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Savoury Dishes

Meat and sweet potato pie – gluten, dairy and nightshade free comfort food

Meat and sweet potato pie - gluten, dairy and nightshade free - A Free From Life

What is your ultimate comfort food?

We’ve been having some lovely sunny autumnal days, but the mornings and evenings are getting cooler and I don’t know if it’s that, or if I’ve felt tired this week, but I really fancied some comfort food and only one thing would do – PIE.

Meat and sweet potato pie - gluten, dairy and nightshade free - A Free From Life

The dinners of my childhood years tended to be made up of meat with vegetables and potatoes and then fish on a Friday. Occasionally they would include some form of pie, be it Shepherd’s pie, with the classic mashed potato topping, or meat and potato pie with a pastry crust. Those were my favourite dinners and I’ve been reminiscing recently about that sort of comfort food. They may not have been fancy dinners, but they were tasty and balanced and in my house, there was never much waste.

Meat and sweet potato pie - gluten, dairy and nightshade free - A Free From Life

As much as I love pastry though (being a Northerner and all, it’s a given), the older you get, the less likely it is to agree with you. Whether it’s the gluten or the fat content (if it’s made with a shortening ingredient such as lard), this does not help if you have stomach acid issues or IBS. The good thing is, a gluten free pastry doesn’t seem to be as heavy on the stomach, or leave you with that heartburn feeling. That’s what I’ve certainly found anyway.

I made this lovely meat and potato pie the other day and it went down very well with the family, so I thought I would share it with you. It’s made with gluten and dairy free pastry and the filling is gluten, dairy and nightshade free. As it stands, it is a tasty pie, but if you don’t need to eliminate any of those things, I’m going to give options at the end for what you can add as an alternative. You see when I cook, I have to adapt my recipes to make them suitable for all the family. Whilst I spend time converting them to be free from this and that, you can just as easily ‘un convert’ them for your own needs.

Meat and sweet potato pie - gluten, dairy and nightshade free - A Free From Life

Anyway, I hope you enjoy this recipe and it evokes some childhood memories of your own. Food can do that, which is what I love about it. Ask me any memory and you can guarantee it will include some anecdote or other about food. When it comes to meat and potato pie, I’m instantly taken back to days spent with my nanna and granddad during school holidays, sitting in their tiny kitchen, with the oven door kept slightly ajar for extra warmth.

Meat and sweet potato pie - gluten, dairy and nightshade free - A Free From Life
Meat and sweet potato pie
Print Recipe
A gluten, dairy and nightshade free version of the classic meat and potato pie
Servings
4-5
Cook Time
1 hour
Servings
4-5
Cook Time
1 hour
Meat and sweet potato pie - gluten, dairy and nightshade free - A Free From Life
Meat and sweet potato pie
Print Recipe
A gluten, dairy and nightshade free version of the classic meat and potato pie
Servings
4-5
Cook Time
1 hour
Servings
4-5
Cook Time
1 hour
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 200/gas 6/fan 180
  2. Make the pastry first: Mix together the gram flour, sorghum flour and tapioca starch, rub in the margarine until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs, then add the water and bring together to form a dough. Wrap in a large piece of clingfilm and put in the fridge.
  3. Chop the onion, carrots and sweet potato into small chunks and dry fry for 5-10 minutes. Add the mince and continue to fry until it has browned.
  4. Add the nutritional yeast and marmite and stir in to the mixture before adding the 150 ml of water.
  5. Simmer for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally so it doesn't stick, until the vegetables are softened and most of the water has been absorbed into the mixture.
  6. Whilst the vegetables and meat are cooking, roll out the pastry: Take two thirds and put the other third back in the fridge.
  7. IMPORTANT NOTE: gluten free pastry is very 'short', which means it will easily crumble. The best and easiest way to handle it, is to roll out between a folded over sheet of clingfilm so it doesn't stick to either the work surface or the rolling pin.
  8. Flatten your large piece of clingfilm on your work surface and put the dough roughly in the middle, folding the other half over the top of the dough. Now roll out, occasionally measuring against your pie dish. When big enough, peel back the top side of the clingfilm and lift up the rolled out pastry, carefully inverting it into the greased pie dish. Once placed in the dish, peel back the bottom layer of clingfilm and you can cut away any of the sides if they are too long.
  9. Don't worry if your pastry doesn't quite fit. Use your fingers to stretch it out and add extra pieces if it's too short. It doesn't need to be perfect.
  10. Once the mince and vegetables are cooked and the water has mostly absorbed in to the mixture, add it to the pastry case.
  11. Roll out the rest of the pastry in the clingfilm as before and place it on top of the mince and vegetable mixture to close your pie. Use your thumbs to press the lid of the pastry together with the edges of the case. Pierce with a fork several times and brush with a little dairy free milk.
  12. Put the pie in the oven and cook for 30 minutes, by which time, the pastry should be nice and browned.
Recipe Notes

Recipe notes:

  • If you want to make this recipe more FODMAP friendly - add a stick of celery instead of the onion.
  • If you don't have an issue with nightshades - feel free to use an ordinary white potato instead of sweet potato.
  • If you don't have an issue with gluten - add 1 tbsp of worcestershire sauce and 1 tbsp plain flour, instead of the nutritional yeast.
  • You can use plain flour instead of the gram, sorghum and tapioca starch mix, when making your pastry (in the same total amount).
  • You can also use butter instead of margarine for making the pastry, or half butter, half animal or vegetable shortening.

 

Linking up with Free From Fridays.

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Savoury Dishes

Homemade Soup – Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Nightshade Free

Gluten, dairy and nightshade free soup

I wanted to do my own take on leek and potato soup, an old favourite of mine. That meant finding an alternative to potatoes as they are nightshades and I have to avoid them in my diet. Hmm… leek and potato soup without potatoes, now there’s an interesting quandary. Sweet potatoes wouldn’t work in this instance because they are, well, too sweet and I didn’t want an orange soup. It needed to be something blander, but also a root vegetable to add that starchy thickness and creaminess to the soup. I opted for swede.

Gluten, dairy and nightshade free soup

Who would have thought that a two-ingredient soup could be so tasty. In fact, it was so creamy too that I didn’t even need to add anything once it was blended (I had considered whether to add dairy free yoghurt at the end, but there was really no need).

So I know this barely constitutes a recipe, but I wanted to share it because of it’s ease. I used chicken stock made from boiling up the carcass of the previous night’s dinner and added a couple of teaspoons of vegetable bouillon, to really bring out the flavour of the vegetables. You can of course use ready made chicken stock or vegetable stock depending on your preference.

I didn’t even add salt to this recipe, as I think it was tasty enough as it was. If you compare it to the high salt, high sugar and added thickener shop bought soups, this is a real winner.

Gluten, dairy and nightshade free soup
2-ingredient vegetable soup
Print Recipe
A simple yet delicious creamy soup that's gluten, dairy and nightshade free
Servings Prep Time
4 10
Cook Time
30
Servings Prep Time
4 10
Cook Time
30
Gluten, dairy and nightshade free soup
2-ingredient vegetable soup
Print Recipe
A simple yet delicious creamy soup that's gluten, dairy and nightshade free
Servings Prep Time
4 10
Cook Time
30
Servings Prep Time
4 10
Cook Time
30
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Dice the swede and finely chop the leeks
  2. Add the chopped vegetables to a large pan and cover with the stock
  3. Sprinkle in the bouillon powder
  4. Simmer for around 30 minutes or until the swede has softened
  5. Blend until smooth
Recipe Notes

If you have any left over chicken, it makes a great addition to the soup for a complete meal.

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Slow Cooker Lasagne – Gluten free, Dairy Free, Nighshade Free

Slow Cooker Lasagne - A Free From Life

I love lasagne but don’t make it much. When you have to omit gluten, dairy and nightshades from your diet, a lasagne isn’t the ideal meal to make. That said, I’m never one to shy away from a challenge and have managed to make one that works well. It uses a nomato sauce instead of tomatoes and a cashew cream to replace the bechamel.

Here, I’m sharing another version of a gluten, dairy and nightshade free lasagne. This one is the easiest lasagne I’ve ever made. At the moment, I’m busy with work and in between I’m trying to write a novel as a participant of National Novel Writing Month. So, I haven’t got a great deal of time to be cooking elaborate meals. I need quick and convenience, but it has to be healthy too.

Slow Cooker Lasagne - A Free From Life

That’s why I’m relying heavily on my slow cooker this week. I’ve never cooked a lasagne in one before though, so I was keeping everything crossed that it would work. You don’t want to come home from a day at the office thinking that dinner is taken care of only to find out that it’s a disaster do you?

Slow Cooker Lasagne - A Free From Life

Well, I can categorically say that this was the opposite of disaster. I would even go so far as to say that it reminded me of the lasagne my daughter had last week when we were in Italy! That’s because authentic Italian lasagne is drier than what we might be used to. That doesn’t make it any less tasty though, especially as it had been slow cooking all day long, so it was flavour-packed.

Slow Cooker lasagne - A Free From Life

With a little bit of prep the night before, I was able to assemble this lasagne in around five minutes before I left for work and all I needed to do when I got home was steam some veg to go with it. Who says the slow cooker is only good for casseroles?

Slow Cooker Lasagne - A Free From Life
Slow Cooker Lasagne
Print Recipe
No pre-cooking required, just assemble and leave the slow cooker to do it's job. This tasty lasagne is a winner all round. This recipe is also gluten, dairy and nightshade free but you'd never know!
Servings Prep Time
4 10 minutes
Cook Time
7 Hours
Servings Prep Time
4 10 minutes
Cook Time
7 Hours
Slow Cooker Lasagne - A Free From Life
Slow Cooker Lasagne
Print Recipe
No pre-cooking required, just assemble and leave the slow cooker to do it's job. This tasty lasagne is a winner all round. This recipe is also gluten, dairy and nightshade free but you'd never know!
Servings Prep Time
4 10 minutes
Cook Time
7 Hours
Servings Prep Time
4 10 minutes
Cook Time
7 Hours
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Mix the nomato sauce with the water and add the minced beef and dried herbs. Mix thoroughly (I prepared this the night before and stored it in the fridge).
  2. Spoon a little of this mixture on to the bottom of the slow cooker pot, to just cover it.
  3. Add enough lasagne sheets to cover the sauce (you may have to break some up to fit)
  4. Spoon half the remaining meat mixture on to the lasagne sheets.
  5. Cover this layer of mince with another layer of lasagne sheets.
  6. Add the remaining meat mixture and cover once more with lasagne sheets.
  7. Whisk the eggs and add the yoghurt, whisking again until fully incorporated.
  8. Pour this mix on to the top of the lasagne sheets and sprinkle on the parmesan (or alternative).
  9. Put the slow cooker on a low heat and leave for at least 7 hours.
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Sweet Potato and Chestnut Gnocchi – #glutenfree #nightshadefree

Sweet potato and chestnut gnocchi - A Free From Life

I love Italian food and in particular it’s versatility. Having said that, I can only buy gluten free pasta these days and being nightshade intolerant, I’m limited to tomato free sauces. Then for a change the other day, I bought some gnocchi for my daughters and served it up with a cheese sauce. I was so envious. Those little potato dumplings, so simple and yet so satisfying, are beyond my reach now.

That doesn’t mean to say that I can’t become inventive and make my own though does it? Avoiding potatoes isn’t a big deal when you can use sweet potatoes instead, I thought. Not related in the slightest, means that sweet potatoes are a perfect substitution for ordinary white potatoes for anyone following a nightshade free diet.

So, I had the idea of trying out sweet potato in a gnocchi recipe and then I wondered what to use as a replacement for the flour in order to make it gluten free too. I don’t use rice flour and I thought that buckwheat and chickpea flour might be too strong in flavour and would clash with the sweetness of the potato. Then I stumbled across chestnut flour. Having never used it before I was intrigued and the idea of chestnut and sweet potato together seemed like a good combination to me, so off I went.

Sweet potato and chestnut gnocchi - A Free From Life

I wasn’t wrong on the flavour choices. These little dumplings, together with homemade pesto, made a truly scrumptious dinner that satisfied my craving for gnocchi. They were so simple to make and are a great alternative to pasta too.

Sweet potato and chestnut gnocchi - A Free From Life

 

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Sweet potato and chestnut gnocchi - A Free From Life
Sweet Potato and Chestnut Gnocchi
Print Recipe
A sweet and nutty combination to give little gnocchi dumplings that are bursting with flavour
Servings Prep Time
2 30
Cook Time
5
Servings Prep Time
2 30
Cook Time
5
Sweet potato and chestnut gnocchi - A Free From Life
Sweet Potato and Chestnut Gnocchi
Print Recipe
A sweet and nutty combination to give little gnocchi dumplings that are bursting with flavour
Servings Prep Time
2 30
Cook Time
5
Servings Prep Time
2 30
Cook Time
5
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Add a good pinch of salt to the mashed sweet potato
  2. Beat the eggs, then add to the mash, followed by the flour
  3. Mix to form a smooth dough
  4. Cover a surface with the flour
  5. Take half of the dough and roll into a sausage shape, about 2 cm in diameter. Then cut into 2 cm pieces and set to one side
  6. Repeat with the other half
  7. Add to a pan of boiling salted water and cook for around 5 minutes, or until the gnocchi floats to the top
  8. Remove from the pan and serve with a sauce of your choice
Recipe Notes

I served this gnocchi with homemade pesto, along with some mozzarella pearls (for my non-dairy free girls). Grate over some dairy free or lactose free cheese (if you can tolerate this).

Homemade pesto - A Free From Life

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Savoury Dishes

Sausage and Roasted Veg Hash – Nightshade Free

Nightshade free roasted veg - A Free From Life

Who said roasted veg without nightshades was boring? Oh, well that might have been me actually. Roasted veg was always a favourite of mine – Mediterranean style, with peppers, courgettes, aubergines and tomatoes. But take away the peppers, aubergines and tomatoes and you’re not left with much. Gone are those lovely colours and flavours too.

That’s not a problem though. The flavours might be different, but it’s possible to create something equally as beautifully coloured and visually appealing without using those vegetables. The combination has only the limits of the veg you like and dislike and also what works and doesn’t work when roasted in the oven. This is what I came up with:

Nightshade free roasted veg - A Free From Life

Ingredients
1 small-medium cauliflower, cut in to florets
1 butternut squash – half of a larger, or all of a medium-sized one, peeled and cubed
1 large or two medium courgettes, cubed (larger than the butternut as they cook quicker)
Packet of chestnut mushrooms, halved
2 red onions, quartered
2 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 dessert spoon of coconut oil
2-3 sprigs of fresh rosemary
1 tsp dried thyme
Sea salt
Two medium beetroots quartered (fresh or cooked)
3 large handfuls of kale
Packet of gluten free sausages (minimum 8)

Instructions
Set the oven to 160/gas 3 and melt the coconut oil in a large roasting tin

– Add the cauliflower, butternut, courgettes, mushrooms, onions and garlic and mix to coat in the oil
– Sprinkle with sea salt and tuck in the sprigs of rosemary
– Return to the oven

– Add the sausages to a separate roasting dish and put these in the oven too

– Meanwhile steam the kale and the beetroot (if using fresh)

– Take the veg out of the oven every ten minutes or so and stir to make sure that they don’t burn

– Halfway through cooking (around 15 minutes), add the thyme

– The veg and the sausages should both be cooked after around 30 minutes

– Once cooked, cut the sausages in to bite sized pieces and add to a large frying pan with some of the cooking juices

– Add the kale and beetroot and cook until the sausage pieces are browned

– Return the sausages to the pan of veg, along with the kale and beetroot and mix thoroughly

Serve in to large bowls and enjoy.

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Savoury Dishes

A Gluten and Dairy Free Picnic

Gluten and dairy free picnic and packed lunch ideas - A Free From Life

I wanted to share with you some ideas I had for picnic and packed lunch snacks. They are all gluten and dairy free and make an interesting change from sandwiches.

Making a batch of each of these will last a few days, or even better, freeze them in handy portion sizes. Team with salad and a dip such as houmous for a complete meal on the go.

Tuna patties

Tuna and thyme patties - A Free From Life

Ingredients

  • 2 tins of tuna
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 slice of gluten free bread
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Beat the eggs in a bowl and mix in the tuna
  • Add the thyme, salt and pepper
  • Whizz the bread to make crumbs and add to the tuna mix
  • Stir well to incorporate and then chill in the fridge for half an hour
  • Once chilled form into patties the size of mini burgers
  • Fry in olive oil or coconut oil until brown on both sides and cooked through

Crusted chicken

Sunflower, pumpkin and almond crusted chicken pieces - A Free From Life

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp pumpkin seeds
  • 2 tbsp sunflower seeds
  • 2 tbsp flaked almonds
  • 1 egg
  • 4 chicken breasts, cut in to goujon-style strips

You will also need:

  • Cornmeal
  • Salt and pepper

Instructions

  • Whizz the seeds and the almonds together to form a mixed crumb
  • Spread half of this mix on to a wide plate
  • Sprinkle another plate with the cornmeal and season
  • Whisk the egg, along with 1 tbsp water in a large shallow dish
  • Coat the chicken pieces in the seasoned cornmeal, then add them to the beaten egg. Transfer from here to the plate with the crumbs. Cover with the remaining half of the crumb mix and coat completely
  • Fry the chicken pieces in olive oil or coconut oil until browned on both sides and cooked through

Courgette and Chive Tartlets

Courgette tartlets - A Free From Life

Ingredients

For the pastry:

  • 75g sorghum flour
  • 25g tapioca starch
  • 100g gram flour
  • 100g butter
  • 4 tbsp water

For the filling:

  • 6 eggs
  • 1 tsp dried chives
  • Salt and pepper
  • Cheese or alternative dairy free variety

Instructions

Pre heat the oven to 180/gas 4

  • Measure the flours and starch and mix well
  • Add the butter in cubes and rub in until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs
  • Add the water and mix until it forms a smooth dough
  • Wrap in cling film and transfer to the fridge to cool
  • Beat the eggs together in a large bowl
  • Add the grated courgette, dried chives and salt and pepper
  • Set to one side
  • Grease four mini tart baking cases
  • Divide the pastry dough in to four pieces and roll each piece between the cling film until you have a round that is just wider than the tart cases
  • Line each tart case with pastry, trimming the edges
  • Put the four tart cases on a baking tray and divide the egg mixture evenly between each one
  • Grate some cheese on the top, if using, then transfer to the oven
  • Cook for about 30 minutes or until golden brown and set on the surface

Gluten and dairy free picnic and packed lunch ideas - A Free From Life

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Savoury Dishes

Slow Cooker Ribs with Gluten Free Glaze

Slow Cooker Ribs with Gluten free Glaze - afreefromlife.com

 

Yes I know we want to put the slow cooker away now that the warmer weather is here, but don’t be too hasty. I have a recipe for you that uses the slow cooker to make a perfect, light summery meal. For all you puritans out there who think that the only and best way to cook ribs is on the barbeque, think again. Cooking them in the slow cooker first ensures that you have the juiciest, mouth watering ribs with meat that literally falls off the bone and melts in your mouth.

If you’re one of those people who likes to chew away at the bones for hours on end, then perhaps this isn’t the recipe for you. But for the rest, these ribs are sure to go down a treat. Finish them on the barbecue or grill, it’s your choice.

Ingredients:

1 large pack of ribs (you can use as many as you can fit in your slow cooker)

1 large carrot, roughly chopped

2 cloves of garlic, peeled and halved

2 bay leaves

1 litre boiling water

For the glaze:

2 tbsp. Tamari

2tbsp honey

1 tsp mixed spice

Instructions:

  • Put the vegetables in the slow cooker and arrange the ribs on top
  • Add the boiling water, cover and cook on low for 7 hours, or on high for 5 hours
  • Once cooked, take the ribs carefully out of the cooking stock and transfer to a barbecue or grill
  • Brush with the glaze and grill both sides (adding more glaze once turned). This amount of glaze was enough for around 12 short ribs. For larger quantities, simply double the proportions

Serve with rice and salad (optional suggestion).

 

 

Savoury Dishes

Seasonal Cooking – Asparagus Quiche (Gluten & Dairy Free)

Asparagus Quiche - a Free-From Life

 

I love asparagus, especially when it’s in season and right now you can find British grown asparagus everywhere you turn (yes, even by the side of the road if you happen to live in Kent).

The British asparagus growing season is relatively short, running from the 24th April to the 21st June, according to the British Asparagus website. Of course, as with anything in season, you don’t need to do much to it other than lightly steam or griddle. Having said that, with the arrival of the warmer weather, what better way to eat this lovely vegetable than to combine it with a lighter meal by adding it to a quiche?

Quiche is one of my favourite summer dishes, but when you have a dairy and wheat intolerant person in your family, it’s not exactly conducive to  their diet. What can you do other than make it yourself? Homemade quiche is much nicer anyway. I love the sweet and savoury combination that the sorghum and gram flour mix brings to this pastry. It’s light and short, but without being too crumbly that you can’t handle it. The gram flour also adds a lovely golden colour to the pastry when it’s cooked.

Ingredients (suitable to fill a 10 inch pie plate or quiche dish)

Pastry:

75g sorghum flour

25g tapioca starch

100g gram flour

100g dairy free butter alternative

4 tbsp. water

Filling:

4 eggs

1 carton cream (dairy substitute such as soya cream or oat cream)

Optional – 40g grated cheese or cheese alternative

1 tin of tuna

1 bunch of asparagus (trimmed)

Set the oven at 180/gas 4

 

Instructions for the pastry base:

  • Combine the flours and starch and mix well
  • Add the butter in cubes and rub into the flour to form a crumb-like texture
  • Add the water and stir to combine into a dough
  • Wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for minimum of 20 minutes
  • Once chilled, roll between two pieces of cling film to form a round (check against your pie dish to make sure it’s slightly wider than the base with enough to come up the sides
  • Grease or oil the pie dish
  • Carefully arrange the rolled out dough in to the dish, trimming the edges and use a fork to prick all over the base

I always partially cook the pastry when I make a quiche so as to avoid getting a soggy bottom! Just 10 minutes in the pre-heated oven is enough. You don’t really need to use any pie weights or dried beans, as is the case with wheat pastry either. We’re don’t need to worry about the pastry shrinking, because it doesn’t have any gluten in it. There you go – gluten free 1: gluten 0.

Instructions for the filling:

  • Beat the eggs in a large bowl and stir in the cream. If you want to add cheese, or any dairy free alternative, now is the time to do it
  • Spread the tuna over the base of the pastry and arrange the asparagus on top
  • Pour the egg mixture over the tuna and asparagus and ensure it’s completely covered
  • Return the quiche to the oven and cook for 30 minutes or until browned

This is a large quiche to be enjoyed by all the family. The gluten and dairy eaters amongst you will not know any different, I promise you!