Stuffed Aubergine Parcels

Stuffed Aubergine Parcels by The Fat Foodie

I bought an aubergine the other day and I’ve been waiting for inspiration to strike ever since. The problem was that although there are plenty of aubergine recipes that just ask you to chop it up and add it into stews and tagines, I really wanted to showcase (and try to celebrate) the vegetable itself. That’s when the lightbulb switched on and I realised that the robust texture of the aubergine flesh would be ideal for making stuffed aubergine parcels.

I’ve written before about how I don’t think aubergines are a very exciting vegetable, but I think I might have changed my mind after using them in this meal. The aubergine slowly cooks down to produce the silky soft, creamy texture that I’ve read others applauding so loudly about and it’s further enhanced by the presence of the rich, tangy tomato ragu.

I really enjoyed the large amount of vegetables I used in this dish and I think an argument could be made that, unlike many other recipes which include meat in them, the sausagemeat wasn’t the star of the show. It’s just there to add a meaty richness to the meal. Also, although I made my stuffed aubergine parcels with sausagemeat I think you could make an awesome vegetarian version by using strips of halloumi cheese to stuff the parcels with instead.

However you decide to make these stuffed aubergine parcels, I’ll guarantee you’ll love it. How could you not when you’ve got soft, silky aubergine wrapped around strips of sweet red and green peppers, smooth courgette slices, and rich well-seasoned sausagemeat that’s all coated in a thick tomato ragu and a crisp topping of grated parmesan. It’s a real winner in my book.

Ingredients:

1 aubergine (sliced into thin strips lengthways)

1 large courgette (sliced into thin strips lengthways)

1 red pepper (sliced into thin strips)

1 green pepper (sliced into thin strips)

12 green olives (halved)

50g dairy-free parmesan (or normal)

Ingredients for the sausage stuffing:

6 pork sausages (remove the skins)

1/2 tsp white ground pepper

A handful of fresh parsley (chopped finely)

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp asafoetida powder

To make the tomato ragu:

1 tin of chopped tomatoes

1 tsp sweet paprika

1 red chilli (finely chopped)

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp asafoetida

1 tsp dried oregano

Stuffed Aubergine Parcels by The Fat Foodie

Method:

Prepare your vegetables as directed.

Vegetables Prepared for the Stuffed Aubergine Parcels

Cook the slices of aubergine and courgette in the microwave so that they become soft.

Make the tomato ragu by putting the ragu ingredients into a microwavable jug and cooking in the microwave for 4 – 5 mins.

Place a strip of aubergine on your chopping board and add a slice of courgette on top. Add a lump of sausagemeat and some strips of green and red pepper before rolling up into parcels.

Repeat until all of the aubergine is used up. (If you have any vegetables left over then just add them to the tomato ragu.)

Stuffed Aubergine Parcels Ready to be Wrapped

Place the aubergine parcels in a casserole dish and pour over the tomato ragu before topping with the halved olives and parmesan cheese.

Stuffed Aubergine Parcels Ready to be Topped with Tomato Ragu

Stuffed Aubergine Parcels Almost Ready to be Cooked

Stuffed Aubergine Parcels Ready to be Cooked

Bake in the oven for 40-50 mins and then serve with a fresh green salad.

Stuffed Aubergine Parcels by The Fat Foodie

Stuffed Aubergine Parcels by The Fat Foodie

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Tomato and Mozzarella Tart

Tomato and Mozzarella Tart by The Fat Foodie

I’m a huge fan of pastry, particularly puff pastry because it’s such a versatile base ingredient upon which to base a meal around. I tend to keep a block of it in the freezer for whenever inspiration strikes so when I looked in the fridge the other day and saw that there were a number of summer vegetables that needed to be used up I decided to make a tomato and mozzarella tart with them.

Puff pastry is a very cheap way to make a tasty meal that can be topped with loads of delicious ingredients and it works particularly well with soft, sweet roasted vegetables, such as tomatoes, courgettes, aubergines and the likes. I’ve recently discovered (and fallen in love with) jars of roasted red peppers. Although they’re on the expensive side to buy from supermarkets, I’ve found them to be fairly cheap in discount stores (such as B&M and Poundstretcher’s). They’re gorgeous stuffed into sandwiches or served on the side of salads, but I’ve also been adding them onto pizzas because their natural sweetness goes really well with creamy, melted mozzarella.

The beauty of this tomato and mozzarella tart is that you can add any other ingredients you fancy. I’ll bet some chopped bacon or smoked ham would be lovely on top of it or some shredded pieces of roast chicken. I dare say a few strips of smoked salmon would be outstanding on it too, especially if you served the tart with a fresh green salad and a cold, crisp glass of white wine.

This tomato and mozzarella tart is a celebration of summer vegetables. It’s a crisp, flaky puff pastry base that’s topped with walnut and basil pesto and adorned with a plethora of delicately roasted tomatoes, courgettes and black olives which are nestled underneath a crisp blanket of grated creamy mozzarella. It’s simply an excellent dish for a summer lunch or dinner.

Tomato and Mozzarella Tart by The Fat Foodie

Ingredients:

500g block of gluten-free puff pastry (or normal puff pastry)

2 large tomatoes (sliced)

1 courgette (sliced)

1 red pepper (jar)

8 black olives (halved)

Freshly ground black pepper

50g grated dairy-free mozzarella (or normal mozzarella)

For the walnut pesto:

15g fresh basil

40g walnuts

30g sundried tomatoes

1 tbsp olive oil

1/2 tsp salt

Method:

Preheat your oven to 200C/180C Fan/400F/Gas mark 6.

Line a flat baking tray with a sheet of greaseproof paper.

Roll out the block of puff pastry on top of the greaseproof paper and use a plate to cut a large circle out. Cut a second circle that is slightly smaller than the outer circle, leaving a gap of around 1 cm around the edge.

The rolled out puff pastry base.

Lay the puff pastry circle onto your baking tray.

Make your pesto by blending the pesto ingredients together (I used my Nutribullet) and spread the pesto over the puff pastry base.

Spreading the walnut pesto over the puff pastry base.

Lay your tomato and courgette slices on top of the tart and add freshly ground black pepper.

Laying the tomatoes and courgettes over the tart.

Add the pieces of sliced red pepper and black olives.

Adding the red peppers and olives.

And top with grated mozzarella before baking in the oven for around 30 mins.

Topping the tart with grated mozzarella before baking.

Once the vegetables are soft and the pastry is cooked through, remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly before serving with a drizzle of balsamic glaze.

Tomato and Mozzarella Tart by The Fat Foodie

Tomato and Mozzarella Tart by The Fat Foodie

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Beef Casserole with Buttered Neeps (serves 4)

Beef Casserole with Buttered Neeps by The Fat Foodie

Yesterday morning I realised that I wasn’t really in the mood for cooking anything complicated for dinner so I made a beef casserole in the slow cooker which I served with buttered neeps and it was delicious. Although I would usually make the base of my casseroles with diced onion or shredded white leeks it’s sadly a very high FODMAP food so it’s off the menu. However, I’ve read that the green leafy tops of leeks are actually low FODMAP and therefore are suitable to eat without feeling any unwanted side effects.

Now, I’ve thought about testing this before, but I’m so reluctant to buy leeks (or spring onions whose green tops are also fine) because I’d be unable to use the full vegetable and it would go to waste. Thankfully however, my aunt and uncle who have an allotment generously gave me two huge leeks that had beautiful, massive, flourishing green tops and I certainly wasn’t going to waste time in putting them to good use. The oniony flavour of the leek tops within the beef casserole was also enhanced by the addition of a bouquet garni, which is a muslin bag or tea bag case that’s filled with dried herbs, such as thyme, bay leaves and rosemary and it infuses the herby flavours throughout the casserole as it slowly cooks throughout the day.

I’ve written about the numerous benefits of using a slow cooker before and today is no different. I just love the fact that you can throw fairly cheap ingredients into the slow cooker and leave it to cook throughout the day, allowing all of the composite flavours to meld together to create a rich, unctuous casserole that greets you after a long day at work.

This beef casserole with buttered neeps is an incredibly easy, but luxurious and flavoursome, meal. Its slow cooked beef melts in the mouth and is accompanied by the soft, sweet carrots that have been lightly seasoned with the herby flavours of the bouquet garni. It’s just a great slow cooked casserole that’ll satisfy the whole family.

Ingredients:

700g casserole beef

4 large carrots (cut into bite-sized pieces)

The green tops of 2 leeks (thinly shredded)

bouquet garni

80g Isabel’s Gluten Free Gravy Granules

A litre of boiling water

1 neep (or turnip) cut into small chunks

30g butter (or dairy-free version)

1/2 tsp ground white pepper

Method:

Put your slow cooker on low and make your gravy by mixing the gravy granules into the litre of boiling water and stirring until it forms a thick gravy.

Put the beef, carrot pieces, shredded leeks, bouquet garni and gravy into the slow cooker and stir well.

Leave your slow cooker to cook all day.

To make the buttered neeps cut your neep or turnip into small chunks and boil in heavily salted water until soft.

Drain and mash before adding the butter and white pepper and mashing further. Taste for seasoning and then serve alongside the beef casserole.

Beef Casserole with Buttered Neeps by The Fat Foodie

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Thai Green Curry (serves 4)

Thai Green Curry by The Fat Foodie

When I was at work yesterday I found myself pondering over what I was going to make for dinner. I knew I had a pack of chicken breasts in the fridge, but I was a bit fed up of making the same chicken dishes over and over again. However, I remembered that I had a thick chunk of fresh root ginger in the fridge as well as a jar of minced lemongrass in the cupboard, so I found myself thinking about making a Thai curry.

I’ve never made a Thai green curry from scratch before because I’ve always thought that they require ridiculous amounts of individual ingredients and, let’s be honest here, sometimes after a long day at work you can’t be bothered with all of that faff-on, can you? However, after a brief mootch in the Thai cookbook section at work (one of the benefits of working in a bookshop!) I actually realised that it doesn’t really take that much to make a Thai green curry after all and that, with the exception of having to buy fish sauce and a packet of mangetout on my way home, I was all set.

Now, I’m going to offer a word of advice here and I really hope you take it. I’ve never cooked with fish sauce before so I added it after sweating off my spices, ginger and lemongrass, but this was a huge mistake. IT FREAKIN’ STINKS!!! I’m not kidding, this was an ‘open all of the doors and windows’ job. This was a ‘thank God the living room door was closed so the smell didn’t meander up into any of the bedrooms’ jobs. It was horrific. So my advice is: only add the fish sauce after you’ve already added the coconut milk so that it blends into the curry sauce without releasing its infernal pungent aroma into your kitchen.

After I’d added the coconut milk and allowed my nasal passages to dissipate the strong stench of the fish sauce I steeled myself and tasted the curry sauce and… it was delicious. You couldn’t taste any aspect of the fish sauce whatsoever, but it had definitely added a richness to the Thai green curry that it would have sorely lacked had I omitted it. Please trust me and use the fish sauce, just don’t smell it. Ever.

I loved this Thai green curry and so did my family. It’s rich, multi-flavoured and very satisfying and it makes a nice change from the usual Indian curries I tend to make a lot. Its coconut milk base carries the delicate notes of root ginger and lemongrass without overpowering the chicken and making it taste too sweet. I don’t think it’ll be long before I’m making this for dinner again, but you can be damn sure I’ll be adding the fish sauce AFTER I’ve added the coconut milk. I won’t make that mistake again!

Ingredients:

2 tbsp sesame oil

2 tbsps minced fresh root ginger

1 tbsp minced lemongrass (or 2 crushed lemongrass stalks)

1 mild red chilli (finely chopped)

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp asafoetida

1/2 a bunch of fresh coriander (chopped)

1/2 a bunch of basil (chopped)

2 tbsps fish sauce

2 tbsps lime juice (or the juice of 2 limes)

1 tin of coconut milk

1/3 of a block of coconut cream (around 75g)

4 chicken breasts (cut into bite-sized pieces)

200g mangetout (cut into bite-sized pieces)

Rice

Method:

In a large saucepan heat the sesame oil and once hot add the ginger, lemongrass, chopped chilli, cumin and asafoetida.

Add the chicken pieces, tin of coconut milk, lime juice and fish sauce and leave to simmer for 10-15 mins.

Start your rice cooking.

Add the mangetout, basil, coriander and coconut cream and cook for another couple of minutes.

Drain your rice.

If you used whole lemongrass stalks then just before serving remove them from the Thai green curry.

Serve on top of the rice with fresh basil (and a bit more chopped chilli if you like).

Thai Green Curry by The Fat Foodie

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Aloo Palak (Potato and Spinach Curry) (serves 4)

Aloo Palak (Potato and Spinach Curry) by The Fat Foodie

I love aloos, potato-based Indian dishes, because they’re so hearty and flavoursome and they make a lovely light alternative to heavy dairy and meat-based curries. I’m particularly a fan of aloo palak, a potato and spinach curry, because the addition of spinach leaves makes the dish very fresh tasting and brings out the natural sweetness of the potatoes.

I know a lot of people who would never dream about making a curry from scratch because they think it’s too hard or that it involves too many ingredients, an attitude I can understand because some curries are pretty labour and ingredient intensive. However, this aloo palak is really easy to make and its ingredients list isn’t that extensive either.

The beauty of making a curry yourself lies in the fact that you can use fresh flavours that really pack a wallop, such as minced ginger root and fresh coriander leaf. Accordingly, you’re rewarded with an aloo palak that tastes much nicer than a curry sauce that comes from a jar. As an added bonus there’s no onion or garlic in this recipe because asafoetida powder is used to impart those flavours instead, so it’s FODMAP friendly.

Although this aloo palak is vegetarian, it’s substantial, requiring little more than some crisp and crunchy poppadums to accompany it, but even though there’s no meat in it it’s rich and stuffed full of a variety of flavours. It’s a vegetarian curry that’s well worth making.

Ingredients:

800g potatoes cut into small cubes (peeled weight)

3 tbsps vegetable oil

1 tsp salt

1 tbsp garam masala

1 tbsp fresh minced ginger

1 tsp asafoetida powder

1 tsp hot madras powder

1 tsp ground turmeric

2 tbsps sesame seeds

2 tbsps dessicated coconut

200g fresh washed spinach

Fresh coriander and poppadums for serving

Method:

Parboil the potatoes in generously salted boiling water until just soft and then drain.

Heat the vegetable oil in a large pan and add all of your spices and cook for a minute.

Add the potatoes and desiccated coconut and cook for a couple of minutes before adding the spinach.

Cook until the spinach has wilted down and add a little water if you’d prefer the curry to be a bit saucier. Taste for seasoning (it might require a generous seasoning of salt at this point).

Serve with freshly chopped coriander and crisp poppadums. (It’s also lovely with fresh chopped chilli and a cucumber and mint raita.)

Aloo Palak (Potato and Spinach Curry) by The Fat Foodie

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