Easy and Frugal Gluten-Free Cooking 1: Potato Latkes and Spaghetti Squash Lasagna Recipes

May 23rd, 2008 yum Posted in American Homestyle Cooking, Dairy Free, Easy, Low Cal, Low Carb, Potatoes, Squash, Vegetarian 6 Comments »


The last time I went grocery shopping, I have to admit, it was something of an unpleasant shock. I’ve noticed the price of certain things (dairy, produce, etc.) sneaking up, but this time I was shopping somewhere different than normal and I was so depressed when I found out that it really wasn’t cheaper to shop there than anywhere else. Bummer. Despite the fact that pretty much everything is going up-up-up in price, there are still some ingredients out there that are almost reasonably priced, if you shop carefully. Here in the Bay Area, we have a great shop called the Milk Pail that sells inexpensive produce and imported cheese. We also have a ton of international grocery stores (Hispanic, Asian, etc.) where you can get great prices on produce. Not buying certain protein sources helps with maintaining a budget- and not going crazy with dairy helps too. I’ve also had another issue- mainly, the fact that I’ve been so darned busy with school I haven’t had time to make the kind of elaborate, time consuming recipes that I love. So, I decided to start a new regular feature here at the book of yum called “Easy and Frugal Gluten-Free Cooking” to showcase recipes that are ideal for those on a budget and pressed for time. Like me, you’ve no doubt noticed the skyrocketing price of rice. It’s so distressing when one of the staple grains of the gluten-free lifestyle is affected- and if it’s hard for me, I can only imagine how tough many families are finding it right now. Both of these recipes don’t use (much) rice at all, and one is even low-carb for those frugal AND busy gluten-free dieters out there! I hope you enjoy.

DH and I developed this recipe for spaghetti squash lasagna when we were dieting before our wedding, almost six years ago. (It’s tough when two cooks get together- you always want to feed each other to show how much you care!) I’m picky about my squash, to say the least. Nothing I hate worse than mushy, overcooked yellow summer squash or zucchini. Yuck. But luckily, spaghetti squash is difficult to ruin. Its stringy, almost crispy noodle-like threads are pleasing texturally and have a lovely, fresh flavor to boot. Combined with italian seasonings and cheese, it’s even better. According to Wikipedia, “Spaghetti squash contains many nutrients including folic acid, potassium, vitamin A, and beta carotene. It is also a food low in calories, averaging 75 calories in 8 cooked ounces.” Sounds good to me! By the way, I included a dairy free option that is NOT particularly frugal- sorry about that. I just thought it would be yummy. If pine nuts are not in the budget, you could use your favorite processed dairy-free cheese or crumbled tofu ricotta. (Note: you can get a decent price on a large-ish bag of Pine Nuts at Costco- Sam’s Club might carry them too, but I’m not entirely sure.) This recipe was developed from a Weight Watcher recipe so can be low in points. You can skip the oil and be skimpy with the cheese if you would like and it will still be a great simple meal!

And I’ve always had a soft spot for potato latkes. What’s not to like about a hearty potato based pancake? I think this is the best potato latke I ever had, and I haveThe Complete Guide to Traditional Jewish Cookingto thank for providing the inspiration. Latkes are perfect for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. When I’m in a real rush, sometimes I mix up half a batch of Manischewitz Homestyle Potato Latke Mix and serve it with a little tin of applesauce and (optional) sour cream or yogurt. But, nothing can compete with freshly made latkes with real potatoes and onions. This dish contains eggs for protein, potato as the starchy vegetable base, and I added spinach for some extra vitamins. With the additions, it makes a great complete meal. And, happily, potatoes are still a reasonably priced ingredient that gives a lot of gluten-free bang for your buck.

I hope you enjoy these two recipes as much as I did- and they really are easy and satisfying. Note: hungry husbands may be disappointed if you make them grate cheese and they find out it wasn’t for pizza but for low-carb veggie casserole. Ahem. And if said DH’s are not dieting, they may want some starchy dish on the side or there are certain to be late night refrigerator raids! That being said, DH enjoyed both of these dishes and I will be making both again!

Enjoy this recipe? You might also like my other low-carb vegetable recipes:
Zucchini based pizza crust
Eggplant Parmesan Recipe sans crumbs
Zucchini Parmesan Recipe sans crumbs

Gluten Free Potato Latkes Recipe with spinach variation
3 lg baking potatoes, peeled (1.5 lbs)
2 onions, grated
2 tbsp corn meal
2 tbsp rice flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
large handful spinach (optional)

olive oil

applesauce (i like the little individual serving cups)
lowfat sour cream or lowfat yogurt

Grate potatoes in your food processor and place in a strainer or in a clean kitchen towel. Press all the liquid out that you can. Put the grated potato in a large bowl. Put your onions through the food processor grater attachment and then put them in a strainer and let the liquid drain out. Try not to cry. Add the grated onion to the bowl with the grated potatoes and add the corn meal, rice flour, and all ingredients up to the black pepper. Don’t add the spinach yet.

Heat your nonstick pan on a burner on medium-medium high. Add a little olive oil to your nonstick pan and let it heat up. Then drop spoonfuls of the batter into the pan in pancake shapes. Or, if you like to cuddle your food, you can grab a small handful of the mixture and shape it on the surface of the pan. Fry on medium to medium high heat for 4 minutes or until golden brown. Add extra oil if it seems to dry. Turn and fry the other side until golden brown. You can store it on a baking rack with holes or put it in the oven on a baking sheet to keep warm until you finish making them all. *For spinach variation you can add the spinach to a dry portion of the pan until it wilts and add it to the remaining batter, combining before you fry it up. I made half plain and half with spinach for extra flavor and nutrition.


Spaghetti Squash un-lasagna recipe
1 large spaghetti squash
olive oil
pasta seasonings (like Trader Joes)

High quality organic tomato marinara sauce
1 or 2 garlic cloves, pressed
fresh spinach (optional)

lowfat mozarella cheese, grated
for dairy free variation
Pine Nut Not-Ricotta
1 cup raw pignoli nuts, soaked in water for at least 1 hour
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Combine a little olive oil, pasta seasoning in a small dish and mix thoroughly. You can add a little pressed garlic if you like.

Slice your spaghetti squash in half horizontally and scoop out the inner seeds. Baste with your seasoned olive oil and bake on a baking sheet or in a roasting pan at 375 F for 45 minutes to an hour- until flesh gives slightly at touch. Turn over halfway through if you like. Remove from oven, let cool slightly, and then scrape out your squash strands with a fork.

Take a cookie sheet or jelly roll dish and grease with nonstick cooking spray or a little olive oil. Mix with pressed garlic or any extra seasonings if you like. Spread your squash out in one flat surface- almost like pizza! Add a layer of the tomato marinara sauce, fresh spinach, and top with dairy or non-dairy cheese. Bake for 25-45 minutes or until top is golden brown (in case of cheese). Serve and enjoy!

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Light and Flavorful Mexican Soup- with dumplings!

March 31st, 2007 yum Posted in Cooking Light, Low Cal, Mexican, Vegetarian 4 Comments »

Forbidden RiceI decided to make a healthy, lazy weekday dinner recipe for a tomato Chickpea soup with dumplings from the March issue of Cooking light . I love soups, but for some reason I rarely make them. This recipe was vegetarian, though, and it had the added bonus of dumplings- which always intrigue me. And the recipe was already gluten free! What more could I ask for. I decided to serve it with some healthy, whole grain rice- Lundberg’s mysterious black Japonica, a Gourmet field blend of Black and Mahogany rice. Sounded good to me! But what is black rice, you may ask. Good question. Wikipedia has a great blurb about it.

“Black rice is one of several black-colored heirloom plants producing rice variants such as Indonesian Black Rice, forbidden rice, or wild rice. High in nutritional and medicinal value, forbidden rice is rich in iron and considered a blood tonifier. This grain is high in fiber and has a deep, nutty taste. The deep color of black forbidden rice, and the deep purple color when cooked, suggests the presence of phytonutrients. It has a relatively high mineral content (including iron) and, like most rice, supplies several important amino acids.”

corndumplings.jpgIt goes on to explain that black rice was originally reserved for the ancient court of the Chinese Emperor, “and since it was probably shared with the emperor’s consorts, as well as other members of his family and the court at his discretion it was thus called forbidden rice.” (source: Wikipedia) Since I’m sure mahogany rice can’t compete with anything called Forbidden Rice, let’s ignore it for now. The cool thing was, as it simmered, the whole blend intensified in color so it looked like it was simmering in black ink, and by the time I was ready to serve it, it was a uniform, beautiful black color. Mmm… forbidden rice. And it went perfectly with the healthy, seasonal soup. And nothing is better than fishing dumplings out of soup and chomping them.

mexicansoupmeal.jpg mexicansoupmealh.jpg mexicansoupcup.jpg

Mexican Tomato- Bean Soup with Corn Dumplings
Soup  Corn  Mexican  
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 tbsp chili powder (I used Whole Foods brand)
2 tsp crushed garlic (or minced)
2 cups veggie broth (Or GF veg boullion, or homemade broth)
1 cup water
1/2 tsp dried oregano or marjoram
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 15 oz cans chickpea or 2 cups homemade chickpeas (drained, rinsed)
1 14.5 oz can no salt added diced tomatoes, undrained

1/3 cup masa harina or cornmeal
1/8 tsp salt
3 tbsp hot water
1 tsp olive oil

Other ingredients:
2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro (or less, optional)
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
1/4 cup (1 oz) crumbled queso fresco OR Cotija cheese

Heat oil in dutch oven over medium-high heat. Saute onion 3 minutes or until soft. Add chili powder and garlic, saute for 30 more seconds. Add broth and ingredients through tomatoes, bring to a boil, and then cover, lower heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

To make dumplings, combine masa harina and salt. Add hot water and oil, stir until you have a soft, somewhat dry dough. Divide dough into little balls- try to make 24 if possible. The smaller the dumplings, the better. Add dumplings to soup and cook uncovered for 3 minutes until dumplings float. Stir in cilantro and juice. Ladle 1 cup soup into 4 bowls, and top with queso fresco or other crumbled cheese.

215 calories, Fat 5.5g
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