I love the Mediterranean! I love the countries, I love the climate, I love the people and most of all, I love the food. So it’s only natural that every so often in my family, we throw a Mediterranean night filled with sangria, wine, olives and tapas, i.e. my idea of heaven itself.
This year I was the host and sous chef, in fact I was the only chef on the night. I’d settled the famalam in with a river of wine and lager and had put on some cultured music courtesy of the Gypsy Kings and Latino Lounge – okay, not technically Mediterranean but it added to the atmosphere.
So, with a Spanish rendition of Hotel California and Bamboleo ringing out in the background, I got busy in the kitchen creating eleven dishes of absolute scrumptiousness. Here’s what I served up on the night.
Tortilla chips, cucumber and carrot sticks with tzatziki and houmous
Pimento stuffed olives
Chickpeas with feta, chilli and fresh mint
Griddled chicken salad in a chilli and garlic butter with quinoa, rocket, red onion and chives
Tray bake of butternut squash with courgettes, sweet potato and peppers
Baked aubergines in a honey and lime dressing
Pan fried Scallops and king prawns with chorizo, finished off with a sprinkle of coriander and parsley
Focaccia bread served alongside a selection of cooked hams, feta and grilled halloumi cheese
Lamb tagine with toasted pine nuts
Chicken, chilli and bacon pasta in a creamy sauce
Griddled steak with rocket and a balsamic vinegar dressing
Strawberries, apples, grapes and cranberry cheese with honey
Okay, so here’s where I go all Miranda on you and admit that my tiramisu was purchased from Sainsbury’s. But, the thing to note is that everything else was fresh, home cooked and most importantly, gluten and wheat free.
Tip: If you don’t believe that a whole host of fussy eaters can enjoy a night of eating gluten free food, then think again. Nobody would have guessed that any of these dishes were lacking in what I like to call ‘evil ingredients.’
Some of the dishes that I whipped up, such as the gorgeous lamb tagine courtesy of my favourite free from chef Pippa Kendrick and my very own creamy chicken and chilli pasta, were tried and tested. However, some were sort of created on the spot after raiding my cupboards and seeing what I had in – after all, it’s not the most cost effective ‘come round for dinner guys’ kind of night. The baked aubergines in a honey and lime dressing was inspired by my trip to Barcelona earlier in the year, and it was a recipe which I had noted down at the time as it was extremely simple to make and bloody delicious. The fruit concoction I served up at the end of the meal was also extremely refreshing and light after so many dishes.
Anywho, over the next few weeks I want to share some of these beautiful recipes with you to demonstrate how gluten free cooking doesn’t have to be boring. In fact, my cousin remarked after eating everything that ‘you would never guess that it was all gluten free,’ and thankfully, everyone went back for seconds. Pheww!
Even though somehow I managed to get all of my dishes out at the exact time that I said I wanted everything ready, the important thing to remember if you are hosting a dinner party is that in the Mediterranean, you don’t need to be in a rush. My Rhodian friends like to use the phrase ‘slowly, slowly,’ which basically means ‘your dinner will be ready when we’ve finished cooking it and not before.’
On that note, Yammas, Cin Cin and Salud! May you always be in possession of a smooth red wine.