Gluten-free style from the Emerald Isle – Menu Plan Monday

About a month ago, Duck and I went to Ireland to participate in his sister’s wedding to a lovely Irish boy. (Boy? Man? He’s younger than me and quite hip, but maybe getting married gives you an automatic bump up to “man.”)

Things I was prepared for as I headed to Ireland: Serious difficulty and perhaps impossibility in sticking to our normal food regimes (vegan for him, gluten-free vegetarian for me). Ireland has has a much better climate for raising food from the animal kingdom than the plant one, and that means meat in and with everything. An unavoidable abundance of gluten; after all, drinking Guinness is one of the national pastimes, and that’s basically a big, dark, delicious glass of wheat. A whole bunch of new people to whom I would have to explain my dietary requirements and get funny looks or a frenzy of worry.


What I totally did not expect on my journey: Walking into the local Super-Saver and finding nearly half of a huge aisle devoted to gluten-free products. Pita bread, tender and fluffy; garlic-coriander naan, the perfect combination of crisp and soft; ciabatta rolls with a toothy crust an Italian grandmother would approve, just waiting to be layered with fresh mozarella, basil, and tomato. Table water crackers and digestive biscuits, which I thought I would never eat again. Scones with raisins. Pizza crusts that make Kinickinick look like rank amateurs. All of it packaged, not bakery-fresh and on the verge of going stale, happy to sit quietly on the shelf and be brought alive with the barest of toastings. I even found Worcestershire sauce that is both gluten-free and vegan, which I thought was like a mermaid or a unicorn, something only to be dreamed of but never actually encountered. Ireland even came up with the coolest not-that-healthy health food ever – thin rice cakes topped with a layer of that sweet yogurt that coats yogurt-raisins. (They come in chocolate-orange, too!)

Needless to say, I came home with an entire carry-on full of food. I’m trying to ration my new treats (they all have expiration dates around mid-July), but this week’s (retroactive, as usual) menu plan includes some full-on celebrations of Irish, gluten-free bounty.

For other marvelous menu plans, check out the huge Menu Plan Monday compendium over at Organizing Junkie. For more gluten-free menu plan madness, pay a visit to Cheryl at Gluten Free Goodness. She is hosting this week’s Gluten-Free Menu Swap.

Monday: Homemade falafel with baba ganouj, heirloom tomato, red leaf lettuce, and Sriracha hot sauce, stuffed into an incredible gluten-free Irish pita, kale with kale sauce

Tuesday: Broiled tempeh marinated with fennel, soy sauce, and apple cider vinegar (Moosewood at Home), roasted broccoli with lemon zest and pine nuts, quinoa with coconut oil

Wednesday: Gluten-free Irish pita stuffed with broiled eggplant (marinated in balsamic, olive oil, and herbes de Provence) and feta and buffalo mozarella marinated with balsamic, olive oil, and fresh basil, fruit salad, green salad

Thursday: Rice, lentil, and potato pilaf with cardamom, Impressionist cauliflower, spicy collard greens, gluten-free Irish garlic-coriander naan

Friday: Sauteed broccoli rabe with garlic and chile flakes in a gluten-free Irish pita with Bravo farms cheddar cheese

Saturday: Gluten-free Irish pizza crust topped with pesto, tomatoes, mushrooms, and broiled eggplant marinated in balsamic, olive oil, and herbes de Provence, salad

Sunday: Dal with potatoes, carrots, mushrooms, and ginger, red and white quinoa, raita of goat yogurt with mustard seeds and spices

The thing of it is, I don’t even care much for bread products. But until this week, I had forgotten how amazingly convenient they are. One night I was super tired but I really wanted to cook up two gorgeous bunches of organic broccoli rabe (my absolute favorite veggie, but I rarely find it organic, so it was a real treat). But after cooking them I was so tired that I was kind of like, well… what now? Will I just have vegetables for dinner? But then I grabbed a pita, tossed it in the toaster for a minute, and made a mouth-wateringly scrumptious sandwich with white cheddar cheese and sauteed broccoli rabe. No long-cooking grain, no need for mind-bending creativity, and absolutely no stiff, crumbly, barely-worth-the-title GF bread. Most of the time I love the challenge and creativity of GF cooking, and I love that it calls on me to make, not buy, most of the elements of my meals. But sometimes it sure is lovely to have a break – and not feel cheated or deprived when I do.

11 comments on “Gluten-free style from the Emerald Isle – Menu Plan Monday

  1. gosh, that looks heavenly. So many of my favorites! Broccoli raab, falafel, dal…yum!!!

  2. […] In My (CSA) box joins us again after a hiatus (welcome back!!), and reviews a trip to merry old Ireland. Her menu looks heavenly and contains winners such as broccoli raab, falafel, dal…yum!!! […]

  3. accidentalhausfrau says:

    Add me as another fan of that broccoli rabe…thanks for sharing.

  4. Esther says:

    Your menu sounds fantastic. Ireland is good for gluten free items isn’t it. Most of those are available here in the UK to but I found them stocked in smaller more rural shops that I would expect to find them in over here.

  5. seamaiden says:

    Wow- your menu sounds fabulous and I wish I could have some! Do those GF bread products from Ireland contain the low gluten wheat starch? Just curious- it tends to be one difference between American and some European GF products.

    Great question on the onigiri- I answered it in probably way too much detail but you really inspired me. Thanks for coming by!!!


    • scrumptious says:

      Hi Sea! So nice to see you here!

      As far as GF products in Ireland… I did notice after I had already munched on a couple of digestive biscuits that they were made with what they called “gluten-free wheat starch” which is unacceptable for me, as I actually have some kind of wheat or gluten allergy, not celiac. But most of the food – the pita, the nan, etc. – is distinguished by an ingredient called hydroxypropyl methyl cellulose. I tried to do some research on it, and found it is a synthetic polymer derived from plant cellulose. (Hmm, helpful, no?) It is approved for food use in the US and I even found a US patent application for using it to replace gluten in foods. I don’t know if it is in packaged GF foods here because I never really buy them. But I suspect it is the magic ingredient that makes these Irish treats so incredibly chewy.

      I really couldn’t find too much more info on it after that. And we all know that just because the FDA says it’s safe doesn’t mean it is. But also just because manufacturers haven’t used it here, doesn’t mean it isn’t safe. At any rate, anything with ingredients I don’t recognize is going to be relegated to a treat, at best. But boy am I enjoying my treats!

  6. seamaiden says:

    How intriguing! Thanks for your detailed information. I am quite happy to hear that not all the goods have the low gluten wheat starch because I don’t seem to tolerate it well myself. (I do have Celiac and there is some question about if the levels of gluten in the wheat starch are too high for some- seems too high for me, at any rate.) Mmm, gluten-free naan that I didn’t make myself sounds wonderful. I will have to try to make it over there sometime.

    What fun! Thanks again and have a great day.


  7. Dolli-Mama says:

    Thanks for the visit! Your menu looks awesome. My parents eat Gluten Free. I may try a few of your recipes when I visit them later this month!

  8. Rona says:

    I love a summertime menu!
    Watching Barefoot Contessa making a fennel and orange salad. I love her cookbooks!
    Have a terrific weekend!

  9. Lisa says:

    Thanks for telling me about your website. It does have some really good veg. recipes. Thursday’s pilaf jumped out at me for sure.

  10. Kirwin says:

    Thank you for visiting my blog this morning. Thank you even more for the wonderful tips and links you left me for learning to love The Lentil!! I can’t wait to follow up on them, and try one of those recipes.

    I’ve bookmarked your blog — it seems like you have a wealth of information here!!

    BTW, I’m not GF, but I am thinking about “going GF” for a week or two to see if I feel a difference.

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