Italian pasta is usually made with nothing more than flour, eggs, olive oil and salt. But in the anti-gluten age, chefs are rethinking this classic equation by subbing in a slew of creative alternatives, from mushroom stems to squid tentacles, for the normal noodles.
“Doing pastas has always been something I’ve been interested in,” says chef Kevin Tien. “But it will be a long time before I can become a master pasta maker.” So he came up with a shortcut. He uses rice cakes in place of gnocchi for one of his latest dishes. They’re finished off with crispy shiitake mushrooms, pickled red onions, onion soubise and a gloriously golden raw egg yolk, which diners pop to add a second sauce.
Brothers and Sisters
“You have to really love mushrooms to enjoy this dish,” warns chef Erik Bruner-Yang. His unconventional cacio e pepe features steamed beech mushroom stems rather than noodles. They’re garnished with finely grated Grana Padano cheese, seasoned breadcrumbs and shaved black truffles.
The Oval Room
Salsify roots are cured and cooked tender, and then peeled to create long, broad noodles. Executive chef Bryan Moscatello tosses the al dente strips with olive oil, fava beans and morels. Red vein sorrel, a brioche-y thyme sponge bread and mushroom sherry glaze complete the vegan dish.
Now you can have pasta for dessert! Executive chef Loris Navone makes this jet-black spaghetti using a traditional recipe of flour and eggs, but he incorporates vanilla extract and cocoa powder to add color and flavor. The noodles are cooked in sweetened milk, and then presented with strawberry consommé, balls of buttermilk panna cotta and candied hazelnuts.
Those aren’t penne -- the tubes are actually squid tentacles! They’re sautéed al dente, and then tossed with a variety of vegetables, such as carrots, green beans and purple cauliflower.
You won’t miss the extra carbs in this indulgent carbonara. Instead of noodles, executive chef Jonathan Dearden uses shredded spaghetti squash cooked in white wine, garlic and cream stand. He tops off the strands with smoked pork belly, an egg to pop and plenty of Parmesan.
Looking for a vegan, gluten-free noodle? Diners can sub in thinly sliced kelp for the usual noods in any dish at this popular Asian-fusion eatery.