Remove all the gluten from your diet. You can’t eat it anymore.’
Wait, what did you say? No more pasta? No more Chinese take-out? No pizza? What will I eat for dinner? I’ll starve!!
That was my reaction when I was diagnosed with celiac disease. Used to grabbing some takeout on the way home from work, I couldn’t imagine what I would eat. For months dinner was a plate of rice and a salad with Newman’s Own dressing.
Not a good long-term nutritional strategy. I had to start cooking.
Slowly, I began experimenting with vegetables, seasonings and cooking techniques. Despite a few notable mistakes, I learned. Now after 20+ years of gluten-free living, I have a set of basics in my cupboard and a bevy of fast, easy, and delicious recipes. No more plain rice dinners!
If you’re struggling to make the transition, or you’re cooking for someone gluten-free, take heart. I’m opening my pantry and recipes to you.
It’s Tuesday night. You and your family are starving. What do you cook? Try one of these four satisfying, tasty and healthy meals. Your meal will be on the table in less time than you spend waiting for delivery, and will probably cost less too. Plus you get the satisfaction of creating something wonderful.
Chicken (or veal or pork or fish) piccata
Pound meat cutlets until they are very thin, coat them in egg and rice flour, then brown quickly in a sauté or frying pan. When the last cutlet is done, pour ½ to 1 cup of lemon juice into the hot pan. Stir or scrape up all the delicious sticky bits, turn off the pan, and pour the hot juice over the meat.
I sometimes add some capers or fresh thyme to the sauce just before serving. Change the lemon juice for lime or orange juice for variety.
Serve with a starch and vegetable of your choice.
Best (and fastest) when made with leftover rice.
Scramble 2 eggs in a sauté pan. Slice up a meat cutlet (chicken, beef, pork), toss it in the pan and stir-fry it with some chopped garlic. Add in sliced vegetables and stir fry for 2 minutes. Next add 2 Tablespoons gluten free soy sauce, ½ to 1 tablespoon of finely chopped or grated ginger and mix it all together. Add the cold rice, stir it well, cover the pan, lower the heat, and cook for about 5 minutes, until everything is heated through, then enjoy. If you prefer spicy food, add some finely chopped hot pepper with the ginger. I like to chop up a piece of bacon and add that with the meat cutlet.
I love almost anything with tomato sauce, and adding mozzarella is even better.
Put any kind of cutlet in a baking pan along with some mushrooms. Top with canned tomatoes or tomato puree and season with garlic, oregano and basil, plus hot pepper to taste. Top off with mozzarella and bake at 425F or 240C for about 40 minutes, or until the meat is cooked through.
Serve over spinach sautéed in garlic and olive oil for a fabulous and comforting meal.
Before the gluten free diet changed my idea of good food, I would never have considered this. Now I eat it all the time.
Combine 1 can of garbanzo beans (chickpeas), 1 can of chopped tomatoes, garlic, ginger and hot pepper to taste. Add 2–3 pieces of coarsely chopped bacon, hot pepper to taste, and whatever fresh herbs you have on hand, coarsely chopped. Add 1 Tbsp garam marsala or cumin, and 1 Tbsp honey, brown sugar or molasses. Bake at 350F/200C until the sauce is bubbling and the bacon is crispy.
Remove the bacon and it’s a vegan dish. Some people like to poach an egg on top, making it vegetarian but not vegan.
Experiment, Cook, Enjoy!
These are just a few examples of the many simple, tasty gluten-free recipes you can make from a limited assortment of ingredients. Combine others to suit your taste. Grill, roast, stir-fry, or broil. Mix ingredients and create sauces. Experiment. Be bold! Gluten free food should be as mouth-wateringly tasty as any other meal.