As a food writer in London, Salter followed the “go everywhere, eat everything” credo of the profession for years before health issues inspired her to go dairy-free. Immediately, she felt healthier and happier—but her gastro-world got a lot smaller. So she took what she’d learned from years covering top chefs and developed her own recipes, now compiled in a new cookbook, Dairy-Free Delicious.
“This book is specifically aimed at people who can’t or won’t eat dairy, rather than a generalist ‘free-from’ book,” Salter explains.
In addition to the (rich and tasty) recipes, she also provides super handy reference sections on putting together a dairy-free pantry, dining out, and shopping, including tips on how to read labels to avoid hidden dairy ingredients in bread, chips, salad dressings, and even—gulp—wine. (Milk protein is often used in the winemaking process, but vegan and kosher wines are milk-free, she explains.)
So, toast these sophisticated recipes with a dairy-free pinot noir (or perhaps a coconut milk flat white)—and enjoy the hard-won healthy wisdom from Salter’s previous, not-so-healthy lifestyle. Cheers! —Erin Hanafy
(Photos: Dairy-Free Delicious)
Serves 4 to 6, depending on the size of your glasses
1 3/4 cups whole rolled oats
2 Tbsp slivered almonds, chopped
2 Tbsp lemon juice
Scant 1 cup water
2/3 cup coconut yogurt
1 tsp maple syrup or honey (optional)
Fresh strawberries, sliced
1 tall sundae/knickerbocker glory glass per person
There aren’t many dishes served in sundae glasses that can be legitimately called healthy, but here’s one. I got the idea for these from a sweet, 1950s-style café in Melbourne, where they serve Bircher and blackberries in tall glasses, to be eaten with a long sundae spoon and washed down with a strong coffee.
The night before, mix the oats and slivered almonds together with the lemon juice and water in a large bowl. Cover and leave in the refrigerator.
The next morning, stir the coconut yogurt into the mixture to make the Bircher. Sweeten with the maple syrup or honey, if you like, but remember that the granola and berries will both bring sweetness to the dish.
Make sundaes by layering alternate layers of Bircher muesli, granola, and berries in each sundae glass. Top with a final layer of berries and a scattering of slivered almonds, and eat with long sundae spoons.
Serves 2 as a main or 4 as a side dish
2 1/2 Tbsp cooking oil
7 ounces firm tofu, drained and dried, then cut into 3/4-inch cubes
14 ounces baby leaf spinach
2 round shallots, finely diced
Thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled and minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
4 Tbsp water
Scant 1/4 cup coconut milk
Saag paneer is made with pureed spinach and cubes of firm, mild paneer cheese. It’s also known as palak paneer as the dish originates from the Punjab where palak means spinach (saag can refer to other leafy greens). Either way, it’s delicious but no friend of the dairy-free. Luckily, firm tofu is a good substitute for paneer, having a similar texture. Fry it first to get it golden and crisp on the outside.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a heavy-bottom skillet over medium-high heat. Add the tofu and fry until golden, for about 10 minutes. Transfer the tofu to a plate lined with paper towels.
Meanwhile, cook the spinach in a pan of boiling water until wilted, for about 3 minutes. Drain well and then puree in a food processor. Leave to one side.
Return the skillet that you cooked the tofu in to medium heat and add the remaining 1/ 2 tablespoon of oil. Add the shallots and fry for a few minutes until softened. Add the ginger and garlic and fry for another 1 minute. Add the ground spices and fry for about 1 minute, stirring with a wooden spoon, just until they have released their fragrance.
Add the pureed spinach and the water. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 3 minutes. Stir the tofu into the mixture before adding the coconut milk and stirring again. Cook for 2 more minutes until the tofu is piping hot. Add salt to taste and serve immediately.
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 stalks of celery, trimmed and very finely sliced
1 1/3 cups Arborio risotto rice
1 cup dry white wine
3 cups hot fish (or chicken) broth
6 1/2 ounces raw king shrimp
1 1/3 cups frozen peas
1 scallion (white and green part), finely sliced on the diagonal
Finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon
1 1/2 tsp minced mint
Swirl of extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Don’t be wary about making risotto—it’s not complicated, just methodical. There’s something meditative about standing at the stove, stirring with your wooden spoon, while the grains of rice grow fat on wine and broth. The reward for your patience is a creamy risotto with plump shrimp and the zesty, sunny flavors of peas, mint, and lemon …
Heat the oil in a deep, heavy-bottom saucepan or ovenproof Dutch oven over low-medium heat. Fry the onion, garlic, and celery gently for 10 minutes until softened. Turn the heat up a little, add the rice and stir to coat in the oil and vegetables. Fry for 1 minute, then pour in the wine and simmer for 1 minute.
Turn the heat down to low-medium again and add a ladleful of broth. Stir with a wooden spoon until the rice has absorbed the broth. Repeat, adding a ladleful at a time and stirring, while it absorbs, until you have added all the broth and the rice grains are plump and tender. Season generously.
Stir in the shrimp and peas and cook for 2 minutes, then cover and cook for another 2 minutes until the shrimp are cooked through. Stir in the scallion, most of the lemon zest, and 1 teaspoon of the mint, add the extra-virgin olive oil, then remove from the heat and let stand with the lid on for a couple of minutes. Check the seasoning, garnish with the remaining mint and lemon zest, and serve.
For the ragu
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 stalks of celery, finely sliced
1 pound 2 ounces ground steak
14-ounce can chopped tomatoes
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1/2 cup red wine
Small handful of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the bechamel sauce and pasta
2 cups almond milk
1 small onion, minced
1 bay leaf
6 black peppercorns
4 Tbsp dairy-free sunflower spread, plus extra for greasing
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp mustard powder
3/4 cup oat cream
About 9 lasagna sheets (the no precook kind)
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
2 Tbsp panko bread crumbs
Deep baking dish, approximately 11 x 8 1/2 inches, greased
A lovingly-cooked lasagna is a beautiful thing: creamy béchamel, rich ragu, and layers of tender pasta. With this much going on there’s no need to smother it in cheese. A dusting of panko crumbs adds a golden crunch to the topping, and a smidgen of mustard powder apes the bite of Parmesan.
For the ragu, heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottom skillet over medium heat. Cook the onion for 5 to 10 minutes until softened. Stir in the garlic and celery and cook for another 3 minutes. Add the ground steak and cook, stirring, for around 4 minutes until browned.
Turn the heat up to medium-high and stir in the chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, wine, and parsley. Season and simmer over low heat, uncovered, for 1 hour.
Meanwhile, make the béchamel. Pour the almond milk into a saucepan and stir in the onion, bay leaf, peppercorns, and cloves. Season with a little salt and bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes (don’t worry if the sauce splits a little at this stage) before removing from the heat and letting it infuse until needed. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
When the ragu is almost ready, melt the dairy-free spread in a separate saucepan over low-medium heat, then add the flour, stirring until you have a smooth roux. Place a strainer above the roux and strain the infused almond milk through it, discarding the onion, bay leaf, and spices (although I like to add some of the onions to the ragu at this stage, rather than wasting them all). Whisk until all the milk is incorporated into the roux, then stir in the mustard powder and simmer for 2 minutes, before adding the oat cream. Simmer for another 2 to 3 minutes, then remove from the heat.
Spread about one third of the ragu over the bottom of the baking dish and arrange a layer of the lasagna sheets on top, and then a quarter of the béchamel. Repeat until you have three layers of pasta and a thicker layer of béchamel on top.
Sprinkle the nutmeg and panko bread crumbs over the top and bake for around 30 minutes until the top is bubbling and the panko crumbs are golden.
Makes about 20
7 ounces semisweet chocolate
3/4 cup coconut cream
1 Tbsp rum
Unsweetened cocoa, finely chopped nuts or dry unsweetened coconut, to coat
Sometimes it’s the little things that can bother you about living dairy-free. Like having to forgo those dainty truffles which come with coffee in smart restaurants, or having to turn down chocolate in the office. So why not make your own truffles? They’re really easy—as long as you can cope with a bit of melted chocolate on your kitchen surfaces—and make thoughtful gifts, too. I’ve made these with rum, but you could try espresso, mint essence, bourbon, orange—have fun experimenting.
Chop the chocolate into very small pieces and place in a large heatproof bowl.
Heat the coconut cream in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Remove from the heat just as it comes to a boil—as soon as it starts bubbling around the edges.
Pour the cream over the chocolate and stir gently with a wooden spoon until all the chocolate has melted and you have a smooth, thick ganache. (If there is still a little chocolate that hasn’t melted, then fill the empty saucepan with water and bring to a simmer—set the bowl above the saucepan so it isn’t touching the water and melt the last of the chocolate, stirring gently.)
Stir in the rum and chill in the refrigerator for 4 hours.
Place your chosen coating/s in a dessert bowl/s and line a baking sheet with wax paper.
Remove the truffle mixture from the refrigerator. If you have one, dip a melon baller in very hot water, then use it to scoop out truffle-sized balls from the chocolate mixture. Pour a little more hot water over the melon baller between each go. Or use a teaspoon and roll the chocolate between your palms to form a ball (be warned, this gets pretty messy). Roll each truffle in the coating of your choice, then place on the baking sheet. Return to the refrigerator and chill until ready to serve, or to package as gifts.
For more recipes that are not only dairy-free, but full-on vegan and raw(ish), we’ve got five easy and delicious ones from This Rawsome Vegan Life blogger Emily von Euw.
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