Do it yourself

Jackie Mallorca, our food editor, lives in a charming San Francisco apartment with a lovely view of the Bay and a very small kitchen. Still, she loves good food, is a consummate cook, and turns out great meals in her very small space, including her own pasta!

Jackie and I share a few things, including apartment life and small kitchens. But there is a huge difference in our use of said kitchens. Hers is well used; mine gathers dust as much as I can let it and still stay alive. So I thought I would share this video of her making gluten-free pasta on a local San Francisco television show, which you can view by going to this link from Jackie’s website. Notably, this is a segment that features a gluten-free cook on a “regular” television show. While I suppose we are getting to the point where the unusual has become commonplace, it still amazes old timers like Jackie and me.

Frankly the process of making pasta is a lot easier than you might think. Actually I know this from my many hours sitting in my mother-in-law’s also very small kitchen while she made gluten-containing-pasta-to-die for on Sunday mornings. Her marinara sauce was pretty much the same as Jackie’s (in her Gluten-Free Italian cookbook).

To make meat sauce, she first made meatballs (including raisins which I highly recommend), then browned them in the bottom of the pot in some rendered pork fat. In addition to the meatballs, she usually browned sweet Italian sausage and, if she had it, a small piece of pork, which added sweetness to the sauce. Then she removed the meat, added a bit of onion, the tomatoes and seasoning and cooked the sauce for an hour or so. When the hour was up, she put the meat back in the pot and cooked it for another hour or so, tasting as she went along.

The bottom line is that you can eat Italian more easily on the gluten-free diet than you might think, not only dishes you make in your own kitchen but also in Italian restaurants. I’ve found that smaller Italian restaurants are very invested in serving good food and creating memorable food experiences and have had some of my best gluten-free meals in Italian restaurants. Sometimes you can even bring your own GF pasta, although I tend to think that’s a bit risky.

When my mother-in-law made fresh pasta, she usually served it with a topping of a little ricotta lightly thinned with a bit of sauce and then poured the sauce over all. Let’s just say it was my favorite meal in a previous life. She also made home-made manicotti and my daughter, who inherited her grandmother’s cooking gene, told me she would try to make manicotti using GF flour. If she ever does it (she has 3 young children) I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Meanwhile, enjoy the video and don’t be afraid to try it yourself!


  • wow – that looks lovely and yummy!

  • I recently made GF meatballs. I purchased tapioca bread and tried it as grilled cheese (ok), french toast (eeh), and then I put the rest of the bread in the food processor and pressed pulse. The meat balls were pretty good. My son is not on a GF diet and he liked them. I used onion, garlic an egg and seasonings. The key is seasoning them as you like.

  • Thanks for the post. This was an informative video. I have to say that I am lazy and use ready-made GF pastas! I appreciate the information.