Chef Fernanda’s Summer Farm-to-Table Delights
I’m a mostly gluten-free Italian who loves to share great food with the people I love. I first got interested in a gluten-free diet when a friend of the family told us that she was gluten-intolerant. Out of curiosity, I tried a cutting out gluten and noticed that I generally felt better. That made me a true believer.
I’m willing to give up wheat, but I’m not willing to give up on great taste. It’s my palate that guides me when making our Glutenetto cookies. The taste and texture have to be so good that you don’t miss the gluten. It’s also what guides me when I’m at the Farmer’s Market as I think about what I’ll prepare for dinner.
Fresh, seasonal produce is at the heart of Italian cuisine. Italian food isn’t just about pasta, and if you are gluten-free that’s a great thing. While there are plenty of gluten-free pasta products on the market, and you can always substitute with rice or gnocchi, I like to use vegetables in place of pasta when I can.
For example, last week, I picked up some Roma beans at the Farmer’s Market. These long flat beans are sweet, tender and meaty which makes them a great substitute for pasta with fresh tomato sauce. I blanched the beans, added them to a pot of fresh tomatoes, garlic and olive oil and served it with a dusting of parmagiano and a side of chicken. No one in the family missed the pasta one bit.
Recipe: Italian Summer Vegetable Saute
Zucchini, eggplant, bell pepper and tomatoes are bountiful at the Farmer’s Market right now: perfect ingredients for an Italian version of Ratatoulle, the Provencal French summer vegetable stew. Rather than stewing all the vegetables together in one pot, I fire them up on the grill with their skins on (for better nutrition and a nice texture), and then sauté them together with some olive oil, garlic and fresh basil. It’s like a garden on your plate!
- 2 zucchini, chopped
- 1 eggplant, chopped
- 2 bell peppers, chopped
- 4 to 5 ripe roma tomatoes
- 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- Olive Oil
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Roast the tomatoes whole and dice them.
- Chop the zucchini, eggplant and bell pepper into bite-sized portions. I prefer to keep the skin on because it adds a nice texture and there’s lots of good nutrition in the skin. Arrange them on skewers, brush them with olive oil and grill till brown.
- Add a bit of olive oil to a saute pan and combine the grilled vegetables, tomatoes, garlic and basil. Saute for 10 minutes so the flavors meld together. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm!