In my search for good substitutes for durum wheat pasta (which I love VERY MUCH and which, since a few years, gives me belly aches *sigh*) I decided to try a completely gluten-free combination of buckwheat and rice flour. The result was so good that I'm definitely keeping this recipe to use in my "Healthy Italian Cooking" workshops.
I had already tried several alternatives to gluten pasta but the results didn't really make me happy. This version, on the contrary, is totally satisfying and beautifully smooth both to knead and to roll out with a rolling pin. I haven't even tried using a pasta machine since during my previous experiments the lack of gluten had made it impossible but I will try next time I prepare this.
For this new dough I used two very finely ground organic flours I bought in Italy where rimacinata (re-milled, thus ground twice) flour is quite common. If you could find very fine, powdery flours like the ones I've used it would be great, since I'm pretty sure some of the smoothness of the dough is due to this particular detail.
This dish is laborious but not difficult at all. You'll just need some time and patience to make the pasta and the béchamel sauce, sauté the veggies and assemble these scrumptious lasagne, plus of course some baking time (about 20-25 minutes).
I can assure you it's totally worth the while and I definitely encourage you to try this VERY yummy and healthy dish.
Should you want to make it with more traditional ingredients you can use half buckwheat flour and half, plain all-purpouse flour, or half buckwheat, 1/4th plain and 1/4th durum wheat flour for more bite, even though the buckwheat already gives a TON of bite. You can of course use another nut/cereal or normal milk instead of rice milk which usually has a very sweet taste. For these lasagne I used just a little béchamel sauce to give the dish a touch of sweetness which is totally OK, especially to compensate the slightly bitter after-taste of the buckwheat.
If you use another type of flour containing gluten to make the béchamel prepare the sauce in the traditional way making a roux with flour and butter first (here you will find my recipe).
160 gr. finely milled buckwheat flour
100 gr. finely milled rice flour or 100 gr. plain all-purpouse flour
some rice flour for dusting
2-3 medium-sized eggs
a pinch of salt
300 dl./1.2 cups rice or nut milk/plain milk
25 gr./1.5 tablespoon rice flour
a pinch of salt
a pinch of grated nutmeg
3-4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
2 small courgettes or 1/2 a big one
2 medium-sized carrots
2 handfuls of cooked string beans
some fresh marjoram leaves
salt and black pepper
60 gr./0.25 cups mild sheep cheese, in thin slices
40 gr./4 tablespoons grated pecorino romano cheese (Italian sheep cheese)
4 single-portion oven dishes
some extra virgin olive oil for greasing the oven dishes
Pre-heat the oven to 200°C/392°F.
Prepare the veggies frying the peeled and diced onion and carrots in olive oil until slightly soft. Add the diced courgette and cook until tender. Add the cooked string beans (chopped in pieces) and the marjoram leaves and cook for 1 more minute. Season with salt and pepper to taste and leave to cool off.
Make the dough mixing all the ingredients in a bowl using a fork.
I used 2 whole eggs and 1 egg white. The quantity you need can vary based on the size of the eggs (the organic ones I used were quite small).
Once you obtain a course dough transfer the mixture on the working top and kneed further with your hands, adding more rice flour if the dough is too wet or some egg (white or yolk) if it's too dry. The dough has to be smooth, elastic and not sticky or dry.
Make a dough ball and leave it to rest wrapped in cling film.
Prepare the béchamel sauce whisking together all the ingredients except for the nutmeg and slowly bringing the mixture to a boil. Let it thicken while gently stirring it (don't let it become too thick). Season with grated nutmeg.
Roll out the dough with the rolling pin trying to make it as thin as possible, then cut in rounds or squares (I had round oven dishes of about 9 cm/3.5 inches of diameter).
Cook the rounds or squares of dough in boiling salted water for 2-3 minutes and lay them in a bowl with cold water in which you have dissolved a bit of salt.
Grease the oven dishes with 1 teaspoon of olive oil each and add 1-2 spoons of béchamel sauce. Make layers with the cooked lasagne, some veggies, a bit of sliced mild pecorino cheese, some black pepper and a couple of spoons of béchamel then start all over again.
End with veggies, a bit of béchamel and a generous sprinkle of grated pecorino romano.
Bake in the hot oven for about 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly.