Monday, November 12, 2012

Gluten Free Lunch- and Very tasty It Was Too

We had our first lunch at our new Abode yesterday.
My menu needed to be Gluten Free
I thought about a lovely, tasty, filling Salad
But even though it is warming up, it's not really Summer yet
Looked at the Bookcase
Staring me in the face was Nigella Lawson's book "Kitchen"
Flipped through the pages looking for ideas and came across her Venetian  Lasagne.

Instead of Pasta, the layers were made of Polenta
What a great idea.
No gluten there.

So, for the first course. I did do a salad.
Caprese in fact
Normally for presentation, the Tomatoes and Mozzarella are layered with basil leaves, but this time I decided to tear the Mozzarella and Basil and cut the Tomatoes into wedges.

So doing that, I arranged them on the plate,
Seasoned well with Sea Salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Made a quick dressing of Extra Virgin Olive Oil, with Balsamic Vinegar
Drizzled that over the top
Fabulous colours

I made the Lasagne the day before and I highly recommend doing this, particuraly if you are serving for lunch it does take a minute or two
Plus gives the flavours a good chance to meld

Next time and there will be a next time, I will make the polenta in 2 batches.
Much easier to spread, I think it was a bit thick.
Like Nigella I used the Instant variety.
Could call it cheating but it's very easy
Another shortcut, (also suggested by Nigella), I used grated Parmesan.
It's not like the smelly sawdust, you used to get and certainly saves time

First the Polenta
500 gms Polenta
2 litres of Chicken stock
1 tablespoon butter
200 gms Parmesan Cheese grated
2 baking trays
A baking dish suitable for lasagne

Wet the trays with cold water to stop the polenta sticking
Make it in 2 batches for ease of spreading

Bring the stock to the boil
Slowly rain in the Polenta
Stirring all of the time with a wooden spoon

I actually took a whisk to it,
made it a bit easier to get out the lumps
When it starts to thicken
add the butter and 100 grams of Parmesan
Beat well
Over a low heat keep cooking and stirring, for about 3 minutes
It will start to come away from the side of the pan

Pour into the trays and spread out as thin as you can

Put aside to set
When ready to use, turn it out onto a board
It pops out easily.
Cut to fit your baking dish
You will have enough for 3 layers
Might look a bit like a jigsaw but that's OK

You can use any Meat sauce that you like
This is loosely based on Nigellas, basically, its what I do anyway
I like to brown the mince, before I cook the vegetables, one gets a better flavour from the beef.
Also I cooked the Mushrooms separately, same reason. Flavour.

2 tablespoons oil oil
500 gms mince
1 large onion finely chopped
1 carrot finely chopped
1 stick celery finely chopped
2 cloves garlic peeled and finely chopped
Sea Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons Tomato Paste
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 can Water
1 bay leaf

2 tablespoons olive oil
250 gms mushrooms finely chopped
Few sprigs fresh thyme
Dash white wine
Sea Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat a large frypan add 1 tablespoon oil and crumble in the mince
Don't overcrowd the pan you may need to do it in 2 batches
When the mince is brown remove and set aside
Add another tablespoon of oil and throw in your onions
Season with S&P
Soften then add carrots, celery and garlic
Once again, cook to soften
Add your mince, tomatoes, Bay leaf and Tomato paste
Fill the tomato can with water and add

Meanwhile in a separate pan, cook the Mushrooms
Add oil to hot pan
Throw in the mushrooms 
Season with S&P and add thyme
Toss again
Then add wine and let it reduce till mushrooms are dry
This will get maximum flavour

Add to mince mixture
Simmer about an hour
Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary

To assemble

Grease the baking dish
Add a layer of polenta
Half of the meat mixture
Another layer Polenta
Rest of meat
Top with final layer

Sprinkle over the top, with the rest of the Parmesan
Place some slices of Mozzarella on top

Bake at 200C for about 45 -to 60 minutes
Cheese should be Golden and meat sauce bubbling
 You can make this to this stage the day before

Just cover with cling wrap and stick in the fridge
Here's the cross section

Voted by the Guests 10 out of 10

In keeping with the Gluten Free Theme, I made some Chewy Chocolate Meringues
They are delicious, bite in and get a mouthful of Meringue with Chocolate Chips
This from a blog I follow
Click here to get the recipe
I served them with Marinated Berries and Fresh Cream
Pretty Yes?
All in all not bad for the first lunch

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