The irony in Alistaire’s allergies is it took away my lazy cushion for cooking. Many of my vegan/plant-based diet tricks were not there anymore. Nut “meat”balls? Nope. Wheat pasta? Yeah, nope. Finely ground nuts in oatmeal? Sigh. Gluten-based faux meats? And a big fat no. There have been days where I honestly feel pretty sorry for myself, then I remind myself that of all the kids to have allergies, he is pretty fortunate. At least he has a Mom that can learn to adapt not only his diet, but ours. At 17 months he wants to eat with us now, not just have a pile of “baby” food. No dummy there. Even then, I can’t cook with many ingredients anymore around him, so that means I have removed most everything he is allergic to from the house. From spelt flour to pecans, to my lazy-evening dinner solution: marinara sauce with faux-ground beef tossed with whole wheat pasta. He eats that, we have issues. And I got the bill for his last two ER visits and gack, no thanks on that. Oh well, at least we have met our yearly deductible, must look on the bright side.
So my dilemma is how do I get protein into him? I would fall back on faux meats about once a week and the rest of the time it was heavy on legumes and nuts before Alistaire was eating solids. Baking has to be vegan/gluten-free still, to avoid eggs. But I am also realizing we will have to have some meat, until I can get his diet under control. Trust me, I do NOT like cooking meat, nor buying it. This recipe does contain meat, although it can easily be converted to using faux-chickn’ strips chopped up. This will I am sure lead to some issues with readers, as I have primarily posted vegan and vegetarian recipes the past couple of years. I am not one to hide though and pretend to be something I cannot be. If my using organic meat offends you, I apologize, but what choice do I have until I can figure out my baby’s health issues?
Still, I am happy to be able to make my son a whole foods meal that he can enjoy with us. My inspiration? A copy of, Eating Gluten Free: Delicious Recipes and Essential Advice for Living Well Without Wheat and Other Problematic Grains, published in 2004, that I came across in our local library this week. I found it gratifying to read an older book on GF cooking/eating, being 9 years old, it doesn’t have a lot of hard to find ingredients, that are now in style for cookbooks (don’t get me wrong, I love hard to find ingredients…but hey, it makes it easier with allergies to avoid them). Picking through the recipes I found a number that were good to use as-is and many I could adapt for B’s allergies.
The Inchilotta recipe on page 41 caught me eye. It is the stuffing of a vibrant enchilada, and can be eaten as a salad, or baked as a casserole with corn tortillas. Yum! I had to try this out, so I got my shopping list ready and went to the farmers market.
Inchilotta Casserole (As adapted)
- 1 pound organic chicken breasts (see notes)
- ½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (1-2 lemons)
- ¼ tsp fine sea salt
- ¼ tsp ground black pepper
- Pinch cayenne pepper
- 1 large sweet onion
- 4 large ripe tomatoes
- 2 15-ounce cans organic black beans
- ¾ tsp ground cumin
- ½ tsp rubbed sage
- ½ tsp fine sea salt
- ½ tsp ground black pepper
- Generous pinch cayenne pepper
- 1 package corn tortillas (gluten and allergen-free), about 9
- 8 ounces finely grated cheddar/jack cheese (see notes)
Preheat oven to 350°, line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil, spray liberally.
Add the lemon juice to a glass mixing bowl, place chicken in, turn to coat, let rest for 10 minutes.
Mix the salt, pepper and cayenne pepper in a small bowl. Transfer chicken to baking sheet, discard lemon juice. Sprinkle the seasoning on top, flip over and sprinkle on the other side. Bake chicken for 30 minutes. Let rest until cool enough to handle, shred into bite-size pieces.
Meanwhile, chop the onion and tomatoes in bite-size pieces. Transfer to a large mixing bowl. Rinse and shake off beans, add to onions. Add the spices, toss to coat. Stir in cooked chicken.
Eat as, or add chopped romaine hearts and make a salad, it keeps great in the refrigerator chilled – or better? Make a hot casserole!
To make a casserole:
Preheat oven to 350°, oil a baking dish (I used a 9×13″). Lay down a layer of corn tortillas, spread half filling on top, sprinkle on 1/3 cheese, then another layer of tortillas, remaining filling and 1/3 of cheese, ending with another layer of tortillas . Sprinkle last 1/3 of cheese on top, bake for 15 to 20 minutes.
- To fit tortillas in dish, cut 3 of them in half, and use 2 whole ones and 2 half-moons on each layer.
Use a favorite faux-chicken strips, chopped up, for a veg-friendly version. You won’t need the lemon juice. If your strips must be baked before, sprinkle the spices on, before baking. If going vegan, use a favorite faux-cheese.