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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Chicken and Feta Filo Bake

Chicken and Feta Filo Bake by The Fat Foodie

I always enjoy pastry, particularly when it’s used in savoury dishes, so when I recently started playing with filo pastry in my recipes it really opened my eyes to future meals I could make, such as this chicken and feta filo bake.

Filo pastry is, quite frankly, a weird type of pastry. It’s composed of a very simple pastry dough which is rolled and stretched until it creates sheets of pastry which are so thin they feel like a sheet of paper and you can almost see through them, but when filo pastry is baked it takes on a beautifully crisp texture which wraps your chosen filling in a thin parcel. I’d roasted a chicken on Sunday and had loads of meat left over so I decided to use it along with feta, cheddar and spinach in this filo bake.

I’ve yet to find anywhere that sells gluten-free filo pastry, so this isn’t a gluten-free recipe and it contains feta cheese and cheddar so it’s not dairy-free either, but it’s important to remember that the FODMAP-friendly diet isn’t necessarily a gluten-free or dairy-free diet. You only need to avoid those triggers during the initial exclusion phase and then, after that, only if they specifically cause you issues or you’re allergic to them. Also, I used a harissa paste which was free of garlic, but many pre-made harissas contain it so exercise caution. It’s quite easy to make harissa yourself though, but you could easily use chilli paste or red pesto instead.

I guess if I was being totally honest, I’d have to admit that this recipe came about because I had a number of things which needed used up in the fridge, such as cooked meat, cheeses and vegetables, but it is such a tasty meal I can guarantee I’ll deliberately make this again pretty soon because the whole family really enjoyed it. Also, the beauty of this filo bake is that you can make this yourself with any fillings you fancy too.

I made my chicken and feta filo bake with leftover pieces of tender roast chicken, cubes of sandwich ham, some grated cheddar, cubes of tart feta cheese and diced baby tomatoes, fresh spinach leaves and a generous topping of chopped chives, all of which was complemented by a spread of spicy, hot harissa paste over the filo before baking. It came out of the oven hot and crispy and bubbling with melted cheese. I served it simply with sliced, dressed cucumber slices and I’d have to describe it as divine.

Ingredients:

270g filo pastry (my Jus-Rol pack contained 7 sheets)

200g feta (cubed)

350g cooked chicken (sliced)

80g diced ham

130g cherry tomatoes (diced)

120g spinach leaves

90g jar of harissa spice paste

60g chopped chives

150g grated cheddar

Vegetable oil (for brushing)

Method:

Preheat your oven to to 180°C/160C Fan/350F/Gas Mark 4 and have a large non-stick casserole dish at hand.

Lay out your sheet of filo pastry so the longest edge is beside you and spread a thin layer of harissa (or chilli paste or red pesto) on it.

Add your toppings, but remember that you have to fill 7 sheets of filo so you’ll need to try to fill them equally.

Filling the Chicken and Feta Filo Bake by The Fat Foodie

Roll up your filo sheet into a sausage shape before lightly brushing it with vegetable oil and forming it into the shape of a snail-like spiral and placing it in the casserole dish. (Don’t worry if the pastry splits. It won’t affect the taste.)

Repeat with the rest of the filo sheets.

Bake in the oven for around 25 mins or until the filo is golden brown and crispy. Serve with a fresh salad.

Chicken and Feta Filo Bake by The Fat Foodie

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Quiche Lorraine

Quiche Lorraine by The Fat Foodie

I’d made plans the other day to meet my friend in town for lunch after I’d finished my morning shift at work, but unfortunately she had to cancel, so I invited her to my house for lunch the next day instead. When I got home I was wracking my brains trying to think of something to make for our lunch and I eventually decided to go with a rich quiche lorraine.

Quiches are a brilliant tasty meal option to make for lunch or dinner because they require very few ingredients, particularly if you have a block of pastry in your freezer. And even if you don’t have pastry on-hand it’s really easy to knock one up in no time at all. Quiches are also ideal because you can fill them with any number of ingredients and they are a great vegetarian choice as they are delicious when made with vegetables like courgettes, tomatoes and broccoli, to name but a few.

Although I love vegetable quiches, such as my Mediterranean Vegetable Quiche and Broccoli and Parmesan Quiche,  I also enjoy meats like leftover roast chicken or bacon in them, so I decided to make a traditional quiche lorraine for our lunch that day. Quiche Lorraine originates from the Lorraine region of France and the traditional version consists of a rich, savoury shortcrust pastry shell that’s filled to the brim with fresh eggs, double cream, grated cheese and bacon lardons.

Now, my version of quiche lorraine isn’t quite as decadent as the standard full-fat French version, but it’s still very tasty. It’s made with whipped eggs and a dash of rice milk which is mixed with grated cheddar and a generous quantity of smoked bacon strips and it’s then poured into a thyme-infused pastry shell and baked until just the slightest wobble remains after baking. It’s lovely simply served with a green salad and a long natter with a good friend.

Ingredients:

175g gluten-free plain flour

100g butter (cold and cut into cubes) or a non-dairy version

1 egg yolk

2 tbsps cold water

2 sprigs of fresh thyme (or 1 tsp dried)

4 medium eggs

150g grated mature cheddar (or non-dairy equivalent)

100ml rice milk (or normal, if preferred)

150g smoked bacon (chopped)

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

2 tomatoes (sliced – for decoration)

Method:

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

Get a 23cm or 9″ quiche tin and line it with greaseproof paper.

If you’re using ready-rolled shortcrust pastry then roll it out, place it in the quiche tin and cut it to size.

If you’re making your own pastry then measure the flour, butter and thyme into a mixing bowl and rub the butter into the flour until it looks like fine sand. Add the egg yolk and 2 tbsps of cold water to the mixture and bring it together until it forms a dough. Roll it out on a floured worksurface and cut it to size so it fits inside your quiche tin and overlaps the edges slightly. Lightly prick the bottom of the pastry case with a fork. (This helps release air and prevents the bottom from rising.)

If you have baking beans, then line the inside of the pastry shell with greaseproof paper and add the baking beans. If not, don’t worry about it.

Bake the pastry shell for 15-20 mins or until the pastry is golden brown.

While the shell is cooking mix all of the other ingredients together.

When the pastry shell is golden brown take it out of the oven and pour the filling mixture into it. Top with the sliced tomatoes (and more cheese, if you like) and bake it in the oven for about 25 mins or until it only slightly wobbles in the middle when jiggled.

Freshly Baked Quiche Lorraine by The Fat Foodie

Leave the quiche to cool slightly and then serve it with a fresh salad.

Quiche Lorraine 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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Chicken Satay (serves 4)

Chicken Satay by The Fat Foodie

I had a bowl of chicken satay a long time ago in a restaurant and it was really delicious, but when I looked into making it myself I saw that the ingredient list was as long as my arm and was heavily based on fried onion and garlic. Not FODMAP friendly ingredients! However, I was sure that similar results could be attained by using fewer ingredients and after some tweaking I decided I was happy to write this version up for the website. I make this chicken satay all the time because it’s a great standby meal to have on-hand and requires so few ingredients. It also helps that most of the ingredients are long-lasting, so I always have them in my kitchen cupboards and fridge.

Traditionally, chicken satay is made with sweet chilli sauce, but every single one I’ve checked has contained garlic in one form or another, so that’s not going to work on a low FODMAP diet. However, a fellow fodmapper recommended Lingham’s Sweet Chilli Sauce to me because it doesn’t contain garlic and it works wonderfully. (It can be found in Tesco. Thanks, Jane!)

Chicken satay tends to be quite a sweet dish because the sauce is made with peanut butter, but the lime juice helps cut through the sweetness and adds a fresh dimension to the meal. It’s also nice to serve the chicken satay with a green vegetable on the side because it makes the sweetness less overpowering and adds variety and texture to the dish. I sometimes serve this chicken satay with either green beans or sesame broccoli (made by sauteing small florets of broccoli in 1 tbsp of hot sesame oil and adding 2 tbsps of sesame seeds before serving), but it’s delicious just as a substantial bowlful of chunky pieces of tender chicken that are encased in a rich, thick peanut satay sauce and served resting on a bed of fluffy white rice. Delicious!

Ingredients:

600g of skinless & boneless chicken thighs (cut into small pieces)

1 tbsp sesame oil

2 tbsps sesame seeds

300g long grain rice

 

For the satay sauce:

170g crunchy peanut butter

100ml Lingham’s Sweet Chilli Sauce

4 tbsps lime juice (add more to taste)

Method:

Place a large saucepan over a medium heat and add the sesame oil, chicken pieces and sesame seeds. Cook until the chicken is done.

At the same time, cook your rice in salted water.

Add the sauce ingredients to the pan and stir until hot.

Drain your rice, portion into bowls, top with the chicken satay and serve.

Chicken Satay by The Fat Foodie

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