MORE A WAY OF LIFE THAN A DIET, the Mediterranean style of eating is embraced worldwide for its simplicity, health benefits and downright deliciousness. Now you can enjoy all your favourite dishes from Greece, Italy, Spain, Lebanon and more, minus the gluten.
Helen Tzouganatos’ gluten-free journey started 15 years ago when she was diagnosed with coeliac disease. In this, her third cookbook, Helen shows you just how simple it is to cook delicious gluten-free versions of Mediterranean classics. From the fluffiest focaccia and crispiest loukoumades to the easiest seafood paella and most decadent chocolate roulade, you won’t believe these family favourites are gluten-free.
Serves 4-6 | DF, GF
When I was at university, a chicken shawarma wrap slathered in garlicky toum was one of my favourite late-night street foods. The exotic spices wafted from the kebab shop, luring me in and the incredible taste of heavily spiced meat was hard to match. Fast forward 20 years, and I make shawarma regularly for dinner as it requires minimum effort for explosive flavour. Simply throw a few Middle Eastern pantry spices in a bowl, add the chicken and allow the magic of the fragrant marinade to work overnight. The next day you are rewarded with a spice flavour bomb. You can serve shawarma with a vibrant fresh salad like tabbouleh.
- 1 kg skinless chicken thigh fillets
- Toum (see below)
- Pita Bread (see below)
- lemon wedges to serve
- 4 large garlic cloves, finely grated
- 3 tsp ground coriander
- 3 tsp ground cumin
- 3 tsp sea salt flakes
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp allspice
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper (add more for extra spice)
- ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
Lightly score the thick part of the chicken thighs with a couple of incisions to help the meat cook evenly.
Combine the garlicky marinade ingredients in a large non-reactive bowl. Add the chicken and massage the marinade into the flesh. Cover the bowl and refrigerate overnight (if you are rushed for time, you can marinate the chicken for 1 hour; longer marination equals more flavour).
Remove the chicken from the fridge 30 minutes before cooking and bring to room temperature. Heat a chargrill pan or barbecue grill plate until very hot. Add the chicken and cook for 4-5 minutes until nicely charred. Turn and cook for another 2 minutes or until cooked through. Rest the chicken for 4 minutes before thickly slicing. Serve with toum, pita bread and lemon wedges.
NOTE: Chicken thigh fillets are best for this dish because they have more fat, giving you juicy, tender meat, but you can also use chicken breast fillets if you prefer.
Makes 4 | DF, GF, VG
Traditionally, the way to start a meal at any Greek taverna is with soft, warm pita bread accompanied by a medley of dips. When dining out, I’m often served veggie sticks as a bread substitute, but what I really want is a soft, pliable gluten-free bread to scoop up my dip like everyone else. So here is my easy recipe for pita so you never have to miss out again.
- ½ tsp caster sugar
- 1 tsp dried yeast
- 195 g (1½ cups) gluten-free plain flour
- 1 tsp sea salt flakes
- 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
Place the caster sugar, yeast and 180ml (¾ cup) of lukewarm water in a jug and whisk to combine. Leave to stand for 10-15 minutes or until the mixture foams.
Place the flour in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment and crush in the salt flakes with your fingers. Pour in the yeast mixture and olive oil and mix for about 1 minute to form a ball.
Transfer the dough to a large, greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and rest in a warm spot for 1 hour or until the dough has doubled in size. (If you are making the dough ahead of time, it will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days.)
Divide the dough into four even portions and roll into balls. Working with one ball at a time, drizzle over a little olive oil and massage to coat. Place the dough between two sheets of baking paper and roll out to form a thin 20cm round.
Heat a cast-iron frying pan over high heat and drizzle in a little olive oil. Remove the top layer of baking paper from the dough, then flip the round into the hot pan and peel away the remaining baking paper. Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side or until golden and puffy. Remove the bread from the pan and cover with a tea towel to keep warm while you cook the rest.
TOUM GARLIC DIP
Makes 2 cups | DF, GF, V
- 1 head of garlic, cloves peeled
- 2 tsp sea salt flakes, plus extra if needed
- 250ml (1 cup) light olive oil
- 1 egg white
- juice of 1 lemon, plus extra if needed
Place the garlic, salt and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a food processor and blitz to form a coarse garlic paste (this will take a couple of minutes as you will need to stop and scrape down the side of the bowl several times). Add the egg white and whiz until light and airy. With the motor running, slowly drizzle in the remaining olive oil until you have a creamy mixture. Add the lemon juice and whiz again to combine. Taste and add more salt or lemon juice, if required. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Gluten-Free Mediterranean by Helen Tzouganatos, Macmillan Publishers, RRP $49.99.