Easy Chicken Pho

As with so many of my recipes, this is not truly authentic. I’m lucky there are many Vietnamese restaurants in Southern California that serve delicious gluten-free pho (both beef and chicken). I’m also aware that every place I’ve ever gone has a slightly different variation of the broth.

Some are salty and a bit spicy. Some have a bit more sweetness. Most are very rich, with intense meat or vegetable flavor.

These different flavor profiles make me confident my soup is just fine for those times when I don’t want to venture outside to get my pho fix. And when I say this soup is addictive, you can either take my word for it, or, well, become an addict yourself!

Yes, beef pho is traditional, but I haven’t mastered a good beef broth (I’ve mastered an okay beef broth), so I stick with chicken when I’m dining at home. Some things, I believe, are best left to the experts.

Larb, or Ground Meat Lettuce Cups

While you may not have heard of larb by that name, you are likely familiar with the variation known as “lettuce cups”. Lettuce cups often feature Chinese flavors while larb tends to be spicier, with flavors of Thailand and Laos.

This ground meat dish features lime juice, fish sauce, chiles, and herbs. You can use any type of ground meat, though chicken seems to be the most traditional. Serve in lettuce cups and make a little extra sauce for spooning over the completed dish if you’d like.

Once interesting ingredient in this dish is ground toasted rice. It can be optional, but the rice powder adds a bit of crunchiness that is surprising, so I suggest going for it. You can toast the rice on the stove, but I prefer the oven method because it’s less hands-on — I do all the other meal prep while the rice is browning away!

Pizza with Chopped Artichoke Hearts, Basil, and Olive Oil

When you’re gluten-free, chances are you can’t take advantage of take-out pizza anymore. Luckily, making pizza at home is fast and easy. Using a gluten-free pizza dough mix makes it even easier. Yes, if you’re so inclined, you can make your own GF mix, but I find having a stash of mix in the cupboard makes my life easier.

Since going gluten-free, I don’t eat a lot of breads, so I don’t keep a lot of GF flours on hand. I rely on a well-stocked pantry for those days when I throw my menu aside and hope there’s something to eat in the house!

Most recipes for pizza are pretty standard: crust topped with sauce, cheese, and meat and veggies. This recipe is a bit different in that in features a this layer of olive oil instead of heavier sauce. This light pizza is perfect in the summer — and if you want to grill it, go ahead. Just make sure your crust is about 1/3-inch thick, and make sure you watch carefully to prevent burning anything!

Basic Pesto Sauce

Basil is easy to grow, and I love the fragrance. It’s also the key ingredients in one of my favorite pasta toppings: pesto. As you can see from the recipe below, you can quickly throw together pesto using a few ingredients. In addition to making a quick vegetarian meal with pesto and pasta, I love to use pesto in other ways.

One favorite is as a topping for grilled salmon. Add a bit lemon juice or zest to your pesto and use a few spoonfuls on each serving of salmon. Another fun way to use pesto is mixed with steamed rice. It’s a nice break from ordinary, plain rice, and takes just moments to prepare. Mix pesto to taste into just-cooked rice and serve. Top with a bit of grated Parmesan for additional flavor.

Pesto is also open to new ingredients. You can use artichokes, kale, spinach, or other greens. Swap out the pine nuts for walnuts. Some red pepper flakes can add a bit heat if that’s what you’re looking for.

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.

Pesto

Pesto is one of those perfect foods I wish I’d discovered earlier in life. It’s great on pasta, of course, but also kicks basic steamed rice up a notch. And, I love to serve it with salmon. Of course, I could probably eat pesto by the spoonful…

The ingredients for pesto are simple: basil, olive oil, parmesan cheese, garlic, and pine nuts. And you go from there. There is artichoke pesto, herb pesto, red pesto. Humans find ways to mess with this recipe every day — and I love them for it!

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