My good friend Gillian needed to switch to a gluten-free diet recently and thanks to her, I have been learning a lot more about gluten-free products and how they can help with those suffering from coeliac disease (or celiac disease as known in North America) and auto-immune conditions. Good news is that she is feeling much better and moreover, finding exciting ways to incorporate gluten-free ingredients to her diet. BBC Food has some wonderful information challenges on gluten-free diet, gluten-free ingredients and substitutions as well as wonderful recipes to spice up gluten-free ingredients, if you would like to check out.
A gluten-free diet is a diet that excludes the protein gluten. Gluten is found in grains such as wheat, barley, rye and triticale (a cross between wheat and rye). Though it is nice to know that many healthy and delicious foods like beans, seeds, nuts in their natural, unprocessed form, fresh eggs, fresh meats, fish and poultry (not breaded, batter-coated or marinated), fruits and vegetables and most dairy products are naturally gluten-free.
Turkish cuisine is based on using fresh, seasonal fruit and vegetables, plenty of fish, nuts and legumes. I am delighted to see that most ingredients we use in Turkish cuisine are gluten-free and suitable for those in need of delicious gluten-free recipes. Try our wonderful Appetizers and Mezzes, like this wonderful warm hummus with red pepper paste infused olive oil, or vegetables cooked in olive oil like this Artichokes cooked in olive oil with peas,carrots and almonds, for exciting ways to enjoy gluten- free diet.
How about lentils? They are an integral part of Turkish cuisine and their protein packed nutrition add to a healthful diet. For a delicious, gluten-free treat, try this Mercimekli Mualla, eggplant, tomato & green lentils cooked in olive oil. This tasty, versatile dish can be a wonderful side to grilled meat and fish or a meal on its own.
As for the grains; couscous, bulgur wheat and semolina are not gluten-free, and we use especially bulgur quiet a lot in Turkish cuisine. However, you can use quinoa, in the place of couscous or bulgur wheat for salads and side dishes. Try making my spicy bulgur wheat salad with vegetables,kisir, with quinoa, for a delicious, gluten-free alternative.
Indian cuisine is also a great source for delicious and easy gluten-free recipes. Please also check out the wonderful blog Peri’s Spice Ladle; Peri has a delicious Coconut flavored tilapia fish and potato curry this week, so worth trying.
Here is a delicious and easy gluten-free pasta recipe, inspired by my friend Gillian’s wonderful sauce to go with it. It was my first time trying gluten-free pasta (a blend of corn flour and rice flour); we were impressed by it and the sauce of anchovies, capers, garlic and tomato gave it a really nice punchy flavor. I like to add a tablespoon of capers for extra zing, if you like the flavor too. My husband didn’t realize it was gluten-free pasta until I mentioned at the end!
Hope this recipe and other Turkish recipes here in this blog may help you to enjoy a gluten-free diet.
Gluten-free and Delicious; Pasta with anchovies, garlic, capers and parsley, in tomato sauce
Preparation time: 10 minutes Cooking time: 15 minutes
250gr gluten-free pasta (or enough for 2 people)
30gr/ 1 canned anchovy fillets in olive oil – coarsely chopped
1tbsp capers, rinsed
3-4 cloves of garlic, crushed and finely chopped
14oz/1 can of Italian whole or cherry tomatoes, crushed in your hand (this works really well in the sauce, but if you rather prefer to use chopped tomatoes, that works too)
15ml/1tbsp olive oil
Handful of flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Heat the olive oil in a heavy pan and sauté the garlic for a minute or two. Add the crushed tomatoes in can (along with about 2 tbsp of water to get all the juices in the can) to the pan; give them a good mix and cook for a further two minutes. Stir in the capers and anchovies, combine well. Season with salt (if needed; as anchovies and capers are already quite salty) and black pepper and simmer on low heat for about 5-8 minutes.
While the sauce is simmering, place the gluten-free pasta in a saucepan of boiling water, add a little salt and a dash of olive oil. Stir occasionally and boil for about 10 minutes, until “al dente”. Towards the end of the cooking, take 2 tablespoons of the pasta’s cooking liquid and add to the pasta sauce, along with the parsley, mix well. Once pasta is cooked, drain the water and mix the pasta with the sauce.
Afiyet Olsun (means in Turkish; “may you be happy and healthy with the food you eat”),