Let me start by saying something controversial: I despise the gluten-free fad. I think gluten is delicious (I go through at least two loaves of bread a week, with a healthy dose of pretzels and pasta in there as well), and I think many of the health myths surrounding gluten are either fabricated or hyperbolic.
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But that's not the point of this article. As much as I'm bummed out by how chic it has become to eschew gluten, I do have a handful of friends who legitimately are gluten intolerant. And while a gluten-free diet sure ain't for me, who am I to say that others should abide by my dietary choices, even if they don't have medical reasons for avoiding gluten?
But if you're going to have a gluten-free diet, you should have some tasty alternatives to gluten-filled staples. Unfortunately, bread is the foundation of the world's greatest food: the sandwich. Thankfully, however, there are plenty of awesome alternatives. And while you can always go to the store and find gluten-free bread and wraps, I'm in favor of better options. Here are my three favorites:
Polenta doesn't sound like a bread substitute, but when treated correctly it can be the perfect base layer for an extremely elegant sandwich. Start by making a batch of polenta, and letting it set entirely (I recommend letting it set in a thin layer for optimum sandwich texture). Then cut your polenta into rectangles, and add to a skillet with oil or butter.
Fry the polenta squares until they're golden brown on each side. By cooking them for this long you assure that they'll remain crisp on the outside, which ensures that they retain their structural rigidity even in your hand.
Then add whatever toppings you want to a polenta square (you can get exotic, or simply add cheese and lunch meat), and add another square on top. They're simple, sophisticated, delicious, and gluten-free.
Grocery stores (and restaurants) love to market gluten-free wraps as bread substitutes. Unfortunately, there are two things wrong with these wraps: they're usually flavorless, and they cost an arm and a leg.
Thankfully, you can get a tastier, more nutritious, and cheaper version with only one ingredient: eggs. Just whip up two or three eggs, then add to a hot pan with oil or butter, on medium heat. Don't stir the eggs (unless you want scrambled eggs!); just leave it be until the mixture is cooked all the way through. Then flip the eggs so that the wrap can crisp up on both sides.
Once your egg wrap is done, add whatever sandwich or wrap ingredients you want, and roll it up like a gyro. What could be better?
If you're a fan of sauces and condiments, cabbage leaves are the ultimate gluten-free bread option for you. Because the leaves aren't absorbent, they will maintain their structural integrity no matter how much aioli, mayo, mustard, sriracha, or wing sauce you pile on. You can really go to town.
Other types of greens that have thin, crunchy leaves work, too, like Swiss chard and collards. I'd say skip using kale, though: those leaves are pretty tough and thick and fare better in salads.
Do you have any gluten-free bread alternatives that you love?