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Chat Leftovers: Go-to and gluten-free

Too warm outside to be indoors on the computer, you say? Okay, then grab a laptop today at 1, head for a patch of grass and tap into some WiFi for the Food section's weekly Free Range chat, As usual, staff members will be on hand to field your culinary questions. And also as usual, we won't be able to answer every question within the allotted 60 minutes. Here's a leftover from last week's chat.

Recently I've met so many people with gluten allergies, it seems like an epidemic! Regardless, I would like to accommodate them, so do you have any go-to recipe for a gluten-free side dish that doesn’t require too much effort?

The weather might feel balmy right now, but we've got more chilly times ahead of us until spring comes to stay. So here's a side you can serve for several more weeks. It's got everyone's favorite comfort food, sweet potatoes, but with a curry kick that adds a lot of interest. This recipe is from Nourish columnist Stephanie Sedgwick.

-- Jane Touzalin

(James M. Thresher for The Washington Post)

Curried Sweet Potatoes With Apples

6 servings

2 pounds sweet potatoes
2 tablespoons mild olive oil
1 small onion, minced (1/2 cup)
2 teaspoons sweet curry powder, or to taste
1/8 teaspoon salt, plus more as needed
1 (4 ounces) firm, sweet apple, such as Golden Delicious, peeled, cored and cut into 1/4- to 1/2-inch dice (1 cup)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Wash the potatoes and prick some holes or slits in the skins, then place them on the lined baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes to 1 1/2 hours, until juices run out of the slits and the potatoes are soft all the way through; the oven time will depend on the size of the potatoes. Let cool for 5 minutes, then discard the skins and place the flesh of the sweet potatoes in a medium bowl.

While the sweet potatoes are in the oven, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and reduce the heat to medium-low; cook for 6 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft.

Add the curry powder, the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil and the salt; cook for 2 to 3 minutes, then increase the heat to medium and add the apple. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring every minute or so and adjusting the heat so the onion does not burn, until the apple is tender. Remove from the heat.

Use the back of a large serving fork to mash the sweet potatoes in the bowl. Add the curried-apple-onion mixture, stirring thoroughly to combine. Taste and add a pinch of salt if needed.

Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day.

By Jane Touzalin  |  March 10, 2010; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Chat Leftovers  | Tags: Chat Leftovers, Free Range, Jane Touzalin  
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I too seem to have multiple friends with gluten problems. There are several dishes that I could make, if not for flour in the bechamel. Can you recommend a different thickener?

I'm thinking of recipes like polenta pasticiata and various gratins.

Thank you!

Posted by: ArlingtonSMP | March 10, 2010 9:21 AM | Report abuse

I've found rice flour to be a life saver on these. Behaves very similarly to regular flour (to the point that I made bread with it last weekend -- and it didn't come out like a rice cake, much to my delight).

Posted by: | March 10, 2010 9:33 AM | Report abuse

Rice flour works very well as a thickener- be sure to use sweet rice or white rice flour though. There are also quite a few all-purpose gluten free flours out there. Bob's Red Mill is ok and I can't wait to try the King Arthur ones. Cornstarch can work also but for a roux- the rice is one of the best. It takes longer to thicken though, so watch that.

Posted by: carimwc | March 10, 2010 10:00 AM | Report abuse

This question kind of amuses me, since I feel like most side dishes ARE gluten free. How about mashed potatoes, oven-roasted potatoes, pretty much any kind of rice, polenta, quinoa, etc.? Yes, you'll have to double-check the ingredient list if you use any packaged products in any of these (for instance, I suggest making rice from scratch and not using a boxed rice mix). But don't worry too much about this part of the meal.

Posted by: Agfras | March 10, 2010 2:47 PM | Report abuse

My husband has celiac, we've replaced with all-purpose gluten free mix (whole foods has it) and rice flour. It behaves in the same way so just use that and don't worry about it.

Posted by: ajbouche | March 10, 2010 3:56 PM | Report abuse

You can find some great gluten free recipes, restaurant reviews and more on

Posted by: gfgreg | March 11, 2010 12:46 PM | Report abuse

You are so right about the amount of people with food intolerance and food allergies. Our son has dealt with food issues since he was a baby and it has been a hard long road of finding things that he can eat. I am glad more people are becoming aware for sure. Recently we began eating Kamut Khorasan Wheat and because it is an ancient grain, many people with gluten intolerance can eat it too! I am glad you shared this, thanks so much!

Posted by: smilinggreenmom | March 13, 2010 7:46 PM | Report abuse

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