April 5, 2012

This week I will mostly be… Dairy free!

Al and I have decided that in order to provide chalet guests who have food allergies or sensitivities with the best quality of food and care possible, we need to walk a mile in their shoes, as the saying goes. So we’ve decided to restrict our diets in various ways over the coming weeks so we can truly experience the limitations on what we can and can’t eat and also challenge ourselves to try out lots of fantastic new recipes and ingredients ready for the winter.


So to kick this off, this week we are being dairy free and here is what I have learnt so far…

    • I can’t really tell the difference between normal milk and rice milk when it is in my tea, but it is noticeably sweeter on cereal.
    • After living in the Haute Savoie for nearly two years I seem to find a way to sneak cheese into pretty much everything I cook and eat, so it is both challenging and liberating to take it off the menu.


Here is one of the delicious recipes we have enjoyed so far:

Allegra McEvedy’s chard and chickpea ribollita (sans parmesan)

Ingredients for 6 portions

    • About 10 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
    • 2 red onions, diced
    • 2 carrots, diced
    • 100g pancetta
    • 4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
    • Big bunch parsley, roughly chopped
    • 500g Swiss chard – kindly donated from our neighbour’s garden, the real star of the dish!
    • 1 tin chickpeas, drained
    • 1 tin plum tomatoes, broken up
    • 500ml home made chicken stock (home made really does make a difference in this dish as it adds more richness and background flavour)
    • Salt and pepper



    • Heat about five tablespoons of the oil in a large, wide pan; once hot (but not smoking) add the onion, carrot, pancetta, garlic and parsley and stir.
    • Cover and cook on a low heat for up to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
    • Cut the stalks out of the chard leaves, wash, slice into 1cm strips and add to the pot, keeping the leaves for later.
    • Tip half the chickpeas in with the veggies and whizz the other half in the food processor before adding them too
    • Give the soup a good stir, then add the tinned tomatoes and stock
    • When the soup has come to the boil, stir in the roughly chopped chard leaves and turn down to the lowest heat.
    • Season well, stir and put the lid back on for 10 minutes
    • Turn off the heat, pour on another healthy glug of extra virgin, and let sit with the lid on for a good five minutes before serving with yet more olive oil


The original recipe calls for it to be finished with grated parmesan and while that would be a lovely addition, the dish doesn’t suffer without it. I can’t say I’m missing dairy so far but I think that may be because the novelty hasn’t worn off yet – it’s possible that I may find myself breaking into shops at the dead of night to pilfer Reblochon cheese at some point so I’ll keep you posted…