Alex Gazzola's Freefrom Pumpkin and Parmesan Pie
Corn, gluten, nightshade, nut, peanut, sesame, soya & wheat free
(for information on lactose and Parmesan, click here)
Alex Gazzola is deputy editor of one of our sister sites, Skins Matter, a regular contributor to the foodsmatter sites, writes an excellent Allergy Insight blog and has just written a book on coeliac disease – more details here.
He therefore felt it was incumbent upon him to take up Coeliac UK's challenge during Coeliac Awareness week, to go gluten free. (He was also aiming to go dairy free for the week but, being Italian, when it came to Parmesan....!)
This is a recipe, which I've slightly adapted, from the little corner of Parma Province in northern Italy which my folks call home. It's basically an eggy cheesy pumpkin risotto (of sorts) baked in a thin and crispy no-fat 'pastry', usually made from wheat flour and water. I was nervous about this crust, but used Doves Farm plain white GF flour blend with a dash of xanthan and it worked surprisingly well. Sadly, fearing disaster, I chickened out of inviting a pal over and am now kicking myself. Still, enough for some tomorrow…
For the filling:
- Just under a mugful of rice – I used pudding rice, but any risotto rice (carnaroli, arborio) is also ideal (don't use other rices)
- Half a butternut squash (or other pumpkin-y vegetable)
- Some bouillon powder (I used 1½ tsp)
- Some dried herbs
- 2 eggs
- Lots of grated Parmesan and/or Grana Padano
For the crust:
- 100g Doves Farm plain white GF flour blend
- ½ tsp xanthan gum
- Water as required
- Grate the squash and fry gently in olive oil.
- Sprinkle in bouillon powder and herbs and add a little water as it dries.
- Keep cooking and adding splashes of water if required, until the mixture becomes a bit pulpy – around ten minutes.
- Meanwhile cook the rice in lightly salted boiling water.
- Cook it to the point where it is still undercooked, but if you had to eat it, you just about could – albeit with a lot of chewing. Drain thoroughly.
- Combine the rice and the cooked squash and set aside to cool.
- Next, mix the flour and xanthan gum in a clean bowl and then add water gradually, until you can work the mixture into a dough.
- Roll out thinly to desired scale. (I used a non-stick baking tray 12 inches x 9 inches and under 1 inch deep.)
- Transfer dough to tray, pressing down firmly and filling in the inevitable tears and gaps.
- Once the rice / squash mixture is cooled to around body temperature, add the grated cheese – a massive handful – and two eggs.
- Mix until fully blended.
- Add a bit of tepid water if mixture seems too dry.
- Dollop the mixture into the lined tray, spread evenly, and bake on a fairly high heat for around 10-15 minutes, or until the crust or some grains of rice begin to char and the pie looks done.
- Slide the pie off onto a rack and cool for ten to fifteen minutes before cutting into squares for serving.
- The crust, as you can see, was a little ragged, and a little chewy on the underside, so perhaps a minute or two in the oven before adding the rice-squash filling and popping it back would help if you're attempting this. But it tasted really good.
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