Easy Ragu Sauce (dairy-free, gluten-free, refined sugar-free, soy-free)

Who doesn’t love pasta? And for me, I love it all ways but with a ragu sauce, one of my all time favorites. I remember as a teenager, baking Italian bread to go with a spaghetti supper, ripping pieces off the bread and tasting the sauce, telling myself it was to make sure it was seasoned correctly but actually just because I love the sauce more than the pasta!

If you want to make this even quicker and easier than my recipe, begin as I did but instead of adding canned tomatoes and tomato paste, mix in a large jar of ready made tomato sauce (I happen to be addicted to Rao’s Sauce for Sensitive Diets).

This recipe will serve four. In a medium, deep saucepan, heated over medium heat, add:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 pound Italian sausage, any type your family likes be it pork, chicken, or vegan (if using links, take the sausage out of the casing or slice after cooking)

Cook the sausage until browned (I always think of Anne Burrell when I say that – love her saying, Brown Food GOOD!). Remove the sausage from the pan and set aside. Add to the frying pan:

1 medium or 1/2 large onion, diced

1 sweet pepper diced, any color

1/2 cup grated carrot

6-8 ounces sliced or diced mushrooms (any type you like)

Cook until onions are translucent and mushrooms are browned, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low and add:

1 small to medium zucchini, diced

1-2 small yellow squash

1 tablespoon minced garlic

Stir the vegetables and cover the pan. I used summer squash but feel free to substitute any vegetables your family likes; I’ve even used small frozen Brussel sprouts. Cook 8-10 minutes until the squash are softened but not mushy. Add the sausage back into the pan along with:

1 32oz can tomato puree

1 16oz can small diced tomatoes

2 teaspoons Italian spices (oregano, thyme, basil)

This is where a large jar of prepared tomato sauce could be substituted (cooking time would be reduced to about 10 minutes and it would be ready to serve). Simmer for 30-45 minutes and add:

1 small can tomato paste

1 tablespoon agave nectar

Stir making sure the tomato paste is incorporated. Cook about 5 more minutes and serve with pasta.

Stroganoff (dairy-free, gluten-free, egg-free, soy-free)

I looked at a recipe for tempeh stroganoff, thought about turkey instead. It reminds me a lot of turkey tetrazzini in looks but definitely not in taste. I think this is mainly due to marinating the meat in my “fake” soy sauce and the addition of vinegar to the sauce.

When I think about stroganoff, I immediately think it should be served on egg noodles. Since I’m allergic to eggs, that’s not possible but I managed to find some pad thai brown rice noodles that worked quite well.

I used turkey in this recipe but it could be made with beef, pork, chicken or tempeh and be equally as delicious. Other vegetables would also do well in this sauce like green peas, string beans, or carrots.

Makes 4 servings.

In a medium bowl, mix:

12 ounces meat or tempeh cut into strips

3 tablespoons “fake” soy sauce (you could use tamari or coconut aminos)

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

Marinate in the refrigerator 30 minutes up to overnight.

In a large skillet heat:

2 tablespoon olive oil

Add meat (drained) and saute for 3-5 minutes, turning to sear. Remove from pan and set aside. Add:

1 medium onion, diced

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

2 teaspoons dried thyme

24 ounces sliced or diced mushrooms (I used a mixture of 3 different mushrooms)

Salt and black pepper to taste

Cook until the onions are soft and the mushrooms cooked. Stir in:

2 tablespoons gluten-free all-purpose flour, more or less depending on the oil in the pan

Mix in:

2 cups non-dairy milk

2 tablespoons seasoned rice, sherry, or wine vinegar

Stir until mixture begins to thicken. Add the meat. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.

Serve over noodles, rice or quinoa. Garnish with fresh parsley or chives.

Turkey Tetrazzini (dairy-free, gluten-free, egg-free)

After Thanksgiving, my mother would always make turkey tetrazzini.  She added, of course, cream as well as either white wine or sherry.  Since I can’t use those things, here’s my version without all that fat or any alcohol.  Feel free to use whatever pasta you have on hand.  I used a tortiglioni made from buckwheat flour that a friend recommended but I usually use spaghetti which is the more traditional pasta used in this dish.  

You’ll need:

  • 8 ounces of gluten-free pasta cooked al dente
  • 2 cups of mushroom soup (see recipe under Soups and Salads or follow directions below — you will need additional ingredients to make this mushroom sauce)
  • 8 ounces of sliced or diced mushrooms
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 1 cup cooked peas
  • 1 1/2 cups diced turkey
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage
  • 1 teaspoon died thyme
  • 3-4 quart baking dish
  • 1/2 cup gluten-free bread crumbs
  • 2-3 tablespoons avocado (or other) oil
  • 2-3 tablespoons shredded non-dairy cheese
  • cooking spray for the baking dish

If you don’t have some mushroom soup already to go, use this simple alternative:

In a medium skillet, heat 1/4 cup olive oil.  Add diced mushrooms, celery and mushrooms.  Cover and simmer over medium low heat about 5 minutes until vegetables are tender.  Add 3 tablespoons gluten-free all purpose flour (or brown rice flour) and stir to incorporate.  Cook for a minute to begin cooking the flour.  Add 1 1/2 cups vegetable stock (or chicken stock if you don’t have any vegetable stock) and 1/2 cup non-dairy milk of choice (except soy which will not thicken).  Add the herbs and combine.

Combine the vegetables, pasta, sauce, and turkey in the skillet.  Pour into the baking dish.  Combine the bread crumbs and oil.  Spread the shredded cheese and then the bread crumbs over the top of the casserole and bake for approximately 40 minutes in a 350 degree oven.  

Quinoa and Wild Rice Stuffing (dairy-free, gluten-free, egg-free, vegan)

My father and older brother used to spend the fall hunting birds such as grouse, pheasant, and quail.  All of these birds are quite small so none alone would make a meal for six people so my mother would save them up all fall and for New Year’s Eve, she would bake them with a wild rice and artichoke stuffing.  Here’s my version.  Serves 6-8.

You’ll need:

  • 1 cup cooked wild rice (be sure to get just wild rice, not a wild rice mixture.  This took me some hunting but I did manage to find a small bag in my local grocery)
  • 2 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1/2 diced onion
  • 3 stalks of celery diced
  • 8 ounces of sliced mushrooms
  • 8-10 small baby artichokes, cooked (I used jarred in water and they worked fine) and quartered – if you can’t find baby ones, use artichoke hearts but trim the tops to remove any tough pieces
  • 1/2 cup vegetable stock
  • 2 quart baking dish, greased
  • 1/4 cup avocado oil

Heat the oil in a medium skillet and add the onions, celery and mushrooms.  Simmer over medium heat until tender.  Add the rice and quinoa and mix thoroughly.  Pour into the greased baking dish and pour the vegetable stock evenly over mixture (if you prefer, you can use turkey or chicken stock instead).  Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes uncovered.

Chicken “a la king” with leeks and peas (dairy-free, gluten-free, egg-free, soy-free)

My mother didn’t make chicken a la king very often but it was a favorite of everyone in my family.  Here’s my updated version with the addition of peas, mushrooms and leeks instead of onion.  Very tasty with a variety of starches like gluten-free toast, baking powder biscuits, rice, or quinoa.   I make it now to use up leftovers from rotisserie chicken from the grocery store.  Makes 4 servings.

You’ll need:

  • 6 inches of leek, white part only, cleaned and sliced thin
  • 2 stalks of celery, washed and sliced on the bias
  • 8-10 mushrooms such as baby bellas, cleaned and sliced
  • 1/2 cup cooked peas
  • 1 cup cooked diced chicken
  • 1 small jar of pimentos (optional)
  • 1 1/2 cups non-dairy milk, anything but soymilk
  • 3 tablespoons brown rice flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried herb blend like Mrs. Dash
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil

In a 7-9″ skillet, heat the olive oil and add the leek, celery, and mushrooms.  Saute until softened (feel free to lower the heat to low and cover them), about 5-8 minutes.  Stir in the brown rice flour and let simmer for a few minutes to cook the flour (about 3 minutes).  Add the chicken, pimentos, peas and seasonings.  Feel free to adjust the seasonings to your taste.  Stir in the non-dairy milk and simmer until thickened, stirring occasionally.  Serve with your choice of side such as gluten-free toast.

Stuffed Mushrooms (dairy-free, gluten-free, egg-free, soy-free, sugar-free)

One of my favorite appetizers is stuffed mushrooms, as long as the main stuffing ingredient isn’t bread crumbs.  That happens a lot, especially in restaurant servings.  These are stuffed with crab but you could substitute any ground meat or no meat at all, simply add more chopped mushroom and perhaps some onion to the mixture.  The recipe makes between 12 and 15 mushrooms depending on the size and how much stuffing you like.

You’ll need:

  • 12-15 medium to large button or baby bella mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup avocado oil (or olive oil)
  • 1 cup crab meat, claw works fine, don’t need lump in this case
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon dried herbs, depending on personal taste (I use Mrs. Dash mixture but any herbs preferred will work)
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup shredded non-dairy cheese of choice

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Clean the mushrooms by wiping off the outside and removing the stems.  If they are really dirty, feel free to remove the skins.  I prefer to remove them and take away the filmy outside once cooked.

Place on a small cookie sheet that’s been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.  Cut off the inside portion of the mushroom stems and dice.  Put avocado oil and diced mushrooms in a saute pan and cook for several minutes.  This is where you could also add some onion or garlic to taste.  Once diced mushrooms (and onions and garlic if added) are soft, remove from heat and stir in crab meat, herbs, and breadcrumbs.

Place 1 tablespoon to 2 tablespoons of the stuffing mixture into each mushroom cap depending on its size.  When all the caps are filled, sprinkle some cheese on each.  Place in the oven for 20-25 minutes until mushrooms are cooked.  You can tell when they are cooked because they’ll shrink and expose more stuffing.

Serve hot.

Sausage and Mushroom Stuffing (dairy-free, gluten-free, egg-free)

My husband never liked anything but Stove Top Stuffing.  Last year at Thanksgiving, he told me not to bother to make him any stuffing so I made a small batch of my stuffing and then I didn’t get much of it because he ate almost all of it!  So now I make a large dish of this dressing so there’s plenty for leftovers.  Crunchy on the bottom and soft and moist inside, you’ll never miss the gluten or the eggs.  I use this for a Thanksgiving dressing or to stuff chicken breasts or pork chops.

I don’t cut and dry the bread before making the stuffing — the way I figure it, if you have to dry the bread out so that it will absorb all the flavors of the other things you’re adding, your bread isn’t very good.  So I start with my favorite gluten-free bread (I love the DeLand’s Millet and Flax bread or even their millet flatbread), and then don’t add as much chicken or turkey stock (if you want this vegan, don’t use the sausage and use vegetable broth instead of the meat stocks).

Grease a large, flat casserole dish and preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large skillet, over medium heat:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 pound of sausage, I use turkey sausage

Brown and then add:

  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 1 cup diced baby bella mushrooms

Cook until the vegetables are soft.

In a medium size bowl, place:

  • 6 cups of diced gluten-free bread
  • 1 tablespoon dry sage
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • the sausage and vegetable mixture

Mix well and pour into the prepared dish.  Pour over the dressing, 1 cup stock (you can use up to 1 1/2 cups if needed but it may be mushier) being sure to get most of the bread moist.  Cover with aluminum foil, or the cover to the casserole dish if it has one.  Cook for 1/2 hour and then remove cover and let cook for another 15 minutes until top is browned.

String Bean Casserole (dairy-free, gluten-free, egg-free, vegan)

A Thanksgiving classic, this is a side dish I had to give up years ago because of the milk and gluten.  Here it is revisited and so delicious with the home-made cream of mushroom soup along with the onion and bread crumb topping.  I like to use the mixed string beans — green and yellow.  It takes a few more steps than your old fashioned green bean casserole but it tastes just as good.

Steam 1 pound of green beans.  While they’re cooking, cut half a large sweet Vidalia onion into slices and then cut the slices in half (or use all of a medium size onion).

To a medium skillet, over medium heat, add:

  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • the onions

Cook until soft and starting to caramelize.  Stir in:

  • 1/2 cup gluten-free bread crumbs
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley

Grease a 5×8″ casserole dish.  Mix the string beans and 2 cups of cream of mushroom soup (see recipe under soups and salads).  Add to the casserole dish and top with the onion mixture.  Bake at 350 degrees for a half hour and then, if you want it browner, stick it under the broiler for 1-2 minutes.

Cream of Mushroom Soup (dairy-free, gluten-free, vegan)

One of the most versatile soups, cream of mushroom soup is delicious by itself or in any number of casserole dishes.  Its very easy to make.  This recipe makes two servings.

Add to a medium skillet:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound of diced mushrooms (I usually buy one package of mixed mushrooms and then a small package of baby bella so that it has some variety) [I put mine in the food processor and pulse until they’re diced]
  • 1 tablespoon dry parsley

Cook until the mushrooms release their liquid and are soft, about 5 minutes.  Add to the pan:

  • 2 tablespoons brown rice flour

Mix into the mushrooms and cook over low heat for 2 minutes so that the flour starts to cook.  Whisk in:

  • 1 cup vegetable or mushroom stock
  • 1/2 cups non-dairy milk of choice

Cook it for a few more minutes until it thickens.  I then like to cook it a few more minutes so that the taste develops.   Ready to eat or use in your favorite casserole.

Tomato Vegetable “Stoup” (vegan, dairy- free, gluten-free)

This time of year with all the fresh vegetables, this is one of my go to dishes.  My husband and I love this soup/stew.  Its one that is easy to customize to your taste since its basically whatever vegetables you have on hand.  Instead of using canned diced tomatoes, I peeled and chopped some of my husband’s fresh off-the-vine tomatoes sitting on my counter top.  Best of all, its delicious whether you serve it hot or cold.  Add some croutons for crunch (made with gluten-free bread of course!).  In the winter, this soup is a great vehicle for cooked chicken. Feel free to play with it and make it your own by adding the vegetables your family likes the best.  But keep the carrots since they add that sweetness that takes care of the acidity in the tomatoes (the parsnips help with that as well).  Makes 8-12 servings.

Peel as needed and dice into like size pieces:

  • 1 medium onion (I used a red onion)
  • 6-8 stocks of celery
  • 1 medium purple top turnip (or a regular one if you like them but the purple top have a milder flavor)
  • 1 medium yellow squash
  • 1 medium zucchini squash
  • 2 small parsnips
  • 2 baby bok choy (you could use regular chopped cabbage instead of the bok choy and then add some kale or spinach for the greens of the bok choy)
  • 1/2 pound mushrooms (I like to mix them up so I used half baby bella and half porcini)
  • 1 cup chopped or grated carrots
  • 1 cup green peas
  • 1 cup green beans

Add 4 cups (1 quart) of vegetable stock to a large stock pot (if you want, you could add 4 cups of chicken stock).  Be sure to use stock and not broth for that “cooked all day” flavor.  Add the onion, celery, turnip, squashes, bok choy and mushrooms and cook covered over medium heat until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.

Add:

  • 1 cup diced tomatoes
  • 1 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes (I find the Muir Glen organic canned tomatoes taste less metallic than regular canned tomatoes)
  • 1 12 ounce can of your favorite beans (I love the cannellini beans or great northern)

Cook over low heat for another 10-15 minutes until tomatoes and beans are heated through.