Share Your Grainless Recipes!
February 4, 2011 1:33 PM   Subscribe

Help my sanity - share your grainless vegetarian recipes! I can't tolerate any grains, rice, oat, barley, wheat, corn, quinoa, etc. This means that traditional "gluten free" replacements are out of the question. I'm starting to hit the wall in terms of being able to deal with it, and I need some variety in my diet! Right now, I'm avoiding eating because it's so disheartening, and I want the joy back in meal times. A sample of what I eat currently under the fold.

I eat lots of stir fry, frittatas, green salads and bowls of beans and cheese. I generally have greek yogurt in the morning for breakfast. Lunch is a salad (cheese, nuts, roasted red bell peppers, etc.) Dinner, well, I've been skipping dinner a lot because I'm just so sick of food. If I can get myself to eat, it's roasted vegetables, stir fry or a frittata.

I absolutely love spices of all kinds and spicy things in general. Green chile gets me through.

I love hummus, guacamole and other dips, but I am so beyond sick of eating them on carrot sticks and celery. Any ideas for something more like a cracker? Or other vegetables or exciting ways to use it? I used to eat lots of wraps with hummus in them, but that's out now.

If you have good websites with this sort of recipe, I'd love it! Good casseroles with no grains would be good, too.

The only restriction I have is that I am allergic to peanuts and can't eat meat. I'd love it if I was a meat eater since it would make this all easier, but since that's not on the table please don't give me meat recipes.

Let me stress that all grains are out. If you have a brilliant idea for a grain replacement or a grain-like something (quinoa or whatever) that you think I can eat, I can not eat it and it is not a helpful suggestion. Mostly, it will just depress me even more about what I can't have.
posted by stoneweaver to Food & Drink (89 answers total) 192 users marked this as a favorite
What about potatoes? Can you eat them?
posted by Ery at 1:36 PM on February 4, 2011

Yes! Potatoes are a go, although I do try to limit them. I like them enough that I would eat a baked potato every meal if I let myself. Recipes with potatoes would be a good treat, especially ones that are not majority potato (like mashed potatoes).
posted by stoneweaver at 1:43 PM on February 4, 2011

Before I post a recipe that depresses you: are lentils okay? They're pulses...I think.
posted by charmedimsure at 1:43 PM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

Cheese plates! Treat yourself to some lovely cheeses and present them on a platter with a fruit compote of some kind (I particularly like fig), and whole fruit (pears and grapes are awesome). Since you can't do traditional crackers, maybe toast some almonds or cashews with some Chinese five spice powder.

Speaking of almonds (assuming you eat them), here's a recipe for almond flour crackers. I suppose you could use any nut flour and just try them all until you find one you like. (the almond flour crackers are good, though)

Here's another recipe for almond flour crackers.
posted by cooker girl at 1:44 PM on February 4, 2011 [7 favorites]

posted by clockwork at 1:45 PM on February 4, 2011 [9 favorites]

You might look at Atkins-y products. I know there are a couple of things such as cracker-like things and even a pizza crust made out of nothing but cheese.

Here's a recipe for a similar sort of thing. Is soy OK?

I've seen a lot of wraps made with lettuce (although of course this depends on the kind and strengths of the lettuce available to you), but you could also try cabbage. Cabbage rolls are typically made with meat and rice, but you could fill them with something else (beans, etc.).

When I did Atkins several years ago, the part I hated the most was the lack of "vehicles" -- rice, bread, pasta -- on which to put the sauce or fixings that really make a meal. If you magically figure out a solution to that, you're golden.

And I am NOT trying to be difficult here, but does fish count as meat in this equation? Can you eat that?
posted by Madamina at 1:46 PM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

Not actually like crackers, but roasted seaweed (storebought) and kale chips (homemade) both hit the crunch-salty-delicious place for me. If you bake or fry a slice of cheese (say cheddar) it will eventually go really crispy: it's not a cracker, but it can almost get there. Sort of.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 1:47 PM on February 4, 2011 [3 favorites]

Lentils are fine, although I have to admit that I'm sort of scared of preparing them. If you would include specific prep (like, how long to soak? Do I soak them? How do I know when they're done?) with the recipe, it would help.

I'm making almond crackers RIGHT NOW. Thank you cooker girl!
posted by stoneweaver at 1:47 PM on February 4, 2011

a few things I love:

~ have you made kale chips yet? super good, & they really satisfy that hunger for chips/crackers. you can do the same thing with chard.
~ roasted chickpeas also satisfy that crunchy/savory craving.
~ I LOVE goat cheese & green onions spread on belgian endives. I totally stole the idea from a Trader Joe's salad and now I eat it all the time.
~ the spreadable Laughing Cow cheeses (also with green onions) are great on slices of cucumber.
~ what about soup? you could get an immersion blender, and try some of these vegetarian soup recipes.
posted by changeling at 1:49 PM on February 4, 2011 [4 favorites]

Soy is good. Thanks for clarifying about fish - not for me!
posted by stoneweaver at 1:49 PM on February 4, 2011

Do nuts count as grains? Chopped pecans, almonds, and pinenuts feel grainlike to me, as far as their tooth goes. Also, what are your feelings on cilantro?

I eat a lot of salads. Here's one I can eat a lot of:

Can of black beans
Can of corn
chopped cilantro
chopped red onion
canola oil (olive congeals)
pinch of sugar

Here's another:
yogurt cheese
cucumbers (no seeds)

Quick soup:
blend together a can of beans & a jar of salsa. Heat. Garnish with cilantro and sour cream.

There are lots of soups.

My current fave is broth, ginger, garlic, cilantro lemongrass, shitakes and egg. I add something tofu-ish if I want more heft.

I do a lot of Vietnamese spring rolls, too. I use rice noodles but wrapping them in lettuce and adding more sprouts, mint, cilantro, and seitan is good. Those pickled daikons in the Japanese sections are a nice addition. Look up some dipping sauce. I make the peanut butter/hoisin/lime juice kind but I'm sure other nut butters would work and many sauces are completely nut-free. My brother's is a very spicy mayonnaise/chipotle/chili pepper sauce that's very tasty.

I don't know how out meat is, but adding fish sauce to things often adds a mysterious and tasty base flavor. (Not a fishy one, since you're adding so little.)

Sour kraut/kimchi is cheap and easy to make at home and is substantial.
posted by small_ruminant at 1:49 PM on February 4, 2011 [2 favorites]

If you can eat beans, can you eat lentils?

Also, what about nuts? You could bake almond bread and almond crackers for your dips.
posted by halogen at 1:49 PM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

I love hummus, guacamole and other dips, but I am so beyond sick of eating them on carrot sticks and celery. Any ideas for something more like a cracker? Or other vegetables or exciting ways to use it?

Red peppers (or other bell peppers) are great for this. Also broccoli, cauliflower, cucumbers, and tomato slices. Actually, we had a whole thread about this. Other people suggested mushrooms or onions. Some more exotic answers (I haven't tried any of these, but they sound fascinating): kale chips, fennel, jicama, raw asparagus, and even apples.
posted by John Cohen at 1:50 PM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

oh, and seconding those seaweed chips -- I don't care for them, but my husband is so obsessed he eats at least one pack a day. that and an entire bag of frozen peaches. strange man.
posted by changeling at 1:50 PM on February 4, 2011 [2 favorites]

You could dip papadums into hummus and guacamole as chip substitutes. They're made from lentils and a little salt and oil and are crispy and delicious. You should be able to find them in any Indian grocery store.
posted by Alison at 1:51 PM on February 4, 2011 [6 favorites]

If you can eat beans, can you eat lentils?

OP already answered this.
posted by John Cohen at 1:51 PM on February 4, 2011

Have you ever tried/can you eat spaghetti squash?

It's a great "vehicle" replacement (as Madamina above mentions) for spaghetti sauce, pesto, whatever.

Also delicious tossed in some butter and sage and pepper. Omnomnom. (All hard-shelled squash is fantastic, but spaghetti squash is probably the most versatile.)

To prepare, just chop in half, slather with a little bit of olive oil and salt, and roast at 400 till squishy. Then scrape loose the innards with a fork.
posted by phunniemee at 1:52 PM on February 4, 2011 [5 favorites]

Put little piles of shredded parmesan cheese on a baking sheet, and pop in the oven. Take out when slightly golden. It's a cheese cracker made entirely of cheese.
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 1:54 PM on February 4, 2011 [5 favorites]

South Beach Phase 1 is going to be really good for you, I think. My favorite recipe blog for SB is Kalyn's Kitchen. Links to all her SB Phase 1 stuff is on the left hand side there at the top.

Here's a link to her Vegetarian section, although sometimes she posts vegetarian recipes in her "round up" posts.

Lentils are awesome. My favorite lentil recipe of Kalyn's is this one. Don't be afraid of lentils! They are joy!

Also, many of her "breakfast casseroles" (which are frittata, mostly) are vegetarian, if you need breakfast / frittata ideas.

Cauliflower fakes in as potatoes pretty well, and sometimes comes in fun colors like orange and purple. There are also sweet potatoes that are purple! Not sure where you're located but if you have a Whole Foods or a Farmer's Market, you can find some fun stuff there.
posted by Medieval Maven at 1:55 PM on February 4, 2011 [2 favorites]

Lentils are so dead easy. I don't think I've ever pre-soaked them - just two cups of water to every one cup of lentils, boil till the consistency you want.

Lentils + caramelized onions + a pinch of garam masala and a dollop of plain yogurt on top = comfort food. So good.

Some recipes. is great because you can put ingredients you want AND ingredients you don't want in the search.
posted by geekchic at 1:55 PM on February 4, 2011 [2 favorites]

I know this is not a main dish, but a dessert, but here goes: I've tweaked Alton Brown's Moo-less chocolate pie recipe by eliminating the pie crust and pouring the filling into little custard cups, and serving it with a dollop of mascarpone. Not particularly low-calorie, but definitely vegetarian, grain-free, and very delicious.
posted by ambrosia at 1:56 PM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

Have you tried socca? It's a chickpea-based flatbread often made without any grains at all. Crunchy on the outside, creamy-tender on the inside -- oh man, I love socca. I haven't actually made this at home yet, so whether this particular recipe is The One is not something I can speak to, but it has the basic ingredients right.
posted by sculpin at 1:57 PM on February 4, 2011 [7 favorites]

I'm not a big fan of spaghetti squash. (I think the name bothers me; it may be a good food on its own but it is nothing like spaghetti.)

But you should try butternut squash. Cut into bite-size pieces. Coat in oil. Season with salt, spices of your choice (cinnamon, etc.). Put in oven at 400(?) for an hour(? - I can never get the time right on this recipe, you just have to keep an eye on it) or until soft. Eat. Tastes good! Kind of has a certain starchiness to it without, you know, actually having gluten in it.
posted by madcaptenor at 1:58 PM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

I make the Classic Lentil Soup (I think the link will take you to the right page but if not it's page 115-116) from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian all the time. It's super easy and delicious. Another lentil recipe from the same book, Simplest Dal (page 600).

Vegetarian chili doesn't need any grains. If you want to beef it up (so to speak) you can use crumbled up tempeh.

Chickpeas are f*cking delicious. I eat this all the time when I'm feeling lazy. And even when I'm not! You can also roast them with spices for a crunchy snack.
posted by grapesaresour at 1:58 PM on February 4, 2011 [3 favorites]

I enjoy mung beans. I tend to make a sort of daal out of them. They are similar to lentals in how they can be used, but they don't need to soak and cook quicker.

Maybe consider using squash. I've had Spaghetti squash - basically just the guts scraped out in strings that resemble spaghetti, with pasta sauce.

Also, cooked butter nut squash pureed with milk and sage is wicked tasty lasagna filling (you can use thinly sliced zucchini or eggplant to replace the noodles).
posted by ohheh at 2:01 PM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

What about tapioca? (It's a root, not a grain at all, and my gluten-intolerant self does fine with it fwiw.) I make these now and then - they're delicious if weird.
posted by restless_nomad at 2:02 PM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

Er, these.
posted by restless_nomad at 2:02 PM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

Use a carrot peeler to shred a raw zucchini into ribbons, and it can take the place of pasta. Makes a great a sauce-vehicle.

Experiment with baking thin slices of white or sweet potato on a wire rack over a cookie sheet, to make potato "crackers".

Regular or sweet-potato oven fries!

Mash potatoes with a little liquid (butter/milk/cream/soymilk whatever) and then pipe it onto a baking sheet in little puffs or ovals, then bake. You can pipe in a real pastry bag, or put the mashed potato into a ziploc bag and snip the corner. Here's a recipe that uses egg and cottage cheese for added puffiness.

Spicy nuts are delicious. Having just made these (so good!), I think you could try a variation where you chop or process the nuts into a rough meal, then mix with egg whites & spice mixture, then bake on something non-stick. You'd get caramelly nut-toasts. Maybe try with 1/2 cup of nuts and see how it goes.

Cheese tuiles can be made without the flour. Basically they're crackers made only of cheese, reminiscent of the little crisp cheese bits that stick to the edges of most things made of melted cheese.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 2:04 PM on February 4, 2011 [2 favorites]

Have you tried Ethiopian food. There are a lot of vegetarian dishes in the cuisine. It's spicy. And I know you mentioned no grains but injera, which is an Ethiopian flat bread is gluten free made with teff. This recipe uses 100% teff flour. More Ethiopian recipes.

Also, what about Indian dishes. I love dal, eggplant curry, and okra curry. A lot of Indians are vegetarian and there are some good recipes online. The recipes can be intimidating at first because of all the spices but garam masala spice blends are in Safeway now.
posted by shoesietart at 2:05 PM on February 4, 2011 [2 favorites]

My immediate thought since you love spices was indian/thai curries (skipping the rice, of course).

I've never mastered indian food from scratch, but I've been buying the premade spice mixes in a jar lately, they make cooking thai and indian food really simple. I bet, with a little diligence, you could find some that do not contain any unsuitable ingredients. For example, I just pulled two out of my fridge to look for you, one is "Tiger Tiger Vindaloo Paste" and the only questionable ingredient is "modified maize starch", but if you're good with corn this shouldn't be an issue. The other is "World Foods Thai Red Curry Paste", which has tapioca starch, which should most likely be fine for you as tapioca is a root veggie and you said potatoes were ok.

Basically, with the indian ones, you fry up an onion in some oil, add the spice paste, let it get good and hot, and then add a tomato and whatever other veggies you plan on eating (potatoes/squashes/sweet potato/etc). You cook for about 15 minutes. Completely foolproof. The thai ones are nearly identical except you also add a can of coconut milk. The recipe is right on the jar. In your case you might skip adding any water so that it's more stew-like and can be eaten without rice to soak it up.

posted by zug at 2:06 PM on February 4, 2011 [2 favorites]

Oh, since you mentioned not being able to handle green chiles, neither of these has green, only red.
posted by zug at 2:07 PM on February 4, 2011

Oh and for a casserole thing Vegetarian Cassoulet. It's just as good without the seitan so leaving it out is no deal at all.
posted by grapesaresour at 2:07 PM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

Another super simple thing to do with delicious chickpeas.

It's described as a sandwich filling, but you can insert it directly into your mouth from the bowl! And monkey with the spices as needed.
posted by pantarei70 at 2:08 PM on February 4, 2011 [3 favorites]

I was coming in here to recommend pão de queijo too! They are delicious and are a great accompaniment to stews and soups. Plus, if you find yourself cooking for other people, they will love them too. I don't think anyone would look at a meal of veggie soup, pão de queijo and salad and even notice the absence of grains (or meat for that matter).
posted by annaramma at 2:09 PM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

For dessert, macarons are great way to go. They're made with almond flour (sometimes called almond meal), which is actually just finely ground and slightly dried almonds.
posted by shoesietart at 2:09 PM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

From the book Almost Vegetarian, I have a variation on the curry chickpea recipe:

2 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp curry power
1 Tbsp cumin
2 tsp tumeric
2 tsp coriander
pinch of cayenne pepper

6 cloves garlic
3" minced ginger (or 3 Tbsp crushed ginger)

1 granny smith apple, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can chickpeas

4 Tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup raisins

Melt butter, start saute'ing onion on medium high. Dump in the spices, garlic, and ginger and mix to coat the onion. Continue saute'ing the onion. When the onion is cooked (translucent), add the tomatoes, chickpeas, and apple. Simmer at low/medium low heat for 20 minutes while it turns to a soupy mix.

After 20-30 minutes, turn down to low and add the lemon juice and raisins. Simmer for 10 more minutes.
posted by deanc at 2:09 PM on February 4, 2011 [4 favorites]

I slightly disagree with geekchic, or maybe we're just using different kinds of lentils - for French green lentils, I don't pre-soak, but dump them straight in a pot, 1 unit lentils to THREE units water, boil quickly, and then cover and simmer until done, usually 30-40 minutes. This leaves them a little "al dente," if you want them squishy, use even more water and/or cook longer.

Nothing to be afraid of.
posted by rkent at 2:10 PM on February 4, 2011 [2 favorites]

Zucchini noodles! They work with all sorts of sauces and are actually really yummy. You can also fry them and turn them into chips for dunking into things like hummus.

Someone mentioned spaghetti squash above already which I love. One trick for cooking them so they don't take forever--cut in half, de-seed, and put face down in the microwave for about 7 minutes and then finish by roasting in the oven for 20 more minutes. Cuts the cooking time at least in half. I like to serve pasta sauce over it or even just some butter, Parmesan and salt and pepper. Yum!
posted by Kimberly at 2:10 PM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

If you can eat beans, then try bean flours. You can get chickpea flour (sometimes called gram flour) in Indian groceries and sometimes in gluten-free sources. With the chickpea flour, you can make papadums, as suggested above, or lots of other things you might have done with wheat flour -- tortillas, pancakes, crackers. Or the socca recommended above.
posted by Jasper Fnorde at 2:12 PM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

Thai curries or soups of any meatless variety should meet your criteria. Coconut milk, vegetables, spice. You'd have to leave out the rice, but you're doing that anyway.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:12 PM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

The Vegetaian Epicure's potato and eggplant curry. Very flavorful, filling & satisfying. Easy to make, too.
posted by Devils Rancher at 2:15 PM on February 4, 2011 [2 favorites]

You should also take a Google at "Paleo" or "Paleo diet". The main component of it is that you can't eat any grains at all, so a ton of people have come up with a ton of fabulous recipes with that as a primary requirement.
posted by restless_nomad at 2:18 PM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

Orangette's Chana Masala is absolutely delicious and, I think, needs no rice or bread to make it a complete meal. I eat it with tamarind sauce and some plain yogurt or yogurt mixed with mashed garlic.
posted by Meg_Murry at 2:19 PM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

The Sundried Tomato Crackers about halfway down this page are excellent, as are some of the other grainless flax recipes.
posted by judith at 2:20 PM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

One of my favorite easy dinners is sweet potatoes mashed with chipotles in adobo, topped with black beans and sour cream. It's pretty straightforward. We usually eat it with greens.

I'm also in love with Smitten Kitchen's Chana Masala, although I add cauliflower and kale to it to round out the meal. Serve it with yogurt on top.

Apples make a good, satisfying cracker substitute. Dip them in nut butters, put cheese on them, sprinkle them with cinnamon sugar.

Another meal we do is really basic: diced potatoes, onions, broccoli and tempeh roasted together in olive oil and cumin. When they're almost done, add a whole bunch of cheese to the top. (Looks like Tofurky makes a grain-free tempeh, if that appeals -- just soybeans, water, vinegar and starter.)
posted by linettasky at 2:20 PM on February 4, 2011 [3 favorites]

Oof, I know what you mean. I can't tolerate grains, either, and the constant refrain of "oh! have you heard of QUINOA? It was on Oprah!" drives me batty. Yes yes I have heard of it. It brings forth agony. Can we just skip the rest of this discussion?

I'm not vegetarian anymore, so I can't save you single-handedly, but here are some tips and recipes I've picked up:

-If you buy broccoli slaw (in the bagged-veggie section at the supermarket) and saute it in a little oil until it goes soft, it's a remarkably perfect substitute for spaghetti noodles. I scoffed at the idea until I tried it, but unlike many substitutions, this really works. Broccoli slaw plus some homemade or store-bought sauce makes a great meal.

-Likewise, if you chop cauliflower up small and saute in oil until it goes soft and brown, it makes a tasty rice-like base for things like stir-fry, curry, etc. I really lean on this one -- I know more about cauliflower than you can possibly imagine.

-Look into curry. Seriously. Indian recipes use little or no grain (other than rice on the side, which you can simply omit), and India has a strong vegetarian tradition, which means plenty of choice. A cookbook like 660 Curries or Dakshin would be a great place to start.

-I love to make this green-chile chicken casserole with thin-sliced zucchini squash instead of tortillas -- it cooks up even better, in my opinion, and tastes way better than the sum of its parts (it has converted more than one cook who sneered at the fact that it contains Campbell's soup, for instance). No extra steps needed, just cut the squash into thin, lengthwise slices (with rind) and then layer them when the recipe calls for tortillas. Just substitute veggie taco meat, crumbled tofu, cheese, or whatever else for the chicken -- soyrizo would be amazing in this. You could probably pull the same trick with any casserole which calls for tortillas, and there's no reason why it wouldn't work for lasagna, either.

-I have yet to find anything which convincingly substitutes for crunchy/substantial things like bread, tortillas, crackers, chips, etc (almond flour is awful, IMHO. The "tortillas" I made from some Atkins recipe were so bad I threw them away.) Romaine lettuce wraps make a great sandwich substrate, but that's about it. Sorry... if you find something better, please let me know!
posted by vorfeed at 2:22 PM on February 4, 2011 [7 favorites]

Parsnip Crisps via Alton Brown
posted by royalsong at 2:22 PM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

I've been enjoying several of the Tasty Bite stews/entrees. Some appear to meet all of your requirements, while others have a bit of cornstarch that may nix the deal.

That page has links showing all the ingredients and nutrition info, as well as a local retailer finder and web purchase options.
posted by NortonDC at 2:25 PM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

You might want to check out the raw foods movement. I don't put much stock in the reasoning behind it, but there's a hell of a lot of creativity put into the food, and a lot of it looks amazing. Be warned that some recipes will call for sprouted grains.
posted by hydrophonic at 2:29 PM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

I think your best bet for cracker type things is going to be in raw cookbooks. I have Raw by Juliano, which has a cracker made of a dehydrated flax seed mixture (bonus, spicy with chiles!) and also Thrive: The Vegan Sports Nutrition Guide, which has several "pizza" crusts and cracker type things that'll fit the bill for you I think. Good luck!
posted by pixiecrinkle at 2:31 PM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

Seconding Indian food in general (lots of lentil and chick pea deliciousness. I also ADORE Sag Paneer*) and Dal in particular. It comes in all sorts of varieties...the main thing are the spices and roasting the spices beforehand. I just made this Red Lentil Dal from Epicurious the other day (though it doesn't say to roast the spices...weird). I know it says to eat it with Basmati Rice, but screw that! It is delicious on its own.

And don't be scared of prepping the lentils, they really aren't hard. I start with dry most all the time.

*I've never tried making my own paneer yet. my boss (who is from mumbai) says it isn't too hard.
posted by Wink Ricketts at 2:33 PM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

Paneer is indeed pretty easy... but if you're feeling lazy, just press a block of firm tofu, cut it into cubes, and fry them in butter until golden. This comes pretty damn close to the flavor and texture of paneer, and is perfect for cubes-of-paneer-in-sauce recipes like saag paneer, matar paneer, etc.
posted by vorfeed at 2:42 PM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

If you feel like experimenting with baking, here are some grain-free flour alternatives...

Bean flours: garbanzo, fava, lentil, soy.
Nut flours: chestnut (delicious!), almond.
Starches: potato, tapioca, arrowroot.
And coconut flour - not sure where that fits.

Using any one of them straight up is not as likely to be successful. A combination of bean/starch or nut/starch would be best. You can probably find suggested ratios online at gluten-free sites. Garbanzo flour plus starch seems to be the go-to substitute in most GF recipes, but I don't like it because it has an acrid, metallic aftertaste. Not everyone can taste it though.
posted by expialidocious at 2:47 PM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

Have you tried:
- yams
- true yam (Dioscorea)
- taro
- plaintains
- cool purple potatoes
- cocoyam (malanga)
- cassava/yucca
- chestnuts (a great starchy staple)

I often make Indian-style curries and use the cassava to sub for rice. Soooo good. Plaintains are delicious sauteed in coconut oil. I am grain-free, but for religious reasons do some vegan days. I like starches a lot because they provide ample calories.
posted by melissam at 2:53 PM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

melissam, can you tell me more about cassava? I know I had a super tasty dish made with it a couple of years ago, but I have no idea what to do with it!

Everyone - THANK YOU so so so much for your suggestions! I have a feeling my life is about to get a lot more tasty. I'm holding off on marking best answers right now because I don't want to discourage people from continuing to add more foods.
posted by stoneweaver at 3:03 PM on February 4, 2011

LOL, the cashier asked me a few days ago what to do with cassava and I almost answered from LOTR (nerd alert): boil it, mash it, stick it in a stew.

Yeah, I do all those things. I makes a fantastic texture in a vegetable stew (or soup) for example. But most of the time I boil it and mash it, so it makes a mashed potato thingy, but better since it seems to magically absorb sauces in a way potato doesn't. It also makes good fries baked or sauteed in a pan.

You might also re-try white rice. It's the only grain I can tolerate.
posted by melissam at 3:15 PM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

If you like sticky chewy desserts, I love this Vietnamese Cassava Coconut thing. It's super easy. You can buy everything (including the shredded cassava) pre-prepped in the frozen section if you have an Asian supermarket nearby.

If you do end up with melissam's experience wrt white rice, the world of southeast asian cooking is your oyster.
posted by small_ruminant at 3:19 PM on February 4, 2011 [2 favorites]

My favorite easy lentil soup: Two cups regular green lentils rinsed, six cups water, a chopped onion, ground cumin, coriander seed, and black pepper. Pressure cook for 25 minutes, open it and add salt and olive oil. It's delicious and so easy. Weirdly, I like to have leftovers with poached eggs for breakfast. Yum.
posted by fritley at 3:22 PM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

Can you tolerate flax seed? It's a seed, not a grain, and grinding it into flax meal is quick and easy and makes a wonderful substitute for flour. It's very popular with low carb diets, so low-carb recipe websites would be a very good resource for you, just skip the recipes containing meat.
posted by platinum at 3:25 PM on February 4, 2011

I admit zooming to the end so I apologize if someone already posted this, but I'm pretty sure you'd love almost all the recipes in this cookbook, which I am working my way through. I.e., I've already cooked from it is great. All you need is a food processor (or a willingness to chop fine) and a slow cooker and some Indian staples.

Here are the first two recipes in the book:

Recipe 1 -- Black Lentils.
Yield: 14 cups. Cook in 5 quart cooker. For 8 cup yield, halve all recipe ingredients.

Put 3 cups whole dried black lentils with skin (cleaned and washed thoroughly) in slow cooker. In food processor, grind 1 medium peeled and quartered onion, 1 2 inch peeled and roughly chopped piece of ginger, 4 peeled garlic cloves, 4-6 Thai or serrano or cayenne chiles -- I keep these in bulk in my freezer, thaw a day before use -- with stems removed, and a cup of chopped fresh cilantro. Add to slow cooker. Now add 1 tbsp ground cumin, 1 tbsp ground coriander, 1 tbsp garam masala, 1 tbsp salt, 1 tsp turmeric powder, 1 tsp-1 tbsp red chili powder, and 12 cups of water. Cook on high 4 hours. Add 1 tsp mustard oil. Cook another 4 hours on high. Add another cup of chopped fresh cilantro and a 1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream or plain yogurt. Garnish with chopped onions and chopped tomatoes and serve with onion salad (sliced onion, cucumber, and tomato, some salt, and the juice of half a lemon), and yogurt.

Recipe 2 -- Black Lentils and Kidney Beans.
Yield: same choice as with recipe 1.

Put 2 cups of whole black dried lentils with skin that have been cleaned/washed thoroughly, and 1 cup of dried red kidney beans which have also cleaned/washed thoroughly in cooker. In food processor, puree a peeled and quartered onion, 4 peeled cloves of garlic, and 4-6 chiles with stems removed. Add to slow cooker. Now peel a piece of ginger, 2 inches, and slice into matchsticks. Add to slow cooker. Add 1 tbsp ground cumin, 1 tbsp ground coriander, 1 tbsp garam masala, 1 tbsp salt, 1 tsp turmeric powder, and 1 tsp-1 tbsp red chile powder. Stir in 12 cups water. Cook on high for 8 hours. Stir in 2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro. Serve with onion salad, maybe some raita or yogurt.
posted by bearwife at 3:26 PM on February 4, 2011 [2 favorites]

If you are looking for a cracker-like thing (i.e. a vehicle for dips, chutneys, sauces, etc.) you could try experimenting with shredded coconut and egg white. I make these tarts for a celiac friend, but recently I've made a savoury version in which I scoop some coconut onto a baking sheet (with a silpat/parchment paper) and flatten it out somewhat. This goes somewhat nicely with chutneys and some cheeses. The key would be to get unsweetened coconut (but, obvs, you know that, since you probably can't eat the sweetened version).

I have also made little mini quiches in this manner, but I haven't quite found a good filling that goes well with the coconut.

I imagine you could experiment with this quite a bit. I suppose that anything similar to coconut (coarsely ground nuts, for instance) could be suspended in egg white....
posted by oohisay at 3:29 PM on February 4, 2011 [2 favorites]

Oh yeah, and you can add spices to the coconut mix so it's not so boring. Also, flip your patties if you are going the "cracker" route.
posted by oohisay at 3:31 PM on February 4, 2011

AndreAnna at Life As A Plate has a lot of grain free breads, muffins, etc. They look pretty good, but I haven't tried any. Some are only gluten-free, I think.
posted by peep at 3:43 PM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

Mung bean noodles are a great rice or noodle substitute, made with no grains. This is what the package I buy looks like.
posted by palliser at 3:44 PM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

Meant to add: a stir-fry over mung bean noodles would be delicious, and honestly I wouldn't feel I was missing out.
posted by palliser at 3:46 PM on February 4, 2011

Couple of suggestions:

* Zuccini spaghetti - great as the noodles in a stirfry or lightly boiled to make more spaghetti like noodles (all you need is this to make 'em)

* Try making your own almond milk and you'll get the left over almond paste - this works well as pie crust or you can try a raw food cake

* Chestnut flour is flour used in some really delicious italian cakes.. here is a sample receipe

* With a grinder you can make mixes of your own custom flours - lentil and pea and almond and chestnut, for example... (you can use a coffee grinder or a vitamix)
posted by zia at 3:49 PM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

Wait, why can't you have grains? Knowing the reason there and the limits would be helpful. Like, you can make almost anything with potato flour, but if it's the starches that might not be a decent suggestion.
posted by klangklangston at 3:52 PM on February 4, 2011

Here are some quick and easy veggie soup/stew recipes:

Invest in an immersion blender. They're cheap and I use mine all the time. Any vegetable can be pureed into soup: I like starting with half a chopped onion and a couple cloves of garlic, sauteed in olive oil until soft. Then add about three cups of soft-cooked (roasted or steamed or baked, or sauteed, as you like) vegetables (carrots, butternut squash, broccoli, cauliflower, peas, asparagus, beets, zucchini, eggplant, mushrooms, artichoke hearts, beans, lentils, etc). Season with salt and pepper and add vegetable stock or water to barely cover. Bring to a simmer to warm everything through. Evacuate to a bowl. If you're not using beans, you'll probably want to add some cream, milk, cheese, or yogurt for protein. Blend to desired consistency. Play around with spices: Carrot + ginger + cream, zucchini and peas + mint + yogurt, butternut squash + cumin + chile + cheddar, mushrooms + cream + thyme and rosemary, beets + goat cheese, to name a few.

White bean, spinach, and tomato soup: Saute half a chopped onion and a chopped clove or two (or more!) of garlic in olive oil until soft. Add a rinsed, drained can of cannellini or white navy beans, two cans of diced tomatoes, and half a defrosted box of chopped spinach. Salt and pepper to taste. Top it off with vegetable stock to desired stewy/soupy consistency. Simmer until everything is a texture you like.

Variation: Substitute chickpeas for white beans, and add some curry powder and red chili flakes to taste. Make it spicy and top with some greek yogurt.

Variation: Instead of curry powder, use a little paprika for a Spanish flavor.

Ratatouille: Saute onion and garlic in the biggest pan you have. Add a large diced zucchini, a small diced eggplant, half a diced green pepper, and saute. Salt and pepper to taste. Add two cans of tomatoes plus juice. Top with a little basil, and it's not traditional, but goat cheese is the bomb.

Mark Bittman's "How to Cook Everything Vegetarian" is a great resource, too. Obviously it does contain some grain recipes, but it has plenty of veg-only as well.
posted by thinkingwoman at 4:03 PM on February 4, 2011 [2 favorites]

This was mentioned above, but roasted parsnips are stunningly good, to the point that it's quite surprising. You could easily make these a dipping medium or eat them as chips too.
posted by norm at 4:16 PM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

Jap Chae is Korean vegetable noodle dish made with sweet potato noodles. Many recipes include a small amount of meat, but that's easily omitted. You would need to use wheat free soy sauce as well.

Korea has several noodles that are grain free (potato, sweet potato, and even acorn!)
posted by vespabelle at 5:25 PM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

Can you tolerate flax seed? It's a seed, not a grain

This page says flax seed is very good for people with Celiac.

However, quinoa is also "a seed, not a grain," and the OP can't tolerate that. The OP also said, "If you have a brilliant idea for a grain replacement or a grain-like something (quinoa or whatever) that you think I can eat, I can not eat it and it is not a helpful suggestion." So I don't know...
posted by John Cohen at 5:31 PM on February 4, 2011 [2 favorites]

I have recently become obsessed with chickpea flour after my husband went to India and started making with these pancakes. We top them with cilantro chutney and dip them in sambar (a lentil soup) and they are amazing. We make the sambar from Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian cookbook.

Gram (lentil) flour pancakes.

1c besan (aka gram aka chickpea aka lentil) flour
1-1/4c cold water
1/4c minced onion, coriander, jalapeno, tomato, etc

Mix flour and water with a whisk until it makes a very thin batter. Add vegetables. Pour 1/4c at a time into a very hot oiled nonstick skillet, and spread. It makes something very similar to a crepe. Delicious. You can also make the batter a bit thicker, pour, and bake for something a bit more like a very dense pancake.

I have also made chickpea flour fries that were very tasty. I can't find the recipe that I used but it was similar to this one. That page also contains a link to another chickpea flour item, Socca, which I have not made.
posted by horses, of courses at 5:41 PM on February 4, 2011 [2 favorites]

I have eaten here a number of times and they have tasty multi-seed crackers and yummy yam crackers that would fit your criteria. I don't know their recipes but I found this recipe for seed crackers and I feel like the yam crackers are in this book, which I think the cafe gets their recipes from. Or maybe it's this one. It's been a while since I was there (and saw the book on the counter), but I think the yam crackers are pretty much just dehydrated yam anyhow.
posted by smartypantz at 5:50 PM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

My experience with grain intolerance is that if it's marketing as a grain substitute it will obliterate my stomach into tiny miserable shreds. Quinoa and amaranth, I'm looking at you.

It's worth figuring out the etiology of your symptoms. In my case it must be the phytates or lectins, since white rice, which is almost just plain starch like cassava, is fine.
posted by melissam at 5:53 PM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

Casava can also be tasty if you peel it, boil it, then chop/tear it (it starts to split while it boils) up into french-fry sized pieces, and then fry those in a pan with a bit of oil. Or do whatever other potato-like things to them.

Another starch to try could be plantains. Slices of plaintains, lightly squished, and then fried and salted are delicious.
posted by JiBB at 7:48 PM on February 4, 2011 [2 favorites]

Shirataki noodles, also known as ito konnyaku, are made from the pulp of a tuber. They are pretty reasonable-tasting as noodles and wonderful in stir-fry.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:09 PM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

Probably 95% of the recipes I've posted or reblogged here are grain-free.

I love hummus, guacamole and other dips, but I am so beyond sick of eating them on carrot sticks and celery. Any ideas for something more like a cracker?

If you have a food dehydrator or can get one (they show up on craigslist fairly often, I hear, and even if you'd prefer a new one, there are economically priced ones as well as Cadillac models) raw bread and raw crackers are generally grainless as well. (Is flax seed a problem? If so, that's not a stopper — chia can be substituted with a little experimentation, I understand.)
posted by Lexica at 9:02 PM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

Oh, and on the noodle front, kelp noodles.
posted by Lexica at 9:05 PM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

I loooove Brazillian tapioca cheese bread. I'm celiac now, but every gluten-eating person I've fed them to loves them, too.

Also, for a crackery/chip thing, Trader Joe's has a baked lentil chip that would be perfect with hummus.
posted by sugarfish at 9:34 PM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

Oh, I meant to say: you can buy the tapioca bread in a mix called Chebe. I buy it in bulk from amazon -- we go through a lot of it -- but you can get single packs from Whole Foods and other places to see if it will work for you.
posted by sugarfish at 9:37 PM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

Since you mentioned liking hummus, this recipe for Hummus Crackers (two ingredients: hummus and flax seed meal) is the neatest thing ever. They're super addictive.
posted by arianell at 11:35 PM on February 4, 2011

Spanish style chickpea and spinach stew with garlic, saffron, raisins, tomato, paprika, clove... is very delicious. The recipe suggests serving it with bread, but I don't -- it's a full meal on its own. Mmmm. Also good with a dollop of plain yogurt in it.
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:12 AM on February 5, 2011 [2 favorites]

Papadums, suggested above, are a fantastic idea. They're completely cracker-like and a touch spicy.

Another thing to try - Trader Joe's has these "vacuum fried" banana chips which are much crispier than regular banana chips and satisfy cracker/chip cravings for me. Great with peanut butter.
posted by miskatonic at 3:30 PM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

I've found Isa Chandra Moskovitz's cook books to be good resources, and she's really careful to mark recipes that contain gluten and sometimes even provides substitutes. I highly recommend the Arabian Lentil stew from Appetite for Reduction, as it's easy, fast and incredibly delicious.
I'd also recommend perusing the Guardian's New Vegetarian column, especially if you're feeling adventurous.
posted by Sara Anne at 7:05 PM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

Soups/stews are good, using whatever beans/veggies you have on hand. Try pureed black beans with corn, salsa, and some extra onions.
posted by cp311 at 10:37 PM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

I came across this recipe yesterday. It looks delicious, but I've never tried it. It uses fenugreek seeds (fenugreek is a legume, but it's usually eaten as a spice) as the base for a spicy tomato-ey salad that looks a bit like tabbouleh. Despite the recipe's name, it isn't what I would call hilbeh. But what do I know. Enjoy!
posted by Joe in Australia at 12:56 AM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

What about cellophane noodles (also known as glass noodles)? They're made from mung bean starch, though you'd have to check the package to make sure there are no grain products added. They are great in soup, especially.

Baked tofu is really good, and if you make thin sheet and bake until crispy, the texture is really great.

Black bean burgers are great - mashed black beans, egg to bind, spices & garlic to flavor. Most recipes call for breadcrumbs, but just leave them out. They might fall apart a little, but the flavor will be fine.
posted by insectosaurus at 12:36 PM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

A couple more ideas:

Soy paper/ soy wraps don't taste like anything, but are good for holding wraps together.

I love cottage cheese pancakes, but most recipes call for flour or oats. I found this one that substitutes soy flour - there are probably more out there. I've never tried them with soy flour, but it sounds like it would work.
posted by insectosaurus at 12:42 PM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

Thank you so much everyone! I am a much cheerier eater since digging in to all of these delicious recipes! I can report back that both sets of almond crackers came out delicious! So far, my favorite is the savory crackers recipe here with the parmesan and olive oil omitted. (They don't seem to crisp up as well with them in the mix.)

I also had an amazing cake this weekend made with coconut flour! The recipe is from the book Cooking With Coconut Flour. It was absolutely phenomenal, and I'll be baking it again! I found the flour at our local Co-Op, but I imagine it's also available through Whole Foods or what have you.

Finally, I had a chance to try out this great method for cooking beans: 90 Minute, No Soak Beans and can report that it went off without a hitch! Super tasty and easy.

I've got lentils in the cabinet waiting for some of the delicious sounding suggestions above, and some mung bean noodles for dinner tonight. I've gone ahead and marked some best answers, too. If any of the recipes work out particularly well, I'll add another follow up. In the meantime, if you've got any other suggestions please do add them!
posted by stoneweaver at 12:57 PM on February 14, 2011 [2 favorites]

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