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    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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