Spiedini - Two Ways

by Susan Smith in , , ,


Once you’re committed to a low-carb/high fat, Primal, predominantly vegetarian diet, the option of eating-out well often requires imagination, ingenuity and well-developed interpersonal skills! Whatever you do, don’t over-indulge at the bar before ordering your meal because you’re still ‘on-duty’ until you’ve successfully managed to cut through the swathe of waiting staffs’ confusion when you tell them that you don’t eat any grains, potato, meat, legumes, pulses or sugar! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve patiently explained that pasta counts as grain and it’s dried legumes e.g. chickpeas, lentils, beans - not fresh beans and peas - that are off limits. I’ll even re-jig the menu in advance so they can ask Chef if we can mix and match elements from several different dishes already listed to create just one meal that we can eat! That done, there are still numerous occasions when the bread basket appears, even after our in-depth discussion! 

Happily, there are three notable restaurant exceptions in our locale - namely, Hart’s, World Service and Piccolino - that without any fuss are still able to feed us ‘body and soul’. Thanks guys! In fact, the inspiration for this Primal Plate Valentine’s day main course of Spiedini (the Italian for ‘skewer’) is an almost copy-cat version of our favourite dish on Piccolino’s menu - skewered scallops, tuna and prawns. As with previous Primal Plate recipes, I felt compelled to conjure up a vegetarian equivalent and, as you can see in the photographs, swapping vegetables and Halloumi cheese for fish doesn’t compromise on its looks or yumminess. 

As this is a Valentine’s day celebration dinner for two, I’ve gone all fanciful and Italianesque when naming the recipes. After all, fish skewers or vegetarian skewers doesn’t do either justice, whilst Spiedini Di Pesce and Spiedini Vegetariani sound altogether more romantic and enticing…you can always trust the Italians on this score! 

However, in case you’ve not already picked up on my last blog post, the pièce de résistance of this special occasion meal is dessert. I think Feeling Fruity Sweet-Hearts is probably my best creation on this blog to date! Not only does this bold, colourful, sassy dessert say “I love you”, it tastes absolutely divine. It's a sweet treat that takes no more than 30 minutes hands-on time in the kitchen - but looks like fine restaurant dining at its best. A stunning, creamy, dreamy, fruity pudding that offers up pure pleasure by the mouthful. Talk about swoon! 

And as if this wasn’t enough to make you feel truly cared for, can you believe that this healthy, low-carb, two course dinner à deux boasts no more than 40g carbohydrate per person with Spiedini Di Pesce and just 44g with Spiedini Vegetariani?

When all you need is love, this amazingly simple, seriously impressive food served with a decent bottle of wine (I think Champagne’s obligatory) makes for a romantic, not-so-sober evening at home that has all the potential for this year's Valentine celebration being one to remember.

 Spiedini Di Pesce

Spiedini Di Pesce

Spiedini Di Pesce (Serves 2 - Makes 6 skewers)

Ingredients

325g thick lean fresh tuna steak (sustainably sourced, MSC certified)

6 king scallops (sustainably sourced, MSC certified)

6 large peeled prawns (sustainably sourced, MSC certified)

24 ripe cherry tomatoes on the vine

50g organic butter, melted

3 tbsp parsley, finely chopped

Juice of ½ large organic lemon

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Olive oil - for cooking

1 organic lemon, halved - to serve

Sprigs of flat-leaf parsley - to serve

Organic Romaine lettuce, finely shredded - to serve

6 bamboo skewers - soaked in cold water for 30 minutes

 Raw, marinated Spiedini Di Pesce ready for cooking

Raw, marinated Spiedini Di Pesce ready for cooking

 Spiedini Di Pesce is delicious served simply with crispy lettuce and a wedge of lemon

Spiedini Di Pesce is delicious served simply with crispy lettuce and a wedge of lemon

Instructions 

Cut the tuna steak in to 6 even-sized pieces.

Thread a tomato, a prawn, a tomato, a scallop, a tomato, a tuna chunk and finally a tomato (in that order) on to 6 skewers and place them on to a large flat plate.

Combine the melted butter, parsley and lemon juice together and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. 

Liberally brush the Spiedini di Pesce with the butter mixture and set aside.

Pre-heat the oven to 220℃ / 425℉ / Gas mark 7

Line a large baking tray with non-stick foil or a silicon baking sheet. 

Lightly oil a griddle pan with olive oil and set it over a medium/high heat. When the pan is really hot - you should see a slight haze rising - place the spiedini in to the griddle pan, buttered side down. Cook over a high heat for about 1-2 minutes, without moving.

Whilst they’re cooking, brush more of the butter mixture over the top of the spiedini. Once the underside is starting to lightly char, gingerly lift the ends of the skewers up with your fingers and turn them over. Cook for another 1½ minutes or so, then frequently turn the skewers thereafter making sure the surface of the fish stays in contact with the griddle pan - gently press it down once or twice with the back of a flat spatula if it doesn’t seem to be cooking evenly.

The process of griddling the spiedini should take no longer than 5-6 minutes, by which time the pieces of fish will be attractively and lightly charred and the prawns just turning pink. N.B. At this stage, the fish doesn’t need to be cooked all the way through but it does need to have taken on some stripes of gold from the grooves in the pan. This will likely mean cooking the spiedini in two batches. An overcrowded pan causes food to release too much moisture and you don’t want the fish to end up steamed rather than griddled.

Transfer the griddled spiedini to the baking tray and place in the hot oven for a further 3 minutes until sizzling hot.

Arrange three Spiedini di Pesce on each of two serving plates lined with shredded lettuce and garnish with lemon halves and flat leaf parsley. 

Serve immediately. 

 

Carbohydrate 12g Protein 62g - per serving (3 skewers per person)

 

Spiedini Vegetariani (Serves 2 - Makes 6 skewers)

375g (1½ 250g packs) Halloumi cheese, cut into 18 pieces (approx 4cm x 4cm x 2.5cm each)

24 ripe cherry tomatoes on the vine

12 marinated baby artichoke hearts, drained

12 large fresh basil leaves

1 medium/large organic courgette, cut lengthways into 12 very thin slices (best done on a mandolin or with a vegetable peeler)

50g organic butter, melted

3 tbsp fresh mint, finely chopped

Juice of 1 lime

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Olive oil - for cooking

Organic Romaine lettuce, finely shredded - to serve

1 lime, halved - to serve

sprigs of bay leaf or mint leaves - to serve

6 bamboo skewers - soaked in cold water for 30 minutes

 Raw, marinated Spiedini Vegetariani ready for cooking

Raw, marinated Spiedini Vegetariani ready for cooking

Instructions

Cut the halloumi in to 18 even-sized pieces.

Roll-up a single basil leaf and a baby artichoke heart inside each slice of courgette. Repeat until you've made 12 courgette and artichoke rolls.

Thread a tomato, a piece of halloumi, a tomato, a courgette/artichoke ‘roll’, a piece of halloumi, a tomato, a courgette/artichoke ‘roll’, a piece of halloumi and finally a tomato (in that order) on to 6 skewers and place them on to a large flat plate.

Combine the melted butter, mint and lime juice together and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. 

Liberally brush the Spiedini Vegetariani with the butter mixture and set aside.

Pre-heat the oven to 220℃ / 425℉ / Gas mark 7

Line a large baking tray with non-stick foil or a silicon baking sheet. 

Lightly oil a griddle pan with olive oil and set it over a medium/high heat. When the pan is really hot - you should see a slight haze rising - place the spiedini in to the griddle pan, buttered side down. Cook over a high heat for about 1-2 minutes, without moving.

Whilst they’re cooking, brush more of the butter mixture over the top of the spiedini. Once the underside of the cheese is turning golden, gingerly lift the ends of the skewers up with your fingers and turn them over. Cook for a further minute or so then frequently turn the spiedini thereafter until all the pieces of halloumi are attractively and lightly charred and striped with gold from the grooves in the pan. N.B. This will likely mean cooking the spiedini in two batches. An overcrowded pan causes food to release too much moisture and you don’t want steamed spiedini instead of griddled! The total griddling time for each batch of skewers should not exceed 5-6 minutes.

Transfer the griddled spiedini to the baking tray and place in the hot oven for a further 3 minutes until sizzling hot.

Arrange three Spiedini Vegetariani on each of two serving plates lined with shredded lettuce and garnish with lime halves and sprigs of bay leaves or mint.

Serve immediately. 

 Spiedini Vegetariani with crisp lettuce and a squeeze of lime

Spiedini Vegetariani with crisp lettuce and a squeeze of lime

Notes

Threading halloumi on to skewers can be quite a challenge because the cheese has a tendency to split. My man watched me get quite frustrated before suggesting that maybe he could literally drill a hole in the cheese first! I told him that this wasn’t something I could specify as part of a food recipe. Nevertheless, he proceeded to find a fine metal implement (actually the end of a very fine screwdriver - clean of course!) and gently rotated it back and forth into the centre of the cheese to ‘carve’ out a small hole, which actually meant it didn’t fall apart when I pushed the skewers through. I was gobsmacked! Needless to say, he’s voted himself for the job in future!

Furthermore, it does seem to matter what type of halloumi cheese you’re using. I found that Waitrose’s Hand Folded Halloumi With Mint performed best for taste, texture and skewering.

If the halloumi does fall off the skewers whilst griddling just carry on with the cooking process - they can easily be put back together on the plate and no-one will notice! 

 

Carbohydrate 16g Protein 47g - per serving (3 skewers per serving)