The mark of a good cook is the ability to improvise a simple dish with the ingredients you have on hand, without using a recipe.
The same goes whether you are gluten and/or dairy free or not-you should be able to make a meal for yourself at any given time with whatever you have in your pantry and/or fridge. And it is easier than you think.
For example, tonight I made myself a simple pasta with chicken, bacon, onions and peas with a creamy sauce. I am all about using shortcuts, so I used some premade or precooked ingredients. The key here is versatility.
I already had gluten free Ronzoni pasta on hand. You can use any brand you choose or any shape-it really doesn’t matter. I used about 6 oz or so. I didn’t really measure, I just eyeballed it. It made about two servings with the sauce and chicken.
I used frozen, precooked chicken strips. Now, the package did not indicate that it was gluten free, however, a quick review of ingredients told me that it was. I have noticed more and more that companies are listing allergens on their packages. If there was any wheat gluten, it would have to be listed, by law. Ok, I am taking a risk here. And hopefully I won’t be sick in an hour or so, but I believe I will be ok. There are many different types of gluten free precooked chicken. Of course, you could just add chicken breast, but make sure it is cooked through! Raw chicken can make you sick!
I had precooked bacon on hand. I love this stuff. It takes the hassle and mess out of cooking raw bacon. But you could cook some raw bacon up in the pan. It will take a bit longer.
I had some peas left over from dinner the other night, so I used those up too. I added a bit of salt, pepper and Mrs. Dash-also some italian seasoning to taste. But you can use any herbs or spices you like.
Then I sprinkled about a tablespoon of rice flour to the cooked chicken, bacon and onions in the pan, and stirred it around for a minute. Then I added enough dairy free milk to make a thick cream sauce. It was that simple. And very delicious.
Here is the step by step:
- Start your pasta while you are cooking your sauce. Cook your pasta to your desired doneness-by the time the pasta cooks your sauce should be done
- Add about a tablespoon of dairy free spread to your hot pan-this will ensure that you can cook the flour later on
- Slice three strips of precooked bacon into small strips. Add to the melted dairy free spread and cook for about one minute
- Chop half an onion, add to pan. Saute until softened
- Add your precooked chicken.
- Cook chicken until you can break it up and it is no longer frozen
- Add your peas, or whatever cooked vegetable you like-or you can omit it
- Season to taste
- Sprinkle about a tablespoon of rice flour over the pan contents
- cook until you see no visible flour-about 30 seconds
- Slowly stir in dairy free milk until sauce is desired consistency. Make sure to turn up your heat a bit to get it hot so it thickens-mine was right out of the fridge
- If your sauce is too thick, add more milk. Too thin-stir in a little more flour-I find that rice flour does not clump if you use enough fat
- Drain cooked pasta, stir into sauce until it starts to absorb the sauce.
It is really easy to make dishes with no recipe, as long as you keep it simple. You can always improvise with leftovers. Pasta is a great medium for left over protein and vegetables. It will be a real time and money saver as well.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.