Friday, April 16, 2010


Whilst Fred is sifting through his wheat free repertoire (god that's hard to say out loud), I thought I'd begin mine.

Now, to me, pasta is the most loved, most used, and most flexible ingredient in my larder. It comes in every shape and size, and making it from scratch is one mighty reward. But what it consists of is the enemy to all gluten and dairy allergies. So, I have been on a rampage to find pasta that knocks down these almighty barriers.
To be truthful, the search was easier than I thought. Most supermarkets stock varieties of wheat and gluten free pasta, which is a god-send if you eat it as much as me. If you tread far and wide, you can even get pasta which is wheat, gluten, dairy, and egg free. And vegan. NICE.

For non dairy eaters go for Spelt pasta, which is made from 100% spelt flour and water. NO eggs. This is what I went for - purely to see how it managed to bind together like usual pasta, without the use of eggs. Spelt is a species of wheat so is not gluten free. Beware.

So, here is a very simple recipe, which tastes oh-so delicious and is edible to all with a dairy intolerance. Change the lasagne for gluten free if this affects you. The sauce is just as good with any shape of pasta. I know there are far more wild and interesting things out there which I could hunt down but, for the moment, this will hit the spot.

6 spelt lasagne sheets
2 tbsps olive oil
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 crushed garlic clove
1 aubergine, roughly chopped
2 fresh tomatoes, finely chopped and de-seeded
200g chopped tomatoes
half a red chili, finely chopped and de-seeded
half a glass of red wine
pinch of salt and black pepper

Heat up the olive oil in a large frying pan and add the chopped onion.When the onion is soft, throw in the tomatoes, aubergine and garlic. Stir regularly and make sure it doesn't start to burn. Tomatoes can be pretty acidic if not cooked long enough, so you really want to slow cook this sauce. It makes it all the more tasty too.

Pour in the red wine and turn up the heat. Simmer so that the alcohol burns off. Then put on a low heat for 10 to 15 minutes until the vegetables are juicy and tender.

Add the chili, salt and pepper.

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Add the pasta sheets and simmer for 8 minutes (or as directed on the packet). Once al dente, drain and serve, layering the sauce in between the sheets. Such a tasty dish, and full of goodies.

If you can eat dairy, cover the pasta in Parmesan. Serve with a few leaves of basil.

Have ideas on cooking with free-from ingredients? Please let me know them so I can try them out!

Sunday, April 11, 2010


A Happy Post-Easter to you all.

Apologies for the long delay. I have spent the holiday in France gorging on creamy, stomach-swelling tartiflette, french bread, and greedy amounts of chocolat chaud with cream (or rather cream with a dash of hot chocolate). I know. Yawn. It's alright for some.

But while I was out there, munching on the finer things in life, it came into me how blooming lucky I am and how much I take for granted being allergy and intolerance free to all food. Having to ask what is in every dish before eating it, putting a brave face on when you want to be polite, or going on endless wild-goose chases for substitutions to the no-can-eats in a delicious looking recipe sounds like hard work to me.


But where there is a will there is a way, and those who need to find a way often do it with the ultimate style. Over the next few weeks, I call out to you all, whether averse or sensitive to certain foods, to laden me with your YUM recipes, restaurants that cater for all, and intolerance-friendly ingredients that are highly underrated. I am far too (and gratefully so) naive on the matter, and want to find out what I'm missing - it could, after all, be an entirely better option to cooking with things that I mindlessly gobble up.

So on that note, while you all think of ideas, I'm off to find my friend Mr. F. Haines, - a wheat and gluten free man - to peer over his shoulder as he experiments in the kitchen...