Mache Rosette Nicoise Salad

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Organic Girl Organic Girl, oh how I love Organic Girl! Ok, I SWEAR I don’t secretly work for the company, but I discovered them a few years ago and have been hooked ever since. Luckily for me they seem to love me back and this month along with the brand new Super Spinach blend, I received the all new Mache Rosette blend. Oh My Goodness it’s good! You may not be familiar with this little buttery/nutty flavored green, so let’s learn a bit about it.

First off, you may actually already know about it….but know it by a different name. It has quite a few

Valerianella locusta is a small dicot annual plant of the family Caprifoliaceae that is an edible leaf vegetable with a characteristic nutty flavor, dark green color, and soft texture, popularly served as salad greens.Common names include corn salad, common corn salad,lamb’s lettuce, mâche, fetticus, feldsalat, nut lettuce, field salad, and rapunzel. In restaurants that feature French cooking, it may be called doucette or raiponce, as an alternative to mâche, by which it is best known.

Nutritionally like other formerly foraged greens, corn salad (or mache) has many nutrients, including three times as much vitamin C as lettuce, beta-carotene, B6, iron, and potassium. It is best if gathered before flowers appear

Fun Facts: The common name corn salad refers to the fact that it often grows as a weed in wheat fields. (The European term for staple grain is “corn”.) The Brothers Grimm’s tale Rapunzel may have taken its name from this plant, as the eponymous character is named for the “salad” which her father has come into the sorceress’ garden to steal. ‘Rapunzel’ is one of the German terms for corn salad.

The only trouble with this gorgeous blend that it is SO GOOD straight out of the package I felt it would be a bit sacrilege to cook it up or hide it. I admit that I didn’t go to far off the grid on this one, I mean if you look at the packaging, you will see the word Noisette which seems to me it is suggesting the use of making the classic French Salad Nicoise. So I did. For the very first time actually….and I made a few adjustments and replacements that were quite enjoyable!

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I decided to use the ingredients above and planned to sear the Ahi Tuna with a Wasabi Sesame crust. I replaced haricot verts (green beans) with Asparagus, boiled potatoes with roasted and added heirloom radishes because….well I love them! As this is a Salad, it is less of a “recipe” and more of step-by-step of what I did. I hope you enjoy!

Ingredients:
Organic Girl Mache Rosettes Salad Blend
Sesame Wasabi Seared Sashimi Grade Ahi Tuna
Citrus Seasoned Salt Roasted Asparagus and baby potatoes (I used Russian Banana Fingerlings)
Hard Boiled Egg
Heirloom Radishes (I chose the purple and white because it’s pretty)
Heavenly Villagio Marzano Mini Tomatoes (By Village Farms)
Pitted Black Kalamata Olives
Anchovies

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For the Ahi:
Fig Balsamic Vinegar
Organic Apple Cider Vinegar (Bragg’s)
Wasabi Powder
White Sesame Seeds

Ok the cooking part went as follows:

Clean then cut up the potatoes, and make sure to let them dry. Wash asparagus and cut off the tough ends. Place on a baking sheet.

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I then drizzled with EVOO and used Borsari Citrus Seasoned Salt. Put in the oven at 425° for 15 minutes.

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Remove and let cool. During the cooking time you can slice the tomatoes, olives and radishes. I like to slice the radishes as paper-thin as I can.

Hard boil a few eggs (depending on how many salads you are making, I used 1 egg per salad)

Boiling Eggs Tips: I add a dash of apple cider vinegar and a dash of sea salt into the water I am boiling the eggs in. Why? Well I read it helps them from cracking and leaking and makes them far easier to peel. Scientifically – NO idea if this is legit but I find it really always works. Place eggs in cool/room temperature water and make sure they are covered by at least half an inch to an inch of water. Place the uncovered pot on burner, turn to high and bring to a rolling boil. As soon as the water begins to boil turn the heat off, cover the pot but let it remain on the burner. Now it is all about timing. I did the eggs you see for exactly 10 mins. Drain the water and fill the pot with cold water to stop them from cooking. After a few moments remove and set aside your perfect hard-boiled eggs and peel just before serving.

Next up is the Tuna. It is really important that you buy “sashimi grade” high quality tuna so it can be served rare.

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I created a marinade on the fly really, I used the apple cider vinegar, a gorgeous Fig Balsamic vinegar from California I just bought and wasabi powder. Mix all together and dunk the fish in it a few times to make sure it is coated. I then poured the sesame seeds onto a plate and coated the fish with them thoroughly on each side.

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Heat your skillet until the oil (for this I use coconut oil to cook the fish) is very hot. You want to sear the fish and cook the crust on each side and warm the fish through without actually cooking the center.

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When you slice it right before serving it should be a beautiful pink inside. Serving this so rare is why it is imperative you use a high quality / sashimi grade tuna. I try to go for sustainable and wild caught if at all possible.

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Now you just assemble your salad any way you like. Traditionally the ingredients are all grouped together separately as you see I did. I topped with a beautiful little rosette of the Mache and served. Personally I am not a fan of salad dressing, at all really, particularly when you have so many beautiful ingredients, I dislike masking the flavors and well, I really enjoy “dry” lettuce greens, not soggy or coated in dressing. However, Mother added a splash of EVOO and the Fig Balsamic to hers and said it was “divine”, so it’s your call!

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Beautiful AND Delicious! Another win!

Nom Nom

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Sweet and Savory Spinach Crepes

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It’s always so fun to get my monthly box of Organic Girl Greens for recipe creation, but this month was even better!  They sent me two brand new mixes to try, Super Spinach and Mache Rosettes. Both are ahhhhhmazing, but lets start off with the Spinach.

I enjoy the challenge of not ALWAYS making a salad with the greens and occasionally coming up with something unique and “outside of the box”, so my first thought was Pesto.

As you can see from above, the ingredients for a pesto are quite simple.

Ingredients:

2 cups Organic Girl Super Spinach Blend
1/4 cup toasted Pine Nuts
1 cup (1 bunch) of Italian Parsley
1 Clove Garlic
1/3 cup of EVOO
1/3 cup fresh grated Parmesan
Dash of each: freshly ground pepper and sea salt

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First off dry toast the Pine Nuts.  Use whatever method you are comfortable with, I just do them for a few minutes over med-high heat on the stove but be cautious, once they start to burn, the flavor is to overpowering and not good.

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Most people use a food processor to make Pesto.  I don’t have one so I use my Nutri-Bullet, which is far more powerful than an ordinary blender. I just layered and packed all the ingredients in and added the EVOO last.

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Voila! Spinach Pesto!  But my idea isn’t finished. I decided to use the Pesto to make Crepes and fill them with some sweet and savory ingredients.

In order to make crepes you need Flour. I realized I have never made Gluten Free Crepes before, so this was going to be a real experiment. I decided to reach for my Cup 4 Cup All Purpose Gluten Free Flour. I have had great success with it a few times in the past, so it was time to put it to the crepe test!

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Ingredients:

2/3 cup Milk
1/2 cup Cup 4 Cup Gluten Free Flour
1/2 cup Spinach Pesto
1 egg

I decided to use the Pesto to replace some of the eggs, regular crepes use more than 1 egg. Mix all ingredients together in a blender (my handy Nutri-Bullet). My Grandmother always taught me to refrigerate the batter for an hour or so before making crepes, a step I actually JUST remembered! Yikes. Man she made the most amazing light and fluffy crepes you can imagine – so I missed this step but you don’t have to.

Now if you have a crepe pan, that is ideal. I of course have 2 (my own and my late gram’s) If not use a shallow skillet. Place on Medium heat and wipe down with some EVOO. You just want to coat the pan in a sheen of it. Now I haven’t made crepes in a LONG time, not once since going Gluten Free in 2008, so I was a bit nervous. They are just as easy to screw up as they are to make. As you can see from my first attempt:

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Whoops!

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That’s ok, unless you regularly make them expect to screw up the first ….well few to be honest! Ha! Afterwards I got the hang of it again.

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My batter was a bit thick….I probably could have used a smidge more milk. (Yes I said smidge…I feel like I channel gram sometimes in the kitchen)

So I poured about 1/4 cup batter in the center and immediately used a silicone spatula to spread it around to cover most of the pan. Let it cook until you see the little bubbles you do in pancakes and the edges are starting to lightly brown then carefully flip over. This also takes practice, when they are thin and perfectly cooked, they flip over like a dream. IF not…well just keep practicing.

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Place crepes on wax paper in layers while cooking the rest until you are finished. Now it is time to fill. This is where you can get creative, but I will tell you the fillings I chose for these. For the Sweet I grabbed these Fruit Pastes at the supermarket by Rutherford & Meyer.

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These tasted GREAT, but they were more of a jell-like consistency,good for a cheese plate, so they didn’t spread very easily. You could choose to use your favorite kind of fresh fruit preserves. However, when I heated up leftovers the next day, the fruit paste turned into an amazing fruit glaze. So the consistency is great for that!

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The combinations I chose were:
Prosciutto, Asiago Cheese and Fig
Ham (sliced thin), Swiss and Apricot

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Then you just layer your ingredients, fold and There you go!

Now I have to say, I was VERY impressed with the crepes in the fact that the Cup 4 Cup GF Flour did an outstanding job. I brought them down to Mom and she whole heartedly agreed! Now, they were not QUITE as light and fluffy as Gram’s, but considering I substituted Pesto for eggs and used GF Flour, they were pretty damn close!

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Nom Nom

 

Sweet and Savory Spinach Crepes
Author: 
Recipe type: Organic Girl
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Easy Sweet and Savory Gluten Free Crepes
Ingredients
  • For the Pesto:
  • 2 cups Organic Girl Super Spinach Blend
  • ¼ cup toasted pine nuts
  • 1 cup Italian Parsley
  • 1 clove Garlic (2 if you prefer stronger flavor)
  • ⅓ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
  • ⅓ cup fresh grated Parmesan
  • S & P - dash of each
  • For the Crepes:
  • ⅔ cup Milk
  • ½ cup GF Flour - I use Cup 4 Cup
  • ½ cup Spinach Pesto
  • 1 egg
  • For Fillings:
  • Thinly Sliced Prosciutto
  • Thinly Sliced Asiago Cheese
  • Thinly Sliced Ham
  • Thinly Sliced Swiss
  • Fruit paste (or jelly) Fig and Apricot
Instructions
  1. For Pesto:
  2. After toasting Pine Nuts, add all ingredients to a food processor and blend until Pesto. Add more EVOO if it is far to thick.
  3. For Crepes:
  4. Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Refrigerate batter for an hour.
  5. Wipe oil on a crepe pan set over medium heat.
  6. Pour about ¼ cup batter into center of pan and spread out thinly until almost size of pan itself, act quickly it starts to cook immediately.
  7. When bubbles have all popped (like pancakes) and edges start to brown, (2 - 3 min) flip over and cook for additional minute or two.
  8. Fill with ingredients of choice or use mine (very delicious)
  9. Prosciutto, Asiago & Fig
  10. Ham, Swiss & Apricot

 

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Soup’s On…..Bone Broth

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Chicken Soup.  You know how they say it’s good for the soul….I think it is.  Of course with how busy we are in life, keeping boxes of organic chicken broth or stock in our cupboards is the way most of us go, it’s easy and convenient to have it on hand.  I admit to having a few cartons on hand year round, but if you get the chance to make chicken stock from scratch it is well worth it I assure you!

Now that the monkey’s live up in Brooklyn, I have much more free time to cook. Of course I have fewer people to cook for which makes me a bit sad, but I will consider it a good time to practice new and old recipes alike so that when I am with them again, I can fill their bellies with all kinds of yumminess. Bone Broth is one of those things that once you make, you can freeze and enjoy in many ways throughout the season.

There are many different recipes and techniques to making a solid bone broth.  You have options of beef, chicken or even fish, but because chicken broth is the most versatile and popular for non-vegetarians I will be using that as an example.  That and because I was planning to roast a chicken anyway, therefore making it very convenient. Some recipes call for using one or more roaster chickens in the raw to make this delicious stock.  I have never done that simply because I can’t afford to waste an expensive roaster chicken without the benefit of enjoying the chicken first.

Let’s talk Roast Chicken first.

Everyone has their own preferred method or way of roasting a chicken, including myself although on this particular instance I had to make some adjustments due to my lack of fresh herbs available in my house and I was unable to get to the grocery store so I used what was on hand and made the best of it. Here is my general method for you:

1. As I was planning to make bone broth afterwards I bought an organic, all natural roaster chicken from Fresh Market to start. (In hindsight I should have bought the herbs, but I thought we still had some in mom’s porch herb garden). In all honesty as we don’t do a whole roast very often, I like to splurge on the highest quality when we do.

2. When preparing to roast I like to bring the chicken to more of a room temperature, I remove it from the refrigerator,rinse the inside and out well, pat to dry and let sit on the roasting rack for a bit to get rid of the chill.

3. Normally I stuff the cavity with a bundle of fresh herbs, but as we know I didn’t have any. Instead I seasoned the inside with Borsari Season Salt, pepper, dried thyme and Herbs de Provence. I then add a small onion peeled and quartered, a few cloves of peeled and smashed garlic and a quartered lemon.

4. At this point many people tuck the wings and tie the legs together.  I actually turn the chicken breast side down, the legs and wings stay tucked under the bird this way.  I also think that the juices that naturally baste the chicken flow down through the breast and make for a moister chicken.  No scientific evidence in this, but it works for me.

5. I then separate the skin from the bird and put truffle butter in there, massaging it until it’s spread out all over the bird back/thighs. I then season the outside with the same herbs and actually sort of “crust it” with sea salt, the un-ground kind.  I finish by drizzling some olive oil over it.

6. I put it in the oven, lower rack, at 450° for 75 – 90 minutes depending on the weight of the bird. I don’t bother basting the chicken at all and the end result looks like:

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I know it looks a little funny upside down, and the skin on the breast side is not as crispy, but the meat is so juicy and tender it’s unbelievable!  After letting it rest for about 30 minutes I carved it (remember it is upside down so your normal carving method will not work unless you flip it right side up) and served with steamed asparagus and some homemade french fries.

I made these with Organic Russian Banana Potatoes cut in strips, dried (most important step to crispy potatoes is getting them very dry first), seasoned and then tossed in a bit of olive oil and some of the drippings from the chicken, back in the 450 oven for about 30 minutes, flipping halfway through!

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So So SO good! Afterwards I removed all the yummy meat to make a chicken salad the next day, and I saved the entire carcass for the bone broth.

 

Ok, now on to the bone broth.

Ingredients:

Chicken Bones
1/2 Cup Raw Apple Cider Vinegar
4 quarts filtered water
Organic Celery and Carrots, washed and halved
3 small to medium onions peeled and quartered
Handful of fresh Italian Parsley
Sea Salt to taste

In a large pot add the water, apple cider vinegar and bones.  Let sit for about half an hour so that the ACV can help leach the nutrients from the bones.  Meanwhile chop your veggies.

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Add the veggies to the large pot, bring to a boil and then skim the scum off the top.  This is the one step you need to be careful with, if you walk away and it boils for a bit, the scum that comes to the top boils back in, so you want to stand there while it starts boiling to skim it off the top.

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When this part was finished, I poured the entire contents into the slow cooker, put the lid on, put it on low and let it simmer for 2 days.  You can do it for 24 – 72 hours depending on your schedule.

The last 10 minutes or so I added a large bunch of fresh italian parsley.  Then turned the slow cooker off.

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Finally, strain the broth, add Sea Salt to taste, let cool and package up for the freezer.

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I make sure to label the lid with the date so it doesn’t end up in the freezer abyss. I think the color is due to roasting the chicken first but I am not sure, all I know is that it is rich, tasty, chock full of nutrients and ready to be used as a base in soups this winter!

Check out the nutritional value of Bone Broth:

Top Reasons to Eat Bone Broth according to Dr. Mercola of mercola.com

There are many reasons for incorporating good-old-fashioned bone broth into your diet. The following health benefits attest to its status as “good medicine.”

Helps heal and seal your gut, and promotes healthy digestion: The gelatin found in bone broth is a hydrophilic colloid. It attracts and holds liquids, including digestive juices, thereby supporting proper digestion Inhibits infection caused by cold and flu viruses, etc.: A study published over a decade ago found that chicken soup indeed has medicinal qualities, significantly mitigating infection.

Reduces joint pain and inflammation, courtesy of chondroitin sulphates, glucosamine, and other compounds extracted from the boiled down cartilage Fights inflammation: Amino acids such as glycine, proline, and arginine all have anti-inflammatory effects.

Arginine, for example, has been found to be particularly beneficial for the treatment of sepsis (whole-body inflammation). Glycine also has calming effects, which may help you sleep better.

Promotes strong, healthy bones: Bone broth contains high amounts of calcium, magnesium, and other nutrients that play an important role in healthy bone formation Promotes healthy hair and nail growth, thanks to the gelatin in the broth.

Nothing but good for you! I hope you enjoy!

Nom Nom

Check out Zia’s Kitchen on Facebook to learn what I used for the chicken salad that got rave reviews at a luncheon I “Catered” for my mom in the following days!

 

 

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Naked Burrito Bowl

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Regular Burritos are not Gluten Free I am sad to say. Those lovely large tortillas they use to wrap all the yumminess up all snug and then warm, are made with flour.  I have found a nice Gluten Free wrap I use to make quesadillas, but they are to small and not pliable enough to achieve an authentic burrito, hence my burrito bowl…or “Naked Burrito”.  Frankly I love this even more and hardly ever miss burritos anymore.

Hardly.  … 

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Grilled Greens With Shrimp And Grilled Pineapple Salsa

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Grilled Shrimp, Romaine and Pineapple Salsa Salad

Summer Summer Summertime…….time to kick back and……well I will let you insert your favorite activity. When I was growing up in the Northeast, summer was my favorite season which may explain why I moved to Southern California the first chance I got!  Summer in my childhood meant two things.

1. Downthashore.  Translation for those not from New Jersey or Philadelphia… it means: Going to the beach. If you are from the garden or keystone state, this must be said as if it is one word: Downthashore. It’s a rule.

2. The foods of summer!  Jersey tomatoes and corn, crabs and lobsters, salt water taffy and ice cream, and of course cooking on the grill…. 

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Ratatouille by Julia Child

Honeybrook Farms, NJ

Honeybrook Farms, NJ

For someone who loves to cook, I don’t often follow recipes exactly.  I mean I use them all the time, but I tend to have a rather loose manner with them, altering them to my tastes or using my own experiences with a dish.  Except of course with baking.  Baking is a science and experimenting with it can have disastrous results. But in cooking I feel a bit more confident, and use recipes more to educate myself on a technique, or flavor ideas. There are exceptions to this rule of course, and one of them is trying to cook a specific dish from “Mastering The Art of French Cooking” by Julia Child.  You don’t mess with Julia’s way of doing things…. 

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Salad Pizza

Zia's Kitchen Salad Pizza

Zia’s Kitchen Salad Pizza

So my love affair with pizza continues and I do believe it will never end now that I have found Cup 4 Cup Pizza Crust Mix! It continues to deliver every time! This time around I even used leftover dough to make cheesy bread sticks as you can see on Zia’s Kitchen Facebook page.  The entire family, Mama Sis, Nonna, Ladybug AND our resident picky eater Littledude loved them so much I have a feeling they will be requested in the future.

I do wish that gluten-free items and mixes were not so pricey, the Cup 4 Cup Pizza Crust Mix is a bit expensive so we can’t really afford to have it that often,  however I must say it really is worth the splurge when we do!

This month the great people at Organic Girl Greens sent me something I have never seen at my local Publix, a Fresh Herbs and Greens mix. After munching on a bit of it raw I have to tell you this is one of the tastiest salad mixes I have ever had!… 

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Mini Burger Fun

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This one is a quickie.  A Tuesday Tip for anyone who has a picky little monkey in their household who won’t eat greens.

As of last week, it appears we now have 2. Ladybug started picking greens out of her Gluten Free Macaroni & Cheese.

Awesome

So how to hide more greens? … 

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Gluten Free SuperGreen Calzones

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I don’t even know where to begin I am so excited.  I have posted many times about my search for gluten-free pizza crust that was more then just “it’s not bad, it’s ok”.  I was just hoping for taste, I didn’t even dare to dream about ease of preparation! I mean gluten-free dough is always difficult to work with right?

Oh no….no no no no no.  I appears I have found it.  The Pizza Crust Holy Grail!

I must pause and catch my breath…. 

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SuperGreen Eggplant Parmesan

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Being 1/2 Italian 1/2 Irish can be conflicting for me when it comes to cuisine, but I was raised in the Italian house which means it’s Italian food that dominates in my culinary skills. As a Gluten Free cook some Italian food does present problems I am working on getting around.  I have yet to tackle my homemade pasta gluten free yet, but some dishes are far easier to convert then you think.  Take for example Eggplant Parmesan, even fried you can use gluten free breadcrumbs and you are good to go.

Sometimes I like the eggplant fried, but other times, like when I get some beautiful sweet “Sicilian” Eggplants from the farmers market such as these beauties below, I like to keep it clean…. 

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