Vegetable Lasagne (serves 8)

Vegetable Lasagne by The Fat Foodie

As much as I enjoy a good beef lasagne, I often look forward to one that’s made solely by layering vegetables in a casserole dish between a rich cheese sauce. Purely using vegetables makes the lasagne a light meal as opposed to the heaviness that accompanies a dish that’s based around meat. So, the other day when I looked in the fridge and saw a butternut squash, carrots and some courgettes that needed to be used up I figured they’d go very well together in a vegetable lasagne.

I inadvertently made this vegetable lasagne a vegan one because I don’t get on well with dairy and I wanted to use lots of grated Violife non-dairy mozzarella cheese to create a golden brown cheese crust to crown the lasagne. However, if you have no problem with dairy you can use a couple of sachets of cheese sauce mix to layer your lasagne instead and top it with grated cheddar or parmesan. Also, to keep this recipe low FODMAP don’t use any more than 30g of butternut squash per serve (240g in total).

This vegetable lasagne is a very easy to make and simple dish which consists of thinly sliced layers of butternut squash, courgette, baby spinach and carrot ribbons stacked together which are complemented by a cheesey sauce and sprinkled with sliced black olives and grated cheese. And if you need further testimony to its tastiness, even my carnivorous step-son enjoyed it so much he went back for seconds.

Ingredients:

1 small butternut squash (peeled and sliced into thin discs)

2 courgettes (cut lengthwise into thin slices)

3 large carrots (peeled and cut lengthwise into thin slices using a vegetable peeler)

8 cherry tomatoes (halved)

100g spinach

80g sliced black olives

200g grated cheese (I used Violife non-dairy mozzarella)

For the white sauce:

25g dairy-free butter

25g gluten-free flour

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

2 tbsps Engevita

200ml rice milk

2 tsps dried oregano

1/2 tsp ground pepper

Method:

Preheat your oven to 190C/170C Fan/375F/ Gas mark 5.

Get a lasagne pan or large casserole dish at hand.

Because butternut squash is more robust and requires cooking for longer than the other vegetables, cook your butternut squash discs in a microwave until they are just soft to the touch and keep them to one side while you make the sauce.

To make the white sauce: melt the butter in a saucepan over a medium heat before whisking in the flour, pepper, oregano 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, season to taste and then take it off the heat.

Take your rectangular casserole dish and put a layer of courgettes on the bottom and top it with a little bit of sauce (you want to keep a fair amount for the topping) and then baby spinach leaves, carrot ribbons and butternut squash. Repeat until you’ve used up all of the vegetables.

Vegetable Lasagne by The Fat Foodie

Hopefully you’ve still got some sauce left, so pour the last of it over the lasagne and then add the sliced olives, halved cherry tomatoes and mozzarella.

Vegetable Lasagne by The Fat Foodie

Bake the vegetable lasagne in the oven for 35-40 mins or until the cheesy top is golden brown.

You could serve it with a side salad, crusty baguette or chips, but we just had bowls of it on its own and it was delicious!

Vegetable Lasagne by The Fat Foodie

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Dark Chocolate Gingers

Dark Chocolate Gingers by The Fat Foodie

I love ginger. I think it’s such a variable spice. It adds a gorgeous fragrant, warming note to curries and noodle bowls while providing a delicious-tasting background heat. However, although I more than appreciate the merits of ginger in savoury recipes, I think ginger really comes into its own when used in sweet dishes. What would an autumnal bonfire night be without thick slabs of sticky gingerbread that are topped with a creamy spreading of real butter? Or a rainy October afternoon stuck inside the house while you watch black and white old movies with a steaming hot cup of builder’s tea and a couple of gingernut biscuits lying at its side? Sheer bliss.

For all that I love a biscuit that’s solely flavoured with ginger, I think the spice is really elevated when paired with dark chocolate. There’s something about the spicy heat of the ginger being tempered by the creamy bitterness of dark chocolate that makes me appreciate the humble dark chocolate ginger biscuit. I’ve also added a little bit of lemon extract to the biscuit dough which helps to keep the flavour fresh and not too heavy. (You could use the zest of a lemon if you don’t have lemon extract.)

These dark chocolate gingers are crisp, buttery rounds of crumbly biscuit that are infused with the background heat of ginger and are generously slathered in a coating of thick, creamy dark chocolate. They’re very quick to make and are ideal for accompanying a cuppa on a rainy afternoon.

Ingredients:

100g cornflour

150g gluten-free flour

95g icing sugar

125g salted butter (or a non-dairy version)

1 tsp lemon extract

2 tbsps rice milk

1 tsp ground ginger

100g dark chocolate (for coating the biscuits)

Method:

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

Lay greaseproof paper out onto two baking trays.

Measure all of your ingredients into a plastic jug or mixing bowl and then mix it all together with an electric whisk. (If you want to make it by hand then just rub the butter into the dry ingredients before adding the liquid ingredients and mixing together.)

Add more rice milk if you feel the dough is too dry. (Gluten-free flour can be notoriously absorbent.)

Take small handfuls of biscuit dough and roll into a ball before flattening between your palms and placing them on the baking trays. Continue until the mix is all used up.

Bake the ginger biscuits in the oven until they are golden brown and then place them on a cooling rack to cool down.

Once cold, melt the dark chocolate and spread a thick layer over the top of the biscuits. Leave to cool until the chocolate has solidified and then serve.

Dark Chocolate Gingers by The Fat Foodie

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Lemon and Coconut Cookies

Lemon and Coconut Cookies by The Fat Foodie

I love lemon in cookies because I think the fruity flavour lifts the rich, buttery biscuit and makes it taste really fresh and light. It’s also particularly good when combined with the exotic flavour of coconut because the two tastes working together really sing, so these lemon and coconut cookies are the ideal combination then!

This is a dairy-free and gluten-free cookie recipe. However, for all of you sceptics out there, I tested it on my Dad and his workmates and they couldn’t tell the difference between these cookies and a ‘normal’ biscuit, which testifies to its tastiness. (If you’re not dairy or gluten sensitive you can just make them with normal flour and butter though, if you like.)

These lemon and coconut cookies are so easy to make. In fact, rather than standing rubbing the butter into the flour and whatnot like a traditional biscuit normally requires, I just made the cookie dough in a jug by whisking all of the ingredients together with an electric whisk. The most time-consuming part of this bake is simply waiting for the cookie dough to chill in the fridge before you bake it and even that’s not entirely essential either!

If you fancy a fresh and light dairy-free and gluten-free biscuit then these lemon and coconut cookies are for you. They’re delicately flavoured with zingy, zesty lemon extract and are enhanced by the exotic tropical taste of coconut. They’re practically begging to be eaten with a cuppa!

Ingredients for the cookies:

200g plain flour (I used gluten-free)

50g cornflour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp lemon extract

125g white sugar

125g butter (I used dairy-free)

For decorating:

Icing sugar

Water

Desiccated coconut

Method:

Measure the cookie ingredients into a large plastic jug and use an electric whisk to mix it all together. (You can add a little water if you feel it needs it to combine properly into a dough, but don’t add a lot.)

Once it’s fully combined, place the dough on a sheet of cling film, roll it into a sausage shape and chill it in the fridge for at least an hour. (This makes it easier to slice.)

Preheat your oven to 180°C/170°C Fan/350°F/Gas Mark 4 and line two baking trays with greaseproof paper.

Unroll the cookie dough from the cling film and cut it into 1 cm thick slices, before placing them on the baking tray with a gap between each.

Bake for 15 to 20 mins or until golden brown.

Leave to cool on a cooling rack. Make your icing by mixing the icing sugar with a tiny bit of water at a time until it’s the thickness to coat the back of a spoon.

Once the cookies are cold, drizzle the icing over the lemon and coconut cookies and then scatter the desiccated coconut over them. Serve.

Lemon and Coconut Cookies by The Fat Foodie

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Salt-Crusted Baked Potatoes

Salt-Crusted Baked Potatoes by The Fat Foodie

I think we can all agree that potatoes are a staple of the low FODMAP diet. Their wonderfully low FODMAP status means that they’re a great carbohydrate to be able to fall back on when you need a relatively quick meal. I tend to get fed up of eating bread all the time, even if it’s my gorgeous gluten-free soda bread, so it’s nice to know that I can have a baked potato instead.

When I was at uni doing my Masters I’d often go for a baked potato for lunch because they were huge, well-baked beauties that were perfect specimens of the potato family. Although many baked potatoes can be dry, these ones always had lovely moist interiors and were encased within a delicious-tasting natural shell. (I always eat the baked potato skin because it’s packed full of nutrients.)

Now, I’m going to tell you how to make the perfect baked potatoes and this advice is gold, my friends. On one of those days when I was buying lunch from the uni canteen I asked the lady who was serving the lunches why their baked potatoes tasted so good and she smiled and replied that, although they weren’t supposed to add salt without good reason, she coated the freshly washed raw potatoes in a very thin layer of granulated salt before she baked them so that the salt dried in the oven and created a crust on the outside which prevented the moisture within the potatoes from evaporating while simultaneously seasoning the potatoes beautifully. (I’m paraphrasing here.)

This was a revelation to me. I’d never have dreamed of putting salt on my baked potatoes, but sure enough, when I tried it at home (and every time I’ve made them since) it produces wonderfully tasty and beautifully seasoned baked potatoes.

Another trick to ensuring you get the perfect salt-crusted baked potatoes is to use a four-pronged potato baker. When my partner and I tied the knot, my Aunt and Uncle in Canada very generously sent over a Debenhams gift voucher for us. I bought a number of things with it, including a large bale of white towels which have long gone to grey bath towel heaven. However, one thing which remains from their wedding gift, and is used on a very regular basis, is a pair of potato bakers. These potato bakers are brilliant because they ensure your potatoes cook evenly by piercing them through the middle and radiating the heat through their centre. They’re truly a genius invention!

If you enjoy a good baked potato I’d really encourage you to try these salt-crusted baked potatoes some time. They’re a lovely way to treat what is a pretty plain vegetable and they really coax the natural sweetness out of the potato. The only hard part is deciding what you’re going to top them with.

Ingredients:

As many large potatoes as you need (washed and any eyes removed)

Granulated salt

Any toppings you fancy

Method:

Preheat your oven to 220C/200C Fan/425F/Gas Mark 7.

Wash your large potatoes and remove any eyes from them.

Scatter salt over the wet potatoes (I use around 1/3 to 1/2 a teaspoon of salt per potato) and then skewer them on the potato bakers and place on a baking tray.

Salt-Crusted Baked Potatoes About to be Baked by The Fat Foodie

Bake them in the oven for around 45 to 55 minutes. (You can’t really tell when they’re ready from looking at them so I tend to check they’re cooked by removing one of them from the potato baker and cutting it open. If it’s soft in the middle, they’re done. If not, pop it back on the potato baker and put them back in for a bit longer.)

Once your potatoes are ready remove them from the potato bakers and serve with your desired toppings.

Salt-Crusted Baked Potatoes 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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