Carol's latest book, Gluten-Free Cooking for Two, is now available. Designed for small households, each perfectly-proportioned recipe serves two people. You will eliminate unwanted leftovers and reduce waste when you cook right-size meals with the 125 recipes in this book. Enjoy!! Celebrate with me!!! Gluten-Free Cooking for Two has won two awards: named one of ten "Best Gluten-Free Cooking Books in 2017" by and won a Silver Medal in the 2017 Living Now Book Awards in the "Natural, Nutrition, Organic, Vegetarian" category.
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Where in the World is Carol?

Carol's in the kitchen, cooking up recipes for her next cookbook and

Watch for Carol on "Creative Living with Sheryl Borden," a PBS-TV show airing on your local PBS station during 2017-2018.

Homemade Dill Pickles (without the “canning fuss”)

Summer’s garden bounty is in full-swing and Farmer’s Markets are bursting at the seams with lovely fresh produce. I always buy far more than I need, but I just can’t resist.

Homemade Dill Pickles

Homemade Dill Pickles are gluten-free and don’t require canning equipment.

One of the vegetables that beckons to me is small, Kirby cucumbers—just right for pickling. In fact, sometimes they are labeled “picklers” as they were this past weekend when I bought some at the Vail Colorado Farmer’s Market. But the thought of hauling out all of the usual canning equipment to make pickles does not excite me at all.

Instead, I make my dill pickles the quick way—overnight—brining in the fridge. One taste and you’re hooked: the flavor is fresh and “dilly” but low in sodium because you control the salt. And, I just step outside to my patio to pick fresh dill but you can find it in supermarkets in the produce section. The best part to me, besides the flavor, is that the pickles are crisp and crunchy.

Here is the easy recipe for these delicious pickles, which keep for about a week in the fridge. Don’t worry, they won’t last that long!


By Carol Fenster

Choose the small, Kirby cucumbers for this recipe for the best results—they fit more easily in canning jars. This small recipe makes enough for two (16-ounce) Mason jars, but use whatever size fit your pickle length.  I prefer using fresh dill from my backyard herb garden, but you can use dill seed.

3 small pickling (Kirby) cucumbers

½ teaspoon black peppercorns

½ teaspoon mustard seeds

2 sprigs (about ½ ounce) fresh dill (or ½ teaspoon dill seed)

2 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced

¼ small onion, sliced

1 cup water

¾ cup white wine vinegar

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon sugar

[1] Wash and quarter the cucumbers lengthwise into spears and divide evenly between two canning jars. Divide the peppercorns, mustard seeds, dill, garlic, and onion evenly between the jars.

[2] In a small saucepan, bring the water, vinegar, salt, and sugar to a boil and stir until the sugar and salt are dissolved and then divided evenly between the two jars. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Keeps for 1 week, refrigerated. Makes 12 pickles.

Per pickle:  16 Calories ; 0g Fat; 0g Sat Fat; 1g Protein;1g Fiber;4g Carbohydrates; 48mg Sodium;  0mg Cholesterol               

Tigernut Flour

Tigernuts have been around for a few years, but it wasn’t until this summer that I took some time to fully experiment with it in my baking and cooking.  I know summertime isn’t always the best time for some of you to bake, yet for me it’s a time to slow down and explore new areas of cooking.

Cornbread with Tigernut Flour

Cornbread with Tigernut Flour

I’ve had tigernut flour on my radar for quite awhile, so here is what I learned:

What are Tigernuts?

Despite the name, tigernuts are not really nuts at all (and they’re not from tigers, either). They are the tubers of a grass that grows in Northern Africa and the Mediterranean. The flour that is ground from these roots is naturally gluten-free and Paleo since it comes from a root, not a grain.

Gluten-Free Living magazine says in its blog (August, 2015) that tiger nuts are “high in fiber, iron, potassium, protein, magnesium, zinc and vitamins E and C, tiger nuts were the primary food of our ancient ancestors who lived in East Africa between 2.4 million and 1.4 million years ago, according to a 2014 Oxford University study. One ounce of these crunchy root vegetables contains 40 percent of the recommended daily fiber intake.” By my calculations, that means that just 1 ounce contains 10 grams of fiber. That’s a lot!

That same blog article goes to say “Tigernuts are also high in natural sugars, healthy fats, and resistant starch which reaches the colon intact. Resistant starch promotes prebiotic growth and supports a healthy immune and digestive track. It can also lower blood glucose levels and improves insulin sensitivity.”

Tigernut flour tastes slightly sweet and nutty—although I think the term “nutty” can be interpreted in many ways. Suffice to say, tigernut flour is pleasant-tasting and won’t dominate flavor-wise. However, it is a light beige in color and so it may slightly “color” your baked goods. You can find it in natural food stores or order online.

How Do I Use Tigernut Flour?

Knowing that this flour is high in fiber and sugar gives us some hints about how to use it. Its high fiber content means it’s slightly grainy so I would use it in foods where you want “crunch” such as cookies,  bars, pancakes, and so on.  It’s high in sugar, so you might be able to reduce the sugar in your recipe. And, its resistant starch is a good thing but avoid using too much in case it upsets your digestive tract.

Like all gluten-free flours, tigernut flour needs to be used in combination with other flours. Some Paleo bakers combine it with tapioca flour or coconut or almond flours.  I’m fond of my own grain-based flour blend (sorghum or brown rice flour blended with potato starch and tapioca starch), so my approach is to replace some of my flour blend with tigernut flour in a recipe that I’m already familiar with rather than starting from scratch with a brand-new recipe.

If you are Paleo, you should rely on a Paleo-based recipe and then modify it to include tigernut flour.

Given all of these traits of tigernut flour, I am more likely to use it in sweet items, rather than savory, because of its natural sweetness.  So, I would use it in cookies (maybe biscotti?), bars, a cookie-crumb (or graham cracker) pie crust), or even breakfast pancakes and smoothies. 

For savory dishes, I might add some to burgers (either meat or veggie), or a no-bake pie crust made from savory crackers and tigernut flour (perhaps as a crust for quiche), or even cornbread (see below) or other quick breads. This doesn’t mean it won’t work in other savory dishes, but my experiments were confined to sweeter dishes.


Adapted from Gluten-Free 101 by Carol Fenster (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013)

Cornbread is a staple at our house. It bakes quickly, allowing us to have fresh bread with our meals more often. I especially like it with soups or stews, but it also nicely rounds out a light salad. I use ¼ cup of tigernut flour in this recipe, but you could increase it to ½ cup if you like.

1 ¼ cups cornmeal

¾ cup Gluten-Free Flour Blend (see below)

¼ cup tigernut flour

1/3 cup sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon xanthan gum

1 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon baking soda

2 large eggs, at room temperature

1 cup water, at room temperature

1/3 cup canola oil

[1] Place a rack in the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Generously grease a 4×8-inch or 8-inch round or square nonstick (gray, not black) baking pan.

[2] In a large bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, flour blend, tigernut flour, sugar, baking powder, xanthan gum, salt, and baking soda until well blended. With an electric mixer on low speed, beat in the eggs, water, and oil until just blended. Increase the speed to medium-low and beat until the batter is slightly thickened, about 30 seconds. The batter will be the consistency of thick cake batter. Spread the batter evenly in the pan.

[3] Bake until the top is firm and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool the corn bread in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Serve warm.

Makes 12 servings (1 slice each)

Per serving:  180 calories; 3g protein;  8g total fat; 2g fiber; 26g carbohydrates; 31mg cholesterol; 290 mg sodium            

Gluten-Free Flour Blend

1 ½ cups sorghum flour or brown rice flour (color of cornbread will be lighter with brown rice flour)

1 ½ cups potato starch

1 cup tapioca flour

Whisk together until thoroughly blended. Store, tightly closed, in a dark, dry place.




Have You Tried Coffee Flour?

At our house, the whir of the coffee grinder is a familiar sound. My husband, also known as “Latte Larry,” is an expert at making coffee lattes. For the best flavor, he prefers to grind his own coffee beans just before “pulling” an espresso shot. 

Chocolate Banana Bread with Coffee Flour

Chocolate Banana Bread with Coffee Flour

My morning coffee routine is also precise. I grind the coffee beans fresh just before I make my coffee using the old-fashioned “pour-over” method, which brews a single cup at a time. I savor every sip.

Now that summer is here, we are drinking cold-brewed coffee on ice with a splash of NutPods dairy-free creamer. Then, there’s the coffee ice cream in my freezer and the brewed coffee that I add to my baked goods to accentuate the chocolate flavor. I even enjoy coffee-flavored candy.

Given the above, I guess you could say we are coffee aficionados at our house. 


So, when I heard about coffee flour I was excited. Then I accidentally found Baker Josef’s coffee flour at Trader Joe’s, so I just had to have it.  In my nearly 30 years of gluten-free cooking, I’ve worked with just about every gluten-free flour on earth so coffee flour was destined to be my next experiment.


 You may not realize this, but coffee beans actually grow inside a coffee fruit on trees (see photo).

Coffee Cherry

Coffee Cherry

I once toured a coffee farm on the Big Island of Hawaii and was amazed at how beautiful the coffee trees are. They sort of resemble cherry trees. In the past, the pulpy fruit (the red part in the photo above) that surrounds the coffee bean has typically been discarded. But some really smart folks realized if this pulpy fruit is dried and pulverized it can then be used as flour in baking.

What does coffee flour taste like?  The package describes it as a fruity, roasted flavor.  I’m not sure about the “fruity” part but there is definitely a “roasted” flavor with undertones of coffee.  And, I’m not sure that simply tasting ground coffee fully prepares you for the flavor of a brewed cup so tasting coffee flour isn’t a good predictor either. I think it’s the blending of the subtle coffee flavor with the other ingredients that make it worthwhile to use coffee flour in our food.

For an interesting history of how one company came to make coffee flour, go here.


The most obvious way to use it is in baking. Experts recommend substituting 10-25% of the flour with coffee flour.  For example, if a recipe calls for 2 cups of gluten-free flour blend, then replace anywhere from 3 Tablespoons to 8 Tablespoons of the gluten-free blend with coffee flour.

Despite this recommendation, my advice is to first try the lowest amount (3 Tablespoons) and see how it works for you. The high fiber in coffee flour means that it absorbs more liquid than our usual gluten-free flours so you may need to add more liquid (perhaps 10 to 25% more liquid) for proper batter texture. Also, too much coffee flour might significantly alter the flavor of your baked items. As with many things in life, too much of a “good thing” isn’t good.

But which baked goods? I would suggest using it in recipes that you are already comfortable with rather than trying a brand-new recipe. So, I looked at my own recipes to see which ones might work. Coffee flour is dark brown, so I would avoid using it in light-colored foods. Since chocolate and coffee pair well, I started with my chocolate recipes and offer one here, with the coffee flour measurement included:

Chocolate Banana Bread with Coffee Flour

By Carol Fenster

This small, but mighty recipe is very versatile because you can use whatever add-ins you like and vary the fruit juice―both of which are very good for you. There are lots of flavors going on here: chocolate, banana, coffee, cinnamon but this recipe gives you a chance to try coffee flour and see how you like it. For a no-sugar-added bread, omit the tablespoon of sugar. Enjoy!!

1 small ripe banana, mashed

1 large egg, at room temperature

1/3 cup prune juice or pomegranate juice

1/4 cup canola oil

1 tablespoon coffee flour

7 tablespoons gluten-free flour blend (see below)

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tablespoon sugar (optional)

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum

1/4 teaspoon salt


1/2 cup gluten-free semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/4 cup each finely chopped nuts, raisins, coconut, and dried cranberries (make sure total equals 1 cup)

[1] Preheat the oven to 350⁰F. Lightly grease two nonstick 3 ¼ x 5¾-inch mini-loaf pans.  

[2] In a medium bowl, beat together the mashed banana, egg, juice, and oil with an electric mixer on low speed until well blended.

[3] With the mixer still on low speed, beat in the coffee flour, flour blend, cocoa, sugar (if using), cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum, and salt until smooth. Stir in the add-ins. With a wet spatula, spread the batter evenly in the pans.

[4] Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (or with only a bit of melted chocolate on it), about 35 to 40 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes, remove the bread from the pans, and cool completely before cutting. Makes about 5 to 6 small slices per loaf.

Gluten-Free Flour Blend

1 ½ cups sorghum flour or brown rice flour

1 ½ cups potato starch (not potato flour)

1 cup tapioca flour (also called tapioca starch)

Whisk the ingredients together and store, tightly covered, in a dark, dry place.

Here are some other recipes to try:

[1] Chocolate Refrigerator Cookies

[2] Pumpkin-Chocolate Marbled Loaf with Orange Glaze

[3] Chocolate Cake with Almond-Coconut Crust

[4] Chocolate Brownies

[5] You could also try coffee flour in hearty breads or muffins. Or, in smoothies, truffles, puddings, and mousses. In flourless recipes, I would use this rule-of-thumb: for every serving use ½ teaspoon of coffee flour and make sure it’s thoroughly blended into the ingredients.

[6] Here is a measurement tip: In the Chocolate Banana Bread recipe above, I placed 1 tablespoon coffee flour in a ½ cup measuring cup and then added the gluten-free flour blend on top and leveled it off with a knife. This automatically gave me 7 tablespoons of gluten-free flour blend and with the tablespoon of coffee flour already in the cup it automatically equaled 1/2 cup or 8 tablespoons.


Nutritionally, coffee flour can be a powerhouse (see Nutrition Facts here  But it also a matter of how much you consume, which isn’t a lot in baked goods.

However, environmentally, coffee flour uses up a product that would ordinarily be discarded into rivers and it also provides financial payback for the coffee-growers. For the gluten-free community, it provides more variety and some wonderful taste experiences.

Although the bag of coffee four is not labeled gluten-free, it was found to be gluten-free by



Chocolate-Berry Breakfast Pizza

Chocolate Berry Pizza is perfect for special, gluten-free breakfast.

Chocolate-Berry Breakfast Pizza

When I was growing up, I can honestly say that I never ate chocolate for breakfast. Not once! We certainly ate it at other times of the day, but never breakfast. But as an adult, I have a new motto:  “Who says you can’t have chocolate for breakfast?”

How about a decadent chocolate pizza for breakfast?

My standard pizza recipe is the answer—sweetened up a notch—becoming the base for chocolate, berries, and nuts. And it is just plain gorgeous, as well.

When I originally developed this recipe, I had hoped to use Nutella or Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut Butter Blend as the chocolate—which European kids grow up eating, much like American kids eat peanut butter. But I found it wasn’t as easy to spread, perhaps needing some warming in the microwave before it became “spreadable.”

So, I turned to chocolate chips which were much easier to handle. I think you will like this decadent breakfast.

Chocolate-Berry Breakfast Pizza 

Recipe by Carol Fenster©

This is the same crust as my famous Pizza, but with additional sugar (plus cinnamon and vanilla) to make the perfect base for lovely spring berries, resting on a layer of yummy chocolate.  Dusted with powdered sugar, it makes a gorgeous dish.

Makes a 12-inch pizza


1              tablespoon active dry yeast 

3/4      cup warm (110°F) milk of choice

4              teaspoons sugar, divided


2/3      cup brown rice flour, plus more for sprinkling

1/4     cup potato starch

1/4       cup tapioca flour

1  1/2     teaspoons xanthan gum

1/8      teaspoon ground cinnamon              

1/2      teaspoon salt


1              tablespoon canola oil, plus extra for brushing the crust

1/2       teaspoon vanilla


1              cup gluten-free chocolate chips, or more to taste

1/2     cup fresh berries, such as raspberries or sliced strawberries OR dried fruit such as apricots, cherries, blueberries, or cranberries

2              tablespoons slivered almonds (or your favorite nuts)

Powdered sugar, for dusting

[1] Place oven racks in bottom and middle positions of oven. Preheat the oven to 350⁰F. Dissolve yeast and 1 teaspoon of the sugar in warm milk for 5 minutes. In food processor, blend yeast mixture, remaining sugar, oil, and vanilla until dough forms very soft ball. (Or, blend in medium bowl, using  an electric mixer on low speed.)

[2] Place pizza dough in center of greased (no cooking spray; it hinders spreading dough on pan) 12-inch nonstick (gray, not black) pizza pan. Liberally sprinkle rice flour onto dough; then press dough into pan with your hands, continuing to dust dough with flour to prevent sticking. Make edges thicker to contain toppings, taking care to make dough as smooth and even as possible for prettiest crust.

[3] Bake pizza crust 10 minutes on bottom rack. Remove from oven and brush edges of crust with a little canola oil.  Place pizza on middle rack and bake until edges are nicely browned, about 10 minutes—depending on your oven.  Watch carefully to avoid burning. Remove pizza from oven and sprinkle with single layer of chocolate chips (or warmed chocolate-hazelnut spread) to completely cover pizza crust. Return to oven and watch carefully as chips melt. Remove from oven and top with berries and almond slivers. Let pizza stand until it cool enough to handle (about 5 minutes), then cut and eat warm, dusted with a little powdered sugar.


Blackberry Coolers for Hot Summer Days

Hot summer days are here. This calls for cool, refreshing beverages.  I’ve got a great one for you today.

Blackberry Coolers

Cool, refreshing Blackberry Coolers

First, as you can see from the photo, this beverage is gorgeous to look at. Your guests will be impressed! But, it is also light and refreshing and it is gluten-free and can be made dairy-free.

Plus, it is versatile—you can also make it with raspberries instead of blackberries if you prefer. Personally, we like blackberries at our house so that’s how I usually make it.

To make it dairy-free, I’m fond of coconut-based “ice cream” because I like the flavor. But use what works at your house. Enjoy!!!!

2 cups blackberries

3 tablespoons water

3 tablespoons sugar, or to taste

1/4 gallon vanilla ice cream of choice (can use non-dairy coconut or rice versions)

20 ounces seltzer water

Fresh mint, for garnish

[1] In a small saucepan, combine all but 12 of the blackberries with the water and sugar and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until the berries are very soft—roughly 7 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool.

[2] Press the blackberries through a sieve set over a bowl and discard the solids. Refrigerate the blackberry mixture until cold.

[3] To serve, divide the ice cream among 4 tall (at least 16 ounce, to contain the fizzing!!) glasses. Pour the seltzer on top, then divide the blackberry mixture evenly in each glass. Garnish with the remaining whole blackberries and a sprig of mint. Serve immediately with straws and spoons. 

Makes 4 coolers (16 ounce glasses). For 8 small servings, use 8 ounce glasses.

per 16 ounce glass serving: 357 calories; 6 grams protein; 16 grams total fat; 5 grams fiber; 10 grams saturated fat; 50 grams carbohydrates; 63 mgs cholesterol; 146 mgs sodium   


Oat, Blueberry, and Walnut Bars

Summer is here. Lots of picnics, backyard barbecues, and beach parties. To me, this means people might be eating while standing up rather than seated at a table.

Carol Fenster's vegan oat bars use gluten-free oats and oat bran from Bob's Red Mill..

Vegan oat bars use gluten-free oats and oat bran.

Because of this, I’m always on the lookout for desserts that can be eaten without a utensil, perhaps even without a fork. This means desserts that can sit on a buffet table or be carried with you as you mingle at a party.

For me, this bar fits the bill. It is extremely easy to make, it’s made from healthy ingredients, and it’s not too sweet. (You can also cut the sugar to ¼ or 1/3 cup if you like.)  And, you can vary the jam. It’s equally delicious with jams made from raspberry, blackberry, fig, strawberry, or cherry.


Many of you may not remember that there was a time when oats were off-limits for the gluten-free diet because they could be contaminated with wheat. Thanks to several manufacturers we can now buy various forms of gluten-free oats and oat bran that are grown and processed in controlled settings to make them safe for us.  So, here is a delicious, easy dessert that uses oats.  Enjoy!


Gluten-Free Oat, Blueberry, and Walnut Bars

adapted from 125 Gluten-Free Vegetarian Recipes by Carol Fenster (Avery/Penguin Group, 2011)

Blueberries, cinnamon, and walnuts team up with rolled oats and oat bran to make a hearty, flavorful bar that is also quite versatile. Use your favorite nuts such as pecans, almonds, or pine nuts. These bars are also vegan and freeze and travel well.

1/2 cup butter or buttery spread, melted

2 teaspoons pure vanilla, divided

1 cup GF Flour Blend (see below)

3/4 cup GF rolled oats*

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

¼ cup GF oat bran* or ground flaxmeal

1/4 cup walnuts, finely chopped

1 ½  teaspoons xanthan gum

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2/3 cup blueberry jam

*Check with your physician before eating gluten-free oats.

[1] Place rack in middle of oven. Preheat oven to 375°F. Generously grease 8-inch square nonstick (gray, not black) metal pan. Or line pan with aluminum foil, leaving 2-inch overhang for easy removal. Grease foil.

[2] In medium bowl, combine melted butter and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Stir in flour blend, rolled oats, brown sugar, oat bran, walnuts, xanthan gum, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon until thoroughly blended, then press 1 ½ cups of mixture firmly on bottom of pan.

[3] Stir remaining teaspoon of vanilla into blueberry jam until smooth, then spread evenly on top. Sprinkle remaining oat mixture evenly on jam, then pat to make smooth and even.

[4] Bake until top is lightly browned and firm, about 20 to 25 minutes. Cool bars in pan for 30 minutes on wire rack. If using foil lining, invert pan onto large cutting board and remove foil before cutting into 16 squares. Otherwise, serve bars directly from pan. Makes 16 small bars.

Per serving:  175 calories; 2g protein; 7g total fat; 2g fiber;27 g carbohydrates; 16mg cholesterol; 119mg sodium


GF Flour Blend

1 ½ cups sorghum flour or brown rice flour

1 ½ cups potato starch

1 cup tapioca flour

Whisk together and store in a dark, dry place.


Whole Grain Sorghum Salad for July 4th Celebrations

July 4th is always the time for traditional summer foods such as wieners, burgers, potato salad, jello, baked beans, coleslaw, and so on. I love those foods because they say “summer” to me.

 Sorghum Salad

Whole Grain Sorghum Salad

But this year, why not change things up by adding a grain salad that is gorgeous and showy and your guests will love.  It can be made ahead, chilled, and then served whenever you like. You can use the shrimp (or not, and make it a vegetarian dish).

In my family, the number of vegetarian members is growing so I’m always looking for protein-rich dishes that they can enjoy…but that everyone else can also eat as well. That way, nobody feels singled out because of what’s on (or not on) their plate. This dish is also a good replacement for the bulgur-based dishes that I see at many picnics.

What is Sorghum?

In case you’re not familiar with it, sorghum is an ancient grain that has been used for over 8,000 years in Africa and Egypt and is increasingly available in the United States. It is the 5th most important cereal grain in the world. Growing up on a farm in eastern Nebraska, we raised sorghum but called it milo back then. It is grown primarily in the south-central states (Nebraska to Texas), but some is grown in other states such as California.

Even as a small child, I could distinguish the stalks of sorghum in our fields from other tall-growing crops like soybeans or corn but I also knew that it was only used for livestock feed. Since then, growers have modified the grain to be “food-grade” and it is now a welcome, nutritious addition to our gluten-free diet. Sorghum flour is readily available in natural food stores and some grocery stores but—until recently—whole grain sorghum was hard to find. Now it is much easier to find and the Bob’s Red Mill brand is sold in natural food stores so that’s where I buy mine.

Whole Grain Sorghum Salad

Reprinted from 125 Gluten-Free Vegetarian Recipes by Carol Fenster (Avery/Penguin Group, 2011)

This whole grain sorghum dish may become one of your all-time favorites.  It’s gorgeous, showy, and hearty….yet light enough for a hot summer day. Plus, it is best served at room temperature (rather than hot or chilled) so it’s perfect for buffets or picnics.

To cook the sorghum:

1              cup uncooked whole grain sorghum (soaked overnight in water to cover)

3/4           teaspoon sea salt, divided

2              cups water

Sherry Vinaigrette Dressing:

2              tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

3              tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1              tablespoon sherry vinegar (or 2 tablespoons for a sharper flavor)

1/8           teaspoon white pepper


1/4           cup shelled raw pumpkin seeds or pine nuts

1              English or hothouse cucumber, unpeeled and chopped

3              green onions, chopped

1              small red bell pepper, chopped, or 12 grape tomatoes, halved

1              small yellow bell pepper, chopped

1/2           cup cooked edamame (or lightly-steamed peas or asparagus)

1/2           cup chopped seasonal fruit (figs, pears, apples, oranges, or dried cranberries)

1/2           cup chopped fresh parsley, plus extra for garnish

1/2           cup chopped fresh cilantro

1/4           cup chopped fresh mint

1/4           cup crumbled feta cheese or queso fresco (optional)

Mixed Greens

12            cooked large whole shrimp, peeled (or more to taste, or omit for vegetarian option)

[1] Drain the soaked sorghum and discard water. In a heavy medium saucepan with a lid, combine sorghum, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and 2 cups water. Bring to boil. Cover and reduce heat, simmering for 40 to 45 minutes. Transfer to a strainer and drain well. Set aside to cool.

[2] Make the dressing: In a screw-top jar, shake the lemon juice, oil, vinegar, remaining 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt and pepper until thoroughly blended and creamy. Set aside.

[3] Toast pumpkin seeds in a skillet over medium heat, stirring constantly until lightly browned, about 5 minutes.  Set aside.

[4] In a large bowl, combine the sorghum and the vegetables and toss to blend. Add dressing and toss until all ingredients are well coated. Let stand for 20 minutes before serving.

[5] Arrange mixed greens on a large platter, top with salad, arrange shrimp on top, and serve, garnished with fresh parsley. Makes 6 servings.

Panzanella Salad

One thing is for sure at this time of year:  tomatoes take over gardens, Farmer’s Markets, and the grocery store produce aisles.

Gluten-free bread, tomatoes, and fresh basil make a delightful bread salad.

Gluten-free bread, tomatoes, and fresh basil make a delightful bread salad.

One of my favorite ways to use tomatoes is an Italian bread salad known as Panzanella. Originally a dish devised by frugal Italian cooks to use up stale bread, it has evolved into a classy dish that goes far beyond bread, tomatoes, and basil dressed in an olive oil and vinegar dressing. And, it is absolutely gorgeous as you can see in the photo.

I serve this vibrantly colorful dish to rave reviews by dinner guests every summer and although you can serve it year-round, it is best when made with the best tomatoes you can find, which will be summertime. Whether it’s from your own vines, the Farmer’s Market, or generous neighbors the quality of this dish depends on the tomatoes. And it is a great way to use up gluten-free bread.

I have to warn you: If you serve this to guests, make plenty because they will love it and you’re likely to run out. They don’t care if it is gluten-free; it just tastes that good!

Panzanella: Italian Bread Salad

Reprinted with permission from 1,000 Gluten-Free Recipes by Carol Fenster (Wiley, 2008)

This is my favorite summer salad and guests happily devour it. It is very colorful and the pleasing crunch of the bread cubes contrasts nicely with the soft, juicy tomatoes. I often vary it by adding marinated artichokes, olives, and baby spinach (and occasionally shrimp or chicken for a main dish) but this is the basic version I start with.

6 slices white gluten-free bread

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided

2 tablespoons unsalted butter or buttery spread

3/4 teaspoon salt, divided

1 garlic clove, minced

2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes, washed, stemmed and halved

1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion

2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves, chopped (or more to taste) plus a few leaves for garnish

[1] Place a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a large 9×13-inch baking sheet (not nonstick) with foil. Cut crusts from bread (use them for bread pudding or stuffing) and cut remaining bread into 1/2-inch cubes. Place bread cubes in a large bowl.

[2] In a small pan, combine 6 tablespoons of the oil, butter, 1/4-teaspoon of the salt, and garlic in a small pan and cook over low heat until the butter melts, stirring to blend ingredients thoroughly. Pour the oil mixture over the bread cubes and quickly toss to mix well. Spread the bread cubes in a single layer on the baking sheet.

[3] Bake 10 to 20 minutes or until the bread cubes are golden and fragrant, stirring and turning cubes occasionally halfway through for even browning. The amount of time required to brown bread cubes varies depending on the bread you use, so watch carefully to avoid burning. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and let the bread cubes cool slightly on the baking sheet. The toasted bread cubes should be used within the next 15 minutes for best result

[4] In the same large bowl, whisk together the remaining 2 tablespoons oil, the remaining 1/2-teaspoon salt, vinegar, and pepper. Add the bread cubes, tomatoes, and onion, and chopped fresh basil and toss until blended. Serve immediately, garnished with additional chopped fresh basil leaves. Makes 4 servings.

Carol’s Kitchen Notes: How to Handle Tomatoes without Bruising Their Egos

[1] Tomatoes should be stored at room temperature, rather than refrigerated because the cold makes them mealy and diminishes their flavor.

[2] Experts say that tomatoes stored stem-side down stay fresh longer. Apparently, the scar where the stem is located releases moisture and provides an entry point for mold and fungus.

[3] Store tomatoes in a single layer, not on top of each other. I put mine in a flat tray on my countertop where they add a pretty, colorful touch to my kitchen.

[4] When my grape or cherry (my favorite variety) tomatoes start to shrivel, I cut them in half, toss with olive oil, and spread them out on a parchment-lined baking sheet to dry in the oven. A setting of about 200°F is ideal. If you have a convection oven, use that setting at 200 degrees. Or, use a dehydrator specially designed for drying food. The amount of time it takes depends on the size and moisture of the tomatoes, so watch carefully. When dry, cool completely on the baking sheet on a wire rack. Then freeze in resealable freezer bags. Use them in soups, salads, sandwiches… any recipe that needs dried tomatoes. I rarely soak them in water to reconstitute, but you can if you like.



Make Chimichurri for Big Flavor

Make The Green Sauce, Mom

Chimichurri made from fresh herbs.

Chimichurri made from fresh herbs in Carol’s garden.


Years ago, my son found a recipe for a “green sauce” that he loved. So, I made it for him frequently as he was growing up. I didn’t know it then and the recipe never referred to this name, but it was a variation of Chimichurri—a piquant sauce from South America made of herbs, garlic, vinegar, olive oil, and a little chili pepper— traditionally used on grilled meat, such as steak.

I have since lost that recipe. But as summer gets underway and my herb pots start flourishing—and with my love for bold flavors—I want this flavorful food in my diet.  I use parsley in my version, but I have seen Chimichurri made with a wide variety of herbs so feel free to vary yours to suit what’s growing in your herb pots or garden. The chlorophyll in the parsley keeps the Chimichurri looking green, so keep a little parsley in your recipe for that reason. But try also using some fresh oregano or basil or chives, depending on what’s available.

Chimichurri as Marinade in Addition to Sauce

One clever way to use Chimichurri is to reserve three-fourths of it to use as a sauce at serving time, but marinate your meat overnight in the remaining one-fourth (discard the marinade after you remove the meat). That way, your meat absorbs some of the flavors before grilling. As summer grilling season gets underway, you will use this sauce again and again. Enjoy!


Adapted with permission from 1,000 Gluten-Free Recipes by Carol Fenster (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt/Wiley, 2008)

This is an excellent way to use herbs year-round, but especially in the summer when you may have them growing in your backyard. Chimichurri is naturally gluten-free and transforms a plain old steak into something special. But, if you’re vegetarian, I’ve even used it with tofu, so give it a try.

1 cup minced flat-leaf parsley

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

½ cup red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon chopped onion

2 garlic cloves, whole

2 teaspoons ground cumin

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper

 Place the parsley, oil, vinegar, garlic, paprika, cumin, crushed red pepper, salt, and pepper and in a food processor and pulse until combined but leave a few chunks for texture. Refrigerate until serving time, but let stand at room temperature about 20 minutes before serving. Makes about 1 cup.

Layered Bean-Tortilla Casserole for Two

Ever walked in the door after work and wondered, “What’s for dinner?” Research shows that by 4 PM on any given day, about 75% of us don’t know what we’re cooking for dinner that night.  Personally, I have found myself in that situation more than once.

Here is a last minute meal idea. The ingredients for this quick and easy casserole are likely to already be in your pantry, fridge, or freezer so dishes like this flavorful Layered Bean-Tortilla Casserole can come together with little effort or planning.

Layered Bean-Tortilla Casserole. Photo by Tom Hirschfeld

Layered Bean-Tortilla Casserole. Photo by Tom Hirschfeld

Everyone raves about this casserole, including Faith Middleton and her radio crew when I was interviewed on Faith Middleton’s Food Schmooze on WNPR Radio. It is designed to be a light meal for two people, making it perfect for empty-nesters or couples or newlyweds. As Faith suggested, why not make this a brunch dish and serve with some Cava. Sounds good to me.

Layered Bean Tortilla Casserole

Text excerpted from Gluten-Free Cooking for Two ©2017 by Carol Fenster. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

Packed with hearty beans, this casserole is already a filling vegetarian main dish. But if you want to make it even heartier, add ½ cup of cooked diced chicken or pork—or cooked ground beef. Feel free to vary the ingredient proportions, for example, using more cheese—this dish is fail-proof. When we are extra hungry at our house, I make a casserole for each of us.

3              6-inch gluten-free corn tortillas

1/2         can (15.5 ounces) black or pinto beans, rinsed and drained

1/3         cup Mexican salsa or salsa verde (I like Herditz or La Victoria)

1/2         cup fresh or frozen corn

4              ounces (about [1/2] cup, shredded) Monterey Jack cheese or cheese substitute

1/4         cup chopped fresh cilantro, divided

Garnishes: sour cream or sour cream alternative, chopped fresh avocado, green onion, and black olives

[1] Preheat the oven to 425⁰F. Generously grease a 6-inch round cake pan (I use a glass pie pan or a cast-iron skillet). Place a tortilla on the bottom of the pan. Top with one-third of the beans, one-third of the salsa, one-third of the corn, and one-third of the cheese. Repeat twice more with remaining tortillas and remaining beans, salsa, corn, and ending with the cheese. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of the cilantro. Cover tightly with aluminum foil (or a lid).

[2] Bake the casserole, for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake until heated through and the cheese is melted and bubbling, about 5 more minutes. Cut in half and serve immediately. Garnish with the remaining cilantro and your chosen garnishes.

Makes a 6-inch casserole, two servings.

Per serving: 435 calories;  24g protein;   19g total fat; 10g fiber; 46g carbohydrates; 50mg cholesterol; 648mg  sodium


[1] This dish is equally good made with either pinto beans or black beans, and I’ve even made it with white kidney beans (known as cannellini beans).

[2] Personally, I prefer La Victoria Chunky Salsa Verde but hubbie likes red salsa but either works great.

[3] This is a great make-ahead dish. Just assemble the casserole, cover with foil, refrigerate, and proceed to Step 2. Bake for 25 minutes rather than 20 minutes.