A couple of nights ago I decided to treat myself to a home cooked meal. I went to Whole Foods and picked out a pristine piece of halibut, some fresh peas and leeks (seasonal spring veggies), and fingerling potatoes. It might sound surprising, but when you cook professionally for others all of the time it seems like you are never have the time to enjoy the fruits of your own labor. How counterintuitive? If you ask most cooks what they eat for dinner on a weekday, if they are alone, the answers are often pathetic: pizza, Chinese, Ramen noodles, cereal, a stiff vodka martini, or simply nothing. As professionals, we are trained to cook and care for our customers first. Consequently, we sometimes forget to take care of ourselves.
With that being said, the dinner I made Thursday night was a treat! Not only because I was eating something healthy and delicious, but also because I discovered a new way to think about cooking fish. My initial plan was to bread the halibut, using the standard breading procedure of flour, eggs and bread crumbs, sear it in a pan to crisp up both sides and finish the cooking in the oven. This is my “go-to” way to prepare simple crispy fish.
Instead, I started thinking about different ways I could get the same crispy result by substituting breadcrumbs with a gluten-free option. I thought it would be nice to add some vibrant color to the fish so I went through my pantry and found the perfect substitute “breading” solution: pink lentils! I knew dried lentils would be way to hard to use in their whole form so I took out my spice grinder and ground up the pink lentils, spiced them up with some salt and fresh orange zest, and suddenly I had great breading substitution. Instead of using regular flour I substituted garbanzo bean flour and I was ready to go!
Ground lentils are only one example of a gluten-free “breading” option. Other ingredients you could use include red quinoa, millet, toasted and ground nuts (pistachio’s would be great), cornmeal/polenta, ground wild rice and much more. I challenge you to let your imagination run wild and try a healthier gluten-free “breading” option for your next meal.