My Favorite Weeknight Side

I confess to a chickpea (or garbanzo bean, if you prefer) addiction. I also like lima beans. Or pretty much all beans. But chickpeas are definitely my favorite. Maybe because they are perfect for all kinds of things, from salads to hummus.

Oh, hummus! Talk about a perfect gluten-free taste treat. Continue reading “My Favorite Weeknight Side”

Gluten-Free Ponzu

There is something absolutely refreshing about chilled soba noodles with a few crisp, cool vegetable piled high, served with a tangy dipping sauce called ponzu. Gluten-free ponzu can be purchased, no doubt about it. But it’s a bit pricy. As with many sauces, I find the effort involved with making my own to be so minimal that it’s worth the time. Plus, this recipe uses many of the ingredients I keep on hand for other dishes, so no special purchases are required.

For general cooking like this, I purchase restaurant-sized containers of gluten-free soy sauce from Amazon. I also purchase fancier GF soy sauces for those dishes where the flavor of the soy sauce needs to shine — in those instances, a little goes a long way, making it easier to justify a higher price point. Bonito flakes can be bought online or at Asian grocery stores (some major chain stores and Whole Foods also stock them).

Wedge Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing

There are certain times of year when I crave this salad. Sometimes it’s due to the hot weather and a desire for the cold, crisp crunch of iceberg lettuce. Sometimes it’s because I want to indulge in the absolute creamy, salty flavor of the dressing. Sometimes…it’s both.

I love serving this salad at barbecues because it’s easy to make for a crowd. It’s also the perfect accompaniment to a well-cooked steak. And, of course, the blue cheese dressing can be used on other types of salad.

I know there is some concern in the gluten-free community about whether or not blue cheese is gluten-free. Generally, these cheese are safe to eat. For your information, I discuss this issue and list blue cheeses that are gluten-free here (and a few that are not) here.

Quinoa Tabbouleh

I’ll be honest: I was never a huge fan of tabbouleh. I think it was my body’s way or warning me away from foods that made me sick because all the components of tabbouleh are delicious on their own. Which makes this gluten-free tabbouleh just about perfect…and a bit addictive.

Serve it with homemade falafel. Or bring as a side salad to a party.

Grilled Romaine Halves with Caesar Dressing

During the summer, it’s natural to throw everything on the grill, and salads are no exception. Sure, you can do fantastic grilled veggie salads tossed with a balsamic vinaigrette. Or you can impress your guests with this unexpected grilled Romaine salad.

Just brush the cut halves of Romaine heads with a bit of olive oil (I have a lemon-flavored oil I use for this) and grill for a few minutes on each side while your meat is resting.

The traditional Caesar dressing can be made in the blender or food processor (or by hand if you’re feeling energetic). Don’t skip the anchovies — they add incredible flavor and nobody (but you) will know they’re there.

If you’re feeling adventurous, try this with Iceberg lettuce to make a very different kind of wedge salad.

Miso-Sesame Salad Dressing

Despite the fact that two strong flavors are used in this dressing, it doesn’t overpower salads (though I do advising keeping the salad simple). I always have miso in my refrigerator, so this comes together in a few minutes. While I like cheese on my salad as much as the next person, I think it doesn’t work with this dressing — plus it increases the saltiness a bit too much.

While I’ve never encountered miso that isn’t gluten-free, do check labels carefully!

Lentil Soup

When I get obsessed with a food, I get really obsessed. Like I’ll eat a particular food every day until my friends stage an intervention. I think the first time this happened was the summer I was nine. Ever wonder how many tiny tuna sandwiches a girl can make from a long, skinny loaf of French bread?

I know the answer. To say more is to tell you too much about me.

Luckily, I outgrew that obsession before it was taken away from me.

So, other foods that have inspired this level of devotion in me? Chopped salad. Oh, a good chopped salad is like heaven. This may be where I determined salads should be good or not offered at all.

And lentil soup. I think I was 28 or so when I first had lentil soup. I was wary, coming from a household where vegetables were regarded with suspicion. Of course, I was also trying to be totally cool with the fact that I tried a) hummus (OMG!) and b) lentil soup in the same meal.

Nothing was ever the same.

Making lentil soup is absurdly simple. In fact, to the best of my knowledge, there is only one rule, and that is the addition of acid right before serving. Lemon juice or vinegar turns lentil soup into something one obsesses over. Don’t be shy, taste and taste, adjust.

Trust me. After all, I ate lentil soup every day for, oh man, a month!

[box type=”note” style=”rounded” border=”full”]This soup can be made vegetarian by using vegetable stock instead of chicken stock.[/box]