Celebrating Without Gluten

For some, a gluten-free diet is a choice, a way to feel better after eating, or to keep a clear head when gluten seems to fog the mind. But for those with celiac disease, it’s not optional. Eating with friends and family during summer get-togethers can be frustrating and even worrisome.

But going gluten free doesn’t mean you have to miss Mother’s Day, forego hosting a graduation party, or skip those fun potlucks and picnics. There are plenty of gluten-free options for warm-weather celebrations that everyone will want to share, and here are just a few.

Gluten-free Grilled Eggplant with Tomato Goat Cheese Relish

(Gluten Free, Nut Free, Vegetarian)

Recipe courtesy of Carol Kicinski, http://simplygluten-free.com
30 minutes prep time  |  Serves 6 to 8

You'll need:

  • 4 large tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1 small sweet white onion or red onion, chopped
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 1/4 c olive oil, plus more for brushing
  • 1/4 c basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 tsp dried oregano (preferably Greek oregano)
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 medium eggplants
  • 4 oz goat cheese


  1. Combine chopped tomatoes and onion with a big pinch or two of salt, a big pinch of pepper, 1/4 cup of the olive oil, basil, oregano, and balsamic vinegar. Let marinate for a few minutes to meld flavors.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare eggplant. Cut ends off eggplants and slice into 1/2-inch thick slices. Heat a grill pan over high heat until hot or heat a grill until hot.
  3. Brush eggplant slices with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper on both sides. Grill slices about 4 to 5 minutes until you get nice grill marks and slices are golden brown. Turn over and cook until eggplant is softened and cooked through, about 3 to 4 minutes.
  4. Just before serving, crumble goat cheese into tomato mixture. Mix gently to combine.
  5. With a large slotted spoon, top each grilled eggplant slice with a spoonful of tomato goat cheese mixture.


Black-Eyed Pea Cakes with Mediterranean Salad 

Reprinted with permission from Allergy-Free and Easy Cooking: 30-Minute Meals Without Gluten, Wheat, Dairy, Eggs, Soy, Peanuts, Tree Nuts, Fish, Shellfish, and Sesame by Cybele Pascal (Ten Speed Press, 2012)
35 minutes prep time  |  Serves 4

You'll need:

  • 1 (15-oz) can black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp lime juice
  • 1/2 c diced red bell pepper
  • 1/2 c chopped green onions, white and green parts

  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 c chickpea flour
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt 
  • 3/4 c hot water
  • 3 Tbsp oil, divided

Mediterranean Salad (recipe follows)


  1.  Empty black-eyed peas into a mixing bowl. Using back of a fork, smash them a bit against the side of the bowl, being sure to leave some whole. Combine with olive oil, lime juice, bell pepper, green onions, and parsley. Set aside.
  2.  In another bowl, whisk together chickpea flour, cumin, cayenne pepper, black pepper, and salt. Whisk in hot water until smooth. Add black-eyed pea mixture. Stir well.
  3.  Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a heavy nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Scoop out a heaping 1/4 cup of batter per cake and cook for 4 minutes per side, until golden, adding remaining oil, as necessary.
  4. Season cakes with salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot with Mediterranean Salad on the side.

Mediterranean Salad

Reprinted with permission from Allergy-Free and Easy Cooking: 30-Minute Meals Without Gluten, Wheat, Dairy, Eggs, Soy, Peanuts, Tree Nuts, Fish, Shellfish, and Sesame by Cybele Pascal (Ten Speed Press, 2012)
10 minutes prep time  |  Makes about 21/2 cups

You'll need:

  • 1/2 English cucumber, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (1 c)
  • 1 c cherry tomatoes, halved, or 1 c tomatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/2 c bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 8 Kalamata olives
  • 1 green onion, green and white parts, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4  tsp dried oregano
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. In a bowl, toss together cucumber, tomatoes, and bell pepper.
  2. Add olives and green onion and toss.
  3. Drizzle with lemon juice and olive oil and sprinkle with oregano and some salt and pepper.
  4. Toss and adjust salt and pepper to taste.


Buckwheat Tabouli  

Reprinted with permission from Allergy-Free and Easy Cooking: 30-Minute Meals Without Gluten, Wheat, Dairy, Eggs, Soy, Peanuts, Tree Nuts, Fish, Shellfish, and Sesame by Cybele Pascal (Ten Speed Press, 2012)
30 minutes prep time  |  Serves 6

You'll need:

  • 2 c low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 6 Tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 c buckwheat groats (kasha)
  • 3 c chopped parsley
  • 4 green onions, white and green parts, chopped
  • 1/4 c chopped fresh mint
  • 1 tsp dried mint
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 large ripe but firm tomatoes, diced
  • 1 (15-oz) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 5 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice


  1.  In a medium pot, bring broth, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, and salt to a boil over medium-high heat.
  2. Add buckwheat, reduce heat to low, and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, uncover, and set aside. You should have about 3 cups of cooked buckwheat.
  3. In a large bowl, combine parsley, green onions, and fresh mint, and toss.
  4. Add dried mint, salt, and cayenne pepper, and toss. Add buckwheat and stir. Add tomatoes and chickpeas and toss gently.
  5. Add lemon juice. Toss and then add remaining 5 tablespoons of olive oil and toss. Adjust salt to taste. Serve at room temperature or chilled.


Gourmet Garden Burgers 

From The 100 Best Gluten-Free Recipes for Your Vegan Kitchen by Kelly E. Keough, Ulysses Press, $14.95, February 2011
40 minutes prep time  |  Makes 9 patties

Serving suggestion: For each burger, place a fresh collard green with the tough part of the spine removed face down on a serving plate. Place a burger in the middle of the collard green. Top with fresh mung bean or sunflower sprouts, and drizzle with your favorite dressing.

What You Need:

  • 2 c plus 3 Tbsp low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 3/4 c white quinoa
  • 1/4 c red quinoa
  • 2 medium zucchini, chopped
  • 2 c chopped carrots
  • 1 large sweet onion, chopped
  • 2 jalapenos, chopped
  • 2 large portobello mushrooms, stems removed and discarded, caps sliced
  • 1 Tbsp minced fresh ginger
  • 2 Tbsp extra-virgin coconut oil, plus more for cooking
  • 3 Tbsp Bragg’s or coconut liquid aminos
  • 11/2 Tbsp Mexican spice blend
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 oz silken tofu, beaten


  1. In a medium saucepan, add vegetable broth and white and red quinoa. Bring to a boil, lower to a simmer, cover, and cook 15 minutes. When quinoa is cooked, transfer to a large bowl.
  2. In a food processor, purée zucchini and carrots. Transfer to a large bowl. Purée onion, jalapenos, mushrooms, and ginger. Add to zucchini mixture and mix until well blended; set aside.
  3. In a large sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons oil on medium heat and add amino acids, Mexican spice, Celtic sea salt, and lemon juice. Add puréed vegetables and sauté for 15 to 20 minutes, until all liquid is gone and mixture is thick like porridge. (The mixture will act as breadcrumbs.) Set aside to cool.
  4. 4. In a small mixing bowl, beat silken tofu with a small whisk or fork. Add beaten tofu to quinoa. Mix together well. Add vegetable mixture to quinoa mixture and mix until well blended. Let cool for 10 minutes. Scoop about 1/2 cup of quinoa vegetable mixture and form into a patty. Repeat with rest of mixture.
  5. 5. Heat a nonstick frying pan, coat with cooking spray, and add about 1 teaspoon of the oil. Cook patties about 4 minutes on each side, until golden brown. May be stored in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days.


Spicy Sprouting Broccoli
From Garlic: The Mighty Bulb by Natasha Edwards ($24.95, Firefly Books, 2012)
20 minutes prep time  |  Serves  4

What You Need:

  • 11/2 lb sprouting broccoli* or kale
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds
  • 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 5 garlic cloves, finely sliced
  • 1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, finely sliced
  • 1 red chili, deseeded and finely diced
  • 1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp gluten-free tamari


  1. Bring a large pan of salted water to a boil. Add broccoli and blanch for 3 to 4 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, heat a small frying pan, add sesame seeds and toast over medium heat for 2 minutes until they start to pop. Set aside.
  3. In another frying pan, heat oils over medium heat. Add garlic, ginger, and chili, and fry gently for 2 minutes.
  4. Add broccoli and coat with oil mixture. Add vinegar and soy sauce and cook for a further 2 minutes.
  5. Serve with sesame seeds sprinkled over.

*Sprouting broccoli is a variety of broccoli with a larger number of heads, many thin stalks, and a delicate flavor.