What you’re looking at, above, is what happens when a gal who grew up eating delicious Big Macs like it was her job gets a killer craving BUT now has to eat entirely gluten-free.
A “Big Mac Salad.”
I’ve found that when I crave anything in particular that I can no longer have, it’s almost never the gluten/wheat that I’m craving. It’s all the other flavors. And the wonderful thing about flavors is this – they can be recreated, on your own terms… and in this case, the terms are gluten-free.
Lots of Cheese – Lots. Of. Cheese.
When I recreate flavors, I generally turn to one of two approaches:
This one was pretty obvious – what I needed was a Big Mac Salad.
Before going any further, let’s take a minute to appreciate the Big Mac. This sandwich is one of the best-tasting fast food sandwiches known to mankind. The combo of the hamburgers, lettuce, and that sauce… holy cats, there’s just nothing about them I don’t love.
To recreate this lifelong favorite, I had to determine the different flavors/ingredients of this beautiful (yet decidedly not gluten-free) sandwich:
- all beef patties
- “special sauce” (Thousand Island)
- … “on a sesame seed bun” (hearing the jingle in your head yet?)
Lettuce, hamburgers, shredded cheddar cheese, and pickles are easy enough – you just have to know the right ingredients and invite them to the party. If I were making this salad and knew we’d be eating it at one setting, I would have added white onion (after sauteing it in the hamburger’s skillet). However, I knew that I’d be sending leftovers to work with my husband for his lunch the next day and I didn’t trust white onions to refrain from “taking over,” so I went with green onions. They’re milder and don’t overpower a salad overnight. If I’d had scallions or red onion, I might have used one of them.
But, I love green onions to the ends of the earth and back, so I went with them.
As for pickles, I chopped my hamburger pickles into fourths and tossed them into the salad. I ended up adding a few extras to my salad because it just seemed like the right thing to do. As you can tell, I decided to keep this whole salad really chunky. I wanted to have the full-effect of a Big Mac, so everything went into the salad in hefty portions.
As for the “special sauce,” that’s none other than a bottle of Thousand Island dressing. If you have to eat gluten-free, too, be sure to read the label and make certain the dressing is gluten-free.
One of the most distinctive flavors of a Big Mac are the sesame seeds on the bun. Truth be told, they’re one of the funnest things about the whole situation, aren’t they? I didn’t have any gluten-free hamburger buns on hand when the craving hit, so I simply lightly buttered some gluten free bread, tossed some sesame seeds on top, and toasted them – making, in effect, sesame seed croutons for the salad.
I cut up plain old American cheese slices and threw them into the salad. When trying to copy cheeseburgers you fall in love with in fast food restaurants, the American Cheese slices are the way to go. Sure, the fancier cheeses are delicious for everything else, but go with the old familiar plastic-wrapped slices for this sort of situation. It makes such a huge difference.
Because I’m an anal food-blogger always looking for the best picture, I also added shredded cheese on top (as you can see in one of the pictures above). HOWEVER, the best taste came from the American cheese slices. When you get a fork filled with the cheese, beef, lettuce, pickle, crouton, and sauce…. it’s just amazing.
It sent my brain and taste buds right back to a booth in the McDonald’s in my hometown and it was a very tasty trip.