There have been several Really Good Things recently. Firstly, I’ve had the good fortune to visit a number of cafes and restaurants who are well aware of gluten-free and with delightful options on offer. I realise they’re not just there for me, but I’m always so excited they might as well be! One of my favourites was a small independent coffee shop in my home ‘village’ that pointed to the giant homemade victoria sponge when I asked if they had anything gluten-free. Yep, all the unsuspecting wheat-eaters where having it too and were none the wiser! Apparently there is often a gluten-free coffee and walnut cake. I don’t think I’ll be going anywhere else from now on! Which leads me to publicize the Coeliac Map (http://www.coeliacmap.com/), mostly based in the United Kingdom but there are some worldwide locations. I’ve been reviewing and adding locations whenever I can because it just removes one layer of uncertainty knowing someone else has been to a place before. Plus it will only do good if more people eating gluten-free go there and boost their trade, showing them the effort they’ve gone to is worthwhile. So, I implore you to add to it, in your home town or when you’re travelling and you find a little gf haven somewhere, please put it on the map. Others where you live will be relieved they have somewhere to go. And if you’re venturing out as a gluten-free traveller you might even be able to plan a route knowing you will get to eat something proper and not have to rely on the crackers you’ve inevitably packed in your bag! Next, my favourite pizzeria chain (Pizza Express) have announced a gluten-free menu. I found out about it subscribing to Gluten-free[k] who wrote a post that was delivered to my inbox today – here is the link to Gluten-free at Pizza Express. It’s not that I’ve been devoid of gf pizza as they are some chains that do it, but Pizza Express was always my preferred choice before I had to stop eating wheat and therefore I’ve not been there for some time. Yes, they had some naturally gf options in the starters, and used gluten-free breadcrumbs in their aubergine parmigiana, but I couldn’t have that main course because of the milk in the bechamel sauce. And you were allowed to bring in your own gf pizza base and let them top it for you, but that never felt safe. Apparently they are now only using gluten-free flours when ‘dusting’ so there is no chance of airborne flour contamination. That’s just a brilliant wow for me. There are lots of other precautions they are taking, and they are serving a hot starter (a risotto) and a dessert (a brownie) that are all gluten-free. Happy days – I will be there this week for sure! So to today’s recipe, which is a long time favourite and is continuing my great love of the aubergine (How do I love thee? Let me count the ways…) Apologies for the rather boring photo – it is too hard for this amateur photographer to make a rather brown dish look sexy! I have changed nothing from the original recipe, because I’ve felt no need. Now you could go to the effort of homemade pitas and homemade hummus, if you have the time and the inclination, because it would be fabulous. Or you could just use this to jazz up some rather dreary shop-bought pittas, because the gluten-free ones aren’t always soft, pillowy delights! Of course other additional fillings or flatbreads may also work, but for me it is the marriage of garlicky and cool hummus with the hot, sticky, sweet and sourness of the aubergine slices that really does it for me.
Sesame aubergine and hummus pitas
Prep time 5 minutes Cook time 8-10 minutes Makes 2 pitas
Preheat your grill to medium-high
- 1 large aubergine
- 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tbsp runny honey (a vegan liquid sweetener should also work here, perhaps maple syrup)
- 1 tbsp gluten-free soy sauce
- Sesame seeds for sprinkling
- 2 pitas or other flatbreads
- A few tablespoons of hummus
Slice your aubergine into ½ inch slices (I usually go lengthwise so it’s easier to stuff into the pita, but it’s your choice), peeling the edge slices a bit to reveal most of the pale flesh. In a small bowl mix together the oil, vinegar, honey and soy sauce. Brush each slice of aubergine with this mixture and then grill, basting this side once with the mixture after a couple of minutes. While the aubergine is grilling, toast and split your pitas. When this side of the aubergine is looking a nice caramel colour, and the mixture is no longer wet, turn the slices and brush with the mixture. After a couple of minutes baste this side with the remainder of the sauce and sprinkle on the sesame seeds. Grill for another couple of minutes to toast the sesame seeds. Add tablespoons of hummus to your pita bread and then stuff in the warm aubergine slices and enjoy.