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Gluten-free cooking is a personal endeavour for SBS TV presenter Helen Tzouganatos. Her search for fuss-free family recipes began 12 years ago, when the Sydney home cook and recipe developer was diagnosed with coeliac disease.
Her new cookbook, Easy Gluten Free, covers everything from express mid-week meal and slow Sunday braises to no-brainer one-pot and one-tray dishes, as well as vegan, vegetarian and allergy-friendly options.
Here are three versatile and delicious gluten-free dishes anyone can make and enjoy.
Charred corn and buckwheat salsa salad
Nourishing buckwheat bulks up this colourful protein-packed salsa, making it a filling stand-alone meal or refreshing summer side salad. Chargrilling the corn gives a smoky sweetness that contrasts beautifully with the creamy avocado, crunchy capsicum, vibrant greens and zesty lime juice. For extra heat just throw in a sliced jalapeno pepper. It's a Mexican party in a bowl!
- 135g (¾ cup) raw buckwheat kernels, rinsed
- 4 corn cobs, silks and husks removed
- 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- sea salt flakes
- 1 red capsicum, deseeded and diced
- handful of coriander leaves, finely chopped
- handful of flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped
- 1 large avocado, diced
- 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- juice of 2 limes, plus lime halves to serve
- sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper
- Rinse the buckwheat under cold running water, then place in a small saucepan and fill with water. Boil for 8 minutes or until tender, then drain, rinse and set aside to cool to room temperature.
- Brush the corn with the olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Heat a chargrill pan over high heat, add the corn and cook, turning regularly, for 15 minutes or until tender and nicely charred all over. Cool slightly, then slice off the kernels.
- Combine the buckwheat, corn kernels, capsicum, fresh herbs and avocado in a salad bowl.
- To make the dressing, whisk the ingredients in a small bowl.
- Drizzle the dressing over the salad, gently toss to combine and serve with lime halves on the side.
Note: Buckwheat is a nutritious seed which, despite its name, does not contain any wheat. It is considered a superfood because it is high in protein, fibre, antioxidants and minerals.
This recipe also works beautifully with chicken thighs. Photo: Jeremy Simons/Plum
Kokkino means red in Greek. Here it is a reference to the simmering tomato sauce scented with cinnamon, cloves and thyme that slowly cooks the beef. I have many childhood memories of a comforting plate of kokkinisto on a rainy day – it's one of those traditional dishes you'll find in every Greek household. This recipe also works beautifully with chicken thighs, and the rice can be swapped out for pasta sprinkled with grated kefalograviera cheese.
- 1kg blade or chuck beef, cut into 5cm chunks
- sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper
- 80ml (⅓ cup) extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 celery stalks, cut into thick slices
- 1 large carrot, cut into thick slices
- 2 garlic cloves, finely grated
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 125ml (½ cup) red wine
- 2 x 400g cans crushed tomatoes
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 whole cloves
- 2 tsp thyme leaves
- 1 tsp castor sugar
- cooked basmati rice or gluten-free pasta, to serve
- chopped parsley leaves, to serve
- Season the beef with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the beef in batches and sear for about 5 minutes, turning to brown all over. Remove from the pan and set aside.
- Reduce the heat to medium and add the remaining oil. Saute the onion, celery, carrot and a generous pinch of salt for 5 minutes or until softened. Add the garlic and tomato paste and cook for another 30 seconds.
- Pour in the wine and simmer until reduced by half, stirring to release any caramelised bits caught on the base of the pan. Return the beef and any juices to the pan and stir in the crushed tomatoes, cinnamon, cloves, thyme, sugar and 500ml (2 cups) of water. Season with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to low, then cover and simmer gently for 2½-3 hours until the beef is tender. If the sauce is still watery after 2 hours, take the lid off and simmer for the last 30 minutes to thicken. Serve with cooked rice or pasta and a sprinkling of parsley over the top.
Tip: If you own a pressure cooker you can significantly reduce the cooking time by simmering on a low setting for just 40 minutes.
One bite and you'll never reach for that butter again. Photo: Jeremy Simons/Plum
'I can't believe there's no butter' choc chip cookies
Crispy edges + chewy centre + molten chocolate chunks = cookie heaven. Coconut oil is my go to when baking dairy-free cookies because it delivers that perfect utopia of crispness and chewiness. Adjusting the baking time by a few minutes either way will make your cookies softer or crunchier so do customise it to suit your preference. One bite and you'll never reach for that butter again!
- 130g coconut oil, at room temperature
- ½ cup (115g) brown sugar
- ½ cup (115g) castor sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 egg
- 230g (1¾ cups) plain gluten-free flour
- 1 tsp gluten-free baking powder
- ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1 tsp sea salt flakes
- 200g gluten-free dark chocolate
- (70 per cent cocoa), chopped into 1-2 cm chunks
- Place the coconut oil and both sugars in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat for 1 minute. Add the vanilla and egg and beat to combine.
- Add the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt and beat until just combined, then fold in the chopped chocolate. Place the dough in the fridge for 30 minutes (or overnight for crispier cookies).
- Preheat the oven to 180C (fan-forced) (200C conventional) and line two baking trays with baking paper.
- Roll the dough into 18 balls, place on the prepared trays evenly spaced apart and gently flatten with the palm of your hand. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden and crisp. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
- Store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.
Tip: The size and shape of the dough dictates the spread of the cookie so if you want your cookies thin and crispy, flatten the balls with the palm of your hand. For a more rounded shape and softer texture leave them as balls.