Oh man, is it ever easy to make things taste good using bread and cheese. Especially cheese. It seems like all the covers of artfully designed cookbooks feature simple-looking recipes that you just know are absolutely delicious because of the presence of one magical food: cheese.
Having a diet that is gluten-free is one thing. After a while you begin to lose sight of the importance of bread and most baked goods can be altered to make them gluten-free by replacing wheat flour with the same amount of gluten-free flour.
Having a dairy-free diet is another story. Recipes that call for regular milk can often be substituted for unsweetened soy or almond milk. Heavier creams can be replaced with coconut milk. But there is one conundrum in the world of dairy-free cooking: what to do about cheese? So far I haven’t found an adequate replacement. Nutritional yeast, I’ve heard, has a cheesy taste and is good for cheesifying the flavour of kale chips. Soy cheese can be used to replace the cheese and cracker (gluten-free, of course) snack set and goat’s or sheep’s cheeses lack casein, the protein found in cow’s milk, which causes most dairy intolerances; many people who react negatively to dairy are fine consuming goat and sheep’s milk products. I have yet to try this, and I imagine it can be more expensive, so I continue my cheese-free existence until I gather the adventurous spirit to head out into the world of cheese replacements.
[An aside: did you know that the Spanish word for cheese, queso, comes from the Latin word “casein” (which now refers to the protein in dairy products)? Wikipedia, you’ve impressed me again!]
So, bearing in mind the dilemma of every gluten and dairy (particularly cheese)-free chef, I’ve altered a recipe from Aran at Canelle et Vanille. Her recipe calls for cheese, but I tried the recipe without and with some other modifications (the addition of more vegetables) and it worked out well. This recipe is easy to make (for the starving, time-pressed student), economically friendly (for the starving, cash-less student) and gluten and dairy-free (for the starving naturopathic student). Introducing…
Cherry Tomato Clafoutis (with Coconut Milk)
2 packages of cherry or grape tomatoes
2-3 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup gluten-free flour (brown rice flour, quinoa flour, almond flour)
1/2 can coconut milk
Any other green vegetables you have in the fridge. I used brussel sprouts, but possible options include: broccoli, spinach, kale, green beans, artichoke hearts or asparagus. (This is the part where your creativity can flourish!)
Black olives (about 5-10)
Italian spices: liberal amounts of basil, rosemary, cracked black pepper, sea salt, paprika, oregano, thyme, chili pepper
Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
Cut tomatoes in half, chop garlic finely. Chop up the brussel sprouts (or whatever other vegetable you have deemed worthy of being included in this dish) and the black olives.
Mix all the vegetables, along with the garlic and olives, together with a drizzle of olive oil in an oven-safe pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and leave the tomatoes and the rest of the vegetables in the oven while it preheats (the idea is to start roasting the vegetables a bit).
Next, mix eggs, flour and coconut milk in a small bowl. Add in the spices (no matter who you voted for in the last federal election, you can still be liberal with your spices). Feel free to add in any other spices that you are into this week (sometimes I get obsessed with cumin).
When the oven has finished heating, remove the pan with the tomatoes, garlic, brussel sprouts and olives (your kitchen should have a deliciously garlic-y smell right now). Pour the egg mixture with the spices over the vegetables. Add some black pepper and sea salt.
Reinsert pan into the oven for 35 minutes at 350 degrees F.
When it’s finished, allow it to cool. Clafoutis are like a mixture between a fritatta and a souffle and can work well as a dinner or even breakfast. It’s also one of those dishes where the leftovers taste just as good (if not better).
Serve with your favourite sauce. I was craving sour tastes so mixed 1 tbsp of hummus with a splash of apple cider vinegar, honey and mustard. I warmed the mixture for about 10-20 seconds in the microwave and then poured it over the clafoutis. Yum!