15 January 2012

Sunday Lunch...A Modo Mio

The typical fare at our Sunday family lunch starts with my mother-in-law's pasta al forno, or baked pasta; then we move on to the main course of carne impanata, or breaded pan-fried beef or chicken cutlets, a green salad accompanied by slices of more bread and some kind of dessert that usually involves ricotta cheese and even more flour (ricotta cake or cannoli). It's a lunch that lasts the entire day, from around 1pm, with the first course, passing to the main course, then the fruit course, then dessert and then caffè, lasting well until 6 pm or so. It is all delicious and it's nice to spend time together, but we always wind up going home uncomfortably stuffed and we don't want to even see more food again. Thankfully I have no problem with wheat, but my poor husband does not do so well with this Italian diet based on refined wheat. At home, we are not gluten-free, but I make sure to use a minimum amount of wheat--we almost never eat bread and we only eat pasta occasionally--something that worries my mother-in-law because, after all, pasta is the cornerstone of a proper diet. But nevertheless, my husband does well during the week and gets all out of whack after our wheat-ridden Sunday lunches (which he loves--nothin' better than mamma's cooking). This Sunday, though, we opted out of this weekly ritual for a simple Sunday together. But lunch still had to be had...

I have recently been considering trying to make carne impanata with corn flakes instead of bread crumbs, thinking it would be bread-free and crunchier (my husband was not convinced of this). So this leads me to my recent inspiration from Elana Amsterdam and her fantastic blog, Elana's Pantry. The other night, I read her recipe for Carrot French Fries and her gluten-free Easy Chicken Parm. Inspiration: making carne impanata with almond flour!! What an ingenious idea! Plus, I am crazy about vegetables (as we should all be because they keep us healthy and they are delicious!) so I was thrilled with the idea of trying carrots in a new way. With a fresh basket of carrots and two remaining chicken breasts in the fridge, I couldn't wait to give these a try--with my own spin, of course!

I started out with the carrots, which here in Liguria are absolutely delicious! They are grown in a nearby natural park in Tuscany and may be the sweetest carrots I have ever tasted.

I peeled and cut them into thin sticks and tossed them with Extra virgin olive oil, a pinch of Herbs of Provence and because these carrots are so sweet, I added about a 1/2 tsp. of smokey paprika and a dash of cayenne pepper. I baked them in a 450°/220° oven for about 20 minutes.

Now for my carne impanata experiment: I prepared everything as if I was making the classic Italian version. A small fist of Italian parsley, a couple small cloves of garlic and a spoonful of parmigiano cheese into a food processor.

Then, instead of fresh bread pieces, I added 3/4 cup of almond meal/flour and I also threw in a handful of cornflakes (cornflakes are optional, of course). Process until well blended together. 

Set up a plate of a beaten egg and a plate with the 'breadcrumbs'. Dip your chicken (or beef scallopine) into the egg, then onto the 'breadcrumbs' and coat well on each side.

Place into a hot frypan with a small amount of sunflower oil and fry at medium heat until cooked, flipping over once. For chicken, I like to cover the pan to keep the heat in since it takes longer to cook than beef. Be careful of having a pan that is too hot, because you can wind up burning the 'breadcrumbs'.

I pulled the carrots out of the oven, which in the end, took bit longer to cook and never turned crispy because I have a totally crap oven. But, the flavor was devine and the little bit of spice was fantastic. With a proper convection oven to make them crisp up, these could be absolutely addictive!

When the chicken was done, I was able to serve it directly onto the plate because it wasn't soaked in oil, as it usually is with real breadcrumbs. It had a lovely golden brown, crunchy shell that covered a juicy chicken breast. Served together with the carrot 'fries' and a fresh green salad with a balsamic vinaigrette (I love carne impanata together with salad and lots of balsamic vinegar), it made a lovely light and gluten-free lunch!

Thank you Elana Amsterdam for inspiring me to substitute almond flour for breadcrumbs!
Buon appetito!


  1. Yum! What a delicious looking meal, I think I could get my husband to make that :-)

    Your blog is wonderful and I'm not sure how many followers you have so I've given you the Liebster Blog award. Congratulations and here is the link: http://twoblackdoggies.wordpress.com/2012/01/15/the-liebster-award/

  2. Carrot "fries"? Now you've gone and done it!!! I HAVE to try that! And the gluten free chicken recipe too. My brother should appreciate it. Love your recipes AND the photos are so lovely. Just makes me want to head to the kitchen and start cookin'.


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