A Few Words on Gluten Free Sandwiches

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Admittedly, since I have become gluten free, I don’t get very excited about sandwiches. I am sure that you will agree that there are many mediocre gluten free breads out there. In fact, there are many yucky gluten free breads out there. Unfortunately, many of us work and have hectic schedules that don’t leave time for the tasty home baked versions. You just have to painstakingly and courageously trial them all, until finally one just sits right on your very own palate. There are many, many varieties available to buy in stores and on the web, and there are many recommendations by others, as well, but the bread thing, for me anyway, is very personal. Truly, I have not found many gluten free sandwich breads that wow me. Most of the time, it is the combination of your favorite sandwich bread with what’s inside the sandwich that makes it worth telling about for sure!

Today, I ate one of those amazing gluten free sandwiches worth a tale or two. My Mom’s favorite sandwich (and being very much her prodigy) was a BLT! What a very wise woman. She just savored every bite. It had to have a lot of mayonnaise. She just loved mayonnaise. Her eyes would roll as she ate it, and she would make yummy noises. Consequently, whenever I eat one, she floods my thoughts.

Today, I built a BLT to die for, that is, to live for! I tried a new bacon I had never had before called Niman Ranch brand maple, uncured and gluten free. Delicious with a capital “D”! It smelled heavenly sizzling in the pan. My three cats were lined up at the stove with their nostrils wiggling and meowing and dreaming for some to come their way. I used a lovely Ugly Ripe tomato and some crisp Red Leaf lettuce leaves. Now for the bread, I happen to have a freshly purchased loaf of Glutino Flax Seed Bread. I do believe that they have made some improvements with this bread, as I had not bought it in awhile, and it seemed more flavorful this time around. The slices are light and just perfect when toasted. I proceeded to build my scrumptious and memorable gluten free BLT! The Niman Ranch bacon just made the sandwich. It was not too smoky or sweet and just thick enough. I enjoyed every morsel and every mouthful. Small pieces of bacon and tomato covered with mayo fell out on my plate as I devoured it. I ate each remaining escaped piece with gusto. I am writing this and I can still taste it.

That’s what makes a gluten free sandwich so wonderful. It’s the total picture. It is the total experience. It is the total sandwich, a sum of its parts. This was undoubtedly one of those “islands of happiness” that my Mom always talked about. I thank you, Niman Ranch.I thank you, Glutino, especially, if you improved your product. I thank my cats for their adoring company.

But, most of all, I thank you, Mom.

La Melanzana (Eggplant in Italian)

Penne Dash of Sorrento is an eggplant pasta dish that my husband and I discovered while on our honeymoon on the Amalfi Border, Italy.I grew up in an Italian household, but I had never had such a dish. It had been my dream to visit the Amalfi Border in Italy for many, many years. I saved and cherished an article on the beauty and breathtaking views of the area written in National Geographic Traveler for 10 years. When I met Wayne,

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I told him about my dream, and our trip there became two dreams come true, i.e. finding someone wonderful to share my life with and a visit to this amazingly beautiful stretch of towns built into the side of hills from Naples to Sorrento to Salerno. We encountered this eggplant dish at dinner one evening in our hotel. There was something very unique in flavor, and although we asked everyone along the way about the ingredients, everyone inadvertently omitted one of the most important ingredients. When we returned, I purchased the simple repertoire of eggplant, garlic, oil, mozzarella, plum tomatoes, and parmigiana cheese. I made the dish, and it looked fantastic. We both took a bite and simultaneously cheesewine1.jpglooked at eachother, and almost said together, “Something is missing”. I did a little more research and discovered that our rendition was missing “Mozzarella di Bufala Affumicato”, otherwise known as Smoked Buffalo Mozzarella. I made the dish again using smoked mozzarella (unfortunately not the imported Buffalo version), but it definitely put the punch back in the dish. Try this on your spouse, your friends, your family. It is a magical use of the incredible la melanzana, that is, eggplant. You will love it.

 

Penne Dash of Sorrento

Ingredients

1/2-8oz Smoked Braided Mozzarella (need the smoked type)

2-Small Eggplants, peeled and chopped (small are best)

4-Ripe Plum Tomatoes (skinned and chopped)

3 to 4-Cloves of Garlic, finely chopped

1-Pound Penne Pasta (Tinkyada or Gluten Free Bionature are good picks)

3/4-Small Ball Poly-o Mozzarella, dicedFresh grated parmigiana cheese

Handful fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped

About ¼ cup good quality olive oil (you may need just a little more)

Method

Have all your ingredients chopped and lined up to go for this dish. Put your water onto boil for the pasta.When the water boils, drop your fresh whole tomatoes in the water for about 2 minutes.Remove and drain. Skin will come right off with a knife. Chop and set aside.Take half of the oil and sauté quickly diced eggplant. Set aside.Sauté chopped garlic in remainder of olive oil until tender; do not burn as it will make your sauce bitter.

Keep moving it in the sizzling oil with a spatula or spoon.Add your chopped plum tomatoes juice and all. Simmer for a minute. Add your eggplant.Add salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste. Cover and simmer for about 5 minutes.Salt your pasta water. Put your penne on to boil. When done, drain. Save about ¾ cup of the macaroni water when you drain the pasta.Put the drained pasta right into the skillet with the tomato/eggplant mixture. Add diced mozzarella cheeses, parmigiana to taste, freshly chopped basil and mix.

Cover, turn off heat and let the cheeses melt into the pasta. You may need to add just a little macaroni water. You be the judge of that.Serve immediately.(A nice salad, crusty Italian bread and table wine would complete the meal).

Buona appetito!praiano_lion_pan3.jpg

Wayne and me in La Taverna del Leone, Positano, Italy (a rustic pizzeria with an antipasto spread like no other. Italian food to die for!)