A Stress-free, Gluten-free Menu

Remember when a dietary restriction was the exception rather than the norm? A decade ago, having a vegetarian over for dinner was a panic-inducing proposition in our house, but now, given that we are eating plant-based meals so much more regularly, it hardly even registers as an issue. These days it seems to be all about the gluten-free guest. And by that I mean, the unnecessarily apologetic gluten-free guest who says at some point before he or she comes over: Please don’t think about it — just cook the way you normally do. I can always find something on the table to eat. I pretend to honor this request, but if you looked at my Google history over the past six months you’d probably find a whole mess of search terms that reveal exactly how clueless I am (“Who is Emma Stone?” is the latest example I feel comfortable sharing) intermingled with this daily query: “Is Fill-in-The-Blank gluten free?” This dinner I cooked a few weeks ago for my in-laws (Grandma “Hubba” is GF) was a good one and I thought I’d share it with you guys from soup to nuts.

(PS: Other recipes referenced in my diary above (which aren’t gluten-free): Black Bean Burritos, Cold Sesame Noodles, Scalloped Potatoes and Kale SaladCooked Carrots.)

This menu serves four. Bonus: Every bit of it can be done in advance including the quinoa. (Just don’t toss your greens with the vinaigrette until it’s time to eat.)  If you want a starter, go with the always-reliable Chips and Guac. I never have to worry about dessert since I have a world-class gluten-free bakery in my neighborhood. But I’m interested in hearing from you guys about sweet notes to end on.

MAIN: Sweet and Sticky Chicken Pieces
This recipe started out as the chicken wings I shared last year — but turned into something else entirely on the night I realized I had no wine in the house. I used pomegranate juice instead and now that’s the only way I prepare it. It could not be easier and it makes the house smell so good. Note of warning: DEFINITELY line your baking dish with a layer of foil — maybe even two layers. The sauce gets sticky and makes for a dish-washing nightmare.

2 pounds chicken pieces (we do thighs and drumsticks)
1 cup gluten-free soy sauce or Tamari
1/2 cup pomegranate juice
1/2 cup sugar

Put a rack in middle of oven and preheat oven to 400°F. Arrange chicken in one layer in a foil-lined large baking dish or roasting pan. Combine remaining ingredients in a small saucepan and heat over low heat, stirring, until sugar is dissolved. Pour this mix evenly over chicken pieces. Bake for 45 minutes. Turn chicken over and bake until sauce is thick and sticky, about 1 hour more. They are supposed to be dark and gooey, but keep an eye on them in this second round of baking so they don’t get more charred than you prefer.

SALAD 1: Quinoa with Feta and Herbs

Bring 2 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add 1 cup of quinoa and simmer, covered, until tender, fluffy, and water is absorbed — about 15 minutes. Let stand, covered, off the heat for 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork. (This yields about 4 cups cooked quinoa.) Add 1 bunch scallions (chopped), a handful of chopped parsley or mint or both, and a handful of crumbled feta to taste.

SALAD 2: Greens with Fennel and Blood Oranges

In a large bowl, add the following: Fresh greens (or as fresh as you can find in the winter), 1/2 bulb fennel, shaved superthin (preferably with a mandoline), 2 small blood oranges (outer layer of pith removed, sliced horizontally), and a handful of chopped mixed herbs such as cilantro, chives, parsley. Toss with cider vinaigrette below.

Cider Vinaigrette

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
squeeze of fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper
1/2 cup good quality olive oil

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We have so many friends who have gone above and beyond to make sure I had something to eat. I never expect it….but am always so greatful. (And I’m sure Hubba feels the same way). The only think I would say about your recipes (which sound fantastic, by the way) is to make sure you specify that the soy sauce used is gluten free…most people don’t know that regular soy sauce is made with wheat, and that you need to use GF Tamari instead. =)


YAY! I love a post about a GF dinner! It doesn’t have to be as hard as most people think it is and hopefully you know that now. But a little side note…Soy Sauce is NOT GF, as it is processed with wheat. Tamari sauce is the GF alternative. Depending on Grandma’s level of sensitivity this may or may not cause a problem. Wheat/Gluten lurks everywhere!

P.S. Ours is a brandy-new food blog from a *primarily* GF, dairy-free, vegetarian kitchen (don’t judge me just yet, I am a newbie!) and you should know that yours is one I am most inspired by. Thank you!


do you plan your meals a week in advance or write them down after the fact? i’m trying to get better about this family dinner thing and actually fantasize about doing a robin/jenny year much like julie/julia though our names together aren’t as catchy.


Oh no! Didn’t even think to Google soy sauce! I hope Hubba will forgive me! It’s all fixed now — thanks for the feedback.


As Cara said, soy sauce is made with wheat – there are GF soy sauce brands available instead of using tamari, check your local stores.

leah rosen

you can find wheat free tamari very easily these days. all commercial soy sauce unless otherwise notes has wheat.


i knew about the soy sauce, but i didn’t know that quinoa was gluten free. What a revelation! Thanks, as always, for imparting your knowledge 🙂


Love the reminder of the discomfort we used to feel w/ accommodating dietary needs, and the reminder of how simple it is to prepare a whole food meal without gluten!
I’d add check the labor on the mustard (avoid malt) and offer the feta in a separate bowl, as many of us are also dairy free as well!
This is a delightful meal!

Jess b.

What I love most about this post is that the author made adjustments to the recipe based on all of the comments. Nicely handled.


Robin – Nowadays, we loosely plan out our meals in the beginning of the week, but when I first started my diary (in 1998!) I was much more rigid about it. I talk about the whole system in my book http://ow.ly/9jHwV if you are interested in pre-ordering! It chronicles fourteen years of greatest hits, so I’d save the Robin/Jenny project til then!! LOVE THAT IDEA!


I used to stress out preparing GF meal for my sister & cousin, until I had to join their ranks last year myself. Now, I don’t bat an eye preparing GF for me, gluten-full for my daighter, dairy free for a friend’s child and egg free for another! Funny how the world has changed.

A few great “must have’s” in a GF Kitchen Pantry: GF Soy sauce, GF Bisquick Mix, GF All Purpose Flour, Xanthan Gum, and Pamela’s GF Chocolate Cake Mix (can make dairy & egg free). The good news: soooo many good things are naturally GF: Quinoa, Rice, potatoes, corn, veggies, meats, nuts, chocolate, wine, avocados & dairy. Once you learn the Flour / Xanthan Gum tricks, you can bake anything you need at home.


thank you for sharing a GF recipe on your site! my son was diagnosed with coeliacs about half a year ago and i used to break out in a cold sweat thinking about his diet. here in switzerland coeliacs is only just becoming more known about in the mainstream.
half a year on i am much more at ease and his school mates’ parents have so far been wonderfully cooperative and accommodating. it really isn’t so scary anymore to freestyle non-GF recipes to suit our needs.
the only thing we haven’t tried yet, is eating out… but in these tough economic times, it’s probably a good thing 😉


My favorite way to end a GF meal is with the flourless chocolate torte from The New Best Recipe Cookbook from the editors of Cook’s Illustrated


It isn’t so hard to make things gluten-free, but I find that often the same people who eat no gluten are also dairy-free, vegetarian, etc. This makes things more of a challenge…


How did i not know Hubba is gluten free?!?!?!?!?! That’s the exact kind of minutia my brain loves.


Yes! This will be on my list for dinner this week.

Pardon the contridiction but I subscribe to your newsletter. Can I be the winner of the bread mix/pan please?


I love the gluten-free and would love to see more… I am a newsletter subscriber. Do I win the Baked Better Bread Prize?


Love seeing snippets of your dinner diary!

PS – I am a newsletter subscriber. Do I win the Baked Better Bread Prize?


I made this entire menu last night (after the kids went to sleep, so I could serve it tonight) and it’s all delish, esp the fennel/orange salad. The only thing I would do differently next time is make sure the chicken is crowded a bit in a Pyrex, instead of baking it in my giant roasting pan. The sauce all burned up because there was too much room. I guess I took “Arrange chicken in one layer in a large baking dish or roasting pan” too literally. Can’t wait to eat it tonight!

I am a newsletter subscriber. Do I win the Baked Better Bread Prize?

Sarah Lee

Love your blog. Your blog has inspired me to start my own blog. I love your personal stories and I can relate to them. My son who is 22 months old is allergic to everything but gluten. He is allergic to milk, eggs, soy, tree nuts, and peanutes. He is the pickest eater too (he won’t even touch pasta). All he will eat is chicken, turkey, fruit and and sweet potatoes. Any suggestions?


I love that you used the phrase ‘soup to nuts’! It was a phrase discussed on the radio show ‘A way with words’ a couple of weeks ago but I’d never heard anyone say (or write!) it. I’m determined to try and slip it into conversation on a regular basis!


I made the chicken last night and had a pan disaster! I make it in a 9×13 pyrex lined with foil. The marinade boiled in the oven and overflowed, creating burnt tumor-like structures at the bottom of the oven and on the side of the pan! The chicken, however, was delicious! Questions: Do I just need to use a deeper pan? Was I supposed to cover the chicken? Does it really need to cook for an hour and 45 min on 400? (I turned the oven down after the first 45 min and cooked it for 90 min total.) Would love your advice because the chicken was a hit!

Also, if I make it correctly, do you mind if I post a link to your recipe on my blog?

Thanks, and I love your blog.

A Different Jenny

Another chicken disaster here. I doubled it and made it on two cookie sheets. The syrup burned, the chicken got tough and dry, and 15 minutes before the guests showed up, my husband went out and picked up two roasted rotisserie chickens. I love the idea of this one, but would try something like giving the chicken a quick bath in the liquids, then reducing them on the stove into a glaze, while baking the chicken for 20-30 min at a lower temp.


So happy to see this menu/recipe. Before I had to go GF, I used to LOVE reading all your recipes. I hopped back over to share your pork ragu recipe for a dinner party (man I’ve craving that dish – but don’t want to have it if I can’t have the pappardelle too) and thought I’d do a GF search. Love this. Even have pom syrup and feta to give it a try.


I’d like to make this soon, but I’m questioning cooking the chicken for almost 2 hours at 400 degrees. Is this truly the right temp and time?


@Kathy – the chicken is essentially immersed in liquid, which becomes concentrated and stickier over that time. Definitely the right time and temp. Made this just last week and it was killer. Again.


I came here searching the comments to see how I had screwed this recipe up — my sauce also completely burnt and I was very bummed out! I think the key is that you’re saying the chicken needs to be crowded in a smaller dish so the sauce covers the chicken and isn’t so thin that it roasts away to nothing. This would be an important distinction to make in the directions, and if it works for me then I will also revise it in my Dinner Playbook…