3 Gluten-Free Recipes
This post written by guest blogger – Lailah Robertson
More and more people these days are discovering they are sensitive to wheat and/or gluten in their diets. Gluten is a protein found in wheat and other related species of grain (such as barley, rye, and spelt) that can, in people who are sensitive to it, cause fatigue, headaches, digestive troubles, joint pain, respiratory issues and more. Gluten causes problems for a relatively small portion of the population; the best way to tell if you are sensitive or allergic to gluten is to do an elimination diet.
People who find they do best without consuming gluten can often feel quite panicked at first. Eliminating wheat cuts out so many of the go-to foods of the American diet! Bread! Pasta! Pizza! But going gluten-free is easier than it looks – there’s a whole world of culinary adventures still open to you, and there are plenty of resources online to help with the transition.
I tend to think about my gluten-free options in terms of three categories: global gluten-free, converted comfort food, and innovative inventions.
There are hundreds of cuisines that are naturally almost entirely gluten-free. Think Japanese, Chinese, Thai, Indian, Mexican, and Ethiopian, just to name a few. There are a few things you need to watch out for – most soy sauce is made with wheat, for example, but tamari (a Japanese-style soy sauce) is not. But broadening your recipe collection to include gluten-free global favorites will let you cook straight from your cookbooks without any sense of deprivation or “something missing.”
Breakfast, the time of toast and bagels and pancakes, can be tough when you’re eating gluten-free. These savory pancakes make a terrific breakfast or late-afternoon snack food, providing all the satisfaction of a plateful of carbs, but so packed with protein that they are really quite well-balanced. The beans need to be soaked in advance, but the prepared batter will keep in the fridge so a big batch can be eaten over several days. This recipe is slightly adapted from Lisa's Kitchen.
- 1 cup split mung beans
- 1/2 cup soy yogurt
- 2 Tbsp coriander seeds
- 1 Tbsp fennel seeds
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp asafoetida
- 1/4 tsp turmeric
- 1/3 cup water
- 4 dried red chiles, or to taste
- Olive or canola oil for cooking
- Rinse the dal thoroughly under cold running water, then place in a bowl and cover with several inches of water. Soak for at least 3 hours or overnight, then drain and discard the soaking water.
- Put the soaked dal in a food processor or blender and blend for several minutes, stopping now and then to push the dal down with a spatula. (It may take a while to get to the fine consistency you want to achieve, but don’t give up!)
- Add the soy yogurt, coriander and fennel seeds, salt, asafoetida turmeric, and dried chiles and blend for another minute. Add enough water to make the batter thickish, like a lightly whipped cream.
- Preheat a 10-inch frying pan or cast-iron pan over medium-low heat for 2-3 minutes. Sprinkle a few drops of water on the pan to test the temperature — if it is just right, the drops will dance and sputter before vanishing. If the drops vanish right away, turn down the temperature slightly, or if the drops just sit on the surface before boiling, turn up the temperature slightly. Brush the surface with a light film of olive or canola oil.
- Scoop slightly more than ¼ cup of the batter and place on the middle of the pan. Place the bottom of a ladle or large spoon in the centre of the batter and spread it outwards in a continuous spiral, pressing lightly, until you have a thin round or oval pancake. Cook for 1 minute.
- Cover the pan and cook for 3-4 minutes until the bottom is golden to reddish-brown. Loosen the edges with a spatula and turn the pancake over. Cook, uncovered, for another minute or so, then flip over once again, fold the pancake in half and slip it out of the pan on to a warming plate or into an oven preheated to 150° while you repeat the process. Repeat the water sprinkling to test the temperature and brush the pan with more oil before making each pancake.
- Serve hot, or store wrapped in aluminum foil and reheated in a 350° oven.? Serve with cashew chutney and tomato-coconut chutney, or some other moistening accompaniment/sauce.
Converted Comfort Food
Going gluten-free can be a great opportunity to explore the cuisines of the world, but sometimes you just want a slice of pizza. Or a bowl of mac and cheese, or a warm chocolate chip cookie, or whatever your comfort food was before you discovered to your dismay that what comforted you was also making you ill. Luckily, there are now all kinds of gluten-free pastas, wraps, cookies, crackers, pizza crusts, bagels, pretzels, and breads out there. There are also some great cookbook authors and bloggers who have devoted their considerable skills to translating our favorite baked goods into wheat-free versions. (In print, try Bette Hagman; online check out the Gluten-Free Goddess.)
The thing I miss most about pizza is convenience. I was never into making my own pizza with the yeast and the rising and all that jazz. Pizza was, for me, a food you grabbed by the slice when you needed a quick bite to eat. So I wanted to create a gluten-free version that had all the comfort of pizza without sacrificing the convenience factor. This recipe is based on an Italian chickpea crepe called socca de Nice.
- 1 Tbsp olive oil + 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup cold water
- 1 cup chickpea flour (also called besan at Indian markets; Garfava flour works, too)
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- ?1/2 jar marinara sauce (optional)
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
- 5 leaves kale, washed, stems removed, and sliced
- Vegan cream cheese (optional)
- High quality olive oil and sea salt if you are opting not to use marinara sauce
- Put a 12-inch cast iron skillet (10-inch is fine, too, the crust will just be a bit thicker and chewier) into your oven and preheat oven and skillet to 450 F.
- In a blender, combine water, chickpea flour, 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt, cumin, rosemary, and oregano. Blend until smooth, scraping sides of blender if necessary. Refrigerate batter until oven has preheated.
- Remove cast iron skillet from oven. (Careful! It’s very hot!) Put 1 tablespoon olive oil into pan and swirl carefully to coat the bottom and about ½-inch up the sides. Return oiled skillet to the oven for a few minutes until oil is hot and shimmering.
- Remove skillet from oven, pour batter into skillet and place back into oven and cook for 15 – 20 minutes, or until center is set and edges are browned and pull away slightly from the pan.
- Turn on broiler. Leaving the socca crust in the pan, spread on a layer of tomato sauce (some like it thick, some like it thin). If you are not using marinara sauce, drizzle some good quality olive oil and sprinkle some nice sea salt. Or skip both – it will still be delicious, I promise! Spread kale topping (see below) evenly across the pizza. Dot with knobs of vegan cream cheese, if using. Place pan under broiler until cream cheese is very lightly browned, being careful not to let the kale burn, about 3 minutes.
- Remove pan from broiler and let pizza rest for 5 minutes. A steady hand and a spatula will easily slide the pizza from the pan onto a waiting surface, where you can cut it into slices and devour.
- To make topping: Heat olive oil in a pot or pan and sauté red onion until it begins to brown. Add in garlic and sauté until it begins to brown. Add kale and sauté until it reaches your desired texture (some like it al dente, some like it meltingly tender).
When it comes to cooking delicious gluten-free food, there’s the wealth of options drawn from the world’s culinary traditions, there are the downhome American classics refigured to work without wheat, and then there’s all the stuff we just make up as we go along. Out here the sky’s the limit – we’re creating our own cuisine, now. What we cook has stopped centering on what we can’t eat—gluten—and has become an exploration and celebration of all the thousands of ingredients still left for us to play with. Many people have told me that going gluten-free got them out of a cooking rut, made them more confident chefs, and increased their comfort level with experimentation in the kitchen.
One of my favorite ways to play around with different combinations of flavors and textures is the grain bowl. I have a basic formula that produces something unique and scrumptious every time. Below are directions to making a grain bowl from scratch, but the grain bowl is truly at its best when serving as a catch-all for leftovers. Making one from scratch can be a substantial investment of time – try using the Bowl System to prep for a week’s worth of bowls in pretty much the time it takes to make one.
Pick a grain to serve as the base to your bowl. Your grain could be quinoa, rice, buckwheat (which, despite the name, is not related to wheat and contains no gluten), millet, etc. I like stuff I can make in the rice cooker, since that requires very little participation on my part and can happen in the background while I’m prepping everything else.
Take a bunch of different produce (preferably in season) and prepare it very simply. I like to use an assortment that usually includes a salad green, a dark leafy green, an orange veggie (like sweet potato or squash), a starch (like potatoes) and then whatever else appeals. In order not to be overwhelmed by prepping so many veggies, I usually leave them raw, steam, roast or bake them.
Select one or two protein sources. Protein sources can include smoked tofu, lentils, all different kinds of beans (black, pinto, adzuki, cannellini, black eyed peas, butter beans, kidney beans, edamame…), and seeds like pumpkin and sunflower. Nuts are also a great source of protein, but I tend to use them in smaller quantities as a garnish.
Your sauce choice will depend on the flavor you’re going for – salad dressing, peanut sauce, salsa, teriyaki sauce and hummus are all options you can get pre-made, or you can get creative and whip up your own.
To assemble, put a nice serving of your grain into a bowl. Top it or mix it with your veggies and proteins. Drizzle some sauce over the bowl. Just like that, you’ve got yourself a meal, but if you add garnishes you make it into a fancy meal! I like to go wild with the garnishes. Garnish ideas: Avocado, sprouts, green onions, pickled ginger, olives, fresh herbs like parsley, cilantro, and mint, seeds (sesame, pumpkin, sunflower, chia), nuts (cashew, almond, pistachio, walnut – though I would toast walnuts first), shredded nori, a drizzle of toasted sesame oil or flax oil.
Are you gluten free? Share some of your favorite recipes with us in the comments below!
Lailah Robertson is a San Francisco freelance writer who writes the blog In My Box about her CSA box and all the delicious vegan, gluten-free things she makes with it.