Thursday, June 9, 2011

An easy and delicious Salad Nicoise

(note, this is not an Egg-free recipe, but simply omit the egg to turn it into one, and consider replacing with potato).

Until I decided to sound more sophisticated, my Salad Nicoise was just a simple "Tuna Salad". However, a simple tuna salad it's not. Tuna salad can be anything ie. Tuna mixed in with any ingredients you constitute as salad.

But the authentic Salad Nicoise, hailing from the gorgeous French Riviera town of Nice, has two base ingredients: tuna and anchovies. After that, the recipe calls for lettuce, green beans, potatoes, tomato wedges, and boiled egg. It's a devine and healthy salad any GF or DF person can enjoy.

I've ordered it a few times at restaurants and each time, I seem to eat a different version!

So, a few years ago, when I was living in Italy, hungry faced with very little in the pantry besides tuna, I whipped up my own version which I still make to this day. It's really a complete meal - full of protein and greens with a little good fat to complete the meal. Teamed with fresh, hot crusty GF bread (see my post "The Bread Moment" for my recommendation), you can enjoy it for lunch or dinner and feel totally satisfied.

Using only the yummiest tuna (don't be boring and buy tuna in Brine - that's a waste of tuna if you ask me), it's healthy, gets the mouth-watering, and it's ridiculously quick and easy to make.

So, here is Anna's Salad Nicoise (Italian version) - if that makes any sense!?


(Serves 2)

One large can of Sirena Tuna, or any other tuna in olive oil (a good oil, rich in essential fatty acids!)
Two large handfuls of green beans, topped and tailed
One large or two small cloves of garlic
Handful cherry tomatoes
Two small eggs, hard boiled (omit if you are egg-free, replace for potatoes?)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper


Hard-boil the eggs. My favourite method is to cover both eggs in cold water, bring to the boil, lower the heat to a rolling boil for eight minutes, then drain and immediately rinse with cold water. Allow to cool.

Meanwhile, top and tail and wash the beans. Boil them in salted water until tender (usually until a fork is able to pierce through them).

Drain and allow to cool.

Wash then slice the cherry tomatoes in half or keep them whole, it depends how you prefer them.

Peel the garlic clove and cut into quarters.

Drain the tuna. Once cooled down, arrange the beans on a platter or dish, top with tomatoes and tuna, peeled eggs cut in quarters, and add garlic cloves. Drizzle lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Give a light toss. Add more or less oil and salt as desired.


I know it sounds weird that you'd drain the olive oil from the tuna then re-add your own, but I like the olive oil tuna because it's packed with flavour, however I then prefer to drizzle with my own olive oil because I love the freshness and flavour of a good quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Also, watch out for the garlic. Don't eat it unless you want your breath to reek for the rest of the day. It's really there to give flavour to the salad.

Finally, I don't use potatoes in this salad. I find it's filling enough without the need for extra carbs.

Now, where's that tuna? :)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

My love affair with the legume


Ok, I'm not the biggest fans of legumes. Let's face it, they give you gas, they're not overly tasty unless doused with oil and seasoning, and god forbid you find rotting beans in the refrigerator. That counts for many moments where I've had to hold my nose, and breath.

But, this uber-tasty, hearty Lentil soup will make you love your legumes. In fact, you'll simply fall in love with them.

This Italian Lentil soup (called "Lenticcia") is everything a good winter soup should be - hearty, healthy, filling, and extremely flavoursome (not to mention, soooooooo easy to cook!). If you team it with gluten-free macaroni pasta or boiled rice, it's a complete meal.

I gave this recipe to a friend of mine about six years ago, and she tells me that her and hubby love it so much, that she makes it every week in winter!

Oh, don't forget to soak the lentils the night before.


500g packet of green or brown lentils (soaked in water the night before)
2 potatoes
2 carrots
2 stalks of celery
1/2 medium onion
1/4 can peeled tomatoes
olive oil
2 x small gluten-free chicken stock cubes or 1 large (Massel are gf)
Gluten free macaroni pasta or rice
salt and pepper


Strain your soaked lentils in a large colander and rinse thoroughly. Put them in a large pot, then fill the pot with water so it's 3/4 full (make sure the water covers the lentils more than enough).

Put the pot on high heat and while it's heating, chop all your vegetables (chop your veggies in large chunks), chop the celery and onion smaller and throw it all in.

Add about three peeled tomatoes, chop them up a little first.

Add about two tablespoons of olive oil, crumble in the chicken stock cubes, then add a good pinch of salt and a sprinkle of pepper.

Bring the soup to the boil, then reduce to a rolling boil and cook for 1.5 hours.

After about 20-30 mins, check for flavour and add more seasoning if necessary.

About 10-15 minutes before cooking time has ended, boil some macaroni pasta or rice and mix into each serve.

Finally, if you can eat dairy, a devine finishing touch is a sprinkling of freshly grated parmesan cheese. I'm not so lucky, but this soup is so good, I'm perfectly happy without it.

Also freezes well.

Enjoy! x

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Milo Moment of Shame

Being intolerant to dairy (rather than being full-blown allergic or, god forbid, even anaphylactic), means that I still indulge in a piece of cake or ice-cream a couple of times a week. However, if I over-do it, then oh boy, I cop the consequences.

For example, I grew up with Milo, and to this day, the little child inside me still loves that Vitamin B goodness. I have even been known to do a Nutella on the Milo by sticking the teaspoon in the tin and eating it just like that, even risking Milo-stained teeth.

Because I have the willpower of an ant, I even resort to hiding it in the very back of the pantry so I don’t gorge on it every day. I strongly adhere to the ‘out of sight out of mind” philosophy and it usually works, until I spy a bit of green sticking out from behind the container of buckwheat flour.

Well, the other night, I caved. I felt like something sweet and there it was – that little bit of green with shiny silver lid poking out from behind the buckwheat. I had eaten a piece of cake at a friend’s house a few hours earlier so thought, what the hell, I might as well eat more dairy since I’ve stuffed it already.

I poured a bit of rice milk in my favourite mug, and opened the tin. The waft of cocoa and barley and all that low GI goodness hit me like the aroma of a good coffee, and I started piling it in.

We’re not talking about a modest, sensible scooping of the sweet, brown powder. We’re talking about a helping backed up by Milo-entitlement, you know, that feeling of being entitled to Milo just like every other dairy-consuming being on the planet.

As my mouth was watering, I was pretty sure I piled in about five heaped teaspoons, with an extra added tin-to-mouth manoeuvre.

Within five minutes, I felt ill. I was sure it was going to come back up. Instead, I lay on the couch for the next three hours groaning and clutching at my stomach, with the other half looking on with either pity or disgust. But it's only Milo, I thought to myself!

I went back to the pantry and checked out the ingredients because I was sure it hadn’t contained that much dairy and I’ve had it before on the odd ‘treat’ night and felt ok? There it was – “contains milk AND gluten".

The barley. The wheat. The double whamminess of it all!

The Milo Moral was as clear as day – just because I had it every day after school when I was younger doesn't mean my now intolerant self can scoff it with a vengeance today. Also, I shouldn't let those health messages fool me into a false justification of consumption (“low GI”, “contains six Vitamins and Minerals”, “Nourishing”, “Rich in Protein”, "Source of Energy" etc). I could also do a much better job at hiding it and stop placing it behind the buckwheat container which I confess, makes it easily visible and, if I’ve already eaten a piece of cake with cream earlier, acting out a justified dairy continuation is just not worth the stomach ache afterwards.

The Milo is now strategically placed out of sight, with a massive pack of Natural Confectionary Snakes in front. Hang on, I better go check the label.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

My love affair with a Spanish cookie


Ok yes, once AGAIN I am praising Aldi... and the Spanish.

While dragging the trolley this afternoon during my weekly shop at my new favourite supermarket, I was convinced my eyes were playing tricks on me when I stumbled across a white box with the words "Gluten Free" smack in the middle of it. A gaze north of the title were images of devine-looking chocolate chip cookies, made in Spain.

EVEN better news? They're dairy-free. I almost cried with joy. I think I made some sort of noise. Maybe it was a happy whimper.

I'm even HAPPIER to report that they are EGG-FREE and NUT-FREE. Yes, you read right. I was immediately thrilled for my sister whose eldest son is highly allergic to both egg and nuts and resolved to share the news with her quickly. I was instead side-tracked by opening the box immediately and stuffing my face with them while I was packing bags at the Aldi 'bag-packing section'. No doubt, she'll read about it here.

Oh, happy days.

Each cookie only has 1.2g of fat and 1.4g of sugar per cookie. Granted, they are little cookies, but I had about six and didn't feel bloated or like a gluttonous cow afterwards. Dunked in warmed rice milk (or soy) and - yum.

While I'm on the subject of heavenly choc-chip cookies, I should also mention that Leda Nutrition - - also makes a heavenly gf/df choc-chip cookie although I can't remember if they're egg or nut free. I bought them from "About Life" organic supermarket/cafe in Rozelle.

Freedom Foods make choc-chips cookies too, but they're way too soft and many experienced cookie-philes could mistake them for being out-of-date. They need to find the crunch gene and work on them a bit.

They now have stiff competition.

They say Spain is the country of love. I have officially fallen head over heels for their biscuits.


Monday, May 23, 2011

My Mamma's Minestrone


My mother takes full credit for this simple, but damn tasty, Minestrone. We grew up with it in winter, and with gluten-free pasta and parmesan cheese for those who can eat dairy, it's so heavenly and tasty, you'll want to make it every week!

Here it is....


2 large potatoes, diced
2 large carrots, diced
1 medium sized zucchini, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1-2 cans of mixed beans, kidney or borlotti (whatever type or amount you prefer)
1 small onion, diced
1 small head brocolli, cut into small florets
2 cloves of garlic, cut in half
Half a can of peeled tomatoes
2 handfuls of baby spinach
Gluten free pasta
Massell Vegetable stock cubes (gluten free brand)
Salt and Pepper


Half fill a large pot with water - put it on a medium heat.

Add all the vegetables except the spinach, onion, garlic, squash in the peeled tomatoes, about three stock cubes (even four if it's a huge pot, taste-test after 15 mins and decide) and season with salt and pepper.

Bring to the boil then reduce to a nice, rolling boil (reduce to simmer if the liquid is reducing too much). After about 50 minutes, break up the gluten-free spaghetti into about 4 cm sticks soup pasta, and throw in. When pasta is cooked, it's ready to eat!

Gluten-free peeps: toast some of that yummy "Has No" gluten free bread and scoop in or make croutons.

People who can eat dairy - it's orgasmic with freshly grated parmesan cheese!

Add more salt if needed.

Freezes very well - for up to a couple of months. Just defrost, heat up and enjoy. I make loads so it's on hand when I don't feel like cooking.

Write and let me know how you went! About to scoff mine. Just blow on every spoonful so you don't burn your tongue!


Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Crumb Factor

Breadcrumbs are no longer out of reach for Coeliacs or Gluten Intolerant types. I mean, good breadcrumbs, that is.

I've tried the multitude of GF breadcrumbs out there, but they're more like flavourless, crunchy flakes than breadcrumbs. Not only that, but no matter how much the egg is supposed to bind them, they end up falling off!

Since, I've resorted to pan-frying my fish as is (while my other half enjoys his fully-crumbed... no point in depriving him!) or just going without my beloved chicken or veal snitzel. Hey, I'm Italiana! I can't put up with that!

But, Aldi again comes to the rescue (still promise they're not a client). "Has No Rice Crumbs" are not only gluten-free, they have ONE ingredient - 100% natural baked brown rice. Nothing more! It's comforting to know there are no added preservatives or any intimidating ingredients only scientists or chemists know the meaning of.

Tip Top Krummies has 28 ingredients with many not drawing from the bread or wheat family! Too creepy for breadcrumbs!

I cooked up crumbed coated pan fried dory tonight, and it was just yum with my new Rice Crumbs. They are ground really, really fine so they stick really well to the protein, and don't flake off, and they've got a yummy crispy crunch. But, next time, I'll remember to up the flavour factor by adding some fresh finely chopped flat-leaf parsley.

Snitzel is now on next week's menu. Yum!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

My favourite risotto recipe

Gluten Free/Dairy Free/Nut Free/Egg Free

This is my absolute FAVE risotto recipe, right out of one of my most adored cook books, "Culinaria Italy".

It's ridiculously easy to make, and oh so easy to eat (you'll be guaranteed mmmm'ing and ah'ing while you eat). Here we go:

Risotto Alla Maranese (Seafood risotto)


200g prepared squid
100g prepared shrimp
6-7 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
3-4 tbspn chopped flat leaf parsley
500g mussels
1 glass white wine
300g arborio rice
3-4 litres of vegetable stock (I make this with boiled water and Massell Gluten-free stock powder, it does the job)
Salt and Pepper


Wash and slice the squid, not too finely. Wash shrimp. Saute both briefly in half the olive oil, with the garlic and parlsey. Wash and clean mussels, discarding any that are open. Cook them in the remainig oil until the shells have competely opened. Discard unopened mussels. Remove the flesh from the shells and add it to the shrimp and squid. Strain the cooking juices from the mussels through muslin or a fine sieve, and add it to the seafood. Pour on the white wine. Add the rice, and simmer until tender. Add vegetable stock from time to time to prevent drying out. Allow the risotto to stand for a few moments before serving.

Enjoy (quite possible with the rest of the vino bianco :)) and, if you give it a go, write to me and let me know how it went.