Figuring out what to make for dinner when you are gluten free can be a challenge. Plain meat, potatoes, and vegetables are always options. But that gets boring. It is not very difficult to adapt “regular” or glutenous recipes into gluten free ones. For instance, meatballs don’t necessarily need breadcrumbs. You can always add ground up oatmeal. Also, sauces usually thickened with flour can use tapioca flour or cornstarch, staples in gluten free baking. Be careful though–use LESS–they do a better job at thickening. I’ve even used brown rice flour instead of wheat flour when making a roux for macaroni and cheese.
I know it is horribly bad and I should not be eating it anyway, but I miss fried foods. It is nearly impossible to order anything like that safely in a restaurant because of cross-contamination. It is rare for restaurants to have dedicated gluten free frying machines–but every once in a while, I’ll find a restaurant that has one and I rejoice! I have found these restaurants throughout Vermont, usually in small towns. Birds-Eye Diner in Castleton, VT has one. So does !Duino! (Duende) in Burlington. And the pub at the Huntington House in Rochester, VT. !Duino! (Duende) has amazing gluten free and vegetarian poutine, if you ever get the chance to go. I’ve also gotten gluten free pancakes at The Station in Pawlet, VT.
Because eating out can be dangerous, I end up eating at home nearly every night. Here are some dinners that I make quite often:
- Chicken curry with cardamom rice (The Teeny Tiny Space Company makes a great curry mix. Just put a tablespoon+ over the chicken before browning it, add the coconut milk and let simmer.) I add vegetables like cauliflower, peas, and carrots to round it out. The recipe is on the tin. (Note to self: I need to buy more Teeny Tiny Spice Company mixes and try out all the recipes on the tins.)
- Chicken pot pie, or, maybe it is more like chicken and biscuits. Make biscuits with a mix to add to the top. Here’s a recipe I like from the Betty Crocker gluten free cookbook.
- Potato pancakes and applesauce. I made this the other day. The “recipe” passed down to me from my German great grandmother does not call for much flour at all–maybe a tablespoon, so I just substitute brown rice flour or tapioca flour. No xanthum gum needed. Also add shredded potato (maybe two or three), a shredded onion, and an egg. Being from Vermont, I grew up putting maple syrup on them. Some people think that’s gross, but I think it’s delicious. And you know how to make applesauce, right? Just core and boil the apples until they are super soft. LEAVE THE SKINS ON! And then put them through the ingenious foley food mill.
- Spaghetti squash. I am kind of sick of gf pasta–it is expensive and it is hard to find pasta without corn or soy flour. The brown rice only kind gets kind of mushy. I like the quinoa+brown rice variety the best but I’ve only been able to find it in a few stores–bigger grocery stores do not carry it. Last night, I made spaghetti squash, tossed it with olive oil, two roasted garlic cloves, fresh parsley and basil and parmesan cheese. I also added browned Italian turkey sausage. Then I stuck it in the oven for about 30 minutes at 415.
- Chicken fingers. Grind up whatever gluten free carby things that you have around the house. Sometimes I pull out a piece of Udi’s bread from the freezer and add salt, pepper, and herbs to it. The other night, I used gf Rice Krispies. Can you believe I found big boxes of this stuff at Big Lots?! What a deal! I should have bought more than two boxes! For breading the chicken, I use the standard three step process with brown rice flour, egg, and then the cereal or bread. I have seen recipes where they just press the cereal to the chicken, but I’ve never found that to work all that well. With that, I usually make mashed potatoes and a vegetable. We had some yummy broccoli from our CSA (Elmer Farm in East Middlebury) as well. The potatoes were from the CSA too.
If being gluten free makes it harder to eat out or pick up takeout, try to be creative in your own kitchen. It takes a lot of time, energy, and planning, but you can come up with some pretty good stuff. Enjoy! What are your go-to dinner ideas?