Although I enjoy eating most meat I’m not a fan of veal at all. Leaving aside ethical concerns about how veal is raised and slaughtered, the fact is, I simply don’t enjoy the taste of it. I didn’t realise that saltimbocca is traditionally made with veal until I decided to make it one day, but after doing some research online I thankfully discovered that a lot of professional chefs believe that saltimbocca is actually far tastier when made with pork escalopes instead.
I missed the whole Spiralizer fad when it came around a while ago. I mean, I was aware of it, but I just couldn’t see how shaping a vegetable to resemble something else could possibly be that tasty in the grand scheme of things. Spaghetti’s cheap enough to buy (even the gluten-free stuff’s not that expensive nowadays) so why would I feel the need to substitute it with a vegetable? However, not too long ago I picked up a Spiralizer dirt cheap and it’s been sitting in one of my kitchen cupboards ever since. So, when I spotted it lurking at the back of the cupboard the other day I figured I should give it a whirl.
I tend to buy courgettes quite frequently so I’m pretty much guaranteed to always have some in the fridge and I reasoned that they’d be an ideal vegetable to try out the Spiralizer with. I also had a jar of sundried tomato pesto in the cupboard and a packet of sausages in the fridge so it stood to reason that courgetti with pesto and meatballs would be a good meal for that evening.
I must admit, I was really sceptical as to whether the courgetti would be tasty because courgettes aren’t exactly known for naturally brimming over with flavour anyway, but oh my goodness, when I tasted the finished meal I realised that they were actually delicious! They were also very filling and made a very substantial meal.
All I’d done was fry balls of sausagemeat in a large frying pan before adding the courgetti and cooking until it became soft and then adding the pesto and stirring it through it. It was as simple as that, but good grief, it was outstanding. The courgette spaghetti added not only a lovely fresh flavour to the meal, but a delightful and substantial texture too. Whereas normal spaghetti is fairly flavourless and bulky, the courgetti really added an element of interest to the dish and complemented the sausage meatballs really well.
Courgetti with meatballs might sound quite plain and it might not entice you into purchasing a Spiralizer for yourself, but chances are quite a few of you already own one and I’d seriously encourage you to try this recipe. It makes a plateful of soft, fresh courgetti that’s lightly coated in sweet sundried tomato pesto and is dotted with tasty little balls of sausagemeat. Sadly, I’ve realised that Spiralizing is a fad I should have tried a long time ago.
2 large courgettes (no more than 240g in total of spiralized courgette)
1 jar of red pesto (I used dairy-free)
1 pack of gluten-free sausages
Remove the sausages from their casings and form small meatballs with them. Fry them in a frying pan until cooked.
While the meatballs are cooking Spiralize the courgettes.
Once the meatballs are cooked add the courgetti and fry until just soft.
Stir the red pesto through the courgetti and serve.
Everyone loves lasagne, it’s just one of those universally adored dishes that Italy’s renowned for. However, when I went dairy-free and onto the low FODMAP diet I was concerned that it would be off the cards because it normally has lots of onion, garlic and cheese in it, but I made a conscious effort to adapt my usual lasagne recipe into a FODMAP friendly one and it seemed to have been successful.
When I started looking into the FODMAP diet and for ways to incorporate onion and garlic flavours into my cooking I discovered that you can use chives without it having any impact on your IBS and that garlic-infused oil is fine to use too, as long as you don’t consume the actual garlic itself. During my onion-based investigations though (forgive me, I’ve been reading a lot of old-school crime novels lately), I also found out that there is an Indian spice called asafoetida which mimics the flavour of onion. I was pretty sceptical to be honest, but I ordered some asafoetida online and was thrilled to find out that it genuinely does taste like onion!
Now, you’ve got to be careful when buying asafoetida because some of the spice mixes are blended with gluten flours to make it less potent (it’s a very strong spice), but there are some, such as this one, which are blended with other spices like ground fenugreek instead.
I’d really recommend trying asafoetida if you’re on the low FODMAP diet and you ordinarily enjoy onion and garlic flavours in your cooking because it definitely does what it says on the tin. As a result, my lasagne sheets were layered between a rich, thick, onion-infused meaty ragù that was just as satisfying as the standard version. This free-from lasagne is also topped with a creamy, cheesy dairy-free white sauce that definitely doesn’t make you feel like you’re missing out on dairy (although if you’re not dairy-free you could just use a couple of sachets of cheese sauce mix instead).
I served the free-from lasagne with a fresh green salad that was liberally dotted with fat, plump little jewel-green caperberries whose piquancy cut through the richness of the lasagne and added a tart freshness to the dish, but feel free to just serve it with chips if you’d prefer. You’ll find no judgement here from me, my friends.
Ingredients for the pork ragù:
450g pork mince (use beef if you’d prefer)
200g red bell pepper (diced)
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tsps dried oregano
360g of tinned chopped tomatoes
1 tsp salt
1 tsp asafoetida
Gluten-free lasagne sheets
Dairy-free cheese for lasagne topping
For the white sauce:
25g dairy-free butter
25g gluten-free flour
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
2 tbsps Engevita
200ml rice milk
Preheat your oven to 190C/170C Fan/375F/ Gas mark 5.
Method to make the ragù:
Put the pork mince in a saucepan with 1 tbsp olive oil and cook until done.
Add the red peppers, oregano, salt, asafoetida, chopped tomatoes and tomato puree and cook until hot.
To make the white sauce: melt the butter in a saucepan over a medium heat before whisking in the flour, black pepper and Engevita.
Slowly add a little rice milk at a time, stirring continuously, so that eventually a thick sauce is created. (Don’t panic if it looks really lumpy, just keep stirring and adding more milk and it’ll come together.)
Once the white sauce is thick take it off the heat .
Take a rectangular casserole dish and put a layer of ragù on the bottom and top it with lasagne sheets. Repeat until you’ve used up all of the ragù.
Whisk the egg thoroughly into the white sauce mixture, pour on top of the lasagne, top with the dairy-free cheese and bake in the oven for around 45 mins.
Serve with a salad (and/or chips!).
In my opinion, one of the best meals to come out of Italy is lasagne. There’s nothing quite like a hearty, beefy, cheesy pasta dish to fill the tummy. Its multi-layers allow for forkfulls of rich, tomatoey mince to meld with thick, unctious cheese sauce, with the occasional surprise of a nice piece of crispy toasted melted cheese. However, for all that lasagnes are traditionally very onion, garlic and cheese based, it’s actually very easy to make a low FODMAP lasagne which is just as tasty as a normal version.
Lasagnes are incredibly easy to make and the beauty of making your own instead of buying one is that you can alter the ingredients as you see fit, ensuring you have a pasta dish that suits your own taste.
I like my low FODMAP lasagne to have plenty of herbs in it and for the sauces to be thick enough for it to cut into slices without it completely falling apart, but other people prefer theirs to be much more liquid so that they can use good crusty bread to mop up the sauce.
Either way, it’s a rewarding meal that will feed lots of people. It will also reap plenty of leftovers which will keep in the fridge for a couple of days and it’ll freeze beautifully too, leaving your freezer stocked with low FODMAP ready meals of the best (and tastiest) quality.
500g beef mince
1 tsp asafoetida powder
2 tbsps olive oil
6-8 gluten-free lasagne sheets
1 tbsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp salt
100g oyster mushrooms (chopped)
50g pitted black olives (chopped)
360g of tinned chopped tomatoes
1 vegetable stock cube
100ml of water
Dairy-free cheese sauce mix (or normal, if tolerated)
1/2 a pint of rice milk
160g grated cheddar (or non-dairy version)
Put the olive oil in a pan over a medium heat and add the mince and asafoetida powder. Fry until the meat is cooked through.
Add in the oregano, salt, olives and mushrooms. Cook until the mushrooms are soft.
Add the chopped tomatoes, crumble the stock cube into the pan and stir through. If the mix is very thick then add a bit of water, but if you’re happy with the consistency then leave it as it is.
Cook the mix for a little while longer over a low heat.
In the meantime, prepare the cheese sauce as instructed on the packet.
To build the lasagne:
Put a layer of tomato mince in a square or rectangular casserole dish, followed by a thin layer of cheese sauce and place lasagne sheets on top.
Repeat until all of the ingredients are used up, reserving a bit of cheese sauce for the top.
Scatter grated cheese all over the top of the lasagne and grind black pepper over it.
Bake in the oven for 40-50 mins, or until the lasagne sheets are soft and the grated cheese is golden brown and bubbling.
Serve with crusty bread, baguettes or salad. Or all of the above, because why not?