Gluten-Free, Suddenly

SEPTEMBER 22, 2013


I come from a big bread-eating family. It’s all about pasta, dinner rolls, biscuits, English muffins (any muffins, really), cakes – you name it. So it came as a culinary surprise and challenge to me when I started dating my boyfriend: he has Celiac disease, which means he can’t eat any gluten, most commonly found in wheat products.

I love to cook, and cooking for others is even more fun than just cooking for myself. But my first instinct is when cooking for someone is to make pasta with homemade sauce, or chicken with couscous, or any of my other gluten-filled staples. I knew if I was going to wow him with my meals, I couldn’t have him curled up in the fetal position from stomach cramps. I had to get creative and do some research.

Did you know that soy sauce contains gluten? I didn’t! I noticed when we went out for sushi that he didn’t use the soy sauce, but I thought that was personal preference. Turns out he loves the stuff, but hasn’t been able to use it since he was diagnosed almost ten years ago. Luckily for one of my recipes, I found a gluten-free soy sauce at Whole Foods and learned about other wheat-free options. I’ve found corn pasta is best with a meat sauce, rice pasta is good with stir-fries, and quinoa pasta goes with everything. I introduced him to quinoa, and even made a gluten-free fried chicken that I like better than the original. Below are two of our favorite gluten-free chicken dishes that can be enjoyed by anyone! (Disclaimer: I basically eyeball measurements when I cook, so I apologize for no “two teaspoons of X” or “half a pound of Y”)

Tostito-Fried Chicken

Tostitos are gluten-free, like most other corn chips. Always check the ingredients and “processed on equipment with” labels to be sure. I used to fry chicken with breadcrumbs and flour – now I use tortilla chips exclusively. They make for a much better crunch without an intense deep-frying. I also use sliced chicken breast pieces for a healthier white meat option, but this would be great on any bit.

Crumble a bunch of chips in a sealed plastic zip bag. Really pound and grind it until it’s relatively fine. Pour the crumbs on a plate. Depending on how much chicken you have to cook, whip an egg or two in a bowl, and dip your chicken pieces into the eggs, coating them. Then roll the chicken in the crumbs until covered. Set aside until all pieces are ready to cook, then fry your chicken in light olive oil over medium heat until the chicken is done and the crust is golden. Enjoy with your favorite dipping sauce.

Chicken Stir-Fry

Chop a clove or two of garlic and heat in a couple tablespoons of light olive oil over medium heat. Slice chicken breasts into strips or cubes, and add to the pan, turning the pieces occasionally. Grate as much fresh or frozen ginger as you like over the pan throughout the cooking process. When the chicken is done, add a big splash (about a quarter cup) of sherry or white wine, whatever you have on hand. Then add as much gluten-free soy sauce as you like to get the taste you want. Add more ginger if you’re ginger-obsessed like me. Serve over quinoa, rice, or rice noodles.

This recipe can be easily non-gluten-free by using regular soy sauce (I prefer Trader Joe’s reduced sodium bottle). You can also leave out the ginger and soy sauce all together (just chicken, garlic, oil, sherry, and toss in some mushrooms) and have a gluten-free dinner similar to a Chicken Marsala.


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