When I saw that the New York Times Well Blog posted “A Gluten-Free Thanksgiving”, I excitedly clicked on the link and found a recipe that has had my mouth watering for days. Pumpkin Dumplings. I am a sucker for anything pumpkin this time of year and dumplings are something I missed out on in Hong Kong last February and Austria this past July. They had to be recreated in my kitchen. Luckily, I already had pumpkin puree for emergency pumpkin cravings and all I needed was something to go with it. Sausage seemed like the perfect fit since the cylindrical bites would pair well with the roundness of the dumplings. It was a match made in heaven. This dish was easy, delicious, impressive, and perfect for Thanksgiving.
Pumpkin Dumplings with Sausage (adapted from Silvana Nardone)
1 15 ounce can of pumpkin puree
1 cup gluten free flour mix (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
Cinnamon to taste
Nutmeg to taste
1 pound of sausage (I used a delicious chicken apple sausage, whose slight sweet quality really meshed well with the pumpking)
1 small onion, chopped
1 small head of radicchio, sliced into strips
Boil a large pot of water with salt. Make your dumpling dough by combining the puree with the eggs and stir into the flour. Add the seasonings and taste the dough until your satisfied with the flavor. The dough wont really be a dough, it’s more of a mush. That’s ok.
Get your sausage cooking. Sautee the onions in a large pan (bigest you have) until they are clear. Remove them from the heat. Make your dumplings by using a teaspoon measuring spoon, putting the mushy dough into the spoon and carefully sliding it off into the boiling water. Do this with half of your dough (because all of the dough would crowd the pot). The dumplings will rise to the top when they getting ready to be done. Let them stay boiling for another 6 minutes afterwards. Mine were too mushy when I left them in only for 2 minutes after them rising. Put the finished dumplings in with the onions. Finish the dumplings with the rest of the dough.
When your sausage is done, cut into 1/2 sized rounds and combine it in the pan with the dumplings and onions. Add the radicchio and cover the pan until it is wilted. Season with salt and pepper and serve.
Thanksgiving is just around the corner and if you still don’t know how you want to approach a gluten-free stuffing, please consider these unique stuffing recipes from Karen Morgan, of Blackbird Bakery in Austin, TX.
For lunch this week, work served up a Thanksgiving inspired menu, with turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing (not GF), and sweet potatoes. It put everyone in the holiday spirit and inspired me to talk about gluten-free Thanksgiving.
I’ve mentioned before that I was diagnosed with celiac disease last year before Thanksgiving. I contemplated not going gluten-free until after the holiday. but decided against that. Some people don’t really understand why I didn’t just wait it out, but for me, it was important for my health and my mind to take on the challenge of a gluten-free Thanksgiving immediately. My family was entirely on board and I made my first and only gluten-free pie crust which turned out well and some sugar cookies, which didn’t. I missed out on the stuffing, but I was able to enjoy the potatoes, veggies, turkey and the flour-less gravy.
In fact, a gluten-free Thanksgiving meal is pretty easy to accomplish. Most of the stars are naturally gluten-free (turkey, veggies, sweet potatoes) and those that are not (stuffing, gravy, pie) can be easily. The couple behind Friedman’s Lunch in Chelsea have some pretty good advice for adapting the traditionally gluten filled Thanksgiving to gluten-free, including using Udi’s bread for stuffing and going for naturally gluten-free desserts like pumpkin creme brulee. Read more about their gluten-free Thanksgiving here.
This year, we going a non-traditional route of celebrating at a restaurant. While this seems odd and even sacrilegious to some, it is actually a common occurrence in New York City. If you are going out for Thanksgiving this year, the following gluten-free friendly restaurants will be open and ready to serve:
With the incredible feedback I got from my Lunchroom Incident post, I started thinking more about the role food and eating plays in our lives. In college, I studied cultural anthropology, and have since looked at things with a cultural lens (thanks Babs!). But frankly, I’d never thought about food and eating in this way until now.
I’m not being naive here. I’ve seen Super Size Me and read bits of Fast Food Nation and am acutely aware of the eating disorder phenomena that has plagued our nation. I’m not talking about that. I am thinking about the day to day experience of eating and how going gluten-free has opened my eyes to how food plays a much larger role than just sustenance.
Thanksgiving is a celebration in this country based around food. I received my diagnosis of celiac disease the Tuesday before Thanksgiving in 2009. I was excited and totally devastated. Thanksgiving is a seriously gluten-filled holiday. Stuffing. Pie. Gravy. By limiting my diet, I was limiting my holiday and the shared experience of eating during Thanksgiving. How did I react? I made some gluten-free desserts and not because I anticipated craving pie or cookies after a huge meal of turkey and sides, but so that I could participate in eating dessert with my family as part the ritual of Thanksgiving.
Eating is undeniably a bonding experience and I’ve realized this more since going gluten-free. Have you ever gone out to eat on your own? It sucks. Who wants to have a mind-blowing, life-changing meal on their own? There would be no one to share the mmms and exchange knowing looks with. Being a celiac, my restaurant options are limited and I have become increasingly skeptical that servers are actually listening to me when I ask, “Are you sure this is gluten-free”? I want to be able to taste my boyfriend’s seafood past a Bistango, but since he didn’t order the gluten-free corn pasta, I can’t, and I’m missing out on a bonding opportunity that I used to revel in before. I am cooking more at home now not only because it saves money and is healthier, but also because I take pleasure in sharing a delicious meal with those that I love.
I’ve focused a lot on how going gluten-free has denied me of sharing in the culture of eating, but frankly, it has introduced me to a completely different culture of eating. The gluten-free/food allergy culture here in New York City (and beyond) is rich and exciting. And I’m pretty darn excited that my roomie is a new member! Because having someone in house to take part in this food journey with makes it that much better.