Wednesday, May 26, 2010


This is a healthy little cookbook with vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free recipes, and with some interesting moneysaving tips, too. Recipes range from useful sauces to breakfast ideas, soups, salads and dressings, greens and grains to main dishes and desserts. Recipes which use seitan can usually be made gluten-free and vegetarian with the substitution of tofu or tempeh. The bread recipes would be trickier to convert to gluten-free diets, although they will probably give you ideas for gluten-free versions to research or experiment with. 

The recipe for Leslie's Mushroom Spread is easy and versatile, since it would be excellent for a picnic basket, either as a stuffing for vegetables or a spread fcrackers. Also try the Jicama Salad, very crisp and fresh-flavored, perfect for a hot day.The recipe for fruit preserves is amazing--only two ingredients and no canning involved. Time-saving, money-saving, and sugar-free,  too. There are many more quick and easy, always healthy, recipes in the Chicago Diner Cookbook, written by Jo Kaucher, chef at the diner which is, yes, in Chicago, where it has been since 1983. Thanks to Book Publishing Company for providing a review copy of this book.
Shown here is the Shepherd's Pie, made with tempeh, lentils and vegetables. It's recommended to be served with Diner Gravy, the recipe for which is given in the book, and it should be served with a gravy, because the instructions in the recipe to cook the filling till all liquid is evaporated might be better given as "cook until some liquid" has evaporated, because, without gravy, although the taste is still very good, the result is a bit dry. 


Filling Ingredients:

8oz tempeh, cubed

2T olive oil

1T tamari

1 medium onion, chopped

1 stalk celery, chopped

1/2 lb mushrooms, sliced

3 carrots, chopped

1 bay leaf

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp sage

1/2 tsp thyme

1/2 tsp basil

2 cups cooked lentils

Topping Ingredients:

3 or 4 potatoes, peeled and boiled until tender. salt, pepper, nutmeg added to taste

1/2- 1 cup soymilk

1T extra-virgin olive oil


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium saucepan, saute the tempeh with the oil and tamari until the tempeh starts to brown. Continue sauteing, adding onion, celery, mushrooms and carrots. Stir in remaining filling ingredients except lentils. When carrots are tender, add lentils and simmer until the liquid has evaporated. 

In a medium bowl, mash the potatoes with the olive oil and soymilk.  Add salt, nutmeg, and pepper to taste Set aside. Pour the vegetable-lentil mixture into a lightly oiled 10-inch pie pan or 3 to 4 quart casserole, and top with the mashed potatoes. Bake 25 to 30 minutes. 

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More gluten-free main dish casseroles to make: 

Fiesta Casserole

Herbed Noodle Pie

Tortilla Bean and Cheese Pie

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