Egg mayonnaise salad with baked potato
Someone asked me, “how do i keep my meals easy/simple but without gluten?” Sounds like an easy question, doesn’t it? But if you’re gluten intolerant, you will know it’s not so simple.
In the past, I used to keep some ready meals for when I was in a hurry or too tired to cook, but most of them are off the menu now – apart from the ones I never liked! Pizza, pies and ordinary pasta are also out. I do keep some Orgran rice and corn pasta in the cupboard, which tastes fine, and is as easy to cook as any other pasta. It goes nicely with a bolonaise or tomato and onion sauce, and is also fine with just butter, parmesan and lots of black pepper.
In my kitchen cupboard, I have a packet or two of Corn Thins, in place of bread. These are really tasty, come in various different types (you can get them in brown rice and multigrain varieties as well), and have the advantage that they don’t squeak when you eat them, unlike rice crackers. They also have a taste – so far as I am concerned, rice crackers taste of nothing at all. Corn Thins are good with butter and cold meat, or jam, or honey – anything you would have put in a sandwich – though the fillings are best used as toppings, as trying to eat them in pairs with something in between is very difficult.
Most of the time, when I’m looking for something quick to eat for a main meal, I follow the sort of menus recommended by Dr Atkins (not because I’m trying to lose weight, but because cutting out carbs is similar to cutting out gluten). So this means something like a piece of chicken or a chop or steak, cooked under the grill or in the oven, or even fried. But no coating, unless you’ve bought in something gluten free (Orgran do gluten free breadcrumbs in Rice or Corn varieties).
I also like a grilled mackerel. I get the fishmonger to gut the fish and take the head off, but leave it whole. When I get it home, I open the fish out flat with the skin side up and run the handle of a knife hard along the backbone, then I turn it over and the bones come out fairly easily. A quick wash under the tap and then I put it under the grill with a knob of butter and a squeeze of lemon in the middle, where the bone has left a sort of valley. It only takes about 10-15 minutes to cook, and doesn’t need to be turned over, though I keep brushing the butter and lemon over every now and then.
To accompany the meal, ordinary fresh or frozen vegetables cooked in the normal way are fine, or a nice mixed salad. Unlike real Atkins dieters, I eat carbohydrate with my food, so long as it’s not gluten-based. I like saute potatoes or mash sometimes, and for a real treat, some mushrooms go really well with a bit of fried steak, and can be cooked in the pan at the same time.
If I don’t feel like meat, I might have a jacket baked potato, egg mayonnaise and mixed salad maybe with some shrimp (prawns). This is a very quick meal. I start by putting the eggs on, then when they are cooked I put them into cold water, leaving them to sit for a while, and put the potato in the microwave. As it cooks, I prepare the salad and put it on the plate, peel the eggs, and mash them up with some mayonnaise. Then I put the halved potato on the salad, top with the egg mayonnaise and shrimp and it’s ready. Another thing that goes well with salad is ham slices rolled up and filled with cottage cheese, maybe with a few bits of chopped celery mixed with the cheese filling.
In the winter, one of my favourite lunches is a chunky lentil soup. I put some lentils, some cooking bacon or a ham bone and a few carrots and one or two leeks sliced up (if I’ve no leeks, I cut a couple of onions into quarters instead) into a saucepan, cover with water and a lid, bring to the boil and turn down to a simmer. It only takes 20-30 minutes, and then I eat it. If you prefer it smooth, blend it after it has finished cooking, but I like it just as it is. The occasional bit of leek or bacon makes it more interesting.
I live on my own, so I don’t spend a lot of time in the kitchen. It’s really only when I make a curry (which will do me for 3 days) that I spend a lot of time cooking. For this, I chop a couple of onions, one or two cloves of garlic and half a dozen chilli peppers, fry them gently in a little melted ghee (clarified butter) or oil with about half a tablespoonful of garam masala. When they are soft, I add 2 or 3 chicken portions or the diced meat from a cooked turkey leg, or some diced shoulder lamb, 1 or 2 aubergines (eggplants) sliced about half an inch thick and 1 or 2 sweet peppers, deseeded and cut into chunks (I like these vegetables in curry, as they go quite soft and make a good base). I push everything down and cover with as little water as I can get away with and add in a stock cube and some salt, bring to the boil and cover tightly.
When it comes to the boil I turn it down to a simmer and put my brown rice on to cook (1 cup rice to little bit over 2 cups of water, plus some salt). When that comes to the boil, I turn that down to the lowest flame I can get, and cover it. I keep checking the rice every 10 minutes or so, without stirring. About 10 minutes before I want to eat, I put 2 or 3 carrots into the curry, cut into chunks, as I like them to be fairly crisp. When I think all the water has gone, I use a fork to push the rice to one side to check, and when the bottom of the pan is dry, my dinner is ready.
I don’t usually thicken the curry sauce, but if I did I would use 1-2 tablespoonfuls of rice flour beaten into the gravy over a high heat. If I have any coriander (cilantro), I chop up a handful and stir it into the curry just before serving. Though it’s quite a lot of work, I only have to cook one day in 3 with this dinner, so I don’t mind.
For me, I find this approach to eating gluten free works well, and is quick, easy and hassle-free.