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Ye-gads, it’s been a while since I posted a recipe here! It’s not for lack of effort. I have tons of food pics and recipes jotted down here and there… just no screen time. Sorry.

Well, summer is high in Chi-city and we are lovin’ life farmer’s market and CSA style. Tomatoes, cukes, peppers – each week our CSA fills our fridge with delicious bounty and we’re forced, like good Greek peasants, to eat what we have makings for. And what do we have makings for? Greek salad! WOOT!

Traditional Greek Salad (Horiatiki Salata)

Traditional Greek Salad (Horiatiki Salata)

It may not surprise you to hear that the Greek salad that is served in most restaurants is not the real deal. For one, Greeks don’t have lettuce – at least they didn’t for a long time. In fact, my grandmother used to use our lettuce in soups, thinking it was just another leafy green to cook, rather than using it in salads. Of course, this has most certainly changed these days, but the Greek salad of my youth was closer to the recipe below. When you are inundated with fresh garden tomatoes and cukes, this is the best treat in the world.

A note on ingredients: There is a variety of cucumber that I’ve never seen anywhere besides Greece. They are smaller (kirby sized), lighter skinned, kind of football-shaped, and crispier than anything we find here. The closest I have been able to find in texture is the Armenian Cucumber, a long, pale green, ribbed and slightly fuzzy cuke that is available at my farmer’s market. If you can get your hands on one of these, hubba-hubba. Also, the green peppers I’ve had in Greece are nowhere near the massive, watery bohemoths you find in our supermarkets. They are small, thin-walled and incredibly flavorful. Unfortunately, I have no clever tips on how to get your hands on something comparable here. Oh, well.

Traditional Greek Salad (Horiatiki Salata)

  • 2 large, ripe tomatoes, cut in thick wedges or large chunks
  • 1/4-1/2 of an Armenian cucumber or 2 pickling cukes, sliced in rounds
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, sliced thinly
  • 1/4 small red onion, sliced thinly
  • 1 1/4″ thick slice of feta cheese (please don’t waste your money on the pre-crumbled stuff!)
  • olive oil
  • kalamata olives or capers
  • salt
  • oregano

Directions in 30 words or less: Throw all the veggies into a serving bowl. Salt and toss. Drizzle with more olive oil than you think you’ll need. Place feta on top. Sprinkle with olives or capers, and top with oregano.

Dang! Four words over. It’s ok. You’ll forgive me.

Sad to say, Mark Bittman is ending the Minimalist, after 13 years writing the weekly column for the New York Times. He has been a wealth of inspiration, and especially in recent years, as he has cut his meat intake down in favor of a “less-meatarian” approach. Big fan. Anywhoo, as part of his farewell, he has posted his favorite 25 recipes from the Minimalist over the years. Check out these naturally gluten-free ones!

Red Pepper Puree
Socca (chickpea pancake)
Parsley Herb Salad
Fennel & Celery Salad
Eggplant Curry (omit asafetida – not always gf)
More-Vegetable-Less-Egg Frittata
Mexican Chocolate Tofu Pudding

Obsessed. With. Mango Sticky Rice.


Lucky for me, it’s easy as one, two, tree. (okay, four.)

Naturally Gluten-Free: Mango Sticky Rice

Mango Sticky Rice

  • 3 cups sticky rice
  • 1 13.5-oz. can of unsweetened coconut milk plus extra for serving
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 ripe mangos

Directions: Put the rice in a large bowl and cover with water so the water comes up at least two inches from the rice. Soak overnight.

Fill a large steamer with 3 inches of water. Place the rice in the top part of the steamer and steam for 30-40 minutes until the rice is still chewy but cooked. Scoop the rice from the steamer into a large bowl. Add the coconut milk and sugar and stir to combine. Return to the steamer (check to see if it needs more water) and steam for another 30ish minutes. The longer you cook it, the stickier it gets. Just keep testing it until you likey. Serve warm and garnish with sweetened coconut milk and fresh mango slices.

I love it when being gluten-free allows me to be totally gluttonous. For example: crustless pumpkin pie. There’s no reason why I couldn’t make a gluten-free crust, it’s more a matter of why bother? It’s the filling I’m after.

Gluten-Free Crustless Pumpkin Pie

  • 2/3 c. brown sugar
  • 1/4 c. white sugar
  • 2 T gluten-free flour (all-purpose or sweet rice)
  • 1 t. cinnamon-a-mon-amon
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1/4 t. ground cloves
  • 1/4 t. ground ginger
  • 1/4 t. ground allspice
  • 1 1/2 c. pumpkin puree (save yourself the BPA and get it from a real pie pumpkin)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup cream
  • 2 T maple syrup

Combine first 8 ingredients in bowl and mix. Add wet ingredients and beat until smooth. Put in greased pie plate. Bake at 450 °F for 10 minutes. Then turn down to 325 °F and bake for another 40 minutes until set.

Frozen Blubberies, oh my

Quick! Best snack in the world?!?!?! Ok, I’m going to bet a lot of money you didn’t say frozen blueberries. Dangit. But they’re right up there in my book with the all-time greats:

  • olives
  • cheese
  • pickles
  • popcorn
  • peanut butter and hot sauce (seriously! Try it)

Honestly, I’d never had frozen blueberries before but Stanley’s, oh, great fountain of produce, from time to time rocks these absurd sales on organic produce, and when they do, I lose all self-control and let my inner hunter-gatherer go bonkers filling up the shopping cart. Of course, then I get home and my husband looks at me like I’m a total loony bin so I have to think quick. What was I planning on doing with all those blueberries? Well, obviously, I say in my most authoritative tone, they’re amazing frozen. You’ll see. Trust me on this one.

Luckily I was right. Frozen blueberries are delicious. Just buy them fresh when they’re cheap and in season. Wash them in their plastic houses, drain, and pop in the freezer. Before chowing, take them out and let them sit for 5ish minutes to soften ever so slightly. Dang, mother nature knows how to make ’em!

I’ve mentioned before that there are several wacky bean companies I order from online. Here is a recipe that utilizes Native Seeds SEARCH’s runner cannellini beans; large, white beans that are reminiscent of dried limas but about twice as big. If you don’t have these on hand, large limas or another white bean will work just fine.

Balsamic White Bean Dip

White Bean Dip

  • 2 c. cooked white beans
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 2 T lemon
  • 2 T balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 t. garlic powder or 1/2 a small garlic clove, minced
  • salt & pepper to taste

Combine the above ingredients in a food processor and mix until smooth. Alternatively, for a chunkier dip, you can mash the beans with a fork or potato masher in a bowl, then add the remaining ingredients and mix until combined. Serve with a rustic gluten-free bread, some fresh vegetables, cheese, and homemade olives for a fabulous lunch.

I love this line from the executive chef at New York’s Ilili:

It’s a poor man’s dinner, eaten with eggs, or with tomatoes and scallions…

He’s referring to a dish he makes called Lebanese Potatoes with Cilantro Sauce, which may or may not appeal to you given the centrality of cilantro to the dish. Being a reformed cilantro-hater, I’m psyched to try it. And we just got potatoes from the stupormarket on Saturday. Woo.

Alright vegheads, brace yourselves. It was bound to happen, and after a year at the helm, I’m just going to suck it up and do it: a recipe with fish. So now you know our dirty little secret. We’re really pescatarians. But we eat fish so rarely and feel so guilty about it when we do that we’re functionally vegheads. Oy. Let’s move on.

So I’ve never really dug paella. Am I the only one? Maybe it’s the bits of mussel shell that get inadvertently broken and have the nasty habit of sneaking up on you in the midst of what you’re hoping will be a tasty bite. Or perhaps it’s the dusty, musty combination of colored-but-not-flavored paprika and can-taste-like-basement-so-use-it-wisely saffron. Or maybe it’s that cooked bell peppers and rice are too good an approximation of the flavor of all airplane food in the 1980s. I dunno. Bottom line is, I’m just “enh” on paella. Blasphemy, you say!? You should be pleased. It means more for you.

Except that now I’m not so sure you don’t have to worry about competition from me at the paella table. Perhaps it’s due to the moon being perfectly aligned with the stars, or to the fact that I am missing exactly half of the ingredients for a seafood paella according to Ruth Reichel. Either way, tonight I made an almost-paella that I want all to myself. Every night. Me. Mine. Unless you volunteer to bring the wine. Then I might share.

Almost-Paella or Green Chile Paella

Almost-Paella or Green Chile Paella

Almost-Paella (or) Green Chile Paella

  • 3 T olive oil
  • 1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 1/2 c. arborio rice
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced/mashed/smashed
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 1/8 t. salt
  • 3 T white wine
  • 2 T lemon juice
  • 1/8 t. saffron
  • 4 c. vegetable broth, heated
  • 1 c. peas
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 small red onion
  • 2-4 T chopped green chile (can substitute 1 chopped fresh jalapeno or serrano pepper)

**A note on kitchen gear: If you have gads of space and a paella pan to fill it, then by all means, break out the paella pan for this recipe. If you’re like me and are trying to get by with the minimum gear needed for maximum gourmetness, you might not have made the paella pan choice. No problem. Just use a large, high-sided saute pan like this. You’ll need the high sides for when you add the liquid so it doesn’t spill out and make a dern mess.

Prep everything first. This is a fast-flyin’ dish when it comes down to it so you don’t want to be stuck chopping onions while the garlic burns. Peel and devein your shrimp, if they aren’t already cleaned. Mash the garlic and combine it with the tomato paste and the salt in a small bowl. Pour the wine, lemon juice, and saffron into a glass and let sit. Chop your scallions into thin rounds. Slice your onion into strips. Measure out your peas (and let them thaw if they’re frozen). Dice or coarsely chop whatever spicy chile you decide to use.* Ok, nice work. You’re ready.

Preheat your oven to 400° F. Put 3 T olive oil in the frying pan and heat on medium high. When hot, throw in the shrimp and shimmy around for a few (two-ish) minutes. The goal here is not to cook the shrimp, just to sear it nicely. It’ll cook fully later. When seared on both sides, remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Put the tomato paste, garlic and salt into the hot oil and fry for a minute, stirring constantly so the tomato paste doesn’t burn. Add the rice and stir so the tomato paste coats the grains evenly. Add the bay leaves, the wine/lemon/saffron mixture, the hot veggie broth, and a generous grrrp-grrrp-grrrp of black pepper. Give a good stir and allow to simmer for 5ish minutes. Add the scallions, onion, and peas and stir again. Arrange the shrimp on top. Place the pan uncovered in the middle rack of the oven for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, pull it out and test the rice. The rice should be a bit too al dente. Cover the pan and let sit for another 10 minutes. Test the rice again. If it’s not done, add another 1/4 c. boiling water and put it back in the oven for another 10 minutes. Follow the same plan after pulling it out of the oven the second time – let sit, covered, for 10 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with parsley, garnish with lemon slices. Serves 2-3 hungry hippos.

*A word on chile-ville: New Mexico green chiles are akin to the Sirens in Greek mythology and have been known to inspire obsessive behavior in their victims. Once you’ve tasted them you will go to great lengths to have them readily available in your home. Assuming you have not been bitten by the NM green chile bug and therefore don’t have a freezer full of roasted, peeled and seeded chiles ready to thaw and chop, I’ll offer some other options to achieve chileness.

  1. I have seen channed green chile at the supermarket; you can use these.
  2. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can buy 2 poblano peppers, roast them in a broiler, turning them every 5-10 minutes until the skins are blackened. Place them in a paper bag and close the top to let them steam. When cool, peel off the skin and remove the stems and seeds. Chop and use in place of the green chile.
  3. Or, you can just use a fresh jalapeno or serrano pepper, finely chopped.
    1. Your call.

Gluten-free Pizza á la greca: with spinach, feta, tomatoes, and dried olives

Mmmm… zaaaa.

Gluten-Free Pizza à la Greca: with Spinach, Feta, & Olives

  • One package Gillian’s Wheat, Gluten & Dairy Free Pizza Dough (available at Whole Paycheck)
  • 1 small onion
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 pint fresh cherry tomatoes
  • 8 oz. chopped spinach
  • 2 oz. feta cheese
  • 1/4 c. pitted olives, coarsely chopped (try Penna’s Olivasecca – they’re amazing!)
  • 1-2 T steel cut oats or corn meal
  • oregano, salt & pepper to taste

This is a great quick meal if you have the foresight to thaw the pizza dough the night before. Of course, you can use a different pizza dough that doesn’t require thawing. Do a little exploring in the frozen foods section of your gross-hairy store and see what you can come up with.

Preheat the oven to 400° F. Slice the onion and garlic and saute in olive oil until glassy-looking. Add the can of crushed tomatoes and let cook down until there is very little liquid left. Add the cherry tomatoes and cook until their skins start to split – approximately 10 minutes on medium high heat. Add the spinach; saute another 5ish minutes.

Cut a large piece of parchment paper and set on a flat surface. Sprinkle 1-2 T steel cut oats or coarse corn meal (polenta works) in a circle about 6-8″ in diameter. Flatten the pizza dough into a 1″-thick disc and place on the oats/grits. Roll the dough out until it is 12-14″ in diameter. Pinch the edges so you have a little ridge all the way around. Spoon the tomato/spinach/onion mixture onto the crust and distribute evenly. Spread the crumbled feta cheese and chopped olives on top. Sprinkle with oregano, salt & pepper. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until crust turns golden brown. Ta-zaaa!

Folks, it don’t get much better than this. A dessert that you can whip up in 1 minute, 30 seconds. A dessert that doesn’t leave you lamenting the size of your thighs. A dessert to impress even the snob-von-snobbiest of gourmands. It’s chocolate mousse! And it’s easy as pie. Much easier, in fact.

Guilt-Free, Gluten-Free Chocolate Mousse

Eat your heart out, glutards! Guilt-Free, Gluten-Free Chocolate Mousse!

Gluten-Free, Guilt-Free Chocolate Mousse

  • 16 oz. (one package) of silken tofu, at room temp
  • 4 oz. (one bar) semi-sweet Ghirardelli chocolate
  • 1 t. vanilla extract

Yep, that’s it!

Dump the contents of the silken tofu packet unceremoniously into a food processor. Giver ‘er a whirl. In a double boiler, melt the chocolate. Pour into the tofu and process on high for 30 seconds or so, until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Add the vanilla. Split amongst four perty glasses and chill. Top with nuts or fresh berries or just down them straight-up. Huh, boy. That’s my kind of dessert!