Gluten-free doesn't mean you can't have this lemon almond tart


 By Nick Roumel
of NachtLaw, Ann Arbor

Disclaimer: my diet is not gluten-free. I love all food too much to give up anything, though I do try to eat bread and pasta in moderation. But those things include gluten; and increasingly, people who eliminate gluten from their diets say they are healthier and happier for doing so.

What is gluten? It is the protein found in certain grains, or “glue” that helps them to maintain their shape. The most common sources of gluten are wheat, barley, and rye. It even sneaks into things you might not expect, such as salad dressings or even beer.

Why should you go gluten free? Persons with celiac disease truly need to do so.

Gluten causes a reaction in the small intestine that inhibits normal digestion and elimination. Let’s just leave it at that, because if you’ve ever eaten something that doesn’t agree with you, you know what I mean.
While actual celiac disease is rare, others suffer from lesser symptoms of gluten intolerance or sensitivity. These symptoms clear up with a gluten free diet. Even people who can eat and digest gluten without symptoms may be harming their immune system over time.

Finally, there’s a large category of folks who just feel better. Eliminating gluten from their diet helps them lose weight and gain energy, while opening up healthier diet options when they leave behind the filling but relatively empty calories of bread and pasta.

I am kicking around the idea of trying it for a while and seeing what happens. As long as I can keep eating potatoes I won’t feel deprived.

Plus you can still eat sweets! I made this “Pan Baked Lemon Almond Tart” from Mark Bittman, and it is not only incredible, but far easier to make than pie. (Frankly, I never have found pie easy to make.) This takes about twenty minutes to prepare before it goes into the oven.

Pan Baked Lemon Almond Tart

4 eggs

1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar (according to taste – I used ½ and it was perfect)

Pinch of salt

1/2 cup ground almonds

1/2 cup cream

1/2 cup sliced almonds, more for garnish

1 lemon, zest and juice

2 tablespoons butter

Powdered sugar, for garnish

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. In a bowl, combine eggs, sugar, salt, ground almonds, cream, sliced almonds, lemon zest and juice.

2. Melt butter in an 8-inch ovenproof skillet or pan over low heat; when foam has subsided, add almond mixture to pan, tilting pan to distribute batter evenly. Continue to cook tart on stovetop until edges just begin to set, then put pan in oven and finish cooking, about 10 to 15 minutes more. (Note - mine took 25-30 minutes!)

3. When tart is done, put it in broiler for about a minute or until just golden on top. (Watch it carefully or it will burn!)

4. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and sliced almonds. Serve. Eat. Bask in gluten-freedom.

Nick Roumel is a principal with NachtLaw, a firm in Ann Arbor specializing in employment and civil rights litigation. He has many years of varied restaurant and catering experience, has taught Greek cooking classes, and writes a food/
restaurant column for Current magazine in Ann Arbor. Follow him at @nickroumel.