Naturally Gluten-Free Naked Ravioli: Gnudi Toscani

gnudi

gnudi

Did it ever occur to you to see a picture or read a recipe of a dish and longing to make it but never finding the right time, or the right conjunction of stars, to get it done? Gnudi has been just like that to me. I had them in mind for one maybe even two years and, for some reason, I have been hesitant to break the ice with such a simple, and yet totally delectable, Italian specialty.

One can imagine how overjoyed I am now for having finally made my first gnudi. They are super easy and quick to make (preparation takes no more than 15 minutes including cooking). And are so delicious with a simple basil tomato sauce that I had to tell myself “slow down!”. A perfect dish to pamper yourself and your guests with.

A few more notes: Gnudi have become popular only recently after having been included in the  menu of a fancy NY restaurant. They are shaped like gnocchi but are made of an equal proportion of ricotta cheese and fresh spinach like ravioli. That’s why they are called “ravioli nudi”, naked ravioli. There are different version of gnudi. In some areas of Central Italy  flour is combined to the dough to help keeping the gnocchi-like rounds together. I prefer though the Tuscan version of this dish, which uses flour only to coat the gnudi. If rice flour rather than wheat flour is used for coating, here you go, you have a 100% gluten-free home-made gnocchi. And if you, like me, are trying to keep a balance between carbs and proteins in your diet, you may like to know that this vegetarian dish is also very low in carbs. (SCROLL DOWN FOR THE RECIPE)
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Gluten-Free Crusty Baguette anyone? Sorghum, a good alternative to wheat

gluten-free baguette

Do you know why I started to bake bread? Well… I don’t. Meaning… I cannot recollect all the different reasons why I decided to learn how to bake. But I know for sure that I started to dream of baking my own bread during pregnancy, when the smell of store-bought bread was enough to make me noxious. I remember craving my homeland sourdough pagnotte… and not daring eating regular bread for 8 months straight. But I did not put my hands in the dough until 2 years later. And I remember the one thing that set my will finally in motion. It was the deprecation of bread by enthusiasts of low-carb diet (low-carb is not a bad concept per se, but maybe it should not be carried too far). I remember thinking “this is not right, bread is our history, bread is holy!”.  Indeed low-carb diet enthusiasts have begun to make their own bread, too, and this is not surprising. I could really not imagine a world without bread, could you?

Recently, there has been quite a lot of fuss around antinutrients in wheat, and gluten in particular has been on the spot. Well, if it has to do with health, then I take the debate around bread more seriously. However, while celiac disease is certain, I used to have doubts about gluten intolerance sensitivity. What was that really? Maybe just another fashionable food attitude? Believe me, it is not just a trend. I will tell more on this in my coming posts, but here I can anticipate that in the past few months I experienced some gluten/wheat sensitivity myself (not sure if it is just a temporary sensitization and whether I react to gluten or to other substances in wheat).

So now I agree that we may all want to limit the amount of gluten in our diet. Hopefully, even in some cases of gluten intolerance sensitivity, it may be enough to just limit gluten intake and learn how to handle grains in a way which makes them more digestible (more on this in coming posts). On top of all these serious considerations, there is also my insatiable curiosity for anything related to bread and flours. Gluten-free, bakery perfect, bread? Is that really possible? How fun to try and find out myself. These pretty looking baguettes were made with sorghum, a type of grass which does not belong to the wheat family. To me they prove that great bread can actually be made without wheat. And I assure you that they truly are yummy and crunchy as they look (SCROLL DOWN FOR THE RECIPE).

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Nyttigare Sockerbullar: Swedish Rolls With Chocolate And Spelt For “Quanti Modi Di Fare E Rifare”

sockerbullar

A year has passed by since I made Jan Hedh’s wonderful sockerbullar with vanilla custard filling (find the original recipe here). The recipe was selected for this month’s challenge by my favorite Italian baking group, Quanti Modi Di Fare E Rifare*, and I am very curious and excited at the idea of seeing all the different versions of this very creative ensemble of home-bakers.

As for me, this time I wanted to see if I could obtain the same soft, melt-in-mouth rolls by replacing the traditionally used wheat with spelt, much of it whole-grain. To healthify this recipe further, I replaced the sugar with organic coconut palm sugar (which is as sweet as regular sugar but has a low glicemic index, a must have). And to make the buns meet  our chochaolic family taste, I added cocoa to the filling. I can tell you that my 4-year old daughter, which is definitely not a lover of whole-grain, said “mamma these are the best rolls you ever made!”. Clearly an overstatement, but a good sign!

A little note about spelt for those of you who are not familiar with this grain. Spelt is a “relic” crop, an ancient type of grain which has been sparsely farmed in modern times and so maintained unaltered its characteristics. Differently from wheat, the spelt we can get nowadays is not very different from the grain harvested 9000 years old and possibly even earlier. Regarding its nutritional qualities, spelt contains 9 percent fibre, 17 percent protein and 3 percent unsaturated fat, as well as several dietary minerals and vitamins. It also contains only a moderate amount of gluten, so it is probably better tolerated by our body (it is likely that even those of us who are not gluten intolerant may be affected by massive amounts of gluten in their diet). SCROLL DOWN FOR THE RECIPE/CLICCA QUI PER LA RICETTA IN ITALIANO.
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