Chicken Vindaloo

Vindaloo is a tangy, spicy curry with origins in Portugal — the vin in vindaloo stands for “vinha de alhos”, or wine vinegar. The spiciness comes from a mix of warm spices such as cumin and coriander, as supplemented by a bit of cayenne. My husband would probably eat this dish every day if he could.

If you have time, marinate your chicken — or lamb, beef, pork — in some of the curry paste before cooking. If not, no worries. I prefer chicken thighs over chicken breasts because they carry more flavor. If have breasts on hand, they’re a fine choice.

As with most curries, this recipe is naturally gluten free. The list of ingredients is long, but don’t let that daunt you. The whole thing comes together very quickly!

Vietnamese-Style Pancakes

Let me say this: I am addicted to these pancakes. Completely, totally, wholly addicted. I could eat these every single day. And I would be happy.

You can make these as easy as you want or as complicated as you want. I go for easy, meaning I use leftover meats instead of cooking them on the spot — this lets me make these quickly during the week. In addition to the rice flour and turmeric batter, the ingredients include various veggies cut/chopped/julienned into to small pieces, some meat (I often use leftover shrimp or meatballs), and some bean sprouts if you choose. Top with a spicy dipping sauce, and you are in heaven. Trust me.

The trick to cooking these pancakes is to let them get very well-done on the edges. The undersides will be crispy, and the thin batter cooks all the way through quickly.

Sausage and Quinoa Stuffed Squash

Pure Fall (or any season) yumminess! I find butternut squash adds a lovely sweetness, while the sausage adds fat and salt and flavor. The quinoa gives the dish body, and the spinach, well, how can you go wrong with spinach? I toss in a little ricotta for extra flavor. It’s all good.

This works equally well with acorn squash. If you are going with butternut squash, make sure it is relatively symmetric. A very large head and small tail will cook at different levels, leaving the the tail done long before the big part of the squash is done. This leads to an especially tender tail — meaning you have to be extra careful when scooping out the flesh.

Chile Rellenos

While I joke about the husband not cooking, he does make one dish (granted, he only makes it about once a decade, but still): Chile Rellenos. They are a favorite of his — he judges the quality of Mexican restaurants based on their rellenos — and somehow, someway, he taught himself to make this dish.

He also once won a chile relleno cook-off, but that’s another story for another day.

Making chile rellenos gluten-free is amazingly easy. Making chile rellenos is also pretty easy (though a bit messy). Eating them? Easiest of all.

The recipe below is for what we now know as traditional chile rellenos. The Notes and Meal Suggestions section has ideas for alternate preparations, including an awesome baked relleno.

Quinoa and Black Bean Cakes

Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is suddenly everywhere. This ancient South American grain is tasty and versatile. It cooks up just like rice*. I find that quinoa absorbs flavor really well, and I really love as a stuffing for squash and peppers.

Quinoa also makes a great vegetarian patty or cake, perfect as a base for Huevos Rancheros or an interesting side dish (maybe topped with a creamy mustard sauce?).  Quinoa and black bean cakes are a great way to use leftover quinoa, with the added bonus of tasty black beans. Adjust the seasonings in this recipe to suit your palate and goals — there is no wrong way to make these!

* Seriously, just like rice — if you’re cooking on your stovetop, it’s 2 cups water or broth to 1 cup quinoa plus seasonings (salt, pepper, cumin, or whatever you like), bring to boil, let simmer for 15 − 20 minutes; if you’re using your rice cooker, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for basic white rice.

Spicy Thai Beef and Basil with Rice Cakes

This is one of my favorite dishes when I go out for Thai food. Of course, the challenge is finding a place that doesn’t use soy sauce (or uses gluten-free soy sauce). And sometimes rice noodles have a bit of wheat flour integrated or dusted on the noodles. Meaning, sigh, that I haven’t actually found a place that makes this dish gluten-free.

Have I let that stop me? Of course not. This is a fast dish to put together (and can be made with chicken or shrimp if you prefer). You can prep all the ingredients while the noodles are “cooking”. The rest is a quick saute in your wok or skillet.

While this dish is traditionally prepared using fresh rice noodles, I’m having a hard time finding them without wheat flour. So I’ve substituted Korean rice cakes (also known as dduk). Rice cakes are actually thick rice noodles; they have a chewy texture and work well with all kinds of flavors. You can purchase them as a long cylinder or already sliced. I’ve also seen them in a gnocchi-like configuration. They keep well in the freezer, so I buy several packages when I’m out shopping. Find them in the freezer or refrigerator sections of Asian grocery stores.

The best thing about this dish? It can be spicy or mild, depending on your mood. Also, it makes fantastic leftovers.

Japanese-Style Pork Chops

Tonkatsu — Japanese-Style Pork Chops — are, at their heart, breaded and fried pork chops. They differentiate themselves from European schnitzels because of, well, the pork (though I’ve had many fine pork schnitzels) and the use of panko, a Japanese bread crumb. This version modifies the traditional dish to make it gluten-free.

Panko is lighter and crispier than traditional bread crumbs…and the gluten-free version works beautifully for breading (I use Kinnikinnick brand). I generally serve this with rice and salad (plus, pickled carrots or pickled carrot ribbons if you want to go fancy).

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