Fall is the perfect time to cozy up with warm, hearty pasta dishes, but you don’t have to miss out on comfort food if you’re gluten free. There are gluten-free noodles of all shapes on the market, of course, but there are also lots of other alternatives to traditional pasta out there.
Gluten-Free Spaghetti, Penne, and Other Pasta
You’ll find all kinds of gluten-free products on your grocery store shelves these days, although if not, you can always order online, so there’s no real trick to making most pasta recipes GF friendly: just substitute a box of ready-made spaghetti, rigatoni, penne, fusilli, or what have you, and look out for any hidden gluten in the sauce ingredients. Or, you can try making your own gluten free pasta at home. You’ll have to get a few special ingredients, but the process itself is fairly simple. Just be sure not to let your dough dry out, and don’t roll it too thin or else it will tear. If you don’t have a pasta machine, you can do everything by hand, including cutting the noodles. It might be a bit more rustic, but that’s not a bad thing, especially in the cooler months, when handmade things seem extra appropriate and homey.
Other Gluten-Free Noodles
Moving outside of Italy to Asia, there are several other beloved types of noodles that are naturally gluten free, including rice noodles, soba noodles (although be sure the label specifies they are 100% buckwheat), and sweet potato noodles, also known as shirataki. These are great in traditional Asian recipes of course, many of which are perfect for cooler weather—quick chicken pho, anyone?—but you shouldn’t feel constrained by geographic origin either. Try nutty soba noodles with roasted root vegetables like brussels sprouts and a simple lemon butter sauce; grated cheese optional but highly recommended. Or top rice noodles with a medley of sautéed mushrooms, abundant this time of year, with some fresh herbs, white wine, and garlic, and maybe a splash of cream.
Zoodles, love or hate the cutesy name, are a brilliant invention. Vegetable noodles of all sorts are a snap to make if you have a spiralizer, which can create long, thin strands out of not only zucchini, but almost any firm produce, including beets, butternut squash, potatoes, and parnsips (i.e. many of the root vegetables that fill farm stands come fall). In addition to being friendly to gluten-free folks, most of these are great for people eating paleo or low-carb diets too, but veggie noodles are so fun and tasty everyone will want in on the action. Here’s a great starting guide to spiralizing. If you refuse to buy yet another kitchen gadget, there are other vegetable options. Spaghetti squash has long been used in place of pasta, since it naturally separates into strands. And if you’re hankering for lasagna, you can substitute long, thin sheets of zucchini, winter squash, or eggplant for the usual noodles.
With all that in mind, here are some gluten-free and seasonally-appropriate recipes to inspire your palate and your imagination this fall.
Gluten-free black bean pasta can be purchased online if you don’t see it in your local store. Its inky color is screaming out to be served for Halloween with roasted orange squash, but this version showcases crispy roasted cauliflower complemented by briny bits of olives and fresh parsley. Get the recipe.
Just as saucy, creamy, and cheesy as the original, this lasagna swaps normal noodles for thin ribbons of zucchini that are briefly roasted so they don’t make the caper-flecked tomato sauce watery. Sautéed mushrooms and artichoke hearts pack even more veggie goodness into the hearty layers, but you can add and subtract filling ingredients as you please, and use the same technique to make noodleless butternut squash lasagna and noodleless eggplant lasagna too. Get our Noodleless Zucchini Lasagna recipe.
These gnocchi are maybe not actually gnocchi, but Taiwanese sweet potato dumplings served with Italian flair. The tapioca flour that binds the baked sweet potato mash and potato starch makes them chewier than your standard fluffy (some would say mushy) gnocchi, in a really good way. There are two awesome sauce options given: brown butter with salty pancetta, piquant black pepper, and spicy fresh thyme, and a tangy-sweet tomato sauce with anchovy and garlic. Both versions are showered with grated cheese. You can also try gluten free cauliflower gnocchi for a change of pace from potatoes. Get the recipes.
Sautéed mushrooms with garlic and sage taste ultra autumnal, and paired with strands of roasted spaghetti squash, they make a wonderful gluten-free meal. For something a little richer, especially if you’re missing mac and cheese since cutting gluten, try our gooey Three Cheese Spaghetti Squash Gratin recipe. Get the recipe.
These spiralized strands of butternut squash are savory-sweet, and vibrant with contrasting flavors and textures. Wilted baby spinach, toothsome sun-dried tomatoes, crunchy toasted pine nuts, and fluffy clouds of ricotta make this one-pan vegetarian dinner satisfying to the last bite. Butternut squash noodles are also great with blue cheese and sage, and if you eat bacon, it couldn’t hurt to add some to either version. (Sweet potato noodles are similar, so harmonize well with the same kinds of flavors.) Get the recipe.
Some soba noodles have added wheat, so if you’re GF, make sure your package says 100% buckwheat. The bright orange squash and black sesame seeds make these noodles another Halloween contender, but the salty, sweet, savory, and spicy flavors are so delicious you’ll want to eat these all year. For a similar but even simpler dish, try these rice noodles with pumpkin and minced pork. Just one more thing to watch out for in either case: make sure to get gluten-free soy sauce if you’re totally gluten intolerant. Get the recipe.
Since there’s so much squash to put to good use in fall, make more butternut squoodles (but don’t call them that) and cook them alfredo style. The creamy, cauliflower-enhanced sauce clings decadently to every strand—but the whole thing is surprisingly healthy. If you don’t do dairy, try this sweet potato noodle alfredo variation instead. Get the recipe.
Does the humble yet hardworking potato’s versatility never end? Now, in addition to baking, boiling, roasting, frying, and mashing them, you can make them into delicious noodles. Here, Yukon Golds bring their own creaminess and subtle flavor to the classic richness of carbonara sauce. Get the recipe.
This gluten-free chicken parm uses a breading of nutritious almond meal mixed with herbs and Parmesan cheese, bakes the chicken, and places it on a tangle of tomato-basil zucchini noodles, but don’t worry, there’s still plenty of melted mozzarella on top. For another zucchini noodle twist on an Italian favorite, try this dairy-free chicken alfredo bake. Healthier, yes, but no less delicious. Get our Gluten Free Chicken Parmesan with Zucchini Noodles recipe.
If you’ve got a spiralizer, you’re going to want to try to noodle-ize as many vegetables as you can. Earthy-sweet beets are a great choice, and as we know from countless salads, they pair beautifully with sharp, creamy blue cheese. (For another take that’s not as pasta-like but still well suited to fall, try balsamic-roasted beet noodles with brussels sprouts and hummus dressing.) Walnuts add a little crunch to this indulgent dish. Get the recipe.
Parsnips, carrots’ paler cousins, are often overlooked, but they have a great nutty-sweet flavor that’s amplified when roasted. Turns out they make a tasty pasta substitute too. This version mixes them with a classic combo of slightly bitter broccoli rabe and spicy sausage that’ll carry you warmly into winter. Get the recipe.