Meatballs in Chipotle Sauce {gluten-free}

Meatballs in Chipotle Sauce {gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free}

I’m afraid I’m asking you to endure an untimely braise of meatballs.  My sincerest apologies.  Spring and Summer have both been a little coy.  Hopefully you’re eating gazpacho on the deck or something.  If so, just bookmark this recipe for those first cool nights of September.

MEATBALLS IN CHIPOTLE SAUCE
Adapted from Williams Sonoma Mexican cookbook

We’ve been making these meatballs since we were first married.  Naturally, the recipe has evolved quite a bit over that eight year span.  When I get in a dinner rut, this is one of my favorite back-pocket meals.  They’re spicy and unctuous and comforting.

If you’re avoiding gluten, do carefully read the ingredients on the can of chipotle chiles.  Some are gluten-free and some are most certainly not.

This recipe is the perfect divide-and-conquer sort.  One person can make the sauce while the other person prepares the meatballs.  Then just simmer it all together for 20 minutes.  Serve over rice.

Sauce:
2 (14 1/2 oz.) cans diced tomatoes, with juice
1 – 2 chipotle chiles in adobo from a can, plus 1 teaspoon of sauce (adjust to your spice preference)
4 garlic cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican
3/4 – 1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups beef or chicken stock
1 tablespoon oil

Meatballs:
1 1/2 pounds ground beef (1 pound ground beef & 1/2 pound ground pork is also good)
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 -2  garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
1 cup gluten-free bread crumbs
1 tablespoon milk of choice (cow, soy, rice, etc.)

Sauce Preparation:

  1. In a blender, combine the sauce ingredients except oil (diced tomatoes through stock).  Process until smooth.  Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat until hot but not smoking.  Pour in sauce and bring to a lively simmer, stirring constantly.  Reduce heat to medium-low and continue to gently simmer, uncovered, until sauce has thickened almost reduced by half, about 5-10 minutes.

Meatball Preparation:

  1. While the sauce simmers, in a large bowl, add the beef, pork, cumin, garlic, and salt and pepper.  Mix gently but thoroughly with your hands or a fork until the ingredients are evenly distributed.  Stir in the breadcrumbs and 1 tablespoon of milk.
  2. Gingerly roll meat mixture into golf ball-sized balls, being careful not to overwork the meat mixture.  Drop each meatball as it is made into the gently simmering sauce.  The sauce should at least come half-way up the meatballs and possibly almost cover them.  Cover pot, reduce heat to low, and simmer about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, remove one meatball to a plate and cut in half to check for doneness. If the meatballs begin to stick, stir in a tablespoon or two of water.  Remove one meatball to a plate and cut in half to check for doneness.  Serve directly from pot, ladled over rice.

Serves 4-6

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Olive Oil and Maple Granola {gluten-free, vegan}

Olive Oil and Maple Granola {gluten-free, vegan}

We just returned from a lovely trip to Italy.  It was somewhat last-minute and a wonderful whirlwind.  Cecil came, too, and couldn’t have been more delightful!  More on our trip later.  I’ve been tarrying over this silly granola post the entire month of March.

Much like banana bread, I’ve never met a granola I didn’t like.  So to use superlatives like “best” would certainly show uncharacteristic partiality on my part.  BUT.  If I had to pick only one…

Olive Oil + Maple Granola {gluten-free, vegan}

In this version, the more traditional ingredients like honey and a neutral-tasting oil or butter are swapped out for the dark, heady flavor of real maple syrup and the grassy notes and pleasant bitterness of olive oil.

Not only is this unexpected pairing of flavors complimentary, but it also creates a markedly unusual texture.  Whereas most granolas are pleasantly chewy – giving one the sense you’ve earned your morning nutrients through prolonged chomping – this recipe is almost brittle, crumbling to pieces in your mouth.  I tend to hover over the hot heap right out of the oven, picking out the toasty coconut shards and eating them one-by-one.

This cereal doesn’t stop at breakfast, either. We eat it all day long: soaked in milk with the addition of dried cherries (Molly’s idea), a dry handful as we dash out the door, even sprinkled over greek yogurt for dessert.  And, to bring things full circle, it makes a great snack for long-haul flights.  It’s no wonder a single batch of the stuff never lasts more than 48 hours!

OLIVE OIL & MAPLE GRANOLA
This recipe was created by Nakisia Davis, owner/founder of Early Bird Foods.  She was generous enough to share it eons ago with the good folks over at Food52 as part of their “Genius Recipes” column, a weekly post that’s been a real boon to anyone’s ongoing search for delicious food.

3 cups gluten-free old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup raw pumpkin seeds, hulled
1 cup raw sunflower seeds, hulled
1 cup unsweetened coconut chips
1 1/4 cups raw pecans, whole or roughly chopped
3/4 cup real maple syrup
1/2 extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.  Line a rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper.
  • In a large bowl mix all ingredients together, stirring until everything is evenly moistened.
  • Spread granola mixture onto lined sheet pan and bake, stirring every 15 minutes, until toasty brown, approximately 45 minutes.
  • (Try to) cool completely before serving or storing.

Yield: 7 cups.

 

Early Fall Salad

Early Fall Salad {gluten-free, vegan}

Last night we brought salad to a pot-luck dinner with friends.  And don’t get me wrong, I like salads and all, but I wouldn’t say I typically sit around daydreaming about what raw veggies to mix up next. However, in the half hour I had to throw this together, I figured I could either bemoan that I didn’t get to bring dessert or go big and make a really damn good salad.

I was craving something with a hint of autumn in it: apples, roasted nuts, maple syrup, etc.

This is infinitely adaptable to one’s personal taste.  I think the caramelized nuts along with maple vinaigrette really make the dish.

EARLY FALL SALAD WITH MAPLE VINAIGRETTE
4-6 C. your preferred salad green (I used a mix of romaine, radicchio, and baby spinach)
1 medium, crisp, sweet apple like Gala or Fugi
1 small cucumber
1 C. chopped almonds or walnuts
1/3 – 1/2 C. granulated sugar
1/3 C. olive oil
4-5 T. pure maple syrup
3 T. apple cider vinegar, white wine vinegar or distilled vinegar
1-2 t. dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, minced
pinch of salt
pinch of pepper

  • Tear lettuce into bite size pieces.  Rinse and dry (a salad spinner is great here).  Mound in a large serving bowl.
  • Chop apple and cucumber into 1/2″ pieces and sprinkle atop the bed of lettuce.
  • Prepare caramelized nuts: Spread chopped nuts in a dry 8″-12″ skillet.  Sprinkle sugar on top.  Turn the stove top heat to between low and medium.  I use setting 3 or 4  on a 1-10 dial.  Take a fork and swirl the nuts in the sugar.  Don’t go anywhere.  Things can progress quickly here.  After 1-2 minutes the sugar will become wet, keep stirring.  Then the wet sugar will start turning light brown, keep stirring for just a few seconds until a nice brown color is achieved…not chocolate brown or black.  Err on the conservative side.  Quickly remove pan from heat and scrape your nuts into a glass bowl.  Let cool.  Then break up into pieces by stabbing with your fork (rather gothic sounding) and pile on top of your salad.
  • To make vinaigrette: Mix all remaining ingredients together in a small container with a lid.  Shake, shake, shake. Taste and adjust. If the flavor isn’t popping try adding a tiny squirt more of mustard and/or vinegar.  I always tend to add more maple syrup, too.
  • When ready to serve, drizzle each portion with vinaigrette.

Serves 12, approximately