Sometimes you need limitations to be creative. In my day job coming up with ideas for new TV programmes, it’s often the most restrictive briefs that lead to the most original ideas. And it was a bit like that when I stopped eating gluten. In the weeks and months after I banished gluten from my diet (and threw away my beloved sourdough starter…sob!) I actually found myself being more creative than ever in the kitchen.
Most of my favourite recipes that I rely on to this day came out of those exciting first days when the limitations of not being able to eat gluten made all the other ingredients that I could eat seem all the more enticing. Suddenly a handful of pearlescent butter beans or a bowl of roughly crushed new potatoes took on an allure that they had never had before. And without the crutch of pasta or bread to bulk a meal out, I found myself packing so much more flavour into my dishes. Four years on, I can’t imagine ever going back again.
But there was always one meal that I struggled to crack on my gluten free diet – breakfast. I was never a big breakfast eater anyway, but what is breakfast without toast, cereal or muesli? For a while I had fruit and yoghurt, but it always felt like a bit of a cop out. And chopping mangoes with eyes half shut in the mornings? Not my style. Then I started making my own gluten free bread and having that in the mornings. Which was lovely on occasion, but by the end of last year I’d fallen into a lazy toast-and-nutella habit in the mornings which really needed to be kicked!
So with the arrival of a bright and promising New Year I decided to try and crack the breakfast problem once and for all. I needed something that would be healthy, gluten free, and sustain me until lunchtime. And most importantly it needed to be ready in minutes.
Enter the mini frittata.These little morsels of joy have transformed breakfast for me. I whip up a batch on a Sunday, pop them in the fridge… and then all that remains to be done is to stagger blearily down to the kitchen of a morning, bung one under the grill to warm through (a microwave would be even better, but this is the first time I’ve realised I might need one) and tuck in!
Here’s the basic recipe, but you can improvise with whatever you have to hand in the fridge.
- 12 eggs
- 4 large spring onions, finely sliced
- 50g feta cheese
- Optional – any other vegetables you have to hand, finely sliced. Diced sweet peppers, courgette and mushrooms will all work well.
- Preheat the oven to 180C. Use olive oil to lightly grease the wells of a six-cup muffin tray, then distribute the sliced spring onions and any other vegetables evenly between the cups.
- Beat the eggs well in a measuring jug, then pour gently into each cup until ¾ full. Use a fork to stir the contents around to make sure there are no air gaps.
- Slice or crumble the goat’s cheese and drop a few pieces into each muffin cup.
- Bake for 20-30 minutes or until they have risen and set, and taken on a light brown colour on top.
- Leave them to cool for 20 minutes in the tray, then remove and pop in small sandwich bags to be stored in the fridge, where they’ll keep for up to a week.