Ha, I know what you’re thinking – duh, of course an omelette is gluten free! Why are you calling something that never had gluten to begin with a gluten free recipe? Well, there’s a reason and a story to go with this one, I promise.
It all started with a discussion on the merit of naturally gluten free recipes – by naturally gluten free, I mean recipes that never required any alterations in the first place for a GF person to be able to enjoy them. Take, for an example, the recipes I link to in my naturally gluten free roundup posts. But do GF people actually find such recipes valuable? Do you really want someone giving you “yet another freaking salad” recipe (as my husband so lovingly refers to green salads with little else in them….)? What about other dishes that are naturally gluten free?
It may seem like a simple question but it is not – after a bit of a side tangent discussion on Dianne Jacob’s recent post about recipe adaptions, I decided that this topic needed a bit more attention. Flo made a comment about recipe originality in respect to gluten free recipe development – how she has seen people take something that never had gluten in it to begin with, such as an omelette, and claim it as a grand new GF invention. And from there people got talking about what exactly is the place of naturally gluten free recipes? Do they belong on blogs? What about in cookbooks? If you are GF do you actually want to see and read such recipes to be shown easy and practical ways to live a GF lifestyle, or do you consider them trivial and a waste of space?
First of all, I am quickly learning to never assume anything is always gluten free. As it turns out, I was talking about making omelettes with some coworkers, and at a table of four of us, two people said they made theirs with flour. FLOUR! They said it wasn’t a proper omelette without flour, and that flour is what made it light and fluffy. Well, I beg to differ. Eggs make things light and fluffy all on their own, and omelettes should be made naturally gluten free. When I got home I consulted (with a skype session with my mother so she could look in some of her books) Julia Child, Gourmet, Joy of Cooking, Better Homes and Gardens, Gordon Ramsay, and Jacques Pépin either in books or online. Not one, not a single one of those resources included flour in their omelettes. But the fact that some people do choose to use flour, however untraditional, goes to show that you cannot just assume because you make something a certain way that everyone else does too. So if you are eating someone else’s food, you always always always need to ask, cause you never know who might just add flour into some dish that normally doesn’t use flour.
As you know, this is a gluten free blog. My husband is gluten free and generally I am in charge of the cooking between the two of us – though he does make a great sous chef and his cooking skills have improved immensely over the past few years, and it turns out he has an excellent palate as well. For us, cooking naturally gluten free dishes is usually easier and cheaper. Flours are expensive even if they are not in a mix, and I’d rather not be baking all the time anyways; despite being a scientist with lots of training for being analytical/precise in the lab, I really enjoy just being able to “throw things together” when it comes to cooking – which is why more often than not, I cook rather than bake.
I know that when I first started out trying to cook to accommodate my husband’s gluten issues, knowing a dish was naturally gluten free was extremely helpful when meal planning. It meant I could look up recipes and create my own version like I usually did with everything I cooked, rather than having to say a prayer to the gluten free gods that my baked good would work out, let alone trying to figure out the cost of all the GF flours on our then grad student budgets. And even to this day I find a lot of value in learning new naturally gluten free recipes – I love cookbooks that include them simply because I am not much of a baker – I am always looking for day to day recipes as well as special occasion recipes, and I am still discovering new-to-me dishes that never required gluten in the first place.
Maybe some don’t view naturally GF recipes as enough of a recipe development accomplishment, or maybe it’s simply that others don’t need to learn about naturally GF foods and are only interested in the baking component (especially those who are more experienced). And I can definitely understand those perspectives. And I also understand the frustration of seeing those who are not well versed in gluten free sticking a GF tag on a recipe to capitalize on what they see as a growing fad (note – GF is not a fad for the many like my husband who must be GF the rest of their lives, but I’m not going to get into that today). But I don’t think it’s fair to write off all naturally GF recipes in gluten free cookbooks as entirely useless. I do not think they are useless for everyone, and in many cases may be quite helpful and liberating, especially if one is feeling overwhelmed about how to manage a GF lifestyle .
It stunned me a bit that Dianne even stated herself, an editor, that she wouldn’t mind seeing naturally GF serving suggestions in headnotes, but not the actual recipes in a GF book. Is there really no market for naturally GF recipes within GF cookbooks? Am I seriously the only one in this world who would buy a cookbook for naturally GF dishes, and in fact looks for books that include such (as they end up being the books I turn to most often)? I hope I am not alone. Because if someone makes a GF book filled with great tasting food, I don’t really care if it all is a substitute for a conventional dish or if it is the author’s interpretation of an old classic that was always GF, or if it is a new dish altogether made out of naturally GF ingredients. What I care about in a gluten free cookbook are accessible great tasting meals that fit within the GF lifestyle, and to me that would of course mean the inclusion of naturally GF recipes. Simple as that.
To me, the way to succeed at the GF lifestyle is not by continually replacing foods that one can no longer have. That keeps the focus on what can’t be enjoyed in my mind, and constantly comparing a dish to what it “could’ve been” with gluten. No, to me, the way to succeed at the GF lifestyle and what has worked best for my husband, is to instead find the things that can be enjoyed, whether this means learning new techniques, exploring cuisines from other cultures, or simply experimenting with new flavors.
And that’s why I posted this omelette. It’s a classic. It is naturally gluten free. In all my years of omelette making, I’d never made a traditional French omelette before. My omelettes had always been a bit of a slow cooked egg folded over stuff like a sandwich in a pan. Now that I know how to do a traditional omelette, I have to say I enjoy this much better. It’s lighter and fluffier than the way my mother taught me, it still allows for incorporation of any fixings you want for flavor, and I got to learn something new in the kitchen.
So here you go, a naturally gluten free omelette, a French classic. Enjoy
And I’m very interested to hear your thoughts on the subject below!
- 3 eggs
- garnishes - herbs, garlic, sauteed onions or mushrooms, a little cheese, whatever you want
- olive oil or butter for cooking
- salt and pepper
- Crack the eggs into a bowl and beat them up a bit with a fork and stir in the garnishes (except for cheese).
- Heat a pan on med-high to high heat, and add in a little olive oil or butter (if butter, let it melt) and spread it around to coat the pan.
- Add the eggs, whisking them (or stirring vigorously with a heat-proof spatula if using a non-stick) for a few seconds, so that as the "curd" forms the liquid on top will move to the bottom to cook. Add salt/pepper now (Ramsay says in the video above adding salt too early causes the eggs to gray, so I add the salt now) and grated cheese if desired.
- Let it set for a bit, and then loosen it from the pan and start to fold it over, and roll it from the pan onto your plate. All in all it probably takes more time to heat up the pan that it does to actually cook the omelette. Watch the videos above, they are quite helpful.