Semolina or Besan Pasta – Absolutely no eggs. How to make eggless pasta – two ways!

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This Post Contains Two Recipes for Eggless Pasta

  • Semolina “No Eggs, Mum” Pasta
  • Besan “No Eggs, Mum” Pasta

The Backstory

I have been looking for some time for a way of making pasta without eggs. I had tried it once using flour, water and oil only, but, well, it didn’t have the silkiness of egg pasta and it was much more difficult to keep together. Imagine how suprised I was when…..

I had been at a client’s site for a couple of hours. On the way home, hungry and in need of coffee, I called into Bottego to buy some cheese. Maybe, I thought, I would make some bread. Found a nice piece of cheese – Provolone – and I knew that I had olives in the fridge. That will do for dinner.

Then I thought to ask these wonderful Italian people who often talk food with me whether it was possible to make pasta without egg. YES, she said — just use semolina flour.

So, armed with great semolina flour, the cheese, and some other things I will mention in later posts, I came home and made fresh pasta for dinner. It was fantastic. The texture is somewhat different to regular fresh pasta, but it is oh so very very nice.

To the cooked pasta, I added salt (celtic sea salt) and my home ground pepper, a drizzle of the good olive oil, some chopped parsley from the garden and chunks of the aforementioned Provolone Cheese. The cheese just oozed over the pasta. Nothing more was needed.

Actually I made the pasta this time by hand (the pasta machine being banished to the dungeon since I stopped making egg pasta) but it would be great in a pasta machine too. I think the trick is to give the dough a longer resting time before rolling than you might if using flour and eggs.

Essential Reading

  • Check out the comments below, from August 2011 for a discussion of flours, water, gluten content, binding agents and ways to experiment with making eggless pasta

Semolina “No Eggs, Mum” Pasta

P2

For each large serve:
0.5 cup semolina flour (med. or fine)
0.5 cup plain flour
3 – 4 Tblspn water
1 tspn of your best olive oil

Mix the semolina and flour, and gradually add water and oil, a spoonfull at a time, until a nice pliable and slightly wet dough is formed. The amount of water will vary depending on the flour, semolina and humidity. Leave the dough slightly wet as the semolina will absorb a little more water than ordinary flour will.

Let the dough rest, covered with plastic wrap, for 0.5 hour or more. I left it for 5 hours before rolling.

If you are making the pasta by hand, roll the dough out as thinly as possible. It might help to divide the dough into 2 before you do this, if you have a small bench. Keep rolling until it is as thin as you can get it. Cut into tagletelli sized pieces.

If you are using a pasta maker, roll the dough out, starting with the widest setting, roll it at least twice through each setting, gradually reducing the settings until it is as thin as you want it. Cut into desired widths.

Add to a large pan of boiling salted water with a teaspoon of oil added. Fresh pasta does not take long to cook. The length of time will depend on the thickness of the pasta, but will be only a few minutes.

Drain the pasta and place into serving bowl with a little of the pasta water to keep it slightly wet. Add your sauce – keep it simple to highlight the taste of the pasta rather than the sauce. YUM.

Chickpea Flour Pasta – Besan “No Eggs, Mum” Pasta

Another way to make pasta is with besan and wheat flour. This makes a great pasta dough, easier to work with than semolina pasta dough. The resulting pasta though does taste different than traditional pasta so think of it as a different dish. And because of the higher protein content, it is much more filling than normal pasta and perhaps a little heavier too. But I love it and will be making it often.

Pasta Dough

For 2 – 3 large serves:
3/4 cup chickpea flour (besan, garbanzo flour)
1-1/4 cup plain or pasta flour
1 cup or so of water
a glug of your best extra virgin olive oil

Mix the besan and plain flour, add the oil, and then gradually add water, a little at a time, until a nice pliable and just workable dough is formed. The amount of water will vary depending on the flour, besan and humidity. Leave the dough very slightly wet as the besan may absorb a little more water than ordinary flour will. Let it sit for an hour before rolling, cutting and cooking the pasta. I used the pasta machine, as described above.

People are saying:

Ayurwhat? says:

But I have a few problems with pasta as a daily food. Partly cause it’s dried out and old, I want the soft fresh stuff. But then the soft fresh stuff always has eggs in. And finally because it’s impossible to get decent wholemeal pasta, it always winds up tasting like cardboard, even after what feels like hours of cooking.

Well, Ganga has solved the first two of my problems with a home-made eggless pasta which I will certainly be trying out soon.

This post was updated on Nov 25th, 2013.

From the Pasta Series


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About Ganga108

Heat in the Kitchen, Cooking with Spirit. Temple junkie, temple builder, temple cleaner. Lover of life, people, cultures, travel. Champion of growth, change and awareness. Taker of photos. Passionate about family. Happy.
This entry was posted in 09 Early Spring, Indian, Italian, Lentils, Grains, Rice and Nuts, Pasta, VEGETARIAN and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

30 Responses to Semolina or Besan Pasta – Absolutely no eggs. How to make eggless pasta – two ways!

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  2. Julie Robinson says:

    This is my favorite website to browse, get ideas and be inspired. I have shared it with many of my friends. Such a wealth of beauty and appreciation of the finer points of cuisine and peoples. Thanks.

    Julie, you are too kind. Thank you so much.

  3. Julia says:

    Brilliant! I can’t wait to get hold of some semolina flour. I read once that in Genoa they traditionally make their pasta without eggs, called “trennette”.

    Hi Julia, glad that you found this. It is a thinner, weaker type of pasta dough – don’t roll it as thin as you would other pasta dough. And it cooks very very quickly. Overcook and it turns to mush. But it is very very nice.

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  5. Sunshinemom says:

    I have got to try this one soon!

  6. kristin says:

    this sounds fantastic! as a vegan i’ve struggled to make eggless pasta, with disastrous results. i will HAVE to do this.

  7. Michael says:

    Ran out of eggs, but fortunately have some semolina so nice to find a recipe to try.

    btw why do some cooks add oil to the boiling water when cooking the noodles? It only needs to be added after the noodles are removed from the water, when it becomes useful to ‘stop the noodles sticking’ (if you’re not immediately using them). It of course does absolutely nothing in the pot and just floats on top (everyone knows oil and water doesn’t mix), and all you’re doing is wasting oil.

  8. bergamot says:

    wow, you made home made pasta… definitely looks great

  9. boitrepophefe says:

    Nice site

  10. Mike says:

    Hi,

    I made this recipe and am so glad to have found a vegan alternative to traditional homemade pasta recipes. However, the author grossly understates the amount of water needed to coagulate the dough properly. I’d say you’ll probably end up using closer to 1/4 cup. Remember, you can always add more water to a recipe – but the same is true for flour. If you have dough too watery or sticky, add more flour.

    The second issue regards the ratio of semolina to pasta flour. First, the pasta flour needs to be “00″ (you can get it on Amazon). Because it is so finely milled, it has a higher gluten content than traditional flour. That’s great for pizza dough, but bad for pasta. Why? Higher gluten content causes the resulting pasta to be more gelatinous and, when boiled, produces a noodle with a slightly mushy mouthfeel. Here’s how to address that issue:

    Most people overboil homemade pasta which causes a similar mushy result, but the authors mixture will result in a mushy noodle regardless of the boiling technique. I recommend two solutions: 1) Make the ratio 3/5ths of a cup semolina and 2/5ths “00″ pasta flour. 2) Allow the pasta noodles to hang dry for a couple hours in a room with air circulation (like a ceiling fan or something). This will help get excess moisture out of the noodles. Make sure you watch that pasta. It only takes about 3-4 minutes of rolling boil to get those noodles cooked, assuming you’re working with a standard fettuccine cut. I never attempt a spaghetti cut for homemade noodle recipes since its so easy to turn the result into one enormous mass of mush. Regarding thickness: you want the noodle to be thin, but not translucent. I use the finger test: if I push my finger down on the dough and can see and feel the dough indent, it’s still too thick, but once it doesn’t leave an impression, the dough is ready to be cut.

    Good luck people,
    Mike

    • Ganga108 says:

      Thanks, Mike, great advice. Playing around with the ratio to get a texture that works for you is a great idea. Without eggs to bind the dough, the risk is a poorly defined pasta end product. But there are Italians who use all semolina flour to make pasta, so part of the trick must be in the technique. I do love your idea of drying the pasta for while before cooking.

      I love your passion about and love for pasta, it really shows. But I need to clarify some things about off-the-shelf flour and Tipo 00 flour, especially the misconception that 00 has a high gluten content.

      Italian flour makers don’t classify flours in terms of their protein or gluten content as is done in the U.S. This makes it rather confusing for US-based people.

      In Italy flour is classified them by grind. The types of flour one will see are Integrale (or whole wheat), type “2″ flour the coarsest grind, followed by types “1″ and “0″ which are more medium grinds for bread flour. Type “00″ is the finest grind. In fact, different sorts of Tipo “00″ flour can be used for bread, pizza, pasta and pastry. The flour for the latter items can be very light and have gluten as low as 5%-7%.

      The best, and pretty much most widely available Italian 00 pizza flour comes from Molino Caputo, has 10%-12% high quality gluten, and is selected and milled to make perfect pizza. However, looking at Molina Caputo’s web page, one finds 10 different “00″ flours which can be used for different purposes. The reason for this variation is that wheat, hard or soft, high gluten or low gluten, can be ground to any of these types. Which means that different “00″ flours can have any of a number of baking and cooking characteristics.

      So it is confusing that the “00″ flour you see in specialty stores or online in the U.S. is roughly equivalent to our off-the-shelf plain flour. It’s fairly high in gluten, and good for a lot of things. However not all gluten is created equal; some varieties of wheat contain gluten that is both hard and springy (like the North American hard red summer wheat) and make elastic doughs. Other types contain gluten that’s hard but not springy (Italian durum for example) which produce doughs that are firm but not as elastic. Most Italian flours are of the latter variety.

      Thanks to KitchenBoy for the clear info and this site makes good reading on the differences in flour for pasta and pizza.

      I have made pasta very successfully many times over the past 25 years or so, and most times with good quality, off-the-shelf plain flour, while using 00 has been less successful. (I particularly love plain flour in the UK. Common Tesco plain flour is awsome!) The reason is that the plain flour has more gluten than Italian 00 flour, and gluten is needed for binding unless you are using some other binding agent. Also paying attention to the wheat (using more hard wheat flour than soft wheat) will affect results.

      The linked article above stresses this fact, and suggests using strong flour or maybe Tipo 0 flour, rather than 00. It also talks about the pros and cons of using semolina in pasta flour mixes, that it acts as a good binder and that pasta can be made from just semolina flour. It must be good quality durum wheat flour though.

      I also heard recently of the inclusion of besan (gram flour, chickpea flour) to assist binding. This seems a great idea – besan has wonderful properties explored extensively in Indian cuisine and I suspect that it would have a great result here. It would not need much – a tablespoon or one and a half, I suspect.

      My last point is this. Do what works for you. Play and experiment with different flours that are easily available to you. Mix and match until you have something that is easy to through together on a Saturday night for your family. Cook, serve, eat, laugh, have fun, enjoy.

      Lots of love
      Ganga108

    • Ganga108 says:

      One more thought – the amount of water used will depend on the flour that you choose, AND the humidity of the day (also your height above sea level). Just add water until you get the consistency of dough that you require.

      The same rule applies for making breads and pizzas.

  11. Mike says:

    I stand corrected on the 00-gluten link. I’m using Molino 00 and Bolino Semolina. The best pasta I ever made (pre-vegan) was using a 100% semolina flour base with egg, water, and e.v.o.o.

    To further correct my previous statement – I tried boiling the pasta after letting it hang dry, and the result was almost indistinguishable from my first go ’round.

    I think I’m going to use 3 different types of flours in the next batch, 1/3 each semolina, regular all purpose, and tipo 00. I’ll post a comment to this thread letting everyone know how it turns out.

    You hit on the real kicker here: no eggs as a binding agent. The technique I use comes in how I mix the water and olive oil into the flour mixture. I’ve tried making a little pile of flour on the counter and compressing a little concave space in the center but that just makes for good cookbook photos and doesn’t work as well as you’d think. No, the easiest, most idiot proof way is to use a big Pyrex measuring cup and LUKEWARM water. Ice cold water will screw up your mix every time. Put the flour into the Pyrex dish and then get a spoon ready to stir the flour up while you slowly pour in the water/oil mixture.

    The initial consistency you want is a kind of really moist, flaky pie crust. Once the mixture begins to coalesce, dump it out and start to knead with your hands. The consistency of the dough will change as you knead and you want to make sure you end up with a springy, pliable dough ball that is moist but no so moist that your fingers pull off dough when you touch it.

    RULE OF THUMB: Assume up front that you are going to screw up the ratios of flour/oil/water. I’ve made pasta probably 150 times and the ratio is always, ALWAYS different. Keep “extra” of all your ingredients quick at the ready so you can grab a pinch of flour or water as needed.

    THE KEY: The key to the technique is to take everything SLOWLY when you’re incorporating the water/oil into the flour. Don’t “dump” the water in, rather, gradually incorporate it in. Imagine the flour is “asleep”, and you don’t want to “wake it up” by tossing a load of water on it. Slow and steady ALWAYS wins the race in any kitchen endeavor. Leave the fancy culinary slight-of-hand to Mario Batali or Emeril (BAM!).

    Okay, here’s two tips for making pasta:

    TIP 1: When you’re running your pasta through the pasta machine, remember to occasionally ever-so-lightly re-flour the surface of your dough sheet. This is especially important as the sheet of pasta dough gets thinner because it will become more prone to sticking and the WORST – TEARING. I prefer to use regular flour for the intermittent reflourings, but right before the CUTTING, I rub down the thin sheet of dough with a bit of semolina. The semolina is more granular than regular flour (WAY more granular to tipo 00) and the granularity will prevent the end product (the noodles) from sticking together wherever you pile them up before cooking.

    TIP 2: Also, try to make your pasta dough into a sheet whose shape is as close to “rectangular” as you can get without being OCD about it. Sometimes, I will run an oddly-shaped dough sheet through the same setting level a few times, folding and refolding it as needed until the dough looks more or less like a rectangle. This will ensure that when you finally cut the noodles, you have a consistent length. For this recipe, you’ll take that big dough ball and end up with four separate batches of noodles. In other words, cleave it in half at first, then once you run the first half through a couple times, you’ll realize there’s a lot more length than you’d initially thought, so cleave that half in half yet again. You’ll STILL end up with too much, so I usually make one final half cleave before running the noodles through the fettuccine cutter attachment. If you do it right you’ll end up with 8 separate little piles of noodles each of approximately the same 8″-10″ length. I find a noodle much longer tends to get tangled beyond repair and anything shorter won’t twist properly around the tines of your fork when you eat it.

  12. Carlo Michael "Mike" Morelli III (I'm from TX) says:

    I’ll make one other comment about machine vs hand rolling. I’ve done both and did it by hand the first 50 or so times I made pasta, since I couldn’t afford a quality roller. Here’s some thoughts:

    MACHINE: If you buy a pasta machine, BUY A GOOD ONE. Spend AT LEAST 50 bucks and you’re probably on the right track. If you go cheap, you’re skimping on the tensile strength and thickness of the rolling metal and it WILL BEND AND WARP when you run the dough through it. The one Williams Sonoma sells is good and costs about $75 USD I think. The one I have is my favorite so far: The Atlas 150 Wellness by Maracato (made in Italy, and I bought the red one). It cost $90 but will last forever.

    MACHINE TECHNIQUE: See my above post.

    HAND: If you want to go old school and roll it out by hand, you’ll have to accept a few things up front. 1) you won’t have consistent noodle density and 2) you won’t have consistent noodle length and 3) if you use the below-discussed “fruit rollup” method of cutting the pasta, each noodle will end up looking vaguely jagged since your cutting blade will naturally compress the outer edges of the “fruit rollup” when you cut down.

    HAND TECHNIQUE: Rule No. 1: DO NOT USE A “FRENCH PIN”. French pins are not flat, they have a curve to them, so when you roll out the dough, the center of the pin will be rolling the dough thinner than the outer edges, which likely won’t be touching the dough at all. Use a traditional rolling pin for this. If your dough is too tough to roll out, just throw it out and start over, you wouldn’t want to eat it anyway. 2) THE FRUIT ROLLUP METHOD: Once you roll your dough out to the desired thickness (see my above “finger test”) you can do one of two things: 1) you can attempt to take a pizza roller and roll 20-40 perfect lines to cut out individual noodles OR 2) you can use what I call the “fruit rollup method”. What you do is, once you get the dough to your desired thickness, FLOUR IT DOWN WITH SEMOLINA TO KEEP IT FROM STICKING, then carefully roll the whole thing up so it looks like a rolled up rug (or a fruit rollup). THEN, take a knife and just cut the dough like it was a California Sushi Roll. I’d make a cut every 1/4 inch or so. Like I said above, you’re noodles will not be as uniform, but there is a certain rustic sentimentality associated with doing it this way, kind of like line-drying your clothes instead of using the washer.

    Oh, and finally, one more thing: DO *NOT* BUY AN “AUTOMATED” PASTA MAKER OR BUY THE PASTA MAKING ATTACHMENT FOR YOUR CUISINART!!!! These devices have electric servos and motors in them which heat up during prolonged use and ruin the dough and they are IMPOSSIBLE TO CLEAN. Even industrial kitchens use hand rollers (BIG suckers, but still hand powered – just watch Hell’s Kitchen and you can see one in action).

    Peace,
    Mike

    • Ganga108 says:

      Thanks Mike, gee you should write a blog post of your own! Love your passion and commitment to experimentation.

      I do use the counter top mixing the flour method and love the rustic-ness of it. It also means that i can feel the texture of the dough as I mix by hand once the dough comes together. So for me, the message is: Whatever works for the person, the flour, the consistency of the dough and the equipment at hand is absolutely Ok. Long live pasta!

      • Mchael Morelli says:

        Ganga108,

        I appreciate your compliments. Vegan cooking is a passion. My driving motivation is the stigma vegan cuisine must overcome: people think veganism requires them sacrificing taste and texture.

        When I first became a vegan I had to agree with the omnivore critics. Most vegan dishes at restaurants almost punish the diner with blandness. Whats worse, I’ve found restaurants billing themselves as exclusively vegan to be typically horrible (at least in Dallas/Fort Worth). They mash together dishes without any menu-wide flavor cohesion, subtlety or basic culinary skill.

        Most vegan recipe books are similarly flawed. They are chalk full of recipes from a thousand different cuisines with no unifying principle ingredients or preparation techniques that bind the “vegan cuisine” together. You’ll find an expensive curry dish requiring hours of preparation and rare ingredients on one page and then the most disgusting and facile drivel on the next, like a vomit-inducing “yeast nacho cheese” recipe or a lamentable “fake pasta bolognese” made from textured vegetable protein. Gag!

        I come at vegan cuisine with two precise and critical ambitions: I’m out to 1) prove vegan food can satisfy the most discerning omnivorous palate and 2) develop a true “vegan cuisine” consisting of simple, flavorful dishes from a library of vegan sauces, salads, proteins, starches, vegetables, and desserts that are all prepared with the same rigorous culinary technique demanded by every other standard world cuisine.

        I’ve been a vegan a little more than a year now and have made significant progress. If you’d like me to submit a blog post for your site, email me at mmorelli [at] live [dot] come. I write my own blog too: http://www.impatientidealist.com.

        Thank you,
        Mike

  13. lydija dahl says:

    I’m going to try this recipe – but had a question about binding agents – I was thinking arrowroot or xnathan gum or a commercial vegan egg replacer. Has anyone tried this?

  14. I linked your recipe to my blog on making fresh pasta- it looks great and I think everyone will enjoy having a vegan option!

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  16. Rooma says:

    This is great! Do you get that al-dante texture with fresh pasta?

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