Semolina flour has become quite popular in the United States. Initially, it was only popular in Italy. So what is it? Semolina is a course of pale yellow flour that has a very high gluten content.
Semolina is made of durum wheat. Durum wheat is a very hard species of wheat.
Therefore, it has a high gluten and protein content. It is also resistant to milling. When durum wheat is milled, the result is course wheat middlings which we call semolina flour.
The high gluten content in semolina makes it ideal for making pasta. However, this is not all it's good for. It can be used as an ingredient in several baked goods. We’ll discuss more of its uses in this article.
What does it taste like?
I would describe the flavor of semolina as nutty and sweet. It also has an earthy aroma that seems to enhance the nutty flavor.
There are three varieties of semolina in the market. There is coarse semolina, medium grind semolina, and fine semolina.
The medium grind semolina is the most popular one and it is usually readily available. Coarse semolina and fine semolina are harder to find compared to medium grind semolina.
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Where To Buy Semolina
Most major supermarkets usually stock semolina. You will find it in the baking aisle. You are likely to find it right next to all-purpose flour. Alternatively, you can buy semolina in Italian food markets.
In case you don’t feel like leaving your house to buy it, you can just buy semolina online. I have come across a good number of online vendors that stock semolina.
Make sure you buy semolina flour. Don’t buy corn semolina or rice semolina. They are very different from semolina flour. Manufacturers only call them semolina because of its coarse texture.
Semolina has several uses. The most common one is making pasta from scratch. Semolina is the ideal flour for making pasta because of its high gluten content.
Unlike other flour varieties, it does not create a sticky dough. Additionally, it is more elastic compared to the other varieties. The elasticity helps the pasta hold its shape when cooking regardless of the shape of the pasta.
Semolina can be used to make cakes, bread, and pizza dough. It can also be used to make sweet pudding and porridge. In India, semolina porridge is usually referred to as rawa or sooji.
Another common use of semolina is making couscous. To make couscous, you mix semolina with water and mix until balls form.
You can use semolina to prevent dough from sticking when baking. Just sprinkle some semolina onto your baking tray or pizza pan before placing your dough.
These are just some of the few semolina uses.
You may not always have semolina in stock. Therefore it is important you know some substitutes that you can use in their place. Here are my favorite semolina substitutes.
- All-purpose flour
You can use all-purpose flour when you run out of semolina. Unlike semolina, all-purpose flour is made from a soft wheat variety.
If you use all-purpose to make pasta from scratch, you will have to cook the pasta in lots of water and serve it hot because pasta made from all-purpose flour tends to become mushy when cold.
You can use all-purpose flour in almost all recipes that require you to use semolina.
- Corn Semolina
Although they have the same name, corn semolina and semolina are quite different. Manufacturers make corn semolina using the ground endosperm of corn.
Corn semolina is gluten free, so if you are on a diet this would be an ideal substitute.
Corn semolina and semolina have the same coarse texture so you can easily incorporate corn semolina in semolina recipes.
- Amaranth flour
Amaranth is a suitable semolina substitute. It is made from the seeds of amaranth flour. The seeds are ground to form the flour. Just like corn semolina, amaranth flour is gluten free therefore ideal for gluten free diets.
Amaranth flour also has a nutty flavor that is similar to that of semolina. This makes it an ideal substitute. You can use it to make pasta as well as other baked goods.
- Garbanzo flour
Garbanzo flour is a popular ingredient in Indian cuisine. It is also known as gram flour.
Manufacturers make garbanzo flour from chickpeas. It is gluten free and can easily substitute semolina in baked goods.
- Rice flour
Rice flour can also be used as an alternative to semolina. It is made from raw rice. Rice flour is ideal for pasta making and also gluten free baking.
However, you should know that if you make pasta using rice flour, it will have a distinct rice flavor.
I highly recommend using rice flour in baking because its light texture is ideal for delicate baked goods like pastries and cakes.
How To Cook With Semolina
Semolina is actually very easy to cook with. When incorporating it into baked goods and homemade pasta, use it the same way you use any kind of flour. Combine the semolina with other dry ingredients or wet ingredients; whatever your recipe requires you to do.
You can add semolina to soups, gravies, or stews to thicken them. It works the same way that other thickeners like cornstarch work.
As we mentioned earlier you can use semolina to make a filling breakfast porridge. Simply boil the semolina with milk until the mixture thickens and has a porridge-like consistency.
In baking, you can use semolina on its own or mix it with another type of flour. Semolina gives baked goods a crumbly texture, so you can use it in both cakes and cookies.
When using semolina in any recipe, use a measuring cup to scoop the flour. Do not dip the cup inside the flour because if you do, you’ll end up with more flour than your recipe calls for so the dough would be hard to work with.
There are several recipes that call for semolina. Semolina is used in Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, and also African dishes. These are my favorite semolina recipes.
- Moroccan semolina soup
- Semolina cakes with syrup
- Semolina gnocchi
- Lemon semolina cake
- Italian semolina bread
- Fresh pasta with mushroom cream
- Homemade pizza
How To Properly Store Semolina
One thing you need to know about semolina is that it has a short shelf-life compared to the other flour varieties.
You should store semolina in a cool and dark place. The pantry would suffice. Alternatively, store semolina inside your kitchen cabinet.
Just make sure that the cabinet is far away from any sources of heat or light. Semolina stored in the pantry can last for approximately one year.
If you want semolina to last for much longer, you can store it inside your refrigerator or freezer. Just make sure that you store it in an airtight container before refrigerating or freezing it.
Benefits of using semolina
A lot of people have noted that semolina is a healthy alternative to all-purpose flour. You can use it without worrying about gaining weight or other health concerns. Here are some of the benefits of using semolina flour.
- Aids in weight loss
Semolina is rich in fiber and protein. Therefore, eating dishes made with semolina promotes a feeling of fullness and consequently leads to weight loss.
- Gives the body the energy it needs
Semolina contains carbohydrates which give the body the energy that it needs. I recommend using semolina when you require high energy levels.
- Prevents iron deficiency
Semolina has a high iron content. Each cup of semolina gives you 8% of the recommended daily amount of iron. Iron deficiency is dangerous because it weakens your immune system and you feel fatigued all the time.
- Ideal for diabetics
Semolina is ideal for diabetics because it has a low glycemic index. Therefore, it is digested and absorbed in the stomach and intestines at a slower rate compared to other types of flour. This makes diabetics control their sugar levels more efficiently.
- Is a good source of antioxidants
Semolina contains an important anti-oxidant called selenium. Selenium strengthens the immune system and consequently prevents the body from getting infected. Research has shown that semolina plays a role in preventing heart disease.
- Prevents high cholesterol
Unlike other types of flour, semolina has very low cholesterol and fat content. If you are keen on ensuring that your body does not develop high cholesterol, I recommend incorporating semolina into your diet.
Semolina is a variety of flour that is made of durum wheat. It is versatile since you can use it in pasta as well as other baked goods. Semolina is used the same way you use other varieties of flour, so you won’t have any trouble using it.
If you are wondering why you should use semolina flour, just look at all the health benefits it has. It is a healthy alternative to other types of flour.
Try incorporating semolina into your diet and let me know how your dishes will turn out.