Gluten Free Friday: Baked Eggplant Fries

One of my favorite sides is baked zucchini fries.  They’re light, crispy, and I can eat an entire plate for a meal and be quite happy.  I decided I wanted to give the same concept a try with eggplant.  I’ve done this once before and was wholly unimpressed with the result, but I hadn’t given up hope.  I learned that eggplants with a smaller “navel” on the non stem end have fewer seeds and are therefore less bitter.  I also thought to slice the eggplant fries MUCH thinner than I do the zucchini so that they truly wound up crispy.  I also was on a quest to find a suitable gluten free alternative to panko breadcrumbs.   On some board or blog or other, I saw someone suggest using crushed Rice Chex, so that was what I tried.  It worked BEAUTIFULLY.   We dipped the fries in marinara sauce.  I say this recipe is a keeper (though zucchini is still my preference).   I’d really like to try the same method to make a baked eggplant Parmesan.  This makes a TON.  Serves 4-6 as a side.

Ingredients:

  • 1 eggplant cut into thin strips
  • 2 egg whites
  • crushed Rice Chex (just blitz them in you food processor)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Set up your breading station with 2 pie plates, putting the egg whites in one and some of the Chex in the other (don’t put it all in there at once as it’ll get a little moist as you keep breading and you’ll want to have more to dump in).
  3. Set up your cookie sheets with bakers racks inside them (so that it elevates the eggplant and eliminates the need to flip).
  4. Dip the eggplant in the egg white, then into the Chex, coating well.
  5. Layer on the bakers racks.
  6. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown.
  7. Serve with Marinara.

 

 

Gluten Free Friday: Baked Eggplant Fries
 
One of my favorite sides is baked zucchini fries .  They're light, crispy, and I can eat an entire plate for a meal and be quite happy.  I decided I wanted to give the same concept a try with eggplant.  I've done this once before and was wholly unimpressed with the result, but I hadn't given up hope.  I learned that eggplants with a smaller "navel" on the non stem end have fewer seeds and are therefore less bitter.  I also thought to slice the eggplant fries MUCH thinner than I do the zucchini so that they truly wound up crispy.  I also was on a quest to find a suitable gluten free alternative to panko breadcrumbs.   On some board or blog or other, I saw someone suggest using crushed Rice Chex, so that was what I tried.  It worked BEAUTIFULLY.   We dipped the fries in marinara sauce.  I say this recipe is a keeper (though zucchini is still my preference).   I'd really like to try the same method to make a baked eggplant Parmesan.  This makes a TON.  Serves 4-6 as a side.
Author:
Recipe type: Side
Cuisine: Gluten free
Ingredients
  • 1 eggplant cut into thin strips
  • 2 egg whites
  • crushed Rice Chex (just blitz them in you food processor)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Set up your breading station with 2 pie plates, putting the egg whites in one and some of the Chex in the other (don't put it all in there at once as it'll get a little moist as you keep breading and you'll want to have more to dump in).
  3. Set up your cookie sheets with bakers racks inside them (so that it elevates the eggplant and eliminates the need to flip).
  4. Dip the eggplant in the egg white, then into the Chex, coating well.
  5. Layer on the bakers racks.
  6. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown.
  7. Serve with Marinara.

Roasted Tomato, Bell Pepper, and Mozzarella Bowtie Pasta Salad

I love pasta salad.  It’s a great way to use up random veggies and cheeses.  It’s also a great way to put together a cold, balanced lunch with lots of flavor for middle of the week.  This one serves 5 generously at 300 calories and 4.5 grams of fat per serving.

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz whole wheat pasta
  • 3 pints grape tomatoes, slow roasted
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
  • 2/3 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 shallot, finely diced
  • 1 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

 

Directions:

 

1. Boil the pasta according to package directions and drain.

2. Toss with the tomatoes, bell pepper, shallots, and celery.

3. Add the Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes, and toss well.

4. Add the mozzarella and toss well.

5. Chill and serve.

 

 

Roasted Tomato, Bell Pepper, and Mozzarella Bowtie Pasta Salad
 
I love pasta salad.  It’s a great way to use up random veggies and cheeses.  It’s also a great way to put together a cold, balanced lunch with lots of flavor for middle of the week.  This one serves 5 generously at 300 calories and 4.5 grams of fat per serving.
Author:
Recipe type: Side
Cuisine: Italian
Ingredients
  • 8 oz whole wheat pasta
  • 3
  • pints grape tomatoes, slow roasted
  • ½ red bell pepper, diced
  • ⅔ green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 shallot, finely diced
  • 1 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
  • ½ tsp fresh ground pepper
  • ½ cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
Instructions
  1. Boil the pasta according to package directions and drain.
  2. Toss with the tomatoes, bell pepper, shallots, and celery.
  3. Add the Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes, and toss well.
  4. Add the mozzarella and toss well.
  5. Chill and serve.

Parmesan Polenta

I’ve heard about polenta for years.  Wondered about it.  But I never tried it.  Then I found out it was sort of like grits, except made with corn instead of hominy, and being a good southern girl, I love me some grits.  So I finally tried it and OH MY GOOD LORD, it’s SO GOOD. It’s absolutely one of my new favorite foods.  That first week, I think we ate it three days in a row.  But I only recently remembered to actually, you know, take a picture because we usually INHALE it.    Serves 2.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup yellow corn meal (I like coarse ground by Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 4 cups of chicken stock (you can use water, but I prefer the stock for more flavor)
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan
  • pinch of salt

Directions:

  1. Bring the salt and stock to a boil.
  2. Whisking constantly, add the polenta.
  3. Reduce heat to medium and continue to whisk constantly (careful!  It can pop on you!) for about five minutes.
  4. Continue to cook for another 5-10 minutes or until it reaches desired thickness.
  5. Remove from heat and add the cheese and butter, stirring until well incorporated.
  6. Serve.

 

 

Parmesan Polenta
 
I've heard about polenta for years.  Wondered about it.  But I never tried it.  Then I found out it was sort of like grits, except made with corn instead of hominy, and being a good southern girl, I love me some grits.  So I finally tried it and OH MY GOOD LORD, it's SO GOOD. It's absolutely one of my new favorite foods.  That first week, I think we ate it three days in a row.  But I only recently remembered to actually, you know, take a picture because we usually INHALE it.    Serves 2.
Author:
Recipe type: Side
Cuisine: Gluten free
Ingredients
  • 1 cup yellow corn meal (I like coarse ground by Bob's Red Mill)
  • 4 cups of chicken stock (you can use water, but I prefer the stock for more flavor)
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • ½ cup grated parmesan
  • pinch of salt
Instructions
  1. Bring the salt and stock to a boil.
  2. Whisking constantly, add the polenta.
  3. Reduce heat to medium and continue to whisk constantly (careful!  It can pop on you!) for about five minutes.
  4. Continue to cook for another 5-10 minutes or until it reaches desired thickness.
  5. Remove from heat and add the cheese and butter, stirring until well incorporated.
  6. Serve.

Mexican Corn

My husband LOVES Nacho Libre.  One of the things he remarks on every time we watch it is the corn in the movie that seems to be covered in cheese.  I finally got around to picking up some queso fresco to give this a try.  Now there are a bunch of different variations on this, at least one of which includes being coated in mayo–GROSS.  When I finally got down to wanting to make it, my internet was down, so I had to wing it on how to prepare it.  My method was…unconventional and I haven’t quite sorted out how to make the cheese stick without globs of mayo.  But this was tasty!

Ingredients:

  • 2 ears of fresh corn
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 2 ounces queso fresco
  • salt

Directions:

  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil.
  2. Peel the husk back and remove the silks.
  3. Fold the husk back.
  4. Boil the corn for fifteen minutes.
  5. Drain.  Allow to cool for a few minutes (until you can touch the husks and not burn yourself).
  6. Meanwhile, mix the butter, chili powder and cumin.
  7. Preheat your grill to medium.
  8. Smear half the butter on each ear of corn and fold the husks back into place.
  9. Grill the corn for five minutes a side.
  10. Peel the husks back for good this time.
  11. Sprinkle with salt and more chili powder.
  12. Sprinkle with crumbled queso fresco.

 

 

Mexican Corn
 
My husband LOVES Nacho Libre .  One of the things he remarks on every time we watch it is the corn in the movie that seems to be covered in cheese.  I finally got around to picking up some queso fresco to give this a try.  Now there are a bunch of different variations on this, at least one of which includes being coated in mayo--GROSS.  When I finally got down to wanting to make it, my internet was down, so I had to wing it on how to prepare it.  My method was...unconventional and I haven't quite sorted out how to make the cheese stick without globs of mayo.  But this was tasty!
Author:
Recipe type: Side
Cuisine: Gluten free
Ingredients
  • 2 ears of fresh corn
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp chili powder
  • 2 ounces queso fresco
  • salt
Instructions
  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil.
  2. Peel the husk back and remove the silks.
  3. Fold the husk back.
  4. Boil the corn for fifteen minutes.
  5. Drain.  Allow to cool for a few minutes (until you can touch the husks and not burn yourself).
  6. Meanwhile, mix the butter, chili powder and cumin.
  7. Preheat your grill to medium.
  8. Smear half the butter on each ear of corn and fold the husks back into place.
  9. Grill the corn for five minutes a side.
  10. Peel the husks back for good this time.
  11. Sprinkle with salt and more chili powder.
  12. Sprinkle with crumbled queso fresco.

Quinoa Pilaf

Sometimes you just want something that’s not rice.  This quinoa pilaf is a tasty alternative that uses–well, frankly, it was what I had in the fridge at the time.

Makes 3 servings at 296 calories and 9.15 grams of fat.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 cup zucchini, diced
  • 4 oz mushrooms
  • 2 scallions, sliced thin crosswise
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 tsp parsley
  • 1 tsp greek seasoning
  • 1 tbs olive oil

Directions:

1. Add the quinoa and chicken stock to your rice cooker.  Yep, your rice cooker.  Easiest way to cook the stuff.  Or you can follow package directions for stovetop cooking.

2. Meanwhile, use a teaspoon of the olive oil to saute your vegetables (start with the zucchini and mushrooms, add the garlic and scallions at the last minute).

3. Add the cooked quinoa to the saute pan with the remaining olive oil, parsley and Greek seasoning.

4. Stir until well incorporated.

 

 

Quinoa Pilaf
 
Sometimes you just want something that's not rice.  This quinoa pilaf is a tasty alternative that uses--well, frankly, it was what I had in the fridge at the time. Makes 3 servings at 296 calories and 9.15 grams of fat.
Author:
Recipe type: Side
Cuisine: Gluten and Dairy Free
Ingredients
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 cup zucchini, diced
  • 4 oz mushrooms
  • 2 scallions, sliced thin crosswise
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 tsp parsley
  • 1 tsp greek seasoning
  • 1 tbs olive oil
Instructions
  1. Add the quinoa and chicken stock to your rice cooker.  Yep, your rice cooker.  Easiest way to cook the stuff.  Or you can follow package directions for stovetop cooking.
  2. Meanwhile, use a teaspoon of the olive oil to saute your vegetables (start with the zucchini and mushrooms, add the garlic and scallions at the last minute).
  3. Add the cooked quinoa to the saute pan with the remaining olive oil, parsley and Greek seasoning.
  4. Stir until well incorporated.

Butternut Squash Fries

I keep trying butternut squash.  I like it roasted and in soup.  Hubs has not yet found an incarnation he likes, but I am nothing if not persistent.  It’s a marvelous veggie because it’s low carb, low cal, and low fat.  It’s got about a third of the calories of potatoes.  Since we’ve been loaded with excesses around here since Thanksgiving, lightening the caloric load wherever we can is an excellent idea.  I love regular oven fries, sweet potato fries, and zucchini fries, so I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from this very water laden veggie.  The end result–though I went a bit heavy on the cayenne–was a marvelous sort of combination of sweet potato and zucchini in flavor.  Which sounds weird but is really quite tasty.  They won’t crisp up the same way a potato will, but it’s a really nice, different side.

Ingredients:

  • 1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into fries, the thinner the better
  • olive oil
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • .5 tsp cumin
  • .5 tsp garlic powder
  • .5 tsp kosher salt
  • sprinkle fresh ground pepper
  • sprinkle cayenne pepper

Directions:

  1. You’re gonna need a rack for this, suspended over a baking sheet for maximum heat circulation.
  2. Toss your squash in a drizzle of olive oil.
  3. Sprinkle on all the spices, and toss thoroughly.
  4. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  5. Layer over the wire racks, not too close.  You don’t wanna crowd.  You might need 2 trays for this much squash.
  6. Bake for 50-60 minutes.
  7. Serve immediately.

Printable version.

German Potato Salad

A few weeks ago, we and some of our friends decided to have Fauxtober Fest.   This was originally to have been an Oktoberfest birthday party for one of them, but some stuff came up and it had to be rescheduled.  My contribution to the menu was this German potato salad and some gluten free pretzels that…um, need some work.  But the potato salad was unanimously declared to be awesome (as anything involving bacon and cheese should).  It’s one of those where you just don’t wanna know the fat and calories.

Ingredients:

  • 2 and a half pounds of Yukon gold potatoes
  • 6 slices thick cut bacon, cooked and chopped
  • 2 oz. smoked gouda, finely shredded
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp good dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper

Directions:

  1. Slice your potatoes about a quarter inch thick.   I did these on the thickest setting of my mandolin slicer (watch your fingers!).
  2. Boil the potatoes about fifteen minutes until just done, then drain and set aside in a large bowl.
  3. Whisk the vinegar, olive oil, mustard, sugar, paprika, salt, and pepper together, then pour over the warm potatoes.  Toss until well coated.
  4. Add the bacon and cheese and toss until well distributed.
  5. Serve immediately or rewarm later.  This was amazing right off and even better the second day.

Printable version.

Roasted Acorn Squash

Acorn squash is another one of those veggies I’d never tried.  I got into butternut last year.  Spaghetti squash the year before that.  So it was time to give this one a try.  A quick Twitter poll proved that THE WAY to cook it was roasting with brown sugar and butter.  So that’s what I did.  Hubs and I both really enjoyed it, and its so easy, we’ll absolutely be adding this to our list of regular sides.

Ingredients:

  • acorn squash
  • 1 tablespoon of real butter per squash
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar splenda per half squash
  • salt
  • pepper

Directions:

  1. Slice the squash vertically in half.
  2. Scoop out the seeds.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  4. Grease the bottom of a baking pan with butter or oil and place the squash cut side down.
  5. Roast for 20 minutes.
  6. Flip them over, and crumble the butter (1/2 tablespoon per half) over each half, then sprinkle 1 teaspoon of brown sugar Splenda over each.
  7. Roast for another 25 minutes.

Printable version.

Goat Cheese Au Gratin Potatoes

Impending spoilage is the mother of inventions.  I buy goat cheese at Sam’s Club because I can get a pound there for only a dollar or so more than the little 4 oz. packages at the local grocery store.  But I often don’t get through it fast enough before it starts to spoil.  One of my Twitter pals suggested au gratin potatoes, and it was a genius suggestion.  SO GOOD.  This recipe makes 3 servings at 268 calories and 8.29 grams of fat.

Ingredients:

  • 4 oz goat cheese
  • 1.25 cups skim milk
  • 3 potatoes sliced
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp paprika

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Thin slice your potatoes.  This is one of those locations when a mandolin slicer is worth its weight in Yukon golds.
3. Spray an 8 x 8 baking dish with cooking spray.
4. Layer potatoes, overlapping like shingles across the bottom of the dish.
5. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and paprika.
6. Crumble up a third of the goat cheese.
7. Repeat with remaining layers, reserving the last third of the cheese.
8. Carefully pour the milk in at the edge until it reaches the bottom of the top layer of potatoes.
9. Bake for 60 minutes.
10. During the last 15 minutes of cooking, sprinkle the remaining goat cheese on.

Printable version.

Gluten Free Friday: Bruschetta, Quinoa, and Goat Cheese Stuffed Peppers

Red peppers were on special at Kroger a week or two ago, and I bought four with no idea what I intended to do with them.  Time passed and, like half the contents of my fridge, I forgot about them.  Found them again yesterday and determined I must stuff them with something!  I have a recipe for a roasted red pepper bruschetta that’s AWESOME, so I decided to do a riff on that and mix it in with quinoa for a nice vegetarian (and gluten free) side (which also warmed up to make a lovely lunch).  Serves 4 at 362 calories and 16 grams of fat.

Ingredients:

  • 4 red bell peppers
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 6 leaves basil, chopped
  • 4 oz goat cheese
  • 15 oz diced tomato
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Cook quinoa according to package directions.

2. Meanwhile drain the tomatoes.

3. Mix the tomatoes with the garlic, vinegar, salt, pepper, basil, and olive oil.

4. Meanwhile, core the peppers, cutting the top out and removing ribs and seeds.

5. In a large pot, bring water to a boil.

6. Boil peppers for 5 minutes or until just softened.

7. Drain and cool.

8. Once quinoa is cooked, add to the tomato mixture and stir until well combined.

9. Add the crumbled goat cheese and stir until well combined.

10. Stuff the mixture into the peppers.

11. Bake at 325 degrees for 30-35 minutes.

Printable version.