April already! And April showers there are. Today we were pelted on by rain, although the grass smelled beautiful and the birds still sang their song.
A recent trip to Ottawa for a few days required some careful pre-planning – one that a celiac knows all too well.
I spent the evening prior packing up food, and made a delicious combination inspired by my equal love for greens, tofu, and homemade pasta sauce.
We planned to hardly have a meal out, stocked up (our hotel room had an apartment sized fridge), and I called a few restaurants in advance.
Okay, in actuality, I called approximately 35, tapping away on my Blackberry in the hotel room asking if they are familiar with the gluten-free diet (and if I got that far, if they had vegan offerings, and knew about cross contamination with gluten and casein). It didn’t go over so well.
Along with some fresh fruit, vegetables, homemade goods, and other foodstuffs, I also brought my night before creation of stuffed collards (and I’ll supply the make-shift recipe).
Tofu “Ricotta” Stuffed Collards Smothered with Marinara
- 1 250g package of extra-firm tofu, made into your favourite version of ricotta*
- 1 bunch of collard greens, the stems cut off and the thick spine pared down
- about 5 cups of your favourite, homemade pasta sauce (mine was roasted garlic and fresh basil)
- a saute of leeks, red, yellow and orange bell peppers, and cremini mushrooms
*for my ricotta, I mash the tofu, add nutritional yeast, garlic, oregano, basil, and other Italian seasonings, a squeeze of lemon.
Distribute tofu, and some of the vegetables, in each collard leaf. Roll up, place in pan. Top with sauce. Bake at 375F for about 20 minutes.
If you aren’t keen on tofu, I also made a few with quinoa and veggies for my soy-free mom. Delicious.
On another note, I did finally find a restaurant, and have never been treated so well in my life. I highly recommend this restaurant to every celiac, vegan, dairy-allergy, wheat allergy, gluten-free individual in the world. Oh, and every other person, too.
The place is called Taj Indian Cuisine. Here is a breakdown of the ridiculously incredible visit:
- I called the day before and he was certain I would be taken care of. When I asked about ghee (I had heard that some Indian restaurants don’t think of it as dairy) he scoffed, “of COURSE, no ghee!” I was pleased
- The next day, we appeared and he remembered my voice and assured me again it would be okay
- He came over and placed and recommended an order for us
- He double checked each ingredient, ensuring we could have them (vegetable oil, certain foods, et cetera)
- He also catered to my mom, who cannot have legumes (difficult in the cuisine we were in!)
- He had a talk with my mom while I went to the bathroom, telling her that I was in good hands, and he didn’t want me to be sick. How important it is. How everyone should cater to celiacs like this.
- He apologized profusely for “all Indian desserts containing dairy”
- He asked for my number, to make sure that I wouldn’t get sick the next day (he called)
- I told him I was going to recommend it to everyone and he said, “No, no, I just don’t want you to to be sick”.
And so on, and so forth. Seriously.
I’ve eaten out about 6 times since being diagnosed nearly four years ago. Three times I got sick. This was incredible!
Oh, and frankly, it was the most delicious Indian cuisine ever. EVER!