Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Wheatless Wednesdays (Part 2)

Our crusade to rid our diets of wheat for four weeks continues! We are really getting the hang of things. Aside from cooking, Dan enjoyed another burrito bowl, we attended a crab feast, and we even went out to dinner at a local restaurant catering to dietary quirks.

Lessons Learned
  • Once again, planning tops the list. There's no easier way to break a wheatless pledge than to get caught hungry and without alternatives at the office pizza party. To keep a variety of snacks and meals available on a whim, we have to plan ahead, make a lot of things from scratch, and do some shopping at specialty stores. Dan has also made some modifications to his snack choices. While he would normally enjoy a grilled cheese sandwich on a lazy Sunday afternoon, these days he can be found noshing on a ball of fresh mozzarella.
  • The problem is in the soy sauce. Last week I mentioned we found out we couldn't eat at a particular Asian restaurant because everything on their menu (except salad) had wheat in it. I couldn't figure out what the wheat ingredient was until we tried to make our own stir-fry this week: it's the soy sauce. Gluten-free varieties exist, but we ended up making our own zingy sauce with rice vinegar, chili garlic paste, lime juice, moscovado sugar, and sesame oil.
  • Teamwork is going to be another major factor in our success. We don't have kids, undoubtedly leaving us with more free time than the average family, but we do have two full-time jobs, one crazy dog, a flag football team, a volleyball team, a running club, and plans with friends that keep us busy. By sitting down together to plan our meals and sharing kitchen responsibilities we both reap the benefits, and it makes finding the time to cook from scratch a lot easier. Togetherness is an element missing from many American meals, but shopping and cooking alongside each other is one way to reclaim it.
Wheatless Recipe
Last week, I featured a dessert so this time we're going to the other end of the menu. At a typical restaurant, appetizers might include rolls, sliced bread, breadsticks, or deep-fried-something, but none of that works for us. I had some farmer's market sweet potatoes on hand and was attracted to the title and photos of Farmhouse Baked Ricotta. I modified the recipe a bit, so I will reprint it here with our changes.

1 container ricotta cheese (The original recipe calls for 500g, but all we could find was a 412g size - thank you Imperial measurement system.)
1+1/3 cups grated parmesan cheese - we happened to already have a container of parm; any other sharp, hard cheese would work just as well. 
1-2 sweet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced

Heat oven to 400F. 

Line a muffin or cupcake pan with 11 baking cups. Thanks to using a bit less cheese than recommended, we won't fill all 12 cups. Mix the ricotta and the 1 cup of the parmesan together in a bowl. Layer each baking cup with cheese mixture - 2 potato slices - more cheese mixture. Sprinkle what's left of the parmesan generously on top.

Bake for 20-30 minutes.  You will see the tops get puffy and start to look brown when they are done. Remove from the oven. The original recipe includes a fresh herb sauce to drizzle over these delightful little creations. We made the sauce, but I'm not including it here because I think a bit of pesto, which you can buy pre-made, would have been just as good (and much less work!).

Dan ate these warm, cold, with and without the herb topping and has confirmed every variation was delicious. Use them as a snack at lunch or as a dinner appetizer. 

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