FeaturesDec/Jan 2014 Issue

Gluten-Free Christmas Dinner

Celebrate the holiday with this super-festive feast

I adore Christmas—the music, the stately trees, the glittery ornaments, the cozy evenings in front of a fragrant fire. But best of all, I love preparing a special dinner for family and friends. I start planning the menu early in December, paying attention to what’s in season and thinking about items that are celebratory, yet easy to prepare.

Good food has always been central to my life, a passion that led me to a career as food editor of Bon Appetit magazine. When my childhood gluten sensitivity resurfaced a few years ago, I was determined to eat as well as I always had—fresh, simple, seasonal food every day…and for the holidays, too. I quickly discovered that the most delicious and satisfying foods are those that are naturally gluten-free. My family and friends never notice that anything is missing from my table.

The inspiration for this Christmas dinner comes from produce that is at its best in December—Yukon gold potatoes, earthy parsnips, colorful radicchio, beets and cranberries. I added a few favorite items, such as creamy white beans, baby arugula, beef tenderloin, blue lake green beans and bittersweet chocolate. The menu offers lots of dishes that can be prepared in advance to keep you from getting harried on Christmas day. Presenting the meal buffet-style lets everyone help themselves so you can relax.

While my husband does his last-minute gift shopping on Christmas Eve, I have a great time in the kitchen, cooking with Handel’s Messiah playing full blast. And as friends and family gather around our large table, I’m thankful for the tradition of celebrating this special season with wonderful food. This menu is my favorite and I think it will become a favorite of yours, too.

Photo by Brian Ambrose Photography

Easy, Elegant Appetizer

White Bean Puree with Baby Arugula Pesto


Silky bean puree topped with brightly flavored pesto makes a festive dip. (For silkiest texture, use organic canned beans.) Components can be prepared ahead and stored in the refrigerator, leaving time on the day of your dinner to focus on other dishes. Bring the pesto to room temperature before serving. Light green celery leaves are a delicious alternative to baby arugula. For dippers, try carrots, celery, cauliflower, broccoli, endive spears, fennel, cherry tomatoes or gluten-free multigrain tortilla chips. Leftover dip makes a satisfying lunch spread on toasted corn tortillas, topped with sautéed chopped greens.


3 tablespoons roasted salted pumpkin seeds
2 tablespoons chopped shallot
¼ teaspoon coarse kosher salt, more to taste
2 cups baby arugula, packed
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
-Freshly ground black pepper

White Bean Puree

1 small shallot, chopped
2 (15-ounce) cans great northern beans, preferably organic, drained, liquid reserved
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
¾ teaspoon coarse kosher salt or to taste
-Freshly ground black pepper
-Vegetables and gluten-free tortilla chips, for dipping

1. To make the pesto, place pumpkin seeds, shallot and ¼ teaspoon salt in a food processor and process to grind. Add arugula and chop finely. With the machine running, pour in oil, stopping as soon as all the oil is added. Mix in lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Transfer pesto to a covered container.

2. To make the bean puree, place the shallot in a food processor and mince. Add drained beans, oil, lemon juice, lemon zest and cayenne pepper and blend until smooth. If necessary, add reserved bean liquid, 1 tablespoon at a time, to reach consistency of a thick mayonnaise. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

3. Place bean puree in a shallow serving dish and spread pesto over it. Serve with fresh vegetables and gluten-free tortilla chips for dipping

Each serving contains 259 calories, 16g total fat, 2g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 206mg sodium, 23g carbohydrate, 5g fiber, 0g sugars, 9g protein, 9Est GL.

TIP No need to wash your food processor between making the pesto and bean puree. Any bits of pesto remaining in the bowl add extra flavor to the puree.

Festive Entree

Herb-Rubbed Roast Beef Tenderloin with Mushroom and Port Sauce


This luxurious roast tenderloin is a special entrée for special occasions. Sprinkling it with salt the night before intensifies the flavor and makes the meat juicier. The sauce is enhanced with beef broth and Port wine. Use reduced-sodium broth since the salt becomes concentrated as the liquid reduces.


1 (4-pound) trimmed whole beef tenderloin
1¾ teaspoons coarse kosher salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary


1 tablespoon olive oil
1¼ pounds (about) crosscut meaty beef hind shank
-Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup tawny or ruby Port
1 quart reduced-sodium gluten-free beef broth
3 tablespoons butter or oil of choice
10 ounces crimini or button mush- rooms, sliced 1/3-inch thick
7-8 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, sliced 1/3-inch thick
2 large shallots, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced crosswise
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons tomato paste

1. The day before cooking, sprinkle beef tenderloin all over with 1¾ teaspoons coarse salt. Place meat on a rack set in a baking pan and refrigerate uncovered overnight.

2. The day before cooking or early on the day of cooking, prepare the sauce. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large saucepan set over high heat. Sprinkle beef shank lightly with salt and pepper. Add to saucepan and cook until browned, about 5 minutes on each side. Add Port and bring to a simmer. Add broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and boil slowly until liquid is reduced to 3 cups, about 40 minutes. Strain sauce. (If made the day before, cover and refrigerate.)

3. Early on the day of cooking, finish the sauce by melting the butter in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add crimini mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms, shallots and 1 tablespoon rosemary. Sprinkle lightly with salt and generously with pepper. Sauté until mushrooms begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Mix in tomato paste. Add 2 cups Port beef broth (reserve remaining broth for another use). Boil until liquid is slightly syrupy and richly flavored, about 5 minutes. Season sauce with salt and pepper, to taste, and set aside. (If prepared ahead, cover and refrigerate.)

4. Let beef stand at room temperature 1 hour before roasting. Position rack in center of oven and preheat oven to 425°F.

5. Rub beef all over with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon ground pepper and 1 tablespoon minced rosemary. Arrange beef top side up on the rack in the pan. (If there’s a thin tail end, tuck it under the meat.)

6. Place in preheated oven and roast until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat registers 125°F for medium-rare (135°F to 140°F for medium), about 30 minutes. (Roasting time will depend on the diameter of the thickest part of meat.) Remove roast from oven and let rest 15 minutes.

7. Bring sauce to a simmer. Cut roast crosswise into ½-inch thick slices. Add any beef juices to sauce. Serve roast with the sauce.

Each 3-ounce serving of beef contains 185 calories, 9g total fat, 4g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 71mg cholesterol, 48mg sodium, 0g carbohydrate, 0g fiber, 0g sugars, 23g protein, 0Est GL.
Each tablespoon of sauce contains 23 calories, 1g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 2mg cholesterol, 47mg sodium, 2g carbohydrate, 0g fiber, 1g sugars, 1g protein, 1Est GL.

Harvest Fresh

Mashed Yukon Gold Potatoes and Parsnips


Earthy parsnips add depth to these silky potatoes and minced thyme delivers a fresh note. This dish is a wonderful foil for the rich mushroom sauce accompanying the beef. The vegetables are cooked in the same pot for easy preparation. This recipe uses milk (or milk of choice) and olive oil instead of cream and butter for a lighter, but no less tasty, version. It can be prepared early in the day and then reheated in the microwave.

1 pound parsnips, peeled and cut into ¾-inch pieces
½ teaspoon coarse kosher salt or to taste
2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
¾-1 cup milk, unflavored almond milk or dairy-free unflavored milk of choice
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
-Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. Place parsnips in a large pot. Cover generously with water, season with salt and bring to a boil. Boil 5 minutes. Add potatoes and simmer until parsnips and potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes longer.

2. Drain vegetables in a large colander. (Discard liquid or keep for another use.)

3. Add ¾ cup milk, oil and thyme to the same pot and heat until hot.

4. Force parsnips and potatoes through a food mill or ricer into the hot milk mixture. Stir just until combined, adding more milk to thin, if desired. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Each serving contains 178 calories, 6g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 2mg cholesterol, 135mg sodium, 31g carbohydrate, 5g fiber, 6g sugars, 5g protein, 13Est GL.

TIP No food mill or ricer? Press vegetables through a strainer instead.

Photo by Brian Ambrose Photography

Green Beans with Radicchio and Caramelized Onions

Easy and Elegant

Green Beans with Radicchio and Caramelized Onions


This dish is great at room temperature, which simplifies meal preparation. The dressing can be made two or three days ahead and the beans cooked the night before; drain them and refrigerate, wrapped in paper towels and sealed in a plastic bag.

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
¼ cup Sherry wine vinegar or red wine vinegar
¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1½ tablespoons minced shallot
1½ tablespoons minced fresh thyme
¼ teaspoon coarse kosher salt or to taste
-Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1½ pounds green beans (preferably blue lake), trimmed
2 red onions, cut into ½-inch thick wedges
1 (10- to 12-ounce) radicchio, cut into quarters, cored

1. Place mustard in a small bowl and whisk in vinegar. Gradually whisk in oil. Mix in shallot and thyme. Season dressing with salt and pepper, to taste.

2. Cook green beans in a large pot of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, about 7 minutes. Drain. Submerge in cold water to stop the cooking. Drain well.

3. Preheat the broiler. Arrange onion wedges cut side down on a rimmed baking sheet. Brush the top side of the onions with dressing. Broil until onions begin to brown, 8 to 12 minutes.

4. Slice radicchio wedges crosswise ½-inch thick. Place in a medium bowl, add enough dressing to season to taste (about 3 tablespoons) and toss to coat. Transfer radicchio to a large, shallow serving bowl.

5. Place green beans in a medium bowl, add enough dressing to season to taste (about ¼ cup) and toss to coat. Arrange atop the radicchio, allowing some of the radicchio to show at the edges. Arrange onions atop the green beans. (Can be prepared 4 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before serving.)

Each serving contains 238 calories, 21g total fat, 3g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 282mg sodium, 14g carbohydrate, 4g fiber, 3g sugars, 3g protein, 5Est GL.

Colorful and Seasonal

Beet and Baby Lettuce Salad with Pomegranate Vinaigrette


Sweet and tart pomegranate molasses adds interest to this salad. (It’s great to have on hand for other salads, cooked greens and any dish that includes beets.) To enhance the beets, wrap them in foil and roast until tender; peel when cool. They can be cooked up to two days ahead.

4 medium or large beets, roots and stems trimmed
1½ tablespoons Dijon mustard
2½ tablespoons Sherry wine vinegar or red wine vinegar
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1½ tablespoons minced shallot
1½ tablespoons minced fresh mint, optional
-Coarse kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
8 cups (about 7-8 ounces) lightly compressed mixed baby lettuces
-Toasted and salted pumpkin seeds, optional

1. Preheat oven to 400°F.

2. Wrap beets in foil and place in small baking pan. Place in preheated oven and roast until tender when pierced with a knife, about 1¼ hours. Unwrap beets. When cool enough to handle, peel them. Cut them in half and then into small wedges.

3. Place mustard in a small bowl and whisk in vinegar. Gradually whisk in oil. Mix in shallot and mint. Season vinaigrette with salt and pepper, to taste. Mix in pomegranate molasses.

4. In a large bowl, place lettuces and beets. Add vinaigrette and toss to coat. Sprinkle with pumpkin seeds, if desired.

Each serving contains 159 calories, 14g total fat, 2g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 94mg sodium, 9g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 5g sugars, 1g protein, 4Est GL.

Pomegranate Molasses


This flavorful, thick sweet-tart syrup is available in Middle Eastern stores, some supermarkets and online (amazon.com). Here’s how to make it at home.

4 cups pure pomegranate juice
½ cup sugar
¼ cup fresh lemon juice

1. In a heavy, nonreactive saucepan, combine pomegranate juice, sugar and lemon juice. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves.

2. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until mixture is syrupy and reduced to 1 to 1¼ cups, about 70 minutes. Cool before using.

Each tablespoon contains 58 calories, 0g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 6mg sodium, 15g carbohydrate, 0g fiber, 14g sugars, 0g protein, 6Est GL.

Rustic Flavor

Buckwheat Molasses Rolls


Made with whole grains, molasses and ginger, these rolls are leavened with baking powder and quick to put together. They’re best served warm; they can be wrapped in foil and reheated in a hot oven for a few minutes. This recipe can be made with egg replacement; see instructions on right.

¾ cup sorghum flour
½ cup flaxseed meal
½ cup cornstarch
¼ cup buckwheat flour
2 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon coarse kosher salt
½ teaspoon ground ginger
1 large egg
¾ cup water
3 tablespoons dark molasses
2 tablespoons butter, melted, or olive oil
1 teaspoon (about) anise seeds, fennel seeds or poppy seeds

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

2. In the work bowl of a food processor (or medium bowl, if mixing by hand), place sorghum flour, flaxseed meal, cornstarch, buckwheat flour, brown sugar, baking powder, xanthan gum, pepper, salt and ginger. Process until well mixed, about 10 seconds.

3. In a small bowl, place egg and beat with a fork to blend. Mix in water, molasses and melted butter. Add liquid mixture all at once to dry ingredients and process until a very thick, sticky batter forms, about 20 seconds (or beat with a wooden spoon for about 2 minutes).

4. Form 12 rolls by dropping batter onto prepared baking sheet by very mounded tablespoons. Sprinkle with seeds.

5. Bake rolls until they are firm to touch and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom, about 16 minutes. Let rolls stand on the baking sheet 5 minutes. Transfer to a rack. Serve hot or warm.

Each roll contains 125 calories, 4g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 23mg cholesterol, 179mg sodium, 21g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 5g sugars, 3g protein, 12Est GL.

For Egg-Free Buckwheat Molasses Rolls, omit 1 egg. Combine 1 tablespoon flax meal with 3 tablespoons warm applesauce and 1 tablespoon warm water. Allow to cool. Add mixture in step 3 to replace 1 egg.

Photo by Brian Ambrose Photography

Flourless Chocolate Cake with Maple Ginger Cranberry Sauce

A Glamorous Dessert

Flourless Chocolate Cake with Maple Ginger Cranberry Sauce


This silky, intensely flavored chocolate cake is topped with Whipped Cream or dairy-free Whipped Coconut Cream and a sparkling cranberry sauce. The better the chocolate, the tastier the cake. This cake keeps well in the fridge for several days and can be enjoyed throughout the holidays. If refrigerated, bring the cake to room temperature before serving. (You can also gently reheat in the microwave.) It freezes well. This recipe can be made with egg replacement; see instructions below.

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
½ pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter or organic non-hydrogenated shortening, cut into 1-inch pieces
1½ cups sugar
6 large eggs
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
-Whipped Cream or Whipped Coconut Cream, for topping
-Dried cranberries, for garnish
-Small fresh mint leaves, for garnish

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Liberally grease a 9½- or 10-inch cake pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper and grease the parchment.

2. In a double boiler or large metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, combine chocolate and butter. Stir until mixture is melted and smooth. Remove from heat and whisk in sugar. Whisk in eggs, one at a time. Sift 1 cup cocoa powder over the mixture and whisk to blend.

3. Pour the batter into prepared pan. Place in preheated oven and bake 35 to 40 minutes or until top is crusty and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs attached.

4. Set pan on rack and cool 10 minutes. Invert pan onto another rack to remove the cake. Remove the paper and flip the cake over onto a platter, top side up. Cool completely.

5. Top cake with Whipped Cream or Whipped Coconut Cream. Garnish with dried cranberries and mint.

6. To serve, cut the cake into wedges and transfer to plates. Spoon Maple Ginger Cranberry Sauce next to the cake and drizzle a little over the whipped cream topping.

Each serving contains 386 calories, 26g total fat, 17g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 146mg cholesterol, 39mg sodium, 40g carbohydrate, 4g fiber, 26g sugars, 7g protein, 22Est GL.

For Egg-Free Flourless Chocolate Cake, omit 6 eggs. Add 1 tablespoon flax meal to melted chocolate and sugar mixture in step 2, mixing well. Combine 1 package gelatin with 1 to 2 tablespoons cold water to make a very wet paste; add 1 teaspoon baking powder and mix well. Add this mixture to warm chocolate in saucepan, whisking to combine. If mixture is dry, add hot water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until easily stirred. Add cocoa and continue to step 3. Add 1 to 2 more tablespoons hot water if needed to pour batter into prepared baking pan.

TIP Granulated sugar gives this cake a pleasant subtle crunch. For a smoother texture, process the sugar in a food processor or clean coffee grinder until finely ground.

Maple Ginger Cranberry Sauce


This cranberry sauce is also excellent spooned over dairy-free vanilla ice cream or Greek yogurt.

½ cup orange juice
1½ teaspoons grated orange zest
1 (12-ounce) package fresh cranberries
1 cup pure maple syrup
¼ cup brown sugar
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ cup finely chopped crystallized ginger

1. In a medium saucepan, combine orange juice, orange zest, cranberries, maple syrup, brown sugar and ground ginger. Bring to boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and simmer until cranberries pop, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Mix in crystallized ginger.

2. Cover and refrigerate until cold.

Each tablespoon contains 33 calories, 0g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 1mg sodium, 8g carbohydrate, 0g fiber, 7g sugars, 0g protein, 5Est GL.

Whipped Cream


This recipe delivers a slight crunch from the sugar crystals. For a smoother texture, combine all ingredients before beating.

¾ cup chilled whipping cream
1½ tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. Place cream in a large bowl. Beat until very soft peaks form. Add sugar and vanilla and beat until soft peaks form.

Each tablespoon contains 16 calories, 1g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 5mg cholesterol, 1mg sodium, 1g carbohydrate, 0g fiber, 1g sugars, 0g protein, 1Est GL.

Whipped Coconut Cream


This dairy-free, soy-free, nut-free whipped cream must be served very cold. Choose full-fat canned coconut milk that separates when chilled. The coconut fat, which should be very thick, will rise to the top of the can.

1 (14-ounce) can unsweetened coconut milk (not lite)
2-3 teaspoons confectioners’ sugar

1. Refrigerate the can of full-fat coconut milk overnight or longer. Place a medium-size mixing bowl and beaters in the freezer for several hours to chill.

2. Open the can and spoon out the solid coconut fat at the top. This is the part you will whip. Set the liquid in the can aside for another purpose. (It’s great for smoothies.)

3. Add sugar and whip with cold beaters until cream fluffs. Do not over-whip since beaters will warm up and melt the fat, requiring refrigeration.

4. Keep chilled until serving and serve immediately. Whipped coconut fat will melt at room temperature.

Each tablespoon contains 13 calories, 3g total fat, 2g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 6mg sodium, 1g carbohydrate, 0g fiber, 0g sugars, 0g protein, 0 Est GL.

Kristine Kidd(kristinekidd.com) is former food editor of Bon Appetit magazine and author of Weeknight Gluten Free.

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