I’ve had a few questions on my cacio e pepe post about whether or not the one-pot principle can be applied to gluten free pasta – questions I could not answer because I’d never touched gluten free anything before. So I tried it, and I learned a few things.
Let me just start by saying that I don’t really understand the gluten-free trend. I get that some people are legitimately allergic to wheat, and I get that refined starches are not so great health-wise, but I don’t get eliminating gluten specifically as a dieting tactic. Doritos are gluten free! Am I missing something here?
So I’m going into this with a certain bias, but for the benefit of those with celiac, I think this is worth the trouble. I chose a bag of organic brown rice pasta because risotto is made from rice, so I know rice starch is good and starchy, which is important for one-pot applications. For whatever reason, the gluten free powers that be have decided that their pasta will be sold in twelve ounce bags instead of pound bags, which is weird, but eh.
Long story short, you can totally one-pot brown rice pasta. You will definitely need more liquid than you would for wheat pasta though (one-and-a-half times as much to be exact). And I have to say, brown rice pasta tastes super weird to me – like it has this tang to it…and when you one-pot a pasta you’re making sauce out of the starch, so none of that tang is going to get washed away the way it might if you drained the pasta and made a separate cheese sauce.
But if you’re gluten free, you might struggle to make a traditional roux-based cheese sauce anyway. And once you add some sharp cheddar to this pot it tastes pretty darn decent. I also think this would work just as well with a thin brown rice noodle in my one-pot cacio e pepe, as long as you use the brown rice pasta-to-water ratio instead of the wheat pasta-to-water ratio.
One-Pot Gluten Free Mac and Cheese
-one 12-oz bag of brown rice pasta
-4 1/2 cups water (or chicken or veggie broth)
-2-3 cups grated sharp cheddar
-pinch of cayenne
-1/2 tsp dry mustard (or regular mustard if you don’t have dry – mustard and cheddar just go)
-salt to taste
-(optional) gluten-free bread crumbs, crushed chips, or almond meal
1. Heat pasta and water together with a pinch of salt (leave the salt out if you are using broth). In a large pot over medium heat and simmer until: the water is mostly absorbed, the liquid that’s left is thickened, and the pasta is cooked (I’m not so sure brown rice pasta is capable of “al dente”). If the pasta isn’t fully cooked at this point, add a bit of water. If there is too much starchy sauce, scoop some out with a ladle or spoon.
2. Remove pasta pot from heat, add grated cheddar (optional: save some for topping) and stir until the cheese is melted thoroughly. Add cayenne and mustard and stir to combine. Taste the pasta for seasoning and add salt if necessary. Black or white pepper is also allowed.
3. This makes a good stove-top mac if you want to stop right here, but if you like, you can transfer the macaroni and cheese to a baking dish and cover with crunchies (gluten free bread crumbs, crushed chips, almond meal, etc.) and grated cheese. Then broil until the crumbs are nicely browned and the cheese is melted.
If you find yourself with a full pound bag of gluten free pasta, use 6 cups of water or broth instead of 4 1/2.
**If you are not gluten free, you can make this with one pound of regular pasta and one quart of water or broth – super easy one-pot mac!