to understand the different thicknesses).
Once your gluten-free pasta sheet is ready, use the cutting setting on your pasta machine and cut the pasta sheet into spaghetti or tagliatelle.** Place the pasta onto the prepared baking sheet and generously dust with cornmeal and rice flour mix.*** Cover each sheet with another clean kitchen towel and leave it to dry at least overnight. The next day, check the pasta for dryness. If it still feels damp, leave it for an extra few hours.
To cook the fresh gluten-free pasta, place it in boiling water, seasoned with a pinch of salt, for 5 minutes or longer, depending on how well-cooked you like it.
Store gluten-free pasta in an airtight closed container and in a dry place for 2 to 3 weeks.
- For those who want to roll out the dough by hand, place dough between two pieces of parchment paper then using a rolling pin, roll out the dough until you have a thin sheet. However, it is advisable not to roll out the sheet too thin because, since there is no gluten, the pasta tends to break more easily. Use a chef knife to cut the past sheet.
- Keep the pasta sheet as is to make lasagna.
- ADVICE: Typically, when making spaghetti or tagliatelle, we toss the cut pasta in some flour and shape it into a nest before placing in the prepared baking sheet to dry. We wanted to try something different and the pasta easily fell apart once dried. We highly recommend you shape your pasta into a nest.
You can find traditional Italian dessert recipes, turned to gluten-free alternatives on ‘Pasqualina’s Table, Our Family’s Traditional Italian Desserts …The Gluten-Free Way’ available on Amazon 👉 here.