Dinner with Dr. Alessio Fasano, MD: Gluten Freedom

by Joanne on July 10, 2014

Remember this post?…Product Enjoyment…. In particular, the book "Gluten Freedom" an essential guide to a healthy, gluten free lifestyle. Well, I finished this fascinating read, learning more than I ever thought there was to know about celiac disease and other grain intolerances. Most intriguing to me were the personal accounts from people or families suffering from food sensitivities.


In chapter nine, "Dinner with Dr. Fasano", suggestions are offered regarding a delicious Italian menu, all gluten free. The difficulty range is from easy to more complex. Since I embarked on preparing the entire feast for our table in one sitting, none of the recipes is overwhelmingly difficult, merely overwhelmingly FABULOUS! Get your taste buds and stomach ready and proceed WITH CAUTION!

All recipes serve 4 generous helpings(although I thought it was more like 6 servings), *please read my recommendation at the end of this post.   Read through the entire menu and if you decide to make the entire 5 course meal, you should begin with the Tiramisu because it has to be refrigerated for 4 hours.  Next, you will make the sauce for the eggplant and while it cooks, proceed with the other recipes.

Gluten Free Italian Feast12

Insalata Caprese : This was so good. So fresh. I thought the mozzarella might be too much of a mouth full but the flavor was balanced with focus on the freshness of the plump, juicy tomatoes.

Gluten Free Italian Feast2

  • 2 large fresh tomatoes
  • Fresh basil – washed.
  • 1/2 lb Buffalo Mozzarella (soft mozzarella cheese) – water packed
  • 1 TBS extra virgin olive oil.

Slice tomatoes 1/2 inch thick slices. Slice mozzarella cheese in 1/2 inch pieces. Place mozzarella on top of tomatoes and add a sprig of fresh basil. Drizzle with the olive oil and serve.

Gluten Free Italian Feast8

*If not serving immediately, wait to drizzle oil right before serving.

Risotto Al Funghi – First course of Mushroom Risotto

Another balanced dish.  There is nothing over whelming about this risotto and it’s the one dish on this menu, apart from the protein, that doesn’t include cheese.  It’s thick, creamy, with a slight woodsy essence coming over from the shiitake mushrooms.  Good mouth feel.

Gluten Free Italian Feast4

  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1 white onion, chopped fine
  • 4 cups shiitake mushrooms-wiped clean and chopped fine.
  • 4 oz white wine
  • 2 cubes vegetable bouillon
  • 2 TBS olive oil

Add 4 cups boiling water to bouillon in a medium sized saucepan. Turn heat to low and keep the water with the bouillon simmering.  *I used 32 oz of vegetable  broth with 1 cup of water in place of the bouillon cube.

Heat a deep saucepan to medium heat and add olive oil. When hot add the onion and cook until golden. Add the wine at this point, reducing heat to low and cook for 5 minutes.

Add the mushrooms heat the pan back to medium and sauté for about 3-4 minutes or until soft.

Add the rice and stir for 2 minutes. Add the broth 1/2 a cup at a time allowing the rice to absorb all the liquid before adding more broth. Keep the heat on medium low and continue to stir until rice is soft, about 40 minutes.

Gluten Free Italian Feast6

Parmigiano di Melenzane – Side dish of Eggplant Parmesan

A light tomato sauce.  The first sauce recipe I have come across that didn’t include a mix of Italian herbs and garlic so I added some garlic and some oregano and thyme to the basil. I loved this dish.  Not heavy.  Lovely and cheesy.  Lots of flavor.

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  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil for sauce, plus extra for frying eggplant
  • 1 large red onion, chopped fine
  • 5 small cloves of garlic, pressed
  • 2 cans, 32 oz each, peeled Italian tomatoes
  • salt, pepper, oregano, thyme, basil… to your liking.
  • 2 medium or 3 small eggplants
  • 1 lb hard mozzarella cheese – sliced 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick
  • 1 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
  • A sprig of fresh basil, chopped
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp sugar

Heat skillet to medium and add olive oil. When hot add onion and cook until brown. Add the tomatoes, bring to a boil, reduce heat to low. Add pinch of salt, pepper, and 1/2 tsp. sugar. Cook gently on low for 2 hours. Stir occasionally. Stir in basil and other herbs.

Prepare the Eggplant

Wash eggplant and dry with paper towel. Line a cookie sheet with wax or parchment paper or even a brown paper bag and place on top of cookie sheet or large cutting board. Use a sharp knife to cut off both ends and discard. Slice into 1/2 inch pieces. Heat large skillet on medium high. When hot, add 4 TBS olive oil and distribute evenly over pan. Add eggplant 3 or 4 slices at a time. Cook until brown and soft then turn over and cook until other side is browned and soft. Remove carefully and place on clean, dry paper towel. Repeat until all slices are cooked.


Preheat oven to 350 F. Dot bottom of baking dish with tomato sauce. Add a layer of eggplant, top with cheese. Cover with tomato sauce, sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Add another layer and continue, finishing with parmesan cheese. Refrigerate or bake immediately for 25 minutes. Garnish with more chopped basil.

Gluten Free Italian Feast1

Salmone al Forno – Second course or Salmon with lime and Sesame seeds

Lime Salmon with Sesame seed2

Ted chose grilled medium Italian sausage to accompany the eggplant.  I preferred salmon as my protein.  *Reminder:  This is a very big meal and designed to be eaten in stages.  Although the recipes indicate 4 large servings, I prefer to recommend 6 – 8 very small servings so everyone can taste a little bit of everything without getting too full and uncomfortable.

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  • 1 1/2 lbs wild caught salmon
  • juice from 2 to 3 limes
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • sesame seeds

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line baking sheet with parchment. Brush olive oil on parchment. Place salmon, skin side down, on parchment paper. Squeeze the limes into a bowl. Brush salmon with lime juice. Sprinkle with just a little salt and pepper. Coat the top of the fish with sesame seeds. Bake for 20 minutes or more, depending on thickness of salmon. Should flake easily with fork.

Lime Salmon with Sesame seed1

Tiramisu with Insalata di Frutta – Dessert – Serves 8

Dessert. The best part, right?!  Make sure you save some room for this light on the tongue but rich in the tummy.  So much flavor! 

Gluten Free Italian Feast3

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 7 egg yolks
  • 1 cup brewed strong coffee
  • 16 oz mascarpone cheese
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract or brandy
  • 16 oz gluten free lady fingers or delicate gluten free cookie *I couldn’t find gluten free lady fingers so I used vanilla wafer cookies. 
  • 1/2 cup limoncello – Italian lemon liqueur

Separate eggs (keep the whites for a healthy egg white omelet!). Beat the yolks and gradually add sugar until the mixture is a very light yellow. Add cheese and vanilla/brandy and beat ’til smooth. Stir in strong coffee and mix until smooth.

Warm 6 cups of water and add the limoncello over low heat. Dip 1/2 of the ladyfingers/cookies into the warm limoncello mix and place in an 11 x 17 baking dish. Spread half of the cheese mixture over the top of the ladyfingers. Dip the remaining ladyfingers into the limoncello mix and top the first layer. Add the remaining cheese. Cover tightly with plastic wrap for at least 4 hours. Dust the top with cocoa powder.

Serve with a fresh fruit salad of pineapple, apple, strawberries, melon,etc.

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Gluten Free Italian Feast5

This entire meal was started at 9:30 am and finished by 2:30 pm, ready to be enjoyed over the time span of 2 to 3 hours.  *Remember: Small plates, small servings make for complete enjoyment of this gluten free Italian feast.

There is a lot of cheese in this recipe.  How could you make the same dishes without all the cheese?  If you are Vegan, how would you change the recipes?

If you were to spend a day in the kitchen cooking up a feast for your family, what would you serve?

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1 Comment

  • At 2014.07.15 08:16, Choc Chip Uru said:

    What a feast it is! I certainly don’t mind all the cheese, it only makes me happier 😀
    And a delicious leisurely meal is the way to go!

    Choc Chip Uru

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