The first time I met Pepe was about three years ago at his restaurant, Mare Sole, perched on a dock in the little coastal town of Santa Marinella, just outside of Rome. He was wearing a biker’s bandana and I knew my meal was going to be really good. That night he served us a gnocchi made only with flour and no potato. His sauce was filled with local seafood like shrimp, clams, mussels and squid tossed in extra-virgin olive oil, crushed red pepper flakes and plenty of parsley.
“You can judge a man by his gnocchi alone. Pepe’s gnocchi were no exception. His were a mirror to his soul—light, airy and ever welcoming.”
My friends and I are playing with ratios again as part of the Gluten-Free Ratio Rally. What’s the Gluten-Free Ratio Rally? We’re a group of food bloggers and cookbook authors committed to baking with ratios. So when I heard that this month’s assignment was choux pastry, I thought of Pepe and his pasta. Thanks Erin, aka The Sensitive Epicure, for being our host! Please check Erin’s site or below for the complete list of bloggers with links to their choux pastry recipes.
So what is choux pastry, anyway? Here’s a proper definition, if you want one. Everything I know I learned through my personal baking and eating experiences: It’s an egg-based pastry dough that is cooked on the stovetop. It can be made sweet or savory. Like me, you’re probably most familiar with it in the form of a cream puff, profiterole, eclair or gougere. It also makes great pasta dough.
“As an Italian-American raised half the time in Rome, I wondered if I’d ever make homemade pasta again. Would my father look at me differently? This recipe’s for you, Dad—buon appetito!”
The best part of my recipe is that it’s super flexible: You can make the pasta plain by leaving out the spinach, parmesan, nutmeg and mustard. Add in other flavors that you like instead like cracked black pepper, gorgonzola or a mix of fresh herbs. For the sauce, you could go summery and dairy-free with a fresh sauce of thinly-sliced zucchini, lemon zest, crushed red pepper flakes, basil, mint and olive oil. Or, just toss halved cherry tomatoes in a hot pan with olive oil and top with fresh-torn basil before serving.
Want the pasta dairy-free? Just substitute olive oil for the butter and leave out the parmesan. That’s it. Simple.
Me and my ratio: After playing around in the kitchen with various ratios, this one made me (and my family) the happiest. Feel free to have fun with the ratios. It will depend ever so slightly on the ratio of grains and starches in your gluten-free all-purpose flour blend. Also, just in case, I’ve included cup and spoon measurements if that’s what you’re more comfortable with.
2 PARTS LIQUID: (225 g) 1 cup water
2 PARTS FLOUR: (225 g) 1 1/3 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour blend
2 PARTS EGGS: (225 g) 4 large eggs
1 PART FAT: (112 g) ½ cup unsalted butter
Amanda of Gluten-Free Maui made Earl Grey Cream Puffs
Amie of The Healthy Apple made Pâte à Choux with Creamy Macadamia Icing
Britt of GF in the City made Cream Puffs & Profiteroles
Caleigh of Gluten Free(k) made Savoury Paris-Brest
Caneel of Mama Me Gluten Free made Key Lime Cream Puffs
Charissa of Zest Bakery made Choux Shine: Koshi-an Filled Cream Puffs
Claire of Gluten Freedom made Chocolate Eclairs
Erin of The Sensitive Epicure made Gougères Filled with Herbed Goat Cheese & Churros
Gretchen of Kumquat made Cheddar Gougères with Date & Pine Nuts
Irvin of Eat the Love made White Cheddar Fennel Gougères stuffed withPorcini & Shallot Goat Cheese
Jenn of Jenn Cuisine made Gruyere & Herbed Gougères
Lisa of Gluten Free Canteen made Cracked Pepper & Cheese Gougères
Lisa of With Style and Grace made Cherry Garcia Filled Cream Puffs
Mary Fran of Frannycakes made Marillenknodel with Ginger & Cardamom Sugar Chai Cream Puffs
Meaghan of The Wicked Good Vegan made Vegan GF Cardamom & Rose Water Cream Puffs
Meg of GF Boulangerie made Chouquettes
Meredith of Gluten Free Betty made Gluten Free Churros
Pete & Kelli of No Gluten, No Problem made Almond Choux Florentines
Rachel of The Crispy Cook made Cream Puffs with Coffee Cream
Robyn of Chocswirl made Gruyere & Parmesan Gougères with Sage & Thyme
Sea: Book of Yum made Rose Vanilla Cream Puffs & Eclairs
Silvana of Silvana’s Kitchen made GF Spinach Gnocchi Parm
T.R.of No One Likes Crumbley Cookies made Beignets
1¼ cups water, milk or broth
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
¼ cup finely chopped steamed spinach
1 cup grated parmesan, plus more for sprinkling
5 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 cup mozzarella cheese
2 cups tomato puree
Handful of basil, torn
- In a medium saucepan, combine 1 cup water, butter, salt and nutmeg, and heat over low heat; bring to a boil and remove from the heat. Sprinkle over the flour and using a wooden spoon, beat together until smooth. Return the pan to medium heat and cook for 1 minute, beating constantly, to cook off the flour and dry out the dough.
- Transfer the dough to a mixing bowl and using a handheld or standing electric mixer, beat on medium-low speed to cool slightly; add the mustard, spinach and ¼ cup parmesan. Then beat in 4 eggs, one at a time, until combined and smooth.
- Place the dough in a resealable plastic bag and refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil; reduce to a simmer. Cut off a ½-inch-long tip at the corner of the resealable bag. Squeeze out 1-inch-long pieces of dough, cutting with a scissor and letting the dough pieces drop right into the simmering water. Cook the gnocchi until they rise to the surface; simmer for 2 minutes more. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a dishtowel–lined baking sheet.
- In a small bowl, combine the ricotta, mozzarella and the remaining ¼ cup water, ½ cup parmesan and 1 egg.
- Preheat the oven to 400º. Spread about 1 cup tomato puree in the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Top with about half of the gnocchi, half of the ricotta mixture and some basil. Repeat the layering with the remaining gnocchi, tomato puree, ricotta mixture and basil. Top with the remaining ¼ cup parmesan. Place the baking dish on a baking sheet and bake until bubbling and golden, about 30 minutes.