Dairy Free


I feel really fortunate that both the sous chef and I are adventurous eaters and that neither of us have any confirmed allergies or intolerances. The fact that red wine is a leading suspect of my chronic hives is not spoken about in our house. It’s like our Voldemort.

Of all of the common foods that folks have to give up for various reasons, the one that makes me the most horrified is cheese. I love cheese. Off the charts love. I love cheese so much that, as I wrote the notes for this post, the sous chef was driving me to Valentine’s dinner at a dairy farm (yes, yes, he’s a good sport).

So when my mom’s cousin asked for a blog post on dairy free foods for her husband who (voluntarily!) doesn’t eat cheese, I had two thoughts. 1) I silently sainted her. I’d be throwing a daily tantrum over this matter. And, 2) What the fuck do I know about dairy free food?

I mean, I was sure I could come up with something. It’s not like I eat cheese every day. (That last part was a lie.)

Who wouldn't want to eat this goat cheese?

Who wouldn’t want to eat this goat cheese?

So, I wracked my brain… I really didn’t want to offer suggestions with fake substitutes, or dishes that naturally didn’t require cheese to taste satisfying. That just didn’t feel like the point. My mom’s cousin does enjoy dairy and her husband doesn’t. I wanted to find something that would appeal to both.

Then I remembered a meal I’d made years ago that was tasty, simple, and filling – creamy, with (you guessed it) no cream. It’s made with nut butter… which, if you haven’t used before in recipes, give it a go. Nut butters add a ton of depth and richness to a dish that’s really hard to get without dairy products.

This recipe is delicious. And doesn’t have a speck of cheese. It is possible.

Chicken with Pecan Cream and Mushrooms

Chicken with Pecan Cream

• 3/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans, toasted
• 1 cup water
• 1 1/4 teaspoons salt, divided
• 6 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
• 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• Cooking spray
• 1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
• 8-ounce package presliced mushrooms
• 4 cups cooked egg noodles
• Chopped parsley

1. Place pecans in a food processor; process until smooth (about 1 minute), scraping sides of bowl once. With processor on, add water and 3/4 teaspoon salt; process until smooth, scraping sides of bowl once.
2. Sprinkle chicken with 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper.
3. Heat a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add chicken; sauté 3 minutes on each side or until done. Remove chicken from pan; keep warm.
4. Add shallots and mushrooms to pan; sauté 3 minutes or until mushrooms are tender. Stir in pecan cream; bring to a boil. Cook 1 1/2 minutes. Place 2/3 cup noodles on each of 6 plates. Top each serving with 1 chicken breast half and 1/3 cup sauce. Garnish with parsley, if desired.

Cooking Light , October 2002