Let’s be clear up front. No matter what other sites will tell you, it is not really possible in a home environment to produce the type of pasta that can made with eggs, or the commercially produced egg free pasta. We can make other pasta, however, that will good, and have a special taste and texture of their own.
I work with several different recipes for eggless pasta. One with semolina flour, one with besan, or chickpea flour, and one with both. Each gives quite a different result. It pays to experiment with each of them until you find a pasta noodle that you prefer. The third type has been my most successful and is my current favourite, so make sure that you check that one out below.
When I first started making pasta without eggs, it was my Italian provodore that put me on to semolina flour. When I began making egg free pasta with ordinary flour, the dough was difficult to work with and I could not get that silkiness that I really wanted from the pasta noodles. My providore sent me home with semolina flour and cheese, along with many other gorgeous ingredients.
I made fresh pasta for dinner. It was great. The texture is somewhat different to regular fresh pasta, but it is very good.
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. It needs patience and some love and attention. It does need more kneading than the egg based pasta dough.
Semolina “No Eggs” Pasta
Alternatively, use all semolina flour and adjust accordingly.
Mix the semolina and flour, and gradually add water and oil, a spoonful 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 well salted, 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.
recipe notes and alternatives
Also try a mix of 100g semolina flour, 100g Durum flour and 50g Tipo 00 flour with 100g water. It will be a dry dough and will have to be kneaded well for quite some time, but will come together nicely.
Chickpea Flour Pasta – Besan “No Eggs” Pasta Noodles
Another way to make pasta or noodles 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 make it as often as semolina pasta.
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.
Sesame Flavoured Pasta | Noodles
I am still on the hunt for different variations that produce wonderful noodles / pasta. This one is absolutely delightful, bringing together the best parts of the two previous recipes with some sesame seeds as a binding agent. It is a pasta that I made more recently, and am very pleased with the results. You can use this recipe for pasta (i.e. to use in Italian pasta recipes) or as noodles (i.e. more as an accompaniment to other dishes, or in more Asian inspired uses).
Of course the trick with eggless pasta is to find something that will absorb moisture enough to hold the pasta together and give it texture. This time I used ground sesame seeds, but there are a number of seeds and nuts that are used in other cuisines, e.g. India, to thicken sauces, and it makes sense that those thickening properties will work with pasta too. In the future I will experiment with ground poppy seeds and ground cashew nuts as the binding agent.
for 2 serves:
0.5 cups semolina flour
0.5 cups plain flour
scant 0.25 cup besan (chickpea flour, gram flour)
1.5 Tblspn finely ground toasted sesame seeds
1 Tblspn extra virgin olive oil + more for cooking and serving
Toast your sesame seeds first, in a heavy pan over medium heat, shaking the pan or stirring the seeds almost constantly until a deep golden. Grind to a powder in a spice grinder.
Mix the dry ingredients together, then slowly add tepid or slightly warm water until the dough comes together. Using your hands, knead the dough, adding only drops of water until the dough is smooth and pliable.
Allow the dough to rest for 30 minutes.
Using your pasta machine, roll the dough out, beginning at the largest opening (roll the dough through around 8 or 10 times, folding the dough in half each time). Dust with flour between each rolling if it feels a little sticky.
Gradually decrease the opening sizes, rolling the dough through each one 2 or 3 times, without folding. I don’t use the thinnest opening. Dust with flour between each rolling if required, but by now it is unlikely that you will need to.
Using the pasta cutting attachment, cut the rolled out dough into fettuccine sized pasta / noodles. Dust ever so lightly with some flour. Treat the pasta noodles very gently as they have a tendency to stick together if not handled lightly.
Heat a large pot full of well-salted water until boiling. Add a good glug of olive oil to the water. Carefully add the pasta, a few strands at a time, into the water, so they don’t stick together. It will only take a couple of minutes to cook.
Drain, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, and serve as desired.
I have some other experiments that I plan to try – using Mung Bean flour, using Buckwheat Flour, making flavoured pasta such as basil pasta, and adding a little (1 gram) baking soda to the dough.