THE WASHINGTON POST – In a moment of necessity-driven culinary ingenuity, home cooks in Eastern Europe realised that blintz wrappers – the crepe-like pancakes used to make blintzes – could be sliced into a rustic approximation of lokshen (Yiddish for noodles).
The wheat flour typically used to make blintzes is verboten during Passover, so people whisked up a thin batter made from eggs, potato starch, water and salt instead. They then fried the batter in hot skillets to form thin, light brown pancakes. The pancakes were then rolled up like a jelly roll and cut crosswise (think a basil chiffonade), creating wide ribbons that could be uncurled and slipped into bowls of golden chicken broth.
With a simple slick of marinara, or a spoonful of olive oil-thinned pesto, I discovered that the noodles transcend their holiday-specific roots. I would imagine the discovery of an effortlessly gluten-free fresh pasta would be particularly alluring to people who eschew gluten or grain from their diets. But they have earned a spot on the table in gluten-friendly households like mine as well.
GLUTEN-FREE PAPPARDELLE WITH MUSHROOMS
Active: Two hours | Total: two hours, 15 mins
These noodles are made with almond flour and potato starch. The pappardelle alone take about an hour to prepare and could be used with any sauce or dish that calls for such pasta.
FOR THE NOODLES
1/2 cup (two ounces) almond flour
1/2 cup (scant three ounces) potato starch (not the same as potato flour)
One teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup water
Three large eggs, lightly beaten
Vegetable oil, for frying
FOR THE MUSHROOMS
Two tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
One tablespoon unsalted butter
Two large shallots (3 1/2 ounces total), finely diced
Eight ounces fresh cremini mushrooms, stemmed and finely diced
1/3 cup vegetable broth
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, cut into chiffonade (thin strips)
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
Freshly ground black pepper
Grated Parmesan cheese, for serving
Make the noodles: In a medium bowl, whisk together the almond flour, potato starch and salt. Whisk in the water and eggs until smooth and fully combined. The batter should be just a touch thicker than heavy cream. Let the batter rest for 15 minutes.
In an eight-inch nonstick frying pan over medium heat, heat about one teaspoon of the vegetable oil until shimmering. Pour a scant quarter cup of the batter into the pan and swirl it in all directions to coat the bottom evenly with a thin layer of batter. Cook, without flipping, until the bottom is golden and the centre is just dry, about one minute.
Using an offset spatula, transfer the crepe to a cutting board to cool slightly. Roll it up like a jelly roll, then slice into quarter-inch wide noodles. Repeat with the remaining batter, adding more oil as needed and whisking the batter in between crepes. Unroll the noodles into long ribbons and set aside while making the mushrooms. (The recipe makes about 10 crepes, or about 12 ounces of fresh noodles.)
Make the mushrooms: In a large saute pan over medium heat, heat the olive oil and melt the butter until the butter starts to foam. Add the shallots and a generous pinch of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and lightly brown, six to eight minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring often, until mushrooms are golden and most of their liquid has evaporated, eight to 10 minutes.
Add the broth, basil, lemon zest and a generous amount of black pepper; bring to a simmer and cook until the liquid has reduced slightly, one to two minutes. Add the noodles and gently toss with the sauce until coated.
Taste and add more salt and pepper, if desired.
Transfer the noodles to serving plates, sprinkle with Parmesan and serve.