Thrifty gluten-free breading

After several years of accommodating a mixed gluten-loving and gluten-free household, I have discovered there are three basic problem areas — bread, pastry dough and breading.

I’ve tried making gluten-free bread at home, but scratch recipes tend to have more ingredients than I want to deal with and mixes often have lousy texture. Gluten-free bread, like gluten-free pasta, is something we just buy.

Pastry dough — which is an issue in terms of time, unusual ingredients and texture — was pretty easy to solve. I discovered a press-in tart shell recipe that could be easily de-glutenized. (Check out Fool-proof Pie Crust in my recipe archive if you missed it.)

Breading is a mix of issues all by itself. Whether it’s worked into something, sprinkled on top or used as a coating, you basically want something that doesn’t sog out your texture, has an innocuous flavor, isn’t based on yet another digestive irritant (like oats are for many people with gluten intolerance), is inexpensive and doesn’t require much prep time.

Enter the box of rice-square cereal. It’s hard to qualify this as a “recipe,” but it works.

Thrifty Gluten-Free Breading

Take one box of rice-square cereal. Snip off a corner of the bag to release trapped air. Fold the corner over and hold it firmly shut, then use a non-sharp kitchen tool or the heel of your hand to crush the cereal into course grains. (Don’t get too zealous. You don’t want powder.) Store the breading like any other cereal product in a zip-locking plastic bag. Done.

Use the breading in any kind of pattie or ball — everything from salmon cakes to latkes to veggie balls. Mix it with Parmesan cheese, nutritional yeast or spices on top of a baked pasta dish for a crunchy topping. Mix it with wet ingredients like oil, egg or mustard and use it to coat things like zucchini fries or eggplant cutlets. It even makes a passable “graham cracker” crust.


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