Thursday, May 15, 2014

Easy Gluten Free Italian

At Villa Salerno, aka "our house," we take pride in our Italian heritage, and in our Italian cooking.  After my Celiac diagnosis, we rarely cooked pasta for a couple of years, as I searched for a gluten free pasta that tasted like the pasta I had grown up eating.  Thankfully, we have found several brands that live up to our high standards.  You can read more about our favorite gluten free pastas here.  

One of our favorite Italian dishes is Caprese salad, and it's so easy to make.  I always have small snack size tomatoes in the house to pack in my girls' lunches.  Our new favorite is Primodoro snack tomatoes from The Fresh Market, because of their sweetness, but I also buy San Marzano and grape tomatoes.  Another staple in our house is BelGioioso mozzarella pearls, which I use when making Chebe pizza.  I have three basil plants growing on my front porch, so I don't ever have to worry about running out of our favorite herb.  

 I made this Caprese salad in about 5 minutes.  I used a package of mozzarella pearls, a couple of handfuls of tomatoes that I cut in half, fresh chopped basil, 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, 1 tablespoon of white balsamic vinegar, and a good amount of kosher salt.  The second I sat this on the table, my kids dove in.  They always get excited for Caprese salad.  You can view other variations I make here.  We also love Caprese panini.  You can read about our panini making here.  

I have an easy bread recipe that I make, but when I want to keep things really simple, I make flatbread with Udi's Pizza Crust.  

I let it defrost a bit before rubbing olive oil on both sides.  I then put it in a frying pan over medium heat, and sprinkle a good amount of rosemary and garlic salt on top.  

If I am not busy with other food prep, I press it down with a spatula, working my way around the pan, so it browns more evenly.  

As you can see, the side with the rosemary browned a bit better because of my spatula treatment.  

As soon as it's finished, I cut it with my kitchen shears and serve it right away.  It's definitely best served hot.  It's great with Caprese salad right on top, or dipped in some of the Caprese dressing.  

For meat, I decided to buy lamb steaks from The Fresh Market.  When my husband and I traveled to Italy back in 2003, we ate lamb at a little restaurant overlooking Positano on the Amalfi Coast.  We liked it so much, we ate there two or three times in one week.  

We watched it being grilled on the outdoor terrace where we sat, and all they added to the lamb before they cooked it was olive oil and coarse salt.  

It can't get much simpler than that.  My husband cooked our lamb on his Big Green Egg, but if you don't have a grill, you can use a grill pan indoors.  My girls were a little disappointed I didn't make my white bean hummus to serve with the lamb, but I was trying to keep things as easy as possible, and we already had enough food on the table.    

For dessert, I made a mixed berry crostata.  You can view the recipe here.  I made this Italian free form pie in less than 30 minutes, and baked it before I picked my daughters up from school.  I used to be so intimidated by pie-making, but it is so easy to make a crostata with Williams-Sonoma Gluten-Free Piecrust Mix.  

I love it when we have a great Italian meal and there is no stress involved in cooking it.

Tonight, I will making another one of our Italian favorites, deconstructed beef ravioli.  This meal is so easy to put together, and is a huge hit with my whole family.   I can cook it in about 15 minutes if I don't serve it with my quick cook tomato sauce.  With the sauce, it takes about 30 minutes.

What are your favorite gluten free Italian meals?


  1. Wow! That looks like a delicious meal! I especially love the salad! A restaurant near me used to have the best focaccia bread! I don't think a pizza crust flatbread would be a good, but I have to make some to give it a fair try. Is the William-Sonoma GF pie crust mix better than a pie crust you could make with Cup4Cup?

    P.S. After reading one of your blogs, I bought our first package of Cup4Cup and talked my wife into using it for the banana bread loaf she was planning on making with regular flour. It turned out great! I enjoyed my first banana bread in years! Love your blog!

    1. Thanks so much Rick! I am so glad you enjoyed your banana bread! The WS piecrust mix has Cup 4 Cup in it. I think I looked for an easy recipe online with it a while back and nothing was as easy as using the box mix. Canyon Bakehouse makes GF focaccia. I think I bought it at Whole Foods. It's pretty good.