The Gluten-Free Italian Vegetarian Kitchen: More Than 225 Meat-Free, Wheat-Free, and Gluten-Free Recipes for Delicious and Nutricious Italian Dishes

Overview

From tantalizing appetizers to delicious desserts, The Gluten-Free Italian Vegetarian Kitchen is a collection of authentic Italian dishes with a vegetarian and gluten-free twist. More than 225 recipes for appetizers, soups, salads, breads, pizzas, panini, gnocchi, risotto, polenta, and other main dishes, brunch, and dessert. Dishes are specified as dairy-free, egg-free, lacto-ovo, dairy-and-egg-free, vegan, and/or low-carb and the book gives tips and information on eating gluten-free, as well as a nutritional ...

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The Gluten-Free Italian Vegetarian Kitchen: More Than 225 Meat-Free, Wheat-Free, and Gluten-Free Recipes for Delicious and N utricious Italian Dishes

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Overview

From tantalizing appetizers to delicious desserts, The Gluten-Free Italian Vegetarian Kitchen is a collection of authentic Italian dishes with a vegetarian and gluten-free twist. More than 225 recipes for appetizers, soups, salads, breads, pizzas, panini, gnocchi, risotto, polenta, and other main dishes, brunch, and dessert. Dishes are specified as dairy-free, egg-free, lacto-ovo, dairy-and-egg-free, vegan, and/or low-carb and the book gives tips and information on eating gluten-free, as well as a nutritional analysis of calories, protein, total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, carbohydrates, and dietary fibre for every recipe. Also includes a glossary of gluten-free specialty ingredients

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This collection of authentic Italian dishes features recipes for healthy meals that fit any occasion and any time of day and made with ingredients found at most local supermarkets. Dishes are specified as dairy-free, egg-free, lacto-ovo, dairy-and-egg-free, vegan or low-carb, and include nutritional analyses and information and tips on eating gluten-free."
Food & Nutrition

"I recommend The Gluten-Free Vegetarian Kitchen, by Donna Klein."
— Wheat-Free & Meat-Free

Reviews for Donna Klein’s The Gluten Free Vegetarian Kitchen.

“Donna Klein is a well-known cookbook author but what did she know about being gluten-free? Well, I must say I am truly impressed. The book does a good job of outlining the “Celiac Diet” and places where the perfidious gluten can hide. Ms. Klein makes great use of the alternative flours and gluten free ingredients, highlighting the natural flavors of gluten free food. For a meat-eater like me, it was useful to have all of the recipes categorized by Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Vegan etc. As a diabetic, it was great to see which recipes were labeled as “low-carb” AND have the nutrition facts for each recipe. I had a great time pouring through the cookbook selecting which ones to make first. I decided to have a dinner party with a few friends (Celiac and not) to give the recipes a test run. Everyone loved the food. Meat-eaters, gluten-eaters and the vegetarian-Celiac all gave the recipes rave reviews.”
A Gluten-Free Guide

"A wonderful vegetarian resource."
—Publishers Weekly
 

Library Journal
11/01/2014
While there are vegetarian/vegan and gluten-fee Italian cookbooks, Klein, building on a number of her previous titles (Vegan Italiano; The Gluten-Free Vegetarian Kitchen), may be the first to have merged the two. The author's easygoing approach to cooking combines fresh ingredients, supermarket conveniences (such as jarred roasted peppers), and simple preparations. For the more ambitious cook, there are recipes for from-scratch pizza crust, breads, and fresh pasta. While these gluten-free adaptations are covered, careful consideration is given to naturally gluten-free dishes like soups, salads, risotto, polenta, and stuffed vegetables. Appetizers, sides, brunch fare, and desserts are also covered. Without photos to draw readers in, recipe names are temptingly descriptive: roasted butternut soup with garlic and sage; porcini mushroom and tomato ragu with white bean polenta; and Italian lemon pudding cake with raspberries. Nutritional information, a brief guide to gluten-free ingredients, and recipe variations are included, and many dishes are dairy free, egg free, or vegan. VERDICT With eight cookbooks under her belt, Klein must be doing something right! Her latest will make gluten-free vegetarians feel like they don't have food limitations at all.—Jude Baldwin, Coll. of the Siskiyous, Weed, CA
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780399166167
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 9/2/2014
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 478,147
  • Product dimensions: 7.30 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Donna Klein is the author of Supermarket Vegan, The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen, The PDQ Vegetarian Cookbook, Vegan Italiano, The Gluten-Free Vegetarian Kitchen, The Tropical Vegan Kitchen, and The Chinese Vegan Kitchen. She is a food writer who has contributed to the Washington Post, Vegetarian Gourmet, Veggie Life, the Herb Companion, and Yoga Journal.

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Read an Excerpt

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

PROVIDENCE IS PROLOGUE

When I put my seventh book to bed, I presumed it would be my last. After all, there are seven days in the week, the seventh being the day of rest; seven deadly sins, the seventh sometimes listed as the sin of gluttony (These are all cookbooks, mind you, with a combined total of more than 1,600 recipes!); and seven sacraments, the seventh known in my childhood as the Last Rites—all signs forecasting retirement at the very least. But before the ink on The Chinese Vegan Kitchen was barely dry, Providence began hinting “not so fast . . .” On the first Sunday of November 2012, I was received as a novice oblate of St. Anselm’s Abbey in Washington, DC. Before my blessing, I was handed a copy of The Rule of St. Benedict and noted with delight our shared publisher, Penguin. An individual familiar with the acknowledgment of St. Francis in one of my previous books, Vegan Italiano, blithely suggested that, for the sake of Benedictine balance, I write a new cookbook and dedicate it to my “other” favorite Italian saint. I replied that I had no chance—my publisher would never consider another Italian cookbook written by the same author, especially an author who is not even Italian. Besides, one was enough. Three days later, I opened an email from my publisher asking if I would be interested in writing an Italian cookbook for my gluten-free readers who were missing their pasta and pizza. On November 1, 2013, the Feast of All Saints, I submitted the manuscript for The Gluten-Free Italian Vegetarian Kitchen, dedicated to Sts. Benedict and Anselm and the Monastic Community of St. Anselm’s Abbey. With number eight—a numeral associated with resurrection and renewal—officially published, I am pleased to proclaim with a bow to Providence that number seven was, blessedly, not my last.

I would like to think that St. Benedict approves of this cookbook. Though not explicitly vegetarian, The Rule is intrinsically peaceful and forbids monks (other than the sick) to eat the meat of “four-footed animals” and, in some stricter traditions, fowl and fish. Though uniformity in diet is desirable, St. Benedict allows for individual weaknesses by providing his monks with two kinds of cooked food from which to choose, and adding a third dish of fruit and fresh vegetables when available. In further demonstration of The Rule’s flexibility, particularly where nourishment of the body is concerned, St. Benedict essentially gives the abbot the authority, when deemed necessary, to change the diet. Back in the day of St. Benedict, the menu was hardly gluten-free—far from it. According to The Rule, a generous pound of bread was assigned to each monk to accompany his meals throughout the day. Though celiac disease was first described in the second century, before St. Benedict’s time, it wasn’t until the late nineteenth century that dietary changes were used as a medical treatment. In any case, had St. Benedict been cognizant of the disease and its treatment, I can easily envision the saint rising before dawn to bake a gluten-free loaf in a designated gluten-free oven to provide an afflicted brother with his dose of daily bread.

The same loving-kindness St. Benedict displays toward his fellow monks is extended to those outside the monastery in the form of hospitality, a pillar of The Rule. In chapter 53, St. Benedict stipulates that all guests “should be received as if they were Christ” and directs his monks to set aside a separate kitchen for the abbot and his guests. Moreover, he assigns two monks each year who are competent cooks to oversee the kitchen to ensure that guests are well served. This Benedictine open-door policy is actually a direct act of obedience to the command from Scripture, which exhorts us to practice hospitality, as there are some who have “entertained angels unawares” (Hebrews 13:2). Indeed, in Genesis, chapter 18, Abraham and Sarah share their finest food and drink with three supernatural beings in the guise of men—but not before Abraham has duly provided water for washing their feet. Ultimately, the visitors not only confirm that Sarah (at age eighty-nine!) would soon become the mother of Isaac and that Abraham (at age ninety-nine!) would soon become the father of Israel, but affirm that, in the fullness of time, Abraham would become no less than the father in faith of the whole world. Clearly, a good host is blessed by the guests.

As my guest throughout this cookbook, may you be blessed with good gluten-free recipes. May we each be blessed moment to moment with food ever new from the Host of the eternal banquet.

Pax,
DONNA MARIE MICHAELA KLEIN, oblate OSB

INTRODUCTION

The Benefits of a Gluten-Free Diet

Gluten-free diets are continuing to make headlines these days. Approximately one in 130 Americans have celiac disease, an autoimmune disease that causes gluten intake to damage the small intestine and interfere with the absorption of vital nutrients—completely eliminating gluten from their diet will heal existing intestinal damage, restore nutrient absorption, and prevent further damage. An additional 6 percent (about 18 million people) are classified with gluten-intolerance, experiencing symptoms such as bloated stomachs, intestinal problems, and headaches when eating gluten-containing foods, while not displaying damage to their small intestines—going gluten-free will eliminate these unpleasant effects almost immediately. It’s been estimated that up to one-third of the population has milder forms of gluten-intolerance, while many people who can physically tolerate gluten report increased energy after a meal when the gluten has been cut out or reduced—they often report decreased waistlines to boot. Not surprisingly, according to marketing statistics, about 25 percent of the U.S. population at any given time are either trying to limit or completely omit gluten from their diets.

Gluten-Free Vegetarian Eating, Italian Style

For lovers of Italian cuisine—and who doesn’t love pizza or pasta?—the good news is that saying good-bye to gluten doesn’t have to mean saying good-bye to your favorite Italian foods. While you will have to give up traditionally prepared wheat-based breads and pastas, thanks to the burgeoning gluten-free market, there is a treasure trove of delicious gluten-free flour substitutes available for making outstanding homemade breads, pizzas, and focaccia. Happily, most major supermarkets now carry packaged gluten-free pastas—whole-grain brown rice fusilli and quinoa linguine, to name a few—that taste remarkably like the original. Moreover, wheat is not king throughout all of Italy; rather, in northern Italian kitchens, rice and corn reign supreme, triumphant in an impressive array of creamy risotto and hearty polenta dishes, which are naturally gluten-free. For vegetarians on a gluten-free diet, eggs, cheeses, and other dairy products can be an excellent means of adding extra protein; these ingredients find their way into frittatas, stratas, tortas, casseroles, breads, cakes, and other culinary delights. Most promising of all, especially for those following a plant-based, or vegan, diet, is the wide variety of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, beans, and legumes that are incorporated into just about every Italian meal, from appetizers to desserts, each offering testimony to the intrinsic healthfulness of the world-acclaimed Mediterranean diet and gluten-free eating.

The Lowdown on Gluten

Gluten is a protein composite of gliadin and glutenin that is commonly found in many grass-related grains—namely, wheat, barley, rye, and spelt. By several accounts, Buddhist vegetarian monks discovered gluten in seventh-century China. While kneading wheat flour with water to make a dough, they noticed that the starch washed off and all that remained was an elastic, rubbery mass—gluten. Indeed, it is gluten that gives elasticity to breads and bounce to cakes—without it, baked products often lose their chewy texture as well. Fortunately, while there are glutens in rice, corn, and other grains, they lack the lethal combo of gliadin and glutenin and are blessedly benign. Oats, unfortunately, are typically treated as an exception—though technically gluten-free, due to their high risk of cross-contamination with grains containing harmful glutens, they are generally not recommended for those with celiac disease.

Cereals and Grains That Contain Gluten

Barley

Oats* (due to cross-contamination)

Rye

Spelt

Wheat

Gluten-Free “Safe” Grains, Flours, Starches, and Related Foods

Almond flour/meal (and all nut flours/meals)

Amaranth flour

Arrowroot powder

Buckwheat flour and buckwheat groats/kasha

Carob flour

Cassava flour and starch (see tapioca and yucca flour)

Chestnut flour (and all nut flours)

Chickpea flour/garbanzo bean flour/besan flour/gram flour (and all bean flours and starches)

Cornmeal, corn flour, corn grits, polenta, masa, and cornstarch

Finger millet (Ragi)

Flaxseed and flaxseed flour/meal (see linseed)

Job’s tears/Chinese pearl barley and flour

Linseed and linseed flour/meal

Millet and millet flour

Montina (Indian rice grass)

Potato flour and starch

Quinoa and quinoa flour

Rice flour

Sago flour and starch

Sorghum flour

Soy flour (and all bean flours and starches)

Tapioca flour and starch (see cassava and yucca flour)

Taro flour and powder

Teff and Teff flour

Wild rice

Yucca flour and starch (see cassava and tapioca flour)

Xanthan gum

Yeast (fresh and dried)

“Unsafe” Grains, Starches, and Related Products

All of the foods and food labeling terms below refer to wheat, barley, malt, rye, spelt, oats (due to cross-contamination), and related products that indicate or strongly suggest the presence of gluten and must be avoided by those on a gluten-free diet.

Barley starch

Binder

Bran

Bromated flour

Bulgur (cracked wheat)

Cereal protein

Couscous

Dextrin (unless derived from corn, potato, arrowroot, rice, or tapioca)

Durum wheat/durum wheat flour

Einkorn

Emmer

Emulsifier

Enriched flour

Farina

Flour (unless made with pure rice flour, corn flour, potato flour, or soy flour)

Gluten flour

Graham flour (not to be confused with gram flour, made from gluten-free chickpeas)

Hydrolyzed plant protein (HPP) (unless derived from soy or corn)

Hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP) (unless derived from soy or corn)

Kamut

Malt or malt flavoring (unless derived from corn)

Malted barley

Maltose

Matzoh/matzo

Modified food starch (unless arrowroot, corn, potato, or tapioca)

Natural flavoring

Oat bran

Oat germ

Oatmeal (rolled oats)

Pearl barley (not to be confused with Chinese pearl barley, a term for gluten-free Job’s tears)

Phosphated flour

Plain flour

Rusk

Rye starch

Self-rising flour

Semolina

Stabilizer

Starch (unless arrowroot, corn, potato, or tapioca)

Thickener

Triticale (a grain crossbred from wheat and rye)

Vegetable gum (except carob bean gum, locust bean gum, cellulose gum, guar gum, gum arabic, gum aracia, gum tragacanth, or xanthan gum)

Vegetable starch

Wheat bran

Wheat germ

Wheat meal

Wheat rusk

Wheat starch

White flour

“Sneaky” Sources of Gluten

Baking powder (may contain wheat starch as a moisture-absorption agent)

Beer, lager, stout, and ale (all made from grains; some gluten-free beers, made using sorghum, are available)

Bouillon cubes and powder, canned broths and soups (especially creamed varieties)

Breakfast beverages (such as Ovaltine)

Cereals (including cornflakes)

Cheese: cream, cottage, and ricotta cheeses (especially reduced-fat varieties); shredded and crumbled (may contain flour to prevent clumping); veined cheese such as Gorgonzola, Roquefort, and blue cheese

Cheese spreads and processed cheese foods

Chili powder (may contain flour to prevent clumping)

Coffees, flavored

Communion wafers

Corn tortillas (may also contain wheat flour)

Curry powder (may contain flour to prevent clumping)

Dried fruits (may be dusted with flour to prevent sticking)

French fries, frozen (flour may be present to keep them white)

Hard candy

Ice cream and frozen yogurt (especially reduced-fat varieties)

Jelly beans

Licorice

Margarine and butter spreads

Mustard powder

Mustard, prepared, and ketchup

Nondairy creamers

Nuts, dry-roasted

Potato and tortilla chips, flavored

Salad dressings and mayonnaise (especially reduced-fat or light varieties)

Seasoning mixes

Sour cream (especially reduced-fat or light varieties)

Soy sauce

Tamari sauce (while many brands are gluten-free, some may contain small amounts of wheat)

Teriyaki sauce

Vanilla extract and other flavorings

White pepper (may be bulked with flour)

Yogurt (especially reduced-fat or flavored varieties)

Note: The labels on all processed and canned foods should be checked carefully before each use. What might be safe one time might not be the next, as manufacturers tend to change their products periodically. When in doubt, contact the manufacturer directly.

Glossary of Gluten-Free Specialty Ingredients

While most of the ingredients called for in this book’s recipes are readily found in traditional supermarkets, cooking (baking, in particular) without wheat requires alternative grains, flours, starches, and related products, several of which are available primarily in health food and specialty stores. For the recipes in this book, you will need the following gluten-free specialty ingredients, some of which are also available in well-stocked supermarkets.

ALMOND FLOUR (ALMOND MEAL): Ground from sweet almonds, almond flour is generally made with blanched almonds (no skin) and has a finer consistency than almond meal, which is often made with unblanched almonds; interchangeable in most recipes.

AMARANTH FLOUR: Ground from the seed of the ancient amaranth plant, with a high moisture content and slightly sweet, nut-like flavor.

BROWN ARBORIO RICE: Short-grain rice used for risotto from which only the hull has been removed; has a creamy, slightly chewy, nut-like flavor.

BROWN RICE FLOUR: Ground form of long-grain brown rice, with a slightly nut-like flavor.

BUCKWHEAT GROATS (KASHA): The triangular seeds of a flowering plant related to rhubarb; in roasted or toasted form, the groats are typically known as kasha.

CHESTNUT FLOUR: A sweet, mellow flour ground from chestnuts, with a comparatively low fat content and light texture as a nut flour; expensive.

CHICKPEA FLOUR (GARBANZO BEAN, BESAN, OR GRAM FLOUR): Ground from dried chickpeas, with an earthy, bean-like flavor; very nutritious and high in protein. Flour ground from roasted dried chickpeas known as besan or gram flour in Asian markets.

JOB’S TEARS (COIXSEED, JOBI, YI YI REN, CHINESE PEARL BARLEY): Seed of ancient annual grass native to southeast Asia, with a taste and texture similar to barley, but unrelated; unhulled wild seeds used as beads for making rosaries and jewelry; available in Asian markets.

MILLET: One of the earliest cultivated grains, originating in China nearly 5,000 years ago, the tiny raw seeds are well known as birdseed; cooked food-grade millet has a distinctive, sweet flavor, similar to bulgur wheat or couscous, but is unrelated; good source of protein, fiber, and essential amino acids.

POTATO STARCH (POTATO STARCH FLOUR): A light, neutral-tasting starch commercially prepared from cooked potatoes that are washed of all fibers until only the starch remains; not to be confused with potato flour, which has a much heavier texture and distinctive potato flavor.

QUINOA: Seed of an ancient pseudocereal (rather than true cereal, or grain) native to South America, with a mild, nut-like flavor and chewy texture; a complete protein source containing all nine essential amino acids; high in fiber, iron, and calcium.

SORGHUM FLOUR: Ground from sorghum grain, a drought-tolerant cereal grain similar to millet, and the third most prevalent food crop worldwide; the sweet white variety of flour, with its light color and mild taste, is preferred in baking.

SOY FLOUR: Ground from raw soybeans, with a mild, nut-like flavor; a complete protein source containing all nine essential amino acids; a good source of fiber, iron, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus.

SWEET RICE FLOUR: Ground from glutinous, or sticky, rice, with more starch than the regular brown and white rice flours; excellent thickener and binder; imparts a lighter, less grainy texture to baked goods when used in combination with regular rice flours; cannot be substituted for regular rice flours.

TAPIOCA FLOUR (TAPIOCA STARCH): A powdery substance ground from the root of the cassava plant, with a light texture and slightly sweet flavor; adds lightness and spring to gluten-free breads.

XANTHAN GUM: A corn-based, fermented natural gum used in foods as a binder, thickener, gelling agent, and stabilizer; essential in many gluten-free baking recipes.

About the Nutritional Numbers

All of the nutritional analyses in this book were compiled using MasterCook Deluxe 4.06 software from SierraHome. As certain ingredients (sorghum flour, Job’s tears) were unknown to the software at the time of compilation, substitutes of equivalent caloric and nutritional value were used in their place. All of the recipes using broth have been analyzed using low-sodium canned vegetable broth. All of the recipes using rinsed and drained canned beans have been analyzed using freshly cooked dried beans. Unless salt is listed as a measured ingredient (versus to taste, with no preceding suggested measurement) in the recipe, or unless otherwise indicated, no salt has been included in the analysis; this applies to other seasonings (black pepper, cayenne, etc.) as well. None of the recipes’ optional ingredients, unless otherwise indicated, has been included in the nutritional analyses. If there is a choice of two or more ingredients in a recipe (for example, skim milk or rice milk), the first ingredient has been used in the analysis. Likewise, if there is a choice in the amounts of a particular ingredient in a recipe (for example, 2 to 3 tablespoons gluten-free freshly shredded Parmesan cheese, plus additional, to serve), the first amount has been used in the analysis. If there is a range in the number of servings a recipe yields (for example, 4 to 6 servings), the analysis has been based on the first amount.

What Do the Terms Mean?

Dairy-free: Contains eggs, but no dairy products.

Egg-free: Contains dairy products, but no eggs.

Lacto-ovo: Contains dairy products and eggs.

Dairy-free, Egg-free: Contains honey, but no dairy products or eggs.

Vegan: No animal products, including honey, are used in the recipe, although optional ingredients may contain dairy products or eggs.

Low-carb: Contains 20 grams or less of carbohydrates per serving.

ONE

Appetizers

Appetizers are a must-have at any Italian get-together. Antipasti, which literally means “before the meal,” are meant to stimulate the appetite and prep the stomach for the feast to come—indeed, no serious Italian cook would even think of serving a simple supper without one or two offerings of these delectable little dishes. Fortunately, for those with celiac disease, gluten intolerance, and wheat allergies, many authentic antipasti are already gluten-free—for notable exceptions such as bruschetta, the wide availability of gluten-free breads and flours makes healthy adaptation a breeze. From hot Artichoke Bottoms with Creamy Spinach Florentine to cold skinny roll-ups of marinated Zucchini Carpaccio, whether you’re hosting a formal cocktail hour, casual Super Bowl party, or something in between, the following gluten-free appetizers will strike a warm and welcoming note of hospitality.

Cannellini Bean Dip with Basil (vegan/low-carb)

Bruschetta with Caponata (vegan/low-carb)

Artichoke Bottoms with Creamy Spinach Florentine (egg-free/low-carb)

Butternut Squash, Spinach, and Gorgonzola Polenta Canapés (egg-free/low-carb)

Artichoke, Grape Tomato, and Basil Spears (vegan/low-carb)

Tomato-Olive Bruschetta (vegan/low-carb)

Classic Bruschetta with Tomatoes and Basil (dairy-free/low-carb)

Celery Stuffed with Herbed Goat Cheese (egg-free/low-carb)

Italian Chickpea Flour Pancake (vegan/low-carb)

Italian Egg Salad in Lettuce Cups (dairy-free/low-carb)

Polenta Crostini with Sun-Dried Tomato-Basil Pesto (vegan/low-carb)

Herbed Parmesan Crackers (lacto-ovo/low-carb)

Italian-Style Lima Bean Dip (vegan/low-carb)

Roasted Chickpeas with Rosemary (vegan/low-carb)

Grilled White Eggplant in Balsamic Vinaigrette (vegan/low-carb)

Sweet and Sour Eggplant (vegan/low-carb)

Portobello Mushrooms Stuffed with Artichokes and Roasted Red Peppers (vegan/low-carb)

Beefsteak Tomato Caprese Canapés (egg-free/low-carb)

Potato Skins with Mozzarella Cheese and Pizza Sauce (egg-free/low-carb)

Endive Leaves Stuffed with Gorgonzola, Cranberries, and Pecans (lacto-ovo/low-carb)

Crispy Kale Chips (vegan/low-carb)

Stuffed Mushrooms with Asiago Cheese and Basil (lacto-ovo/low-carb)

Spiced Toasted Pistachios (vegan/low-carb)

Baked Risotto Balls (vegan/low-carb)

Slow-Roasted Herbed Tomatoes (vegan/low-carb)

Sun-Dried Tomato and Green Onion Dip (lacto-ovo/low-carb)

Lemon-Pesto Dip with Raw Vegetables (lacto-ovo/low-carb)

Zucchini Carpaccio (vegan/low-carb)

Cannellini Bean Dip with Basil

(VEGAN/LOW-CARB)

Serve this creamy dip with crunchy fresh vegetables, or spread over gluten-free flatbreads or crackers, namely Herbed Parmesan Crackers. It’s also a fine topping for baked potatoes.

MAKES ABOUT 11/4 CUPS, TO SERVE 5 TO 6

1 (15-ounce) can cannellini or other white beans, rinsed and drained

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, or more, to taste

2 to 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1/4 teaspoon coarse salt, or to taste

1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil

Paprika (optional)

In a food processor fitted with the knife blade, process the beans, oil, lemon juice, garlic, and salt until smooth and pureed. Transfer to a small bowl and add the basil, stirring well to combine. Sprinkle with the paprika, if using, and serve at room temperature. Dip can be stored in the refrigerator, covered, up to 3 days before returning to room temperature and serving.

PER SERVING (per 1/4 cup, or 1/5 of recipe): Calories 126; Protein 5g; Total Fat 6g; Sat Fat 1g; Cholesterol 0mg; Carbohydrate 14g; Dietary Fiber 3g; Sodium 98mg

Variation

For Cannellini Bean Dip with Parsley and Red Onion, replace the basil with finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley and garnish with 1 to 2 tablespoons chopped red onion in lieu of the optional paprika.

Bruschetta with Caponata

(VEGAN/LOW-CARB)

Caponata, a sweet and sour eggplant appetizer, can be found in most supermarkets next to the olives. Though optional, a garnish of fragrant toasted pine nuts and fresh basil will prevent even your most discerning guests from guessing that the caponata came out of a jar. The recommended Gluten-Free Brown Ciabatta Bread is vegan; though equally delicious on Gluten-Free Italian Bread, note that the latter contains egg whites.

MAKES 10 APPETIZERS

1 (7.5-ounce) jar gluten-free caponata (about 1 cup)

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil

1/2 loaf Gluten-Free Brown Ciabatta Bread, cut into about 10 (3/8-inch thick) slices, toasted until nicely browned, or about 4 ounces of other gluten-free Italian-style bread

1 garlic clove, halved

Toasted pine nuts, for garnish (optional)

Shredded fresh basil, for garnish (optional)

In a small bowl, mix the caponata and chopped basil until thoroughly combined. Rub the toasted bread slices on one side with the flat sides of the garlic halves. Top the garlic-rubbed side of each slice with about 11/2 tablespoons of the caponata. Garnish with the pine nuts and shredded basil, if using, and serve at room temperature.

PER SERVING (per appetizer): Calories 54; Protein 2g; Total Fat 2g; Sat Fat 0g; Cholesterol 0mg; Carbohydrate 7g; Dietary Fiber 1g; Sodium 112mg

Artichoke Bottoms with Creamy Spinach Florentine

(EGG-FREE/LOW-CARB)

The luscious creamed spinach filling can be made a day ahead before assembling and baking these elegant dinner party appetizers. For a vegan option, use soy creamer in lieu of the half-and-half.

MAKES 15 TO 18 APPETIZERS

1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon water, divided

1/2 tablespoon cornstarch

1 (10-ounce) bag ready-washed spinach

1/3 cup half-and-half or soy creamer

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Pinch ground nutmeg, or more to taste

3 (14-ounce) cans artichoke bottoms (about 15 to 18 pieces), rinsed, drained, and patted dry with paper towels

Preheat the oven to 350F (175C). In a small container, stir together 1 tablespoon water and the cornstarch until smooth; set aside.

In a medium deep-sided nonstick skillet with a lid, bring half the spinach and the remaining 1/4 cup of water to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer until the spinach begins to wilt, stirring and tossing a few times, about 2 minutes. Add the remaining spinach, cover, and simmer until all the spinach is wilted, stirring and tossing a few times, 2 to 3 minutes. Uncover and increase the heat to medium-high; cook, stirring and breaking up the spinach with the edge of a spatula, until most of the liquid has evaporated and the spinach is greatly reduced in volume. Reduce the heat to medium and add the half-and-half, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and cornstarch mixture. Cook, stirring, until thickened and bubbly, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool a few minutes. (At this point, completely cooled creamed spinach can be covered and refrigerated up to 1 day before continuing with the recipe.)

Place the artichoke bottoms on an ungreased baking sheet and fill each with about 1 tablespoon of the creamed spinach. Bake 10 minutes (15 minutes, if creamed spinach has been refrigerated), or until heated through. Serve at once.

PER SERVING (per appetizer, or 1/15 of recipe): Calories 51; Protein 3g; Total Fat 1g; Sat Fat 1g; Cholesterol 3mg; Carbohydrate 7g; Dietary Fiber 4g; Sodium 528mg

Butternut Squash, Spinach, and Gorgonzola Polenta Canapés

(EGG-FREE/LOW-CARB)

These sophisticated appetizers also make a fine first course or side dish for 4 to 6, or dinner for 3. For easy entertaining, the canapés can be assembled 24 hours before baking.

MAKES 12 CANAPÉS

1 (18-ounce) tube cooked polenta, cut into 12 rounds, about 1/2-inch thick

11/2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons gluten-free crumbled Gorgonzola cheese, divided

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

10 ounces peeled and seeded butternut squash, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 11/2 cups)

1/4 small red onion (about 1 ounce), sliced into thin half-rounds

2 ounces fresh baby spinach (about 21/2 cups), coarsely chopped

6 grape tomatoes, halved

Preheat oven to broil; position oven rack 6 to 8 inches from heat source. Lightly oil a baking sheet and set aside.

Arrange the polenta slices in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet and brush the tops evenly with the 1 teaspoon of oil; set aside. In a large bowl, mash together the 1/4 cup cheese, lemon juice, salt, and pepper; set aside.

Broil the polenta until tops are beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Remove baking sheet from the oven and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350F (175C).

In a large bowl, toss the squash and onion with the remaining 11/2 tablespoons oil and salt and pepper to taste until thoroughly coated. Place in a single layer on an ungreased rimmed baking sheet. Roast until squash is tender and browned and onion is caramelized, about 35 to 40 minutes, stirring a few times. Remove baking sheet from oven and add the spinach, tossing with a spatula to wilt the spinach. Immediately transfer the hot squash mixture to the cheese mixture in the bowl; toss well to combine.

Top the polenta rounds with equal amounts of the squash-spinach-cheese mixture. Sprinkle evenly with remaining 2 tablespoons cheese (1/2 teaspoon per canapé). Garnish with a grape tomato half (at this point, completely cooled canapés can be stored, covered, in the refrigerator up to 24 hours before returning to room temperature and continuing with the recipe). Bake on the center oven rack until canapés are hot and cheese is melted, about 5 minutes (a few minutes longer if previously refrigerated). Serve at once.

PER SERVING (per appetizer): Calories 72; Protein 2g; Total Fat 3g; Sat Fat 1g; Cholesterol 3mg; Carbohydrate 9g; Dietary Fiber 1g; Sodium 64mg

Artichoke, Grape Tomato, and Basil Spears

(VEGAN/LOW-CARB)

This no-cook, virtually instant appetizer is always dependable and delicious.

MAKES 12 APPETIZERS

12 marinated artichoke heart quarters (from about a 6-ounce jar), drained

12 small fresh basil leaves or 6 medium to large fresh basil leaves, torn in half

12 small grape or cherry tomatoes

Salt, preferably the coarse variety, and freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup gluten-free reduced-fat balsamic vinaigrette

Alternate an artichoke quarter, basil leaf, and tomato on each of 12 wooden picks. Arrange in a single layer on a serving plate and season lightly with salt and pepper. Drizzle evenly with the vinaigrette, turning to thoroughly coat. Serve at room temperature.

PER SERVING (per appetizer): Calories 16; Protein 1g; Total Fat 1g; Sat Fat 1g; Cholesterol 0mg; Carbohydrate 3g; Dietary Fiber 1g; Sodium 54mg

Tomato-Olive Bruschetta

(VEGAN/LOW-CARB)

If you don’t have time to bake the Gluten-Free Brown Ciabatta Bread, any ready-made gluten-free ciabatta, Italian bread, or French bread can be used as a base for this tasty topping—just make sure it’s egg-free and dairy-free if your goal is to create vegan appetizers. While the Gluten-Free Italian Bread is an ideal foundation, it contains egg whites.

ABOUT 10 APPETIZERS

6 ounces plum tomatoes (about 2 medium), finely chopped

2 tablespoons finely chopped kalamata or other good-quality black olives

2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1 large clove garlic, finely chopped, plus 1 large clove garlic, halved

Salt, preferably the coarse variety, and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1/2 loaf Gluten-Free Brown Ciabatta Bread, cut into about 10 (3/8-inch thick) slices, toasted until nicely browned, or about 4 ounces of other gluten-free Italian-style bread

In a small bowl, combine the tomatoes, olives, parsley, oil, vinegar, chopped garlic, salt, and pepper; toss gently to combine. Set aside to let the flavors blend, about 10 minutes; toss again.

Rub the toasted ciabatta bread on one side with the flat sides of the halved garlic. Spoon about 11/2 tablespoons of the tomato mixture on the garlic-rubbed side of each slice. Serve at room temperature.

PER SERVING (per appetizer): Calories 65; Protein 1g; Total Fat 4g; Sat Fat 0g; Cholesterol 0mg; Carbohydrate 7g; Dietary Fiber 1g; Sodium 115mg

Classic Bruschetta with Tomatoes and Basil

(DAIRY-FREE/LOW-CARB)

No Italian cookbook would be complete without a recipe for this perennial favorite. For a vegan alternative, prepare with Gluten-Free Brown Ciabatta Bread.

MAKES 8 SERVINGS

2 medium vine-ripened tomatoes (12 ounces total), seeded and finely chopped

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

Salt, preferably the coarse variety, and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

8 (1/2-inch thick) pieces Gluten-Free Italian Bread (about 1/4 recipe, or 1/2 loaf), well toasted, or about 4 ounces other gluten-free Italian-style bread

1 large clove garlic, halved

In a medium bowl, toss the tomatoes, basil, oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper gently yet thoroughly to combine. Set aside about 10 minutes to allow the flavors to blend; toss gently again.

Rub one side of the toasted bread with the flat sides of the garlic halves. Top each garlic-rubbed side with about 11/2 tablespoons of the tomato mixture. Serve at room temperature.

PER SERVING (per appetizer): Calories 69; Protein 2g; Total Fat 3g; Sat Fat 1g; Cholesterol 0mg; Carbohydrate 9g; Dietary Fiber 1g; Sodium 91mg

Celery Stuffed with Herbed Goat Cheese

(EGG-FREE/LOW-CARB)

Tangy goat cheese and fragrant fresh herbs dress up celery stalks in fine style.

MAKES 8 SERVINGS

4 ounces creamy goat cheese

4 ounces gluten-free Neufchâtel cream cheese, cut into chunks, at room temperature

4 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, thyme, oregano, rosemary, and/or sage leaves

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 bunch celery, separated into stalks, washed, trimmed, strings removed, if desired, and patted dry with paper towels

In a medium bowl, mix together the goat cheese, cream cheese, herbs, salt, and pepper until thoroughly blended. Spread the mixture evenly into the celery stalks. Cut into bite-size pieces. Transfer to a platter, cover, and refrigerate for 1 hour, or overnight. Serve chilled.

PER SERVING (1/8 of recipe): Calories 102; Protein 6g; Total Fat 8g; Sat Fat 6g; Cholesterol 26mg; Carbohydrate 1g; Dietary Fiber 0g; Sodium 110mg

Italian Chickpea Flour Pancake

(VEGAN/LOW-CARB)

Farinata, a thin pancake made exclusively with chickpea flour, is the Ligurian counterpart to Nicoise socca. I like mine sprinkled with rosemary and coarse salt—feel free to substitute with your favorite toppings. For an interesting and tasty thin-crust pizza, see the variation, below.

MAKES 6 TO 8 SERVINGS

11/2 cups water

11/2 cups chickpea flour

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 tablespoon dried rosemary leaves (optional)

Coarse salt (optional)

In a medium bowl, whisk together the water and flour; cover and refrigerate 2 hours or overnight. Return to room temperature before proceeding.

Preheat oven to 475F (245C). Grease a standard-size baking sheet with 1 tablespoon oil.

Stir the garlic salt, pepper, and remaining 1 tablespoon of oil into the batter (batter should be pancake-like in consistency; if too thick, stir in a tablespoon or so of water). Pour the batter evenly onto the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle with the rosemary and coarse salt, if using. Bake 10 minutes, or until lightly browned and set. Cut into wedges and serve at once.

PER SERVING: Calories 122; Protein 4g; Total Fat 5g; Sat Fat 1g; Cholesterol 0mg; Carbohydrate 10g; Dietary Fiber 5g; Sodium 176mg

Variation

To make Chickpea Flour Pancake Cheese Pizza, omit the optional rosemary and coarse salt. Spread 1/2 to 3/4 cup gluten-free pizza sauce evenly over the cooked chickpea pancake; sprinkle evenly with 1 to 11/2 cups gluten-free shredded mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle lightly with dried oregano and additional garlic salt. Return to oven and bake an additional 3 to 5 minutes, or until cheese is melted. Cut into wedges and serve at once.

Italian Egg Salad in Lettuce Cups

(DAIRY-FREE/LOW-CARB)

Serve this creamy, mayonnaise-less egg salad in hollowed-out tomatoes or artichoke bottoms, as well, or spoon onto cucumber rounds or Herbed Parmesan Crackers. For a fabulous egg salad sandwich, spread between two pieces of Olive Bread with Rosemary.

MAKES 4 TO 6 SERVINGS

1/4 cup finely chopped red onion

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

4 large eggs, hard-cooked, still warm, peeled and halved lengthwise (see Cook’s Tip)

Assorted radicchio, Belgian endive, and/or butter lettuce cups, to serve

In a medium bowl, mix together the onion, oil, parsley, salt, and pepper until thoroughly combined. Separate the egg yolks and whites. Add the yolks to the bowl; mash in with a fork until mixture is creamy. Coarsely chop the whites and add to the bowl, stirring well to combine. Allow to come to room temperature. (At this point, egg salad can be covered and refrigerated up to 2 days before serving chilled). Spoon into lettuce cups and serve.

PER SERVING (without lettuce cups): Calories 168; Protein 6g; Total Fat 15g; Sat Fat 3g; Cholesterol 213mg; Carbohydrate 2g; Dietary Fiber 0g; Sodium 198mg

Cook’s Tip

To hard-cook eggs, place eggs (at room temperature) in a medium saucepan with water to cover. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand for 22 minutes. If using at room temperature in the recipe, drain and plunge in an ice-water bath and let cool completely. If using warm in the recipe, drain and rinse under cold-running water until cool enough to handle; proceed as directed in the recipe.

Polenta Crostini with Sun-Dried Tomato-Basil Pesto

(VEGAN/LOW-CARB)

Incredibly easy to make, these mouthwatering crostini are always a crowd-pleaser.

MAKES 18 APPETIZERS

1 (18-ounce) 6-inch tube cooked polenta, cut into 18 rounds, about 1/3-inch thick

1/2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Sun-Dried Tomato-Basil Pesto

Shredded fresh basil, for garnish (optional)

Preheat the oven to broil; position oven rack 6 to 8 inches from heat source. Lightly oil a baking sheet.

Arrange the polenta slices in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet and brush evenly with the oil. Broil until lightly browned, about 5 minutes, turning the baking sheet as necessary to promote even browning. Remove from oven and immediately top with equal amounts (about a scant 1/2 tablespoon) of the pesto. Return briefly to the oven and broil until just heated, about 1 minute. Garnish with the shredded basil, if using. Serve warm or at room temperature.

PER SERVING (per appetizer, or 1/18 of recipe): Calories 39; Protein 1g; Total Fat 2g; Sat Fat 0g; Cholesterol 0mg; Carbohydrate 5g; Dietary Fiber 0g; Sodium 64mg

Variation

To make Polenta Crostini with Caponata, prepare the polenta as directed in the recipe. Replace the Sun-Dried Tomato-Basil Pesto with 1 (7.5-ounce) jar gluten-free caponata. Add 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil to the caponata. Top each broiled polenta slice with equal amounts of the caponata-basil mixture. Heat briefly under the broiler. Garnish with toasted pine nuts and shredded basil, if desired. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Herbed Parmesan Crackers

(LACTO-OVO/LOW-CARB)

These fragrant crackers are delicious on their own or spread with your favorite bruschetta topping, egg salad, or dip. Feel free to vary the selected dried herbs according to your own tastes, or to complement a favorite topping. For best results, use finely grated, not freshly shredded, Parmesan cheese; if using a commercially prepared variety, check the label to ensure that it’s gluten-free.

MAKES 18 TO 24 SMALL CRACKERS OR 8 TO 12 LARGE CRACKERS

1/4 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour

1/4 cup grated gluten-free Parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons dried parsley flakes

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves, crushed

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon garlic salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 egg whites

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 300F (150C). Lightly oil a large baking sheet and set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients until thoroughly blended. In a medium mixing bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the oil and beat on high speed until the mixture is thick and creamy. With a spoon, gradually add the dry mixture to the egg white mixture, stirring until thoroughly combined.

For smaller crackers: Drop the batter by level 1/2 tablespoons onto the prepared baking sheet, leaving a 2-inch space in between each. Spread the batter slightly with the back of the spoon to form 11/2- to 2-inch circles. For larger crackers: Drop the batter by level tablespoons onto the prepared baking sheet, leaving a 2-inch space between each. Spread the batter slightly with the back of the spoon to form 3- to 31/2-inch circles. Bake about 15 to 18 minutes for smaller crackers, or 18 to 20 minutes for larger crackers, or until golden brown.

Let cool on the baking sheet 5 minutes before transferring the crackers to a wire rack to cool completely. Serve at room temperature. Completely cooled crackers can be stored in an airtight tin at room temperature up to 1 day for optimal freshness. Re-crisp in a warm oven (about 200F/95C) for 5 to 10 minutes, if necessary.

PER SERVING (about 4 to 6 small or 2 to 3 large crackers, or 1/4 of recipe): Calories 100; Protein 5g; Total Fat 5g; Sat Fat 2g; Cholesterol 5mg; Carbohydrate 7g; Dietary Fiber 0g; Sodium 275mg

Italian-Style Lima Bean Dip

(VEGAN/LOW-CARB)

This simple yet delicious fiber-rich dip is a tasty alternative to hummus. Spread on gluten-free whole-grain breads and crackers, it forms a complete protein.

MAKES 8 SERVINGS

2 cups frozen lima beans

1/2 cup low-sodium vegetable broth

2 large cloves garlic, coarsely chopped

1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, or to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Chopped red onion and/or assorted olives (optional)

In a medium saucepan, combine the beans, broth, garlic, and salt; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer 15 minutes, or until beans are tender, stirring occasionally.

Transfer lima bean mixture and oil to a food processor fitted with the knife blade, or to a blender; process or blend until smooth yet slightly chunky. Transfer to a serving bowl and add the lemon juice and pepper, to taste, stirring well to combine. Garnish with the onion and/or olives, if using, and serve at room temperature. Alternatively, cover and refrigerate up to 3 days before serving chilled, or returning to room temperature.

PER SERVING: Calories 89; Protein 4g; Total Fat 4g; Sat Fat 1g; Cholesterol 0mg; Carbohydrate 11g; Dietary Fiber 2g; Sodium 182mg

Roasted Chickpeas with Rosemary

(VEGAN/LOW-CARB)

These crunchy chickpeas are as addictive as nuts—happily, they’re lower in fat and calories and contain even more fiber.

MAKES 8 SERVINGS

2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon dried rosemary leaves

1 teaspoon coarse salt

Preheat oven to 375F (190C).

In a medium bowl, toss together the chickpeas, oil, rosemary, and coarse salt until thoroughly combined. Arrange in a single layer on a large baking sheet with sides. Bake 1 hour, or until chickpeas are browned and crunchy through the center, stirring and turning halfway through cooking time. Let cool to room temperature before serving. Completely cooled chickpeas can be stored in an airtight container up to 2 weeks.

PER SERVING: Calories 132; Protein 6g; Total Fat 5g; Sat Fat 1g; Cholesterol 0mg; Carbohydrate 17g; Dietary Fiber 2g; Sodium 240mg

Grilled White Eggplant in Balsamic Vinaigrette

(VEGAN/LOW-CARB)

These succulent strips of marinated white eggplant are a wonderful addition to any antipasti platter. Because of its typically firmer flesh and skin, the white variety is a better grilling choice than its purple counterpart. While you can certainly use the latter, salting for 30 minutes in a colander, and then rinsing away any bitter juices, is highly recommended before proceeding with the following recipe.

MAKES 4 SERVINGS

1 (1-pound) white eggplant, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch-thick rounds

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Salt, preferably the coarse variety, and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1/2 cup gluten-free reduced-fat balsamic vinaigrette

Place the eggplant slices between paper towels and press lightly to release some of their moisture.

Heat a nonstick grill pan with grids over medium-high heat. Brush the eggplant evenly on both sides with the oil. Working in batches, as necessary, grill the eggplant until browned and tender, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer grilled eggplant to a baking sheet with sides and season with salt and pepper.

When all eggplant has been grilled and seasoned, cut into 1-inch-wide strips and transfer to a shallow bowl. Add the vinaigrette and toss gently to thoroughly coat. Arrange eggplant in a single layer, cover, and marinate a minimum of 3 hours, or overnight. Serve chilled, or return to room temperature.

PER SERVING: Calories 85; Protein 1g; Total Fat 7g; Sat Fat 1g; Cholesterol 0mg; Carbohydrate 7g; Dietary Fiber 2g; Sodium 239mg

Sweet and Sour Eggplant

(VEGAN/LOW-CARB)

Sweet and sour dishes were a hallmark of medieval Italian cuisine—petonciane in agrodolce, a forerunner of caponata, is one of the oldest and most delicious. Serve the eggplant alone as an appetizer, or toss with rice as a main course.

MAKES 4 SERVINGS

1 medium eggplant (about 12 ounces), peeled, cut into 1-inch cubes

Table salt

21/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 stalk celery, chopped

1/4 cup water

21/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 tablespoon sugar

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Sprinkle eggplant with salt and set in a colander to drain for 30 minutes. Rinse the eggplant under cold-running water and drain well between paper towels.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the eggplant and cook, stirring, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and add the celery; cook, stirring, 1 minute. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the water, vinegar, tomato paste, sugar, salt, and pepper; cook, stirring, until liquids are greatly reduced and thickened, about 3 minutes. Serve at room temperature.

PER SERVING: Calories 111; Protein 1g; Total Fat 9g; Sat Fat 1g; Cholesterol 0mg; Carbohydrate 9g; Dietary Fiber 2g; Sodium 43mg

Portobello Mushrooms Stuffed with Artichokes and Roasted Red Peppers

(VEGAN/LOW-CARB)

For an elegant first course for four, present these tangy stuffed mushrooms on small serving plates coated with marinara sauce. For a cozy dinner for two, serve on a bed of rice or polenta. The filling also makes an excellent topping for bruschetta and crostini.

MAKES 4 SERVINGS

1 (7-ounce) jar roasted red bell peppers, drained and coarsely chopped, drained again

1 (6-ounce) jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped, drained again

2 tablespoons gluten-free reduced-fat Italian dressing

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

1 large clove garlic, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

4 large Portobello mushroom caps, about 2 ounces each

2 tablespoons gluten-free, egg-free, dairy-free Italian-seasoned dry bread crumbs

Preheat oven to broil. Lightly oil a baking sheet with a rim and set aside.

In a small bowl, toss together the red peppers, artichokes, dressing, 1/2 tablespoon oil, vinegar, garlic, oregano, salt, and black pepper. Set aside to let flavors blend, about 10 minutes; toss again.

Rub the undersides of the mushrooms with 1/2 tablespoon oil; season on all sides with salt and pepper. Place on the prepared baking sheet, stem-side down. Broil 4 to 6 inches from heating element 3 to 4 minutes, or until lightly browned and sizzling. Remove from oven and turn over; carefully drain any juices from baking sheet. (Do not turn off oven.)

Position oven rack 6 to 8 inches from heating element.

Fill the mushroom caps with equal amounts of the artichoke mixture (about 1/4 cup). Sprinkle each with 1/2 tablespoon of the bread crumbs; drizzle with 1/4 teaspoon of the remaining oil. Broil about 2 minutes, or until lightly browned and heated through, turning the baking sheet to promote even browning. Serve warm or at room temperature.

PER SERVING: Calories 112; Protein 4g; Total Fat 6g; Sat Fat 1g; Cholesterol 0mg; Carbohydrate 14g; Dietary Fiber 4g; Sodium 202mg

Beefsteak Tomato Caprese Canapés

(EGG-FREE/LOW-CARB)

I enjoyed this scrumptious, no-fuss appetizer at a friend’s house on the Jersey shore the summer I was compiling recipes for this book. While no tomato in the world tastes better than a Jersey beefsteak in July, any good-quality large vine- or field-ripened variety can be substituted.

Thanks, Rob—this one’s for you.

MAKES ABOUT 24 CANAPÉS, TO SERVE 4

24 (1/4-inch-thick) slices ripe Jersey beefsteak tomatoes (about 2 large, 8 ounces each)

Salt, preferably fine sea salt, and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

12 large thin slices (about 1/4 pound) deli-style mozzarella cheese, cut in half crosswise, or 24 small thin slices

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

About 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

On a large serving platter, arrange the tomato slices in a single layer; sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Top each with a piece of cheese, then sprinkle evenly with the basil. Drizzle each canapé with equal amounts of the oil (about 1/4 teaspoon). Serve at once.

PER SERVING (per one appetizer, or 1/24 of recipe): Calories 29; Protein 1g; Total Fat 2g; Sat Fat 1g; Cholesterol 4mg; Carbohydrate 1g; Dietary Fiber 0g; Sodium 21mg

Variation

To make Insalata Caprese, substitute the deli-style mozzarella cheese with about 3/4 pound of fresh mozzarella, sliced into 24 rounds, and the chopped basil with 24 whole basil leaves. Increase the oil to 4 tablespoons and whisk with 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper. On a large serving platter, arrange the tomatoes, basil leaves, and mozzarella in an overlapping circular fashion; drizzle evenly with the vinaigrette and serve at once.

Potato Skins with Mozzarella Cheese and Pizza Sauce

(EGG-FREE/LOW-CARB)

If you like potatoes and pizza, you’ll love these crispy double-duty potato skins. For a vegan option, omit the cheese—they’ll still taste delicious.

MAKES 8 APPETIZERS

4 large russet potatoes (about 8 ounces each), scrubbed

1 tablespoon canola oil

Garlic salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 cup prepared gluten-free pizza sauce

3/4 cup gluten-free shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

Dried oregano, to taste

Preheat oven to 425F (220C). Prick the potatoes with the tines of a fork and bake for 1 hour, or until tender. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool slightly. (Do not turn off oven.)

When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut in half lengthwise and, using a spoon, scoop out and discard most of the flesh (or reserve to thicken soups, etc.), so that the shells are about 1/4-inch thick. Brush the outside of the shells evenly with the oil. Sprinkle the insides lightly with garlic salt and pepper. Transfer the shells to an ungreased baking sheet and spoon 2 tablespoons of pizza sauce inside each shell. Sprinkle 11/2 tablespoons of cheese over the sauce, then sprinkle lightly with oregano and garlic salt. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the outsides of the shells are crisp and golden and the cheese is melted. Serve at once.

PER SERVING: Calories 133; Protein 5g; Total Fat 5g; Sat Fat 2g; Cholesterol 6mg; Carbohydrate 19g; Dietary Fiber 1g; Sodium 258mg

Endive Leaves Stuffed with Gorgonzola, Cranberries, and Pecans

(LACTO-OVO/LOW-CARB)

This easy yet elegant appetizer provides a festive, tangy touch to any winter holiday gathering. The recipe easily doubles to serve eight. For an egg-free dish, use a vegan mayonnaise or substitute with an additional tablespoon of cream cheese.

MAKES 8 OR 9 APPETIZERS (ABOUT 4 SERVINGS)

4 ounces crumbled gluten-free Gorgonzola cheese

1 tablespoon gluten-free Neufchâtel cream cheese, softened

1 tablespoon gluten-free light mayonnaise

1 tablespoon whole dried cranberries, chopped

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 head Belgian endive, separated into leaves (about 8 or 9)

2 tablespoons chopped pecans or walnuts, toasted, if desired

In a small bowl, mix together the Gorgonzola, cream cheese, mayonnaise, cranberries, and pepper with a fork until thoroughly blended. Fill the leaves with equal amounts of the cheese mixture. Sprinkle with equal amounts of the pecans. Serve at once.

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