Gluten-Free Zucca and Nopi

The restaurant trade is definitely taking gluten-free seriously! Way back, when I was first diagnosed with allergies/intolerances, I would usually struggle to order a safe dish in restaurants. Meals would often come out of the kitchen with gluten or dairy products in them, even though I’d asked for them without. I would say something, the plate would be taken away and returned with the cheese, sauce or whatever simply scraped off, leaving a whole load of residue. One restaurant even refused to make a dairy-free version of their Moules Marinieres – which is the easiest thing to do. But now, everything has changed – and it’s great!

I went to Nopi recently and nearly fell off my seat when I was handed a specific gluten-free menu. The waiter then very kindly went through the menu and crossed off the dishes that had dairy, too. I was left with 6 dishes to choose from – not bad at all(!) and even a dessert. And the food was gorgeous. Ottolenghi is known for the vibrancy of his food. His dishes are truly different – innovative, cooked beautifully and full of wonderful, punchy tastes.

I had the Golden & Red Beet, Quince, Caramelised Macadamias. The flavour combinations were superb (one of the reasons why Ottolenghi is so brilliant at vegetarian dishes). Afterwards I had the Seared Lamb Cannon, Celeriac & Barberry Salad, Green Chilli Sauce which was truly stunning. The sharpness of the barberries with the hit of the chilli combining with the tender lamb and wholesome celeriac was gorgeous – and brought bright sunshine onto my plate.

I remember when I had just had Zoe and a friend of mine came round with boxes of deliciousness from the Ottolenghi Deli. I had had morning sickness throughout my pregnancy and had eaten pretty bland food throughout. This was the first meal of stunning, innovative and exciting flavours I had eaten in a very, very long time! I fell in love with his cooking then and I’m still in love with it now…

Recently I’ve also gone to Zucca where they – very nicely – tell you on the menu to let them know if you have any food allergies. The menu is small and, amazingly, much of it was gluten-free and also dairy-free. The ethos behind Zucca (which means pumpkin or squash in Italian) seems to be Italian food made imaginatively – with delicious, fresh ingredients, and served simply and with care. I tucked into Grilled Prawns that were meaty, juicy and utterly delightful, and then had the Grilled Lamb Rump, Cianfotta & Mint which was gorgeous. Cianfotto is a traditional vegetable stew that has deep, rich tastes and, paired with the fresh, zingy mint and garlic topping and the sweet, succulent lamb, it was a truly memorable dish. My friend had the Roast Cod with Borlotti, Clams & Ramson and was deeply impressed, too. Ramson is a type of wild garlic – and this was a very satisfying dish, full of robust textures and flavours.

Thank you – both Yotam Ottolenghi and Sam Harris for taking the trouble to cater for people on gluten-free and dairy-free diets – and for making dishes for us that make our hearts sing.

3 thoughts on “Gluten-Free Zucca and Nopi

  1. Just back from Nopi and very nearly had a major mishap – ordered pigs ear from the gluten free menu and was literally about to put a forkful in my mouth when the waitress stopped me as she realised there was SOY SAUCE in the recipe. How exactly it made it onto the gluten free menu is beyond me. The other meat dish on there was chicken, which ALSO had soy sauce in it, although at least that one was marked as containing soy sauce on the menu – the pigs ear categorically had not been.

    For a restaurant with such a good reputation for gluten awareness, that was an almost unforgivable mistake, and I will certainly be double checking every time I go there from now on.

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