A Niçois feast for everyone.

This Thursday, I made a feast for some good friends. With no meat or fish, to cater to the vegetarian (except for some cured ham which she could skip). And without gluten (except for a gifted baguette for those of us who could eat it), dairy, tomato, potato, nuts, and eggs to cater to me and Ingeborg. Phew.

But I choose to see allergies as an opportunity rather than a constraint. What kinds of interesting food can I make which we can all eat? This is the question to ask – rather than what I can’t make. The theme was Nice, inspired by my recent trip. The rosé (A Guigal Côtes du Rhône – admittedly from the wrong region of France) was delicious, and the food turned out excellent!

The feast came about over the course of two afternoons, and I don’t have proper recipes for most of it. But here’s what we ate:

Stuffed bell peppers

Stuffed vegetables are pretty common in restaurants in Nice, but the stuffing is usually made from a mix of meat and rice. I made a stuffing instead from onion, garlic, shredded zucchini, herbs (parsley and basil), cooked brown rice and crumbled tofu (I had frozen extra firm tofu and then microwaved it in order to be able to squeeze out the maximum amount of water. Then I put it in the food processor with the dough attachment and crumbled it). Delicious.

Pissaladière

Pissaladière is really common Niçois street food. It’sa bit like a white pizza, with a topping made mainly from caramelized onions. Traditional iterations also have anchovies, but mine just had onion, olives and thyme. The onions – two huge white onions – were sliced in the food processor and cooked the day before. We cheated for this one and bought a gluten-free pizza crust, but next time I’ll make my own. This is an excellent “pizza” for those that are not only off gluten, but also tomato and dairy…

Socca

The quintessential Niçois street food, which happens to fit all our dietary restrictions! I cheated by panfrying it, instead of broiling it, because I didn’t have an appropriate oven dish.

The batter is simply 1 cup chickpea flour (sifted), 1 cup water, some olive oil and salt and pepper, left to sit for a while. Easy as pie. You can see it above on that blue plate.

Mesclun

The traditional mixed salad, served with a mustardy vinaigrette courtesy of Ingeborg.

Tapenade

This is so easy to make at home in a food processor! Much cheaper than buying ready made. Just don’t make the same mistake as me and buy olives with their pits in still, because that’s a lot of extra work right there… Normally, tapenade has anchovies. I skipped that and just put lots of black olives, some capers, garlic and olive oil.

Pistou

This is the Provençal version of pesto, which doesn’t contain pine nuts. In addition to the basil, garlic and olive oil I also added some parsley (mainly because I had lots more of that than basil). It is most often eaten in soup, but we used it on bread and just generally on top of stuff. A tasty splash of green!

Moral of the story: allergies are in no way an obstacle to cooking great food, and to finding great joy in the sharing of a meal between friends. I am already thinking of food to cook for the next one!

note: my phone is missing and my DSLR is broken and needs to go to a repair shop. The pictures are courtesy of Jonas’ iPhone. I am hoping to deal with this camera situation soon so that I can put better pictures.

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