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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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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Chocolate Muffins (makes 12)

Chocolate Muffins by The Fat Foodie

Sometimes I make things that aren’t originally intended for my website, but when I taste the finished result I kick myself for not paying more attention and noting the ingredients down because it’s turned out to be a really tasty recipe. These chocolate muffins were one of those recipes. I’d had a number of sweet potatoes in the fridge that needed to be used up so I thought it’d be nice to make a batch of chocolate muffins to take into work the next day. Of course, it was only after I’d taken them into work and tasted them that I realised how lovely they were, leaving me to resolve that I’d make another batch very soon.

Although these chocolate muffins have sweet potato in them you can’t tell at all. The sweet potato simply bulks out the muffin mixture while adding moisture, body and sweetness to the sponge. The beauty of using the sweet potatoes in the chocolate muffins is that you can use less flour in the mix and it also adds a number of vitamins and minerals into the muffins that you wouldn’t ordinarily get from only using gluten-free flour.

I genuinely think that this is my go-to chocolate muffin recipe from now on because they are soft, light, moist and incredibly fudgy and you certainly can’t tell that they’re gluten-free. They’re everything you could possibly want in a chocolate muffin really.

Ingredients:

420g peeled raw sweet potatoes (cut into small chunks)

200g brown sugar

100g gluten-free flour (I use Dove’s Farm G/F Plain Flour)

50g cocoa

100g chopped walnuts (optional)

2 large eggs

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 tsp xanthan gum

140ml vegetable oil

1 tsp vanilla extract

140ml rice milk

1/2 tsp salt

For the chocolate muffin icing:

200g icing sugar

25g cocoa

Around 1 tbsp of water (but depends on how thick you want the icing to be)

Method:

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

Lay out 12 muffin cases in a muffin tray.

Prepare the sweet potatoes and cook them on a plate in the microwave until they are soft. Put the cooked sweet potato in a large mixing bowl, mash well and leave to cool.

Once the sweet potato is fairly cool, add all of your wet ingredients and mix well.

Add the dry ingredients and mix well.

Divide the mixture between the 12 muffin cases and bake in the oven for 30-35 mins or until a skewer pushed into the middle of one comes out clean. Leave to cool.

To make the icing, slowly stir the water into the icing sugar and cocoa to blend the icing together (you can make it as thick or thin as you like) and once you’re happy with the consistency pour it over the chocolate muffins.

Munch!

Chocolate Muffins by The Fat Foodie

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Courgetti with Meatballs (Serves 3-4)

Courgetti with Meatballs by The Fat Foodie

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.

Ingredients:

3 large courgettes

1 jar of red pesto (I used dairy-free)

1 pack of sausages

Method:

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.

Freshly Spiralized Courgetti

Once the meatballs are cooked add the courgetti and fry until just soft.

Courgetti with Meatballs by The Fat Foodie

Stir the red pesto through the courgetti and serve.

Courgetti with Meatballs by The Fat Foodie

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