Dairy-free and Flavor-full
Last week, without any plan or rhyme or reason, we had a full set of dinners that were not only gluten free, but dairy free as well. It wasn’t exactly an accident, but it definitely wasn’t on purpose.
Now, this isn’t what I’d call earth-shattering news, to be able to make dinner without cheese, but it is pretty cool to realize that there are plenty of delicious dishes made without dairy entering the picture.
There are plenty of people living with celiac disease that are also strictly dairy free and lots of people out in the world who avoid dairy for other reasons. Personally, I do not avoid dairy entirely, but I don’t mind skipping it here and there. I could never give up cheese and ice cream (unless medically necessary), but I do agree that it’s not necessary to consume it every day. That being said, I’ll never turn down a cheese platter or a scoop of my favorite chocolate chip. ;)
The lesson in all of this is that whether or not you’re avoiding dairy, that does not mean you’re avoiding or missing out on great food. This week’s meals were an excellent example of that because they were all fabulous.
Let’s get to the dinners!
Udon with Chicken and Garlicky Peanut Dressing
Source: Bon Appétit online. Grab the recipe, here.
Tip: Just make sure to use gluten free soy sauce (Tamari). The recipe calls for rotisserie chicken, shredded, but we opted to stir fry boneless, skinless chicken instead.
Review: Let’s be real: who doesn’t love a great big bowl of noodles? I don’t know them. Because a bowl of noodles is one of the best dishes out there and while many may throw it straight into the “comfort food” bucket, I just deem it a delicious dinner.
Thank goodness for gluten free rice noodles as these are the perfect substitution for any recipe requiring Udon. I keep a stock in the cupboard because you never know when that noodles-for-dinner craving will strike. And when it does, then you must make this meal.
Looking at the basics, this dinner is just noodles, chicken, celery, daikon, bean sprouts, and sauce. Fairly straightforward ingredients and yet when spun altogether, the result is one of the most scrumptious, need-it-daily bowls of flavor.
The sauce/dressing is an amazing combo of peanut butter, gf soy sauce, rice vinegar, honey, and garlic. Mmmm! I could put that stuff on everything! 😋 It’s a sweet/savory mix that is utterly perfect when mixed with the noodles and chicken. And is a delightful contrast to the crisp celery and daikon.
Beyond the meal being marvelous, it also made a lot. We had big servings (hello, have we met?) and then Seth had leftovers for several days! 😮
I snacked on some of these noodles cold before dinner one night and can vouch for them being just as great straight from the fridge. What? You don’t eat cold leftovers while standing in the kitchen while dinner is being made? You’re missing out.
Dinners like these are a wonderful reminder of just how far gluten free home-cooking has come. We simply swapped out two ingredients for their gluten free counterparts and we were ready to go. How easy is that? It was super easy and yielded an amazing, delicious result. With plenty of leftovers. ;)
Chicken Salad with Corn and Miso Dressing, Grilled Asparagus
Source: Dinner for Everyone by Mark Bittman
Tip: This recipe is naturally gluten free. Make sure the miso you purchase is labeled GF.
Review: As we work our way through this latest book by Mark Bittman, I continue to be impressed and excited by all of the recipes. And while I’d love to get into some of the more involved dishes, the weeknight ones we have made have all been terrific. Example? This dinner!
First, I must admit, I have never been someone who chooses chicken salad. I don’t love the words and the usual description and/or appearance of this dish, but for some reason I selected a chicken salad recipe from this book. Enticed by the corn and miso dressing, I had a feeling I may just surprise myself with this particular version. And guess what? It was incredible!
Not only was this chicken salad quite delicious, it made for a complete meal when served on top of gluten free lentil chips to scoop up all of the goodness. I loved all of the textures and was especially pleased with the inclusion of corn - how seasonal! And that miso dressing was out of sight. I have a feeling we will be making it to use with “regular” salads as well.
We made grilled asparagus to go with our chicken salad because it’s very much in-season right now and we’re trying to eat seasonal veggies as much as possible. They are so fresh!
Asparagus is definitely one of my favorite grilled vegetables because it’s great served hot or cold; convenient for a weeknight dinner or a weekend afternoon picnic. And of course, that picnic will include my new favorite - chicken salad. ;)
Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Tacos
Source: The Lemon Bowl. Grab the recipe, here.
Tip: The recipe is naturally gluten free so long as you use chicken broth or gluten free beer. We chose GF beer! And we used Siete Foods cassava flour hard shell tacos instead of soft shells which can be found here. Yum!
Review: The joy of a meal like this is that the hardest part happens while you’re at work! All day long the pork shoulder cooked away so by the time we got home, tired and very hungry, the tough part was done.
We just had to chop the onions, shred the cilantro, quick-pickle the cabbage (it’s easy!), and mash the avocado. It sounds like a lot, I suppose, but it’s pretty much nothing when an entire pork shoulder cooked on the counter all day long.
Taco Tuesday is made infinitely better when the tacos are as awesome and as low-effort as these scrumptious ones. We filled our hard-shell tacos (omg these were excellent) with mashed avocado, pulled pork, some diced onion, pickled cabbage, and a little cilantro. They were pulled pork tacos and we pulled out all the stops.
My oh my - the colors were so vibrant! I couldn’t tell if we’d accidentally made an ad for an upcoming line of Lilly Pulitzer tacos. And if we did, then I’d love for the Pulitzer team to call me. ;)
A final comment on these ridiculously delicious tacos: they would be perfect for a party! I could easily see a taco bar set up featuring this recipe and all of the necessary toppings. And trust me... you won’t even miss the cheese. ;)
Pad Grapow Chicken
Source: Cravings by Chrissy Teigen
Tip: Be sure to use gluten free soy sauce (Tamari) for this dish.
Review: While I have praised many of the recipes in Teigen’s two cookbooks, this one in particular should receive an extra star. Not only is it divinely delicious, but it is so quick and requires so few ingredients that you’ll barely be changed into your dinner pants before you’re alerted that it’s time to eat. Now that is a superstar weeknight meal.
What appears to be a simple stir fry of chicken and fresh basil, is actually a slightly more involved plate. No, it’s not hard to make, but the order in which the ingredients are cooked does matter. Follow the recipe!
The chicken is briefly marinated, which adds tremendous flavor, and then is cooked in a very hot wok, the basil being added just moments before the meal is done so that it retains its vibrant color and flavor.
Make sure you’re rice is ready to go before the stir fry because it’s a quick dish that is best served piping hot; however, I fully admit to scraping the wok for the leftovers. ;)
What I loved about this dinner was that it was a true surprise. So few ingredients and so little time to prepare and cook, but the result was outstanding and I’ve been drooling as I type. These “simple” meals shouldn’t be called simple. They are just simply delicious.
Eats of the Weekend
It was Memorial Day Weekend! To toast the unofficial start of summer, we relaxed with a couple days in Maine and a low-key Memorial Day around Boston. It was gorgeous the entire time so my plans to be outdoors for the majority of the weekend came true!
If you’d like to learn more about our time in Maine, then I’d recommend checking out the brand-new edition of Bar Bites Beyond: Southern Maine which has an extensive guide to all of my favorite places to eat.
While we were home, we went to a couple local spots, The Stones and Border Cafe, for a couple low-key, easy dinners. The beauty of a long weekend is that there’s just so much time! We were able to go away for part of it and have enough time once we returned to fully relax and enjoy the extra day off. Bliss!
I am pretty sure the fantastic weather had a big impact on my overall experience, but I think this may have been one of the best Memorial Day Weekends yet. And the tone for a wonderful summer ahead has been set. 😎
We hope you had a great week and fun long weekend filled with awesome food, time to relax, and beautiful weather. ☀️
Mollie and Seth