Suitable Semolina Substitutes
First things first, what is semolina? Semolina is a flour that is made from hard durum wheat. Its key characteristic is that it is very high in gluten.
In terms of appearance, semolina is pale yellow in color and has a very coarse texture. A lot of people use semolina while making pasta because of its high gluten content. Semolina does not give good results only when used in pasta. You can use it to bake bread and other baked goods.
Semolina has become very popular and is readily available in the United States. There are several varieties in the market. You can either buy the one that has a coarse texture, medium texture, or fine texture.
Personally, I always go for the medium grind because it works well in almost all my recipes. The fine texture one may be a bit hard to find. Its texture is very similar to that of all-purpose flour.
If you run out of semolina or can’t find it in the store, you will need to use a substitute in its place. Luckily, there are several semolina substitutes that you can use. I can even bet that you have several of these substitutes on hand.
Rice flour, all-purpose flour, Kamut flour, amaranth flour, garbanzo flour, corn semolina, and quinoa flour are all good substitutes for semolina. Before we delve into the details of these substitutes, let’s educate ourselves a little bit about semolina.
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What is Semolina used for?
Ever wondered what your pasta is made from? Well, semolina is mostly used to make pasta from scratch. It is preferred because compared to other types of flour, it forms a dough that is less sticky. It is also more elastic thanks to its high gluten content.
You can use semolina to bake bread, pizzas, and even cakes. I have come across a few recipes where semolina is used to make pudding and porridge. The porridge is very common in India and people call it sooji.
Heard of couscous? Semolina is the main ingredient used in making couscous. Couscous is basically moistened semolina that is mixed until balls form.
You can also use semolina to thicken your stews, gravies, and soups. It works just as well as other thickeners.
How to cook with semolina
Incorporating semolina into your cooking is very easy. Use semolina the very same way you use other types of flour. You can combine it with both dry and wet ingredients depending on the dish you are making.
Making porridge with semolina is pretty easy. Simply boil the flour mixed with milk until it thickens. Your porridge will be ready in no time.
To use it as a thickener, you can mix semolina with a little bit of water to form a paste before adding it to your dish.
If you want you bread or cake to have a crumbly texture, you can replace some or all of the flour in your recipe with semolina. Your baked goods will turn out crispy with a crumbly texture.
What does semolina taste like?
The key to choosing the right semolina substitute is knowing exactly how semolina tastes like. Personally, I would describe the taste of semolina as sweet and nutty. You should also keep it in mind that semolina has an earthy flavor.
Where to buy semolina
Considering how popular semolina has become, you can easily find it in any supermarket. It is usually stocked on the baking supplies aisle.
When buying semolina, make sure you buy the one that is made from durum wheat. A lot of people tend to confuse it with corn semolina yet the two are very different. They may have the same texture but the flavor is different.
Rice flour is a very good substitute for semolina. It is made from either brown or white whole rice. The rice is ground to form a fine powder. Rice flour is gluten free so it’s the perfect substitute for those on a gluten-free diet.
You can use rice flour as a substitute for semolina when making pasta from scratch. You can also use it in your baking. It has a very light texture which makes it suitable for baking.
You should know that rice flour has a very distinct flavor. Therefore, your pasta will have a distinct rice flavor.
If you do not have any rice flour on hand you can make your own. All you need is rice and a blender.
All-purpose flour is another good substitute for semolina. I am one of those people that always have all-purpose flour on hand. It is essential in my kitchen.
All-purpose flour is made from a soft-wheat variety. It is very common in the United States and contains approximately 11% gluten.
There are two main varieties of all –purpose flour in the market. There is unbleached and bleached all-purpose flour. Unbleached all-purpose flour contains more gluten compare to bleached all-purpose flour.
You can use all-purpose flour in baked goods. The result turns out amazing. I do not recommend using all-purpose flour to make pasta because it has a very soft texture compared to semolina. The pasta you make from all-purpose flour gets sticky when cold.
Another name for Kamut flour is Khorasan flour. Its origin can be traced back to Ancient Egypt.
Kamut has a nutty flavor that is very similar to that of semolina. This makes it one of the best substitutes for semolina. It also has a very high protein content.
Kamut has several advantages. One is that it contains several nutrients including minerals and vitamins. Another advantage is that its gluten is very easy to digest compared to that in semolina. Some people use Kamut instead of Semolina in most of their recipes.
You can use this flour as a semolina substitute in both pasta and baked goods.
Amaranth flour is a good semolina substitute. It is made from seeds of the amaranth plant. The seeds are ground to form a fine powder which we call amaranth flour.
Amaranth flour is gluten-free. This is a good substitute for those in gluten free diets. It also contains protein, calcium, and magnesium.
Just like semolina, amaranth flour has a slightly sweet and nutty flavor. This makes it one of the best semolina substitutes. You can use it for pasta and baking purposes as well. Gluten free pasta is mostly made from amaranth flour. The texture and quality of pasta made from amaranth flour are almost perfect.
Amaranth can also be used as a thickener in sauces, gravies, and soups. You may even end up deciding to always use it as a thickener because of how it enhances the flavor of sauces, gravies, and soups.
Amaranth greatly improves the quality of food because of its high protein content and dietary fiber.
Garbanzo flour is commonly known as gram flour. It is a very popular ingredient in Indian cuisine.
This flour is made from ground chickpeas. It has a very sweet flavor and is, therefore, a great addition to baked goods.
Garbanzo is gluten free so you do not need to worry about the amount of gluten you are consuming.
Garbanzo is commonly used to make gluten-free bread. Next time you are making bread try using garbanzo flour. You will not be disappointed.
Corn semolina is another good substitute for semolina. Although they seem similar, the two are made differently. Semolina is made from ground durum wheat endosperm while corn semolina is made from corn endosperm.
Corn semolina is also gluten free. Its texture is also very similar to that of semolina which makes it a good semolina substitute.
The only downside with corn semolina is that it has a distinct corn flavor. Therefore, it may slightly change the flavor of your dish. If you do not mind the corn flavor then you can use it in your dish.
Quinoa flour is another gluten free substitute for semolina. It is made from quinoa and has a mild flavor. The origin of quinoa flour can be traced back to South America. To date, it is a staple in most South American cuisine.
You can use quinoa flour as a semolina substitute in baked food items and pasta. The results will be amazing.
Quinoa flour has a high protein content which is an added advantage.
Semolina is an essential ingredient especially in making homemade pasta and baking. Not having it on hand should not stop you from making your favorite dish. When choosing a semolina substitute, choose one with a nutty flavor and a texture similar to that of semolina.
Most of the substitutes we have discussed above are gluten-free which is an added advantage. Remember not to use all-purpose flour as a semolina substitute when making pasta because the results will not be desirable.
If you are keen on achieving that nutty flavor I suggest using amaranth flour or Kamut flour. Try using any of these substitutes and let me know how your dishes turn out.