Challenge: Gluten-free, Vegetarian Italian

Athula is vegetarian and gluten free. I thought I’d pick the most obviously carby cuisine to make having her and her family for dinner as challenging as possible. Danielle joined us for a lovely evening.

We started with pizzocherri in parmesan broth. These Northern-tip-of-Italy noodles are traditionally made from Buckwheat and served with cabbage and cheese. I changed it into a soup, with buckwheat noodles and cabbage swimming in Parmesan broth.

Next, a Milanese entree, of vegetarian “osso buco” (celeriac, stuffed with cheese! and a mushroom steak) and a delicious vegetarian saffron risotto.

For dessert we had ricotta with freshly ground pepper and a drizzle of buckwheat honey… and for those of us who can, some babka from Danielle!


Buckwheat noodles:


  • 2 cups buckwheat flour
  • 3 eggs


  • Make a mound of flour, and crack eggs into the center.
  • Using a fork, gently beat the eggs, and slowly incorporate the eggs into the flour.
  • Once the dough starts to come together, abandon the fork and use your hands to knead the dough thoroughly, adding more flour if necessary to prevent sticking.
  • Once it has come together (longer than it would take for a gluten dough), roll it out, slice it up, and allow the noodles to dry.
  • When ready to serve, boil well-salted water until bubbling, then turn it down slightly, add the noodles, and cook for 4 minutes.

Parmesan Broth:


  • 1 large block (1 lb) of parmesan, or the equivalent in rinds
  • You can add herbs, garlic, or peppercorns if you want a rounder flavor


  • Boil the parmesan until all of the soft parts have dissolved into the water, which will take a few hours.
  • The advantage of using rinds is that they get less messy in the pot.
  • Then cook the broth down until you have 4-5 cups of concentrated parmesany liquid.

Soup Assembly:


  • Noodles above
  • Broth above
  • 2 cups savoy cabbage
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • salt


  • Cut the cabbage into the thinnest strips you can. Sautee in olive oil with salt until wilted, with some barely-brown bits.
  • Drop the noodles into the boiling water just as the cabbage is finishing.
  • Serve noodles and cabbage in a bowl and pour parmesan broth over them.

Vegetarian “Osso Buco”

Celeriac “Bones” and “Marrow”:


  • 1 celery root per person
  • quark
  • grated parmesan


  • Cut the skin off of the bulbs and cut each celeriac into the approximate desired shape
  • Steam the celeriacs (I put them in 1″ water in a pot and then turned them over”) until fork-tender
  • Whisk together quark, parmesan and seasoning if needed
  • Use an apple-corer or cupcake-corer to core the celeriac “bones”
  • Oven-roast the “bones” at 450 for about 15 minutes before serving
  • Use a pastry or ziplock bag to fill the hole with quark “marrow”

Mushroom “Steak”


  • 2 packages of sliced portobellos
  • 1 can of cannelini beans, washed and drained
  • 2 tsp garlic
  • 4 TB parmesan
  • 2 eggs
  • salt and pepper


  • Sautee mushrooms in olive oil, allow to cool
  • Mix all ingredients but egg in food processor and process until fully smooth
  • Add eggs and process briefly
  • Chill until time to serve
  • Fry this batter in a skillet (like pancakes, but more carefully)



  • 2 cups arborio rice
  • 8 cups vegetable stock (I made my own the same day)
  • A pinch of saffron
  • 1 large onion
  • salt
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan


  • Chop onions finely and cook them in olive oil until translucent but not brown
  • Add rice to pan and stir thoroughly, allow to cook for a few minutes until slightly toasted
  • Add a few cups of broth, and stir
  • Add the saffron to the broth and stir that into the liquid gently
  • Allow to  cook slowly over a medium heat, stirring gently but regularly and adding more stock as it appears to get dry
    • It is best if the broth is also warm as you add it
  • When the rice is fully cooked, turn the heat off, add the parmesan, stir well and serve


  • The “bone” should go right next to the “meat” to best replicate an osso buco, and the Milanese Risotto should spread out on the plate next to it.



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