After seeing some flour and starch-laden recipe I had extolled a few weeks ago, my friend Vi, who was recently put on a gluten-free diet, berated me for using all those forbidden ingredients over and over.
While no one in our home is on a special diet, we often cook for friends who are allergic to or avoiding half the fauna and flora of this planet. So I felt bad.
I can get around this stuff and publish a gluten-free dish.
But then I visited the grocery store, where I found weird ingredients in high-priced products bearing that all-important “gluten-free” label.
Thai rice sticks are pasta made with rice flour, maybe corn starch (this brand doesn’t have any) and water.
Cellophane or glass noodles are even better for you. They are made of green bean, broad bean or pea flour – which provide the fiber, calcium and iron that many gluten-free dieters miss.
You can get either kind of noodles at grocery stores. But visit an Asian market and they are dirt cheap.
And these babies are convenient. Just pour some boling water over them, let them sit for 2-3 minutes and they are cooked.
Because glass noodles and rice sticks are more delicate than regular pasta, they get lost in a heavy tomato or meat sauce. So use a light touch – which is better for you anyway. You don’t have to buy a laundry list of Asian ingredients. Instead of ground beef, think thinly sliced chicken or pork. Instead of gobs of jarred sauce, think sliced grape tomatoes and green onions with gluten-free chicken broth.
Here’s a easy way to get your gluten-free on.
Chicken Noodle Soup
(When zucchini is in season, slice it, unpeeled, into matchstick sized pieces and add with carrots)
2 Tbsp. peanut oil
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced thin
1/2 onion chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup peeled carrots, chopped
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced thin
1 tsp. ground ginger
salt and pepper to taste
2 32-0unce cartons gluten-free chicken broth
juice of one lemon
8 ounces rice sticks
green onions, sliced, for topping
Heat peanut oil in large soup pan over medium-high heat.
Add chicken and saute, stirring ocassionally, until chicken turns white but has not browned. Remove chicken.
Turn heat to low, add onion, garlic and carrots. Saute about five mintues, then add mushrooms, ginger, salt and pepper.
Cook another five minutes, until onions are translucent.
Add broth, turn heat to medium-high and bring broth to a boil.
Add chicken, lower heat to a simmer and cook five minutes.
Add rice sticks to simmering broth and cook for 2-3 minutes.
Remove soup from heat, stir in lemon juice and pour into bowls. Top bowls with green onions.