Gluten is a general name for the proteins found in wheat (durum, emmer, spelt, farina, farro, KAMUT® khorasan wheat and einkorn), rye, barley and triticale. Gluten helps foods maintain their shape, acting as a glue that holds food together.
When people with celiac disease eat foods or use products containing gluten, the response from their immune system damages the tiny, fingerlike protrusions lining the small intestine, called villi. Properly working villi allow nutrients from food to be absorbed into the bloodstream. When villi are damaged, vital nutrients go unabsorbed. When people first get diagnosed with Celiac Disease or gluten sensitivity, one of the things they mourn most is having to give up “regular” wheat-based pasta.
Gluten-free pastas are made from corn, brown rice, quinoa and some brands offer a mixture of gluten-free ingredients. Barilla and Ronzoni offer gluten-free products. An Italian made brand, Jovial, was rated best by America’s Test Kitchen and Food & Wine magazine. You might want to see if it is available in your area.
Gluten can be found in many types of foods, even ones that you would not expect to find it in, for example:
- Energy bars/granola bars – some bars may contain wheat as an ingredient, and most use oats that are not gluten-free
- French fries – be careful of batter containing wheat flour or cross-contamination from fryers
- Potato chips – some potato chip seasonings may contain malt vinegar or wheat starch
- Processed lunch meats
- Candy and candy bars
- Soup – pay special attention to cream-based soups, which have flour as a thickener. Many soups also contain barley
- Multi-grain or “artisan” tortilla chips or tortillas that are not entirely corn-based may contain a wheat-based ingredient
- Salad dressings and marinades – may contain malt vinegar, soy sauce, flour
- Starch or dextrin, if found in meat or a poultry product, could be from any grain, including wheat
- Brown rice syrup – may be made with barley enzymes
- Meat substitutes made with seitan (wheat gluten) such as vegetarian burgers, vegetarian sausage, imitation bacon, imitation seafood (Note: tofu is gluten-free, but be cautious of soy sauce marinades and cross-contamination when eating out, especially when the tofu is fried)
- Soy sauce (however, tamari made without wheat is gluten-free)
- Self-basting poultry
- Pre-seasoned meats
- Cheesecake filling – some recipes include wheat flour
- Eggs served at restaurants – some restaurants put pancake batter in their scrambled eggs and omelets, but on their own, eggs are naturally gluten-free
- Beer, ales, lagers, malt beverages and malt vinegars that are made from gluten-containing grains are not distilled and therefore are not gluten-free. There are gluten-free products available.
Gluten-free Italian Meatballs
- 1/2 pound lean ground beef
- 1/2 pound ground pork
- 1 medium onion, minced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon dried basil leaves
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 dash red (hot) pepper sauce, as desired, to taste
- 1½ tablespoons gluten-free Worcestershire sauce
- 1/3 cup ricotta cheese
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup finely crushed Rice Chex or gluten-free bread crumbs
Heat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
In a mixing bowl, combine ground meat, salt, onion, garlic, onion powder, basil, thyme, oregano, red pepper flakes, hot pepper sauce and Worcestershire sauce and mix well.
Add the ricotta, Parmesan cheese and crushed Rice Chex. Mix until evenly blended, then form into 1½-inch meatballs and place on a baking sheet.
Bake until no longer pink in the center, 20 to 25 minutes. Add them to your favorite pasta sauce.
Gluten-free Chicken Parmesan
- 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, halved horizontally
- 3/4 cup of potato flour, rice flour, cornstarch or general all-purpose gluten-free flour
- 3/4 cup crushed Rice Chex or gluten-free breadcrumbs
- 1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 2 cups homemade or storebought marinara sauce
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 4 ounces mozzarella cheese, preferably fresh, cut into 6 1/4-inch-thick slices
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Combine breadcrumbs and grated cheese in a shallow bowl.
Combine the spices (salt to thyme) in a small bowl and mix.
Heat the broiler.
On the stove, warm the tomato sauce in a saucepan.
Over another burner, heat the oil in large skillet over medium heat. Don’t let it get smoky.
Season both sides of the cutlets with the spice mix.
Dredge cutlets in gluten-free flour of choice.
Then dip cutlets in the beaten egg and then dredge in the breadcrumb and cheese mixture, turning to coat both sides. Place cutlets on a plate.
Place 3 cutlets in the heated skillet; cook until golden, 1 to 2 minutes on each side.
Using a spatula, transfer browned cutlets to a baking pan.
Cook the remaining cutlets and place them in the baking pan.
Top each cutlet with a slice of mozzarella. Broil the cutlets about 4 inches from the heat source until the cheese is melted and lightly browned in spots, 4 to 5 minutes.
To serve: put some warm sauce on each serving plate and top each with a cutlet. If you prefer, you can pour the sauce over the chicken.
Makes 1 – 9×13 inch pan
- 1 package gluten-free lasagna noodles (8 ounces)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1/2 pound Italian pork sausage, casing removed
- 1/2 pound ground beef
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 can diced Italian tomatoes (28 ounces)
- 1 can tomato paste (6 ounce)
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 16 ounces ricotta cheese
- 3 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1¼ pounds shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
- 1 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
Heat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
In boiling salted water, cook lasagna noodles to a firm al dente, according to instructions. Remember that the noodles will cook more in the oven later, so do not overcook them.
Place the cooked noodles on clean kitchen towels to prevent them from sticking to each other.
In a large bowl, mix together the eggs, ricotta, Romano cheese, salt, black pepper and half of the mozzarella cheese. Refrigerate until needed.
To make the sauce:
Heat a large skillet to medium-high, add oil and cook the onions until soft.
Add sausage, ground beef and garlic and cook until the meat is crumbly and evenly browned. Drain off excess fat.
Stir in the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, parsley, basil and oregano.
Increase the heat and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thickened.
To assemble the lasagna:
Spread a thin layer of the cooked sauce evenly over the bottom of a greased 9×13 inch baking pan. layer 1/3 of the lasagna noodles, 1/3 of the remaining cooked sauce and 1/3 of the ricotta mixture. Repeat this layering 2 more times.
Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella cheese evenly over the top of the lasagna.
Bake about 30 minutes at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) until the sauce is bubbly and the cheese is melted and golden brown.
Cheese Stuffed Polenta with Sausage
- Olive Oil
- 1 cup quick cooking Polenta
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
- 3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 3/4 cup shredded provolone cheese
- 3 cups Marinara Sauce
- 1 pound Italian sausage, casing removed
- 1/4 cup chopped basil leaves
Coat a 9″ x 13″ baking dish with olive oil.
Bring the chicken broth to a rapid boil in a saucepan. Remove from the heat. Add the polenta, pouring slowly and stirring until mixture is thickened, about 1 minute. Mix in butter and Parmesan cheese until fully incorporated.
Pour 1/2 of the cooked polenta into the greased baking dish. Gently spread the polenta to the edges of the pan. Sprinkle evenly with the shredded cheeses. Pour the remaining polenta over the cheese and spread to the edges of the pan. Allow polenta to cool, then cover and chill for about 2 hours or up to 24 hours in the refrigerator.
In a skillet brown the sausage and add the marinara sauce. Cover the pan and simmer for about 20 minutes.
Once ready to cook, preheat the oven to 350˚F.
Bake the chilled polenta uncovered for about 30 minutes, until it begins to brown. Remove from the oven. Allow to cool for 10 minutes.
Cut into squares and serve warm topped with the sausage sauce, grated Parmesan and fresh chopped basil leaves.
Shrimp Scampi Over Linguine
- 1 1/2 pounds jumbo shrimp, shelled and deveined
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 5 minced garlic cloves
- 1/2 cup dry white vermouth
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
- 1/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest
- 1 pound gluten-free linguine (quinoa pasta works very well in this recipe)
Cook the gluten-free linguine according to package instructions. Drain and place in a large pasta serving bowl.
Put the shrimp on a large plate and pat them completely dry with a paper towel. Season the shrimp with salt and pepper.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the butter and olive oil to the skillet. When the foaming subsides, raise the heat and add the shrimp. Cook the shrimp, without moving them, for 1 minute. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Turn the shrimp over and cook for 2 minutes more. Transfer the shrimp to the bowl with the pasta.
Return the skillet to the heat and pour in the vermouth and lemon juice. Boil the liquid until slightly thickened, about 30 seconds. Scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Stir the zest and parsley into the sauce. Pour the sauce over the shrimp and toss to combine with the pasta.