Bone Broth With Vegetables

by Susan Smith in ,


We don’t eat much meat because intrinsically we believe that animals belong in our hearts, not in our stomachs, but that doesn’t mean I don’t regularly buy meat. Almost exactly a year ago to the day, my cat Sushi was suffering from distressing symptoms that the vet diagnosed as the onset of renal failure. We thought her death was imminent. Rather than accept the vet’s unhappy prognosis, which meant subjecting Sushi to the ongoing stress of regular blood tests, injections and the daily oral administration of drugs for the rest of her life, I boldly decided that I would responsibly ‘manage’ her condition by fully taking care of her nutritional needs. It is no mean feat to hand prepare fresh, organic pet food from scratch, but that was what I committed to do and one year later (Sushi’s now 17), she’s completely free of symptoms and, as they say, “As happy as Larry.”

When people think the cost of organic food is too expensive and cooking is a bore, they need to also think about the future cost of healthcare for humans and animals once good health disappears - as it most surely will - when they choose to feed themselves and their pets chemically processed food made with heavily refined ingredients and artificial additives that essentially amounts to toxic crap. It’s this catastrophic dietary decision that makes so many people and animals sick and fat. Good for vets’ profits maybe, but not so good for a cash-strapped NHS when the lifestyle and dietary choices of an ageing population starts to catch up with them! Today I am out to prove a point. Even though my idea of pet food is freshly ground, organic, grass-fed beef, lamb and chicken made from meat cut off the bone by me, when you factor in a nutritious meal for four conjured-up out of the leftovers, 63 pence per portion for my pet food versus 45 pence for Lily’s Kitchen is, in my view, a monetary piffle. What’s 19 pence when I’ve saved £100’s on veterinary fees and my beloved cat’s quality of life?   

Bone Broth, or homemade stock as we used to call it, has been hailed as a trendy new superfood by the Paleo/Primal fraternity, but in fact our ancestors always used to have a pot of meaty bones continually brewing over the fire. Our modern day equivalent would be to throw some good quality bones (they must be organic) and vegetables into a slow-cooker in the morning, go to work and come home to a beautiful, clear, savoury broth. The longer bone broth is slow-cooked, the more nutritious and gelatinous the broth. Yet, for the forward thinking cook, this is healthy, fast food at it’s best because it requires nothing more than shoving a few ingredients into a pot and walking away. 

Renowned for healing the gut, fighting inflammation and strengthening bones and teeth, the numerous nutrients found in bone broth are easily absorbed and used by the body. However, today’s recipe is not just for the health conscious, it’s for foodies, cooks and those of us with darling pets to care for because from scraps and remnants, a few meaty bones, freshly filtered water and a handful of organic vegetables, Bone Broth With Vegetables is a fuss-free way to produce the most soothing, nourishing, warming ‘hug-in-a-bowl’ imaginable. 

Last week Sushi’s monthly meat order coincided with me working at a wedding fair with Mirror Imaging at the weekend and because Perfect Roast Chicken is one of the simplest of meals for my husband to prepare in our absence, I ordered an extra chicken for us too. Whilst it isn’t always about preferring to eat vegetarian, it is always about consciously eating less meat and fully appreciating it when we do. For me this this means not throwing out what most people think of as waste i.e. leftover raw bones, giblets and the Sunday roast chicken carcass. And, when it comes down to it, the more variety of bones, the better the broth. Simmered long and slow in freshly filtered water with a handful of vegetables, these simple ingredients are the makings of another meal. All that’s needed to elevate the delicious resulting broth into a visually appealing, light yet filling lunch or supper is some finely chopped vegetables, seasoning and a generous handful of fresh parsley.

Not so much a recipe, more ‘waste not, want not’ opportunism, bone broth can be made from the remains of Perfect Roast Chicken, including the roasted vegetables you cooked it with, plus a few raw, organic meat bones and/or half a dozen raw organic chicken wings, a stick or two of celery, a carrot and an onion. This super cheap, super satisfying ‘superfood’ is so good, you’ll probably be left wondering why you never thought of making it before.

Bone Broth With Vegetables (Serves 4)

Ingredients - to make the broth

The remains of a Perfect Roast Chicken including the vegetables/herbs you roasted it with

Raw, organic lamb/beef bones or 500g raw organic chicken wings

1 organic onion, unpeeled and chopped into quarters

1 large or 2 medium organic carrots, scrubbed (no need to peel) and cut into thick wedges

2 sticks organic celery, washed and chopped into large pieces

Fresh filtered water - enough to virtually cover the bones/chicken carcass  

 

Ingredients - for the vegetables (can be varied according to what’s fresh and in season)

30g organic butter or olive oil

I large or 2 medium organic leeks, tough green tops and roots removed, cut into fine dice

1 small organic sweet potato, peeled and cut into small dice (no bigger than a pea)

2 organic carrots, peeled and cut into small dice (no bigger than a pea)

2 medium sticks organic celery, washed, trimmed and cut into small dice (no bigger than a pea)

½ large organic courgette, washed and cut into small dice (no bigger than a pea) 

100g organic frozen peas, defrosted 

1-2 tbsp organic tamari

a little sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

Ingredients - to serve

small bunch organic parsley, finely chopped

cold, roast chicken, cut or shredded into small pieces - optional

Instructions - to make the bone broth

Place all the ingredients into a very large saucepan (or you can use a slow-cooker, if you have one).

Add enough cold, freshly filtered water to virtually cover - push down any bits and pieces that are sticking out above the water line.

Set the pan over a medium-high heat and bring to boiling point. Keep your eye on it. As soon as the liquid starts to boil, turn the heat down to a very low setting and, using a metal tablespoon, skim off any scum that’s risen to the surface. 

Cover with the pan lid and allow the liquid to simmer very gently for at least 2 hours - although 4 hours would be better. N.B. It is very important that the liquid does not boil rapidly at any time because this will make the finished broth cloudy rather than clear.

After a couple of hours - longer if possible - the liquid will have turned into a clear, golden broth and will smell really inviting. Allow the contents of the pan to cool down a little before straining the hot broth through a metal sieve into a clean saucepan. Or, if you’re not planning to use it straightaway, a glass bowl. Leave to cool completely, then cover and store in the refrigerator, where it will turn into a savoury jelly.

 

Instructions - to cook the vegetables and finish the dish

In a large saucepan, melt the butter (or gently heat the olive oil) then add the diced vegetables and stir everything together well to lightly coat the vegetables in the oil.

Cut a circle of greaseproof paper to fit the pan and press this down directly on top of the vegetables. Put the pan lid on and cook gently over a medium-low heat for approximately 8 minutes or until the vegetables are just soft - they should retain their natural, vibrant colour.

Bring the bone broth back to boiling point, then season to taste with Tamari, sea salt and black pepper. 

Add the hot broth to the saucepan containing the vegetables and simmer over a medium-low heat for 10 minutes. 

If using, add the diced chicken to the broth and allow to warm through for a further minute before ladling into individual pre-warmed serving bowls - making sure that the vegetables and chicken pieces are evenly distributed between each bowl. 

Sprinkle over the chopped parsley and serve. 

 

Notes

The broth will keep for up to 5 days covered in a refrigerator.

Before using jellied broth straight from the fridge, scrape off the top layer of fat from the surface.

You can freeze the cooled liquid broth in ice cube trays and then use the resulting frozen stock cubes individually to add depth of flavour to savoury sauces and gravies. 

 

Carbohydrate 21g Protein 5g - per serving


Sarah’s Taleggio, Broccoli & Leek Tart

by Susan Smith in


I am never one to say “No” to an invitation to dinner and last week Sarah surprised me by inviting us over to her’s…twice! It just so happens that’s she’s become a dab hand at making today’s recipe for Taleggio, Broccoli and Leek Tart - although after years of perfecting the art, neither of us can remember where her original inspiration came from. As with all things Primal, there have been enough modifications to allow me to confidently call this deeply delicious, satisfying tart “Sarah’s Taleggio, Broccoli & Leek Tart.” 

Firstly, being Primal, there are no grains allowed and secondly, she’s confidently upped the ante on the eggs and cheese to make this a really luxurious and filling family dinner - albeit it’s not unknown for us to eat the whole of this tart, which is supposed to feed six, between the three of us. 

As it turns out, it was much trickier to get the recipe out of Sarah’s head and into written form than it is for her to bake it! It took her a couple of hours to write the recipe down and me twice as long as that to decipher what she’d written before it could make an appearance on Primal Plate’s blog! Nevertheless, as you can see from the picture of my serving of tart, it is very worthy of its honorary place.

Taking on the ‘huff and puff’ of food blogging is very much akin to photographing the finished food on the plate. From time to time, this strong mother-daughter team, of which I am so proud, will attempt to walk a mile in each other’s shoes. Sometimes Sarah passes me her camera, but on this occasion she volunteered for a day in the life of a food blogger. This is what workplace equality is all about and as I write, epitomises the spirit of today’s ‘International Women’s Day’ (8 March 2017) but more than this, it is always a privilege to have Mirror Imaging Photography create such beautiful images to bring to life all of Primal Plate's recipes. 

This one is an absolute winner. It’s also much easier to make than a conventional tart because the nut-based pastry behaves itself so much better than a normal wheat flour pastry does. Sarah learned this lesson very early on in life from Mrs Bainbridge, her home economics teacher at secondary school, who thought that the way to get a crumbling flour pastry mix under control was to bash it around on the worktop until it surrendered itself up as a pliable piece of dough, which then cooked out to something resembling a brick. Did I miss my vocation? Is this why so many of Sarah’s generation have given up on cooking their own food? Over-handling or adding too much water to normal flour is the sure-fire way to achieve pastry disaster. This can’t happen with nut-based pastry. Provided that you add the diluted milk judiciously - just enough to bring the mixture together (see instructions below) - you cannot help but achieve a crispy, golden, melt-in-the-mouth almond pastry because, without gluten, it’s impossible to overwork. Perfect for the novice cook and, without any grains or gluten, it's much healthier for you too.

Sarah’s Taleggio, Broccoli & Leek Tart (serves 6)

Ingredients - for almond pastry

400g organic ground almonds

2 teaspoons gluten-free baking powder 

50g organic butter, melted + a little extra for greasing

4-6 tbsp diluted whole organic milk (to dilute the milk, mix 3 tbsp milk & 3 tbsp fresh filtered water together)

 

Instructions - to make the pastry case

Preheat oven to 190℃ / 375℉ / Gas mark 5 

Grease a 25cm / 10inch round, fluted, non-stick, loose-bottomed pastry case with a little melted butter, then line the base with a round piece of non-stick baking parchment for good measure.

To make the almond pastry - sieve the baking powder into the ground almonds and mix together well. 

Stir the melted butter into the almond mixture, then add the diluted milk - one tablespoon at a time - and stir everything together with a fork. N.B. We’ve found that 4 tablespoons of diluted milk is usually enough to bind the mixture without the pastry becoming too wet.

When it starts to clump together, abandon the fork and use your hand to bring the mixture together into a firm but moist dough (the warmth of your hand will help to do this by releasing the oil in the nuts). Shape into a ball.

Lay out a large sheet of clingfilm onto a work surface (you may need two sheets overlapped), then place your smooth ball of pastry in the middle and flatten it out slightly.

Lay a second sheet of clingfilm over the top of the pastry (this will stop it from sticking to your rolling pin) and roll out evenly to about 3mm-5mm thickness. As you roll, turn regularly to achieve an even round shape that is approximately 2½cm/1” larger than the circumference of your tart tin (this allows for the sides of the tart). 

Carefully peel off the top layer of clingfilm, then loosely wrap the pastry around your rolling pin removing the bottom layer of clingfilm as you do. Then using the rolling pin to support the pastry, lift it in one piece directly into the tart tin. If it splits or breaks in transition (as it often does!), don’t worry, just patch it back together by pressing it firmly and evenly into the base and up the sides of the tin with your hands. You can add smaller pieces of pastry to fill any gaps and particularly to reinforce the top edge - just press any seams together with your fingers so there are no gaps and it’s as even as you can make it. N.B. Since almond nut flour is gluten-free it’s easier to handle than normal shortcrust pastry, because it doesn't get harder and tougher when you re-work it.

Once it’s settled in the tart tin in an even thickness, prick the base with the prongs of a fork, then lift the pastry tin into the air and, rotating the tin with one hand, use a sharp knife to trim any raggedy bits of pastry off the top edge to create a neat finish. Form any leftover pastry into a ball, cover in clingwrap and store in the fridge for up to a week. You can then re-roll and make into almond biscuits, which are perfect served with cheese after dinner, or as a base for pre-dinner smoked salmon canapés.

Bake the pastry case blind i.e. place a large piece of baking parchment on top of the pastry - it needs to be big enough to cover the entire pastry case - and weight down with ceramic baking beans (rice grains, dried peas or dried beans will do just as well) then bake in the pre-heated oven for about 8-10 mins. 

After this first baking, remove the baking beans and parchment and cook for a further 5-6 minutes - you’re looking for an evenly baked, pale golden case without any wet pastry showing in the middle. N.B. Keep a careful eye on it to ensure that the top edge doesn’t get too brown - nut-based pastry can scorch easily and if it’s over-browned at this stage it will be too dark after it’s filled and re-baked. 

When cooked, remove from the oven and set aside. 

Ingredients - for filling

Head of organic broccoli (about 350g)

200g taleggio cheese

6 tbsp organic whole-fat milk

2 tsp English mustard powder

6 organic eggs

120ml organic double cream

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tbsp organic butter, melted (or organic olive oil)

2 organic medium-sized leeks

1 tbsp organic fresh thyme leaves, chopped 

 

Instructions - to make filling

Reduce the oven temperature to 170℃ / 325℉ / Gas mark 3

Cut the broccoli into small florets. Steam for about 4-5 minutes or until just tender. Drain and put straight into ice cold water (or run under the cold tap) to stop the cooking process and to keep their colour.

Trim off the roots and coarse dark green tops of the leeks, then with a sharp knife slice them lengthways halfway through i.e. from top to root without actually cutting them in half. Wash under a running tap, fanning the layers out with your fingers to rinse away any grit or soil trapped between them. Drain thoroughly and then slice across into 1cm thick rings. 

Place the leeks and the olive oil into a large saucepan, give the leeks a quick stir to make sure that they’re evenly coated in the oil, then cover with a circle of greaseproof paper cut to fit the pan and the pan lid. Cook over a gentle heat for about 8-10 minutes until the leeks are soft and tender but not coloured. 

Remove the paper lid and stir in the broccoli and thyme then, whilst continually stirring, turn up the heat to cook off any excess liquid. You need to make sure the mixture is as dry as possible without browning the vegetables. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

Prepare the taleggio cheese by removing its wrapping and cutting off any of the rind as thinly as you can (it will have a mould-like bloom, which you don’t want in the tart). Slice into thin pieces, and set aside.

In a Pyrex jug or bowl, first whisk the mustard powder into a little of the milk until smooth, then add the rest of the milk, cream, eggs and season to taste with salt and pepper. Whisk the mixture until the eggs are broken up and all the ingredients are well combined. Set aside.

 

Instructions - to assemble the tart

Lay a sheet of tin foil on a flat baking sheet, then place your pastry case, still in its tin, on the sheet. Scrunch the tinfoil up a little around the base of the tin because if your pastry has any gaps at all, this will prevent the filling running out all over your oven!

Evenly distribute the vegetables in the base of the pastry case. 

Give the egg custard mixture a quick stir (sometimes the mustard settles at the bottom) and carefully pour into the pastry case over the vegetables. Lay the slices of taleggio cheese evenly over the top. 

Bake immediately in the pre-heated oven for about 25 minutes, or until the custard is lightly set and the surface of the tart is nicely golden.

Remove from the oven and let the tart cool for 5-10 minutes. Then, using a small sharp knife, loosen around the top edge of the tart before releasing from its tin.

Slice and serve warm or cold. 

 

Notes

Sarah doubles up on the quantity of Primal Plate’s original almond pastry recipe to make sure there is plenty to roll out without scrimping; this means that there will be about a third left over for almond biscuits etc. The remaining raw dough can be stored in a refrigerator for up to a week. 

Taleggio cheese is made from non-vegetarian rennet, strict lacto-vegetarians could substitute a soft-melting cheese such as Duchy’s organic brie.

 

Carbohydrate 12g Protein 33g - per serving


Nutty Parsnip Gratin

by Susan Smith in , ,


I am fully “living life on the veg” courtesy of Riverford Organics, and I could not be happier with my regular supply of the freshest, tastiest organic produce that they deliver every Friday straight to my door. An absolutely brilliant service!

Notwithstanding my new-found addiction to drinking a large glass of freshly pressed juice every day - which I’m convinced is far more life enhancing than the proverbial ‘apple a day’ that’s reputed to ‘keep the doctor away’ - I’m having a ball creating new recipes from a plethora of organic fruit and vegetables that you can never reliably find on supermarket shelves.

Because eating Primal is what my close family prefers, we never succumb to eating white potatoes or even compensate very often with other high-carb root vegetables. However, last week I couldn’t resist ordering some new season parsnips for inclusion in my weekly Riverford box of goodies. When they arrived, I thought I’d go all out and make a main meal of them.

Totally delicious, this creamy Nutty Parsnip Gratin has a gorgeous sweet spiciness about it that pairs beautifully with salty Parmesan cheese and crunchy roasted hazelnuts. In fact, I think I’ve succeeded in elevating the humble parsnip to giddying new heights with this dish! Let’s just say, when you dive in with your fork you might not even recognise that you’re eating parsnips - it’s just the most perfectly balanced, tasty, autumnal meal that ticks all those cold-weather comfort food cravings without a potato or grain in sight. How good is that? 

Nutty Parsnip Gratin (serves 3-4)

Ingredients

500g organic parsnips (trimmed and peeled weight of approximately 3 large parsnips)

2 large organic shallots

300ml organic whole milk 

125ml organic double cream

1 dsp fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped (about 2 decent sprigs of rosemary)

1 tsp English mustard

¼ tsp organic nutmeg, freshly grated 

1 tsp Celtic sea salt

80g Parmesan cheese (I used Gran Moravia vegetarian Parmesan-style hard cheese), finely grated

50g organic roasted, blanched hazelnuts, chopped

40g organic ground almonds

15g organic unsalted butter

Freshly ground organic black pepper

 

Instructions

Pre-heat the oven to 200℃ / 400℉ / Gas mark 6

Peel and finely slice the parsnips lengthways into 2-3mm thick strips using a mandolin. If the parsnips are large, first cut them in half across the middle, then cut the top half into quarters and using a vegetable peeler, trim away the fibrous core before slicing.

Peel the shallots and still using the mandolin, slice them very finely.

In a large, wide, lidded sauté pan heat the milk to scalding point (just below boiling) then add the parsnip and shallot slices, pressing them down into the milk (the vegetables won’t be completely covered at this stage).

Cover and cook over a medium-low heat for 4 minutes until the parsnips are soft but not broken up. Tip: Gently stir the vegetables around after 2 minutes to ensure that everything cooks evenly. Take off the heat and set aside.

In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the cream, rosemary, mustard, nutmeg and salt, then stir in half the grated cheese. Pour the mixture over the parsnips and shallots and gently combine everything together. Tip into a gratin dish, press down with the back of a spoon and level off the top.

In a small bowl mix together the rest of the cheese, ground almonds, chopped hazelnuts and a good grating of freshly ground black pepper. Scatter evenly on top of the parsnip mixture.

Dot all over with small pieces of cold butter and bake the gratin for 30 minutes until lovely-bubbly, crisp and golden.

Eat and enjoy.

Notes

Nutty Parsnip Gratin tastes special enough to serve as a vegetarian main course with all the trimmings on Christmas Day. It’s also a brilliant make-ahead vegetable side dish for carnivores - I imagine that served alongside something meaty, it would be an absolute winner.

It doesn’t matter so much for this recipe because you’re boiling the milk anyway, but because it’s kinder to cows and much healthier for humans, I only ever buy whole milk that’s raw and organic from Gazegill Organics This is what they say:

Here at Emma’s Dairy we believe that cows should have the freedom to roam, grazing our pastures and producing raw organic milk that is naturally high in omega 3. Our cows produce a natural amount of milk and are not intensified in any way to produce more, thats why our milk is rich in butterfat and protein. We do not homogenise our milk but believe that in leaving a cream line you can enjoy simply put an un-tampered with natural product that is full of natures best, we also offer raw organic milk and pasteurised milk as well as cream and offer UK wide delivery, we hope you enjoy it.” 

 

Carbohydrate 31g Protein 15g - per serving


'In The Pink' Vegetable Juice

by Susan Smith in


I’ve recently been watching a 9-part educational series called ‘The Truth About Cancer’, which has been my inspiration for today’s super juice recipe. Ty Bollinger’s self-learning programme offers hope for anyone diagnosed with cancer and for the people who love and care for them. It’s currently estimated that half the world’s population will be diagnosed with cancer at some time in their life and the truth is, there are many powerful, natural cancer preventions that we’re not being told about.

It’s by no means the full story, but it comes as no surprise to me that one of the most powerful and simplest ways to avoid cancer, or beat it if you have it, is through super nutrition and diet.

Hippocrates said “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” The trouble is, the food industry pays no attention to health, and the health industry pays no attention to food.

The convenience foods most people are sold on and the allopathic medicines we’re routinely prescribed are chock-a-block with unnatural, man-made chemicals that are alien to the body. Namely; herbicides, pesticides, antibiotics, growth hormones, preservatives, refined sugar, glutamates, artificial colours, flavour enhancers as well as chemically-engineered crops and genetically modified, hydrogenated seed and vegetable oils. No wonder we get sick.

If you want to stay healthy and protect yourself against disease and premature ageing, your best strategy is to take control of what goes into your body. Let the recipes on this site be your inspiration. Eat real, organically-grown food and stop eating sugar and sugar-forming foods (high carbohydrate food and too much meat). We all have cancer cells in our body all of the time, which are normally kept under control by our immune system. However, when you’re getting too much sugar, insulin levels in the body rise and over time, your body cells’ insulin receptors burn-out and you end up with high blood sugar. High blood sugar is the precursor to Type 2 diabetes, cancer and other scary diseases. Eating too much sugar not only feeds cancer, it causes cancer cells to replicate and curbs the immune system that would otherwise attack and destroy abnormal cells.

Switching your body’s energy supply from sugar to fat makes sense because cancer cells cannot use fat for fuel.

Healthy fats, e.g. organic grass-fed butter and ghee, cold-pressed coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, wild salmon fish oil, avocado, walnut and macadamia oils are in fact vital to health and well-being.

Once you’ve eliminated the crap from your diet, it’s time to overdose on nature’s disease-fighting foods to build, or re-build, a healthy immune system. Eating a rainbow of raw, fresh, organic fruit and vegetables will kick-start the process. The way to get the maximum possible amount of vitamins, minerals, enzymes and amazing phytochemicals into your body is by juicing (I use the Angel cold-press juicer) and for soups and smoothies, a high power blender (I use a Vitamix machine). These machines are expensive but for good-value nutrition, they’re worth every penny.

Earthy yet sweet-tasting, this vibrant looking ‘In The Pink’ Vegetable Juice packs a powerful punch of cancer-fighting nutrients like vitamins C, A and E, beta-carotene, folic acid and potassium that will boost energy levels and help safeguard you from cancer and other diseases. It’s truly a way to drink yourself better and to stay young.

‘In The Pink’ Vegetable Juice - makes 2 servings

Ingredients

4 organic carrots - unpeeled

1 organic beetroot (with leaves if possible) - unpeeled

2 sticks organic celery (with leaves if possible) 

1 organic yellow pepper - including stem and seeds

1 organic red pepper - including stem and seeds 

I thick wedge of organic green cabbage

1 organic cooking apple - unpeeled and uncored 

Instructions

Roughly slice all the vegetables into largish pieces that will fit the feeder tube of your juicer, then juice away as per your machine manufacturer’s instructions. N.B. We find alternating between soft and hard veggies and fruits makes the juicing process easier. 

Pour into 2 tall glasses and drink immediately to retain all the life-enhancing vitamins, minerals and phytochemical goodness (the washing-up can wait!)

Notes

In most cases, when you’re preparing organic fruits and vegetables there’s no need to peel, trim or core before juicing. Just a quick wash or wipe over and you’re ready to go. 

For several years I stopped using my Angel juicer and making multiple-fruit smoothies in my Vitamix. The reason? I suffered an acute inflammatory response to the massive hit of fruit sugar in my daily smoothie, which developed into a painful, itchy, debilitating skin-rash. This only went away when I started eating a low-carb, Primal diet, which is how I came to start writing Primal Plate’s blog. In retrospect, there was no need for me to throw the baby out with the bath water! Learning from my mistake, I now make predominantly vegetable-based juices because too much fruit = too much fructose (fruit sugar) = insulin resistance = disease! 

 

Carbohydrate 24g Protein 4g - per serving


Lemon Courgetti With Summer Vegetables & Tomato Salad

by Susan Smith in , ,


Celebrate summer, when it shows up, with an ‘Italian-style’ meal of healthy, seasonal deliciousness. The shops are filled with a cheap and plentiful supply of courgettes in July and August, so now is the time to make them into the brilliant, low-carb, pasta substitute popularly dubbed “courgetti”. This fresh, healthy and surprisingly substantial dish accompanied by a selection of the most vibrant of summer fruits - sweet tomatoes - is an amazingly flavourful way to enjoy a taste of Italy without the high-starch hit you get from eating regular pasta.  

My eldest daughter Elizabeth provided the inspiration for Primal Plate's tomato salad recipe. Last weekend she served up something very similar at an impromptu family BBQ and it tasted so fresh and looked so colourful that I was reminded how versatile a simply prepared and beautifully presented plate of tomatoes can be. This salad is a great way to lighten-up all manner of dishes, or perhaps to eat on its own with some fresh goat's cheese with grain-free bread to mop up the juices.

Quick, light and super-easy to make, this lovely combo is my idea of summer on a plate!

Ingredients - for the Lemon Courgetti with Summer Vegetables

300ml organic double cream

1 organic lemon, juice and finely grated zest

80g organic full-fat cream cheese

100g Parmesan-style cheese, finely grated

200g frozen peas

200g frozen baby broad beans

200g fresh asparagus tips

4 medium-large, firm, flat (not curved) chunky courgettes - size and shape matters!

small bunch of basil

sea salt and black pepper

 

Ingredients - for the Tomato Salad

600g ripe vine tomatoes - for interest and sheer good looks, choose from a selection of red or yellow cherry tomatoes, heirloom golden-orange, red and green vine tomatoes, baby plum tomatoes or the beautiful red and green Tigerella varieties

2 tbsp organic cold-pressed olive oil

2 tsp best-quality Balsmanic of Modena vinegar

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

fresh basil leaves - to decorate

Instructions

Boil a kettle-full of fresh water. Pre-heat 4 individual pasta bowls.

Measure the frozen peas and broad beans into two separate heat-proof jugs or bowls. Pour the boiling water from the kettle equally over the peas and broad beans and allow to stand until they’re defrosted. 

Prepare the courgettes by washing them and spiralising into long thin spaghetti-like shreds - alternatively, this can be done with a knife by cutting them into long, thin strips.

Drain the defrosted peas through a sieve and tip them into a clean bowl. When the broad beans have cooled down, drain them too before popping them out of their tough outer skins between your finger and thumb straight into the bowl with the peas. 

Trim the bottom of the asparagus tips - it’s not necessary, but I also like to peel the bottom third of the stems with a potato peeler. Boil a second kettle of water.

Heat the cream with the lemon zest in a medium-large saucepan over a medium heat until it comes to the boil. Turn the heat down to simmer and continue cooking for 3 minutes. Cover and set aside.

Meanwhile, pour the boiling water into the bottom of a steamer, then put the asparagus tips into the steamer basket, cover and steam for just 1 minute. Remove the asparagus tips from the steamer with a slotted spoon into a bowl of cold water (or put into a sieve and run under the cold tap) to ‘set’ their bright green colour. Drain and dry on kitchen paper. Cut the asparagus into 3 centimetre pieces (or in half) and then add them to the bowl of peas and broad beans.

Reserve 4 sprigs of basil then strip the leaves off the rest of the basil stems and tear them into small pieces. Set aside.

Whisk the cream cheese, 80g of Parmesan and 30ml of lemon juice into the lemon infused cream and then over a medium heat bring the sauce back to just below boiling point. Taste, then season with sea salt and a good grinding of black pepper. Taste again and add a little more lemon juice if you think it needs it. 

Add the asparagus, broad beans and peas to the cream sauce and then over a low/medium heat, allow the vegetables to gently warm through - make sure the sauce gets nice and hot but don't let it boil.

Bring the water in the steamer back to the boil, add the courgetti to the steamer basket, cover and steam for just 1½ minutes - no longer. They need to cook just long enough to lose their raw-edge and get hot but not so long that they become limp and soggy. 

Immediately tip the courgetti out of the steamer basket onto a dry, clean tea-towel. Wrap them up in the tea towel to absorb as much water as possible.

Divide the drained courgetti equally between the 4 pre-heated serving dishes. Stir the torn basil leaves into the cream sauce and vegetables then ladle or spoon this on top of the courgetti - distributing the vegetables and sauce evenly. Sprinkle the rest of the grated Parmesan-style cheese over each serving and finish with a good grinding of black pepper and a sprig of fresh basil.

Serve immediately with tomato salad.   

 

Instructions - to make Tomato Salad

No need to peel or remove the seeds from the tomatoes. Wash and slice the larger tomatoes, removing the core at the stem end by cutting out a small ‘v’ at the centre of the bigger slices with the point of a small, sharp knife. Halve the cherry tomatoes.

Layer all the tomatoes attractively on a large platter. Lightly season with sea salt and then drizzle over the olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Add a grinding of freshly ground black pepper and decorate with green and/or purple basil leaves. 

Serve at room temperature for a simply delicious way to enjoy all the nutritional benefits of sweet, fragrant tomatoes. Yum!

Notes

If you prefer, you can substitute the frozen vegetables with 500 grams each of fresh peas and broad beans (weight before podding). Pod them, then cook in boiling water (or steam) for 3 minutes before draining well and adding to the cream sauce to keep warm. 

 

Carbohydrate 14g Protein 19g - per serving of lemon courgetti with summer vegetables

Carbohydrate 7g Protein 1g - per serving of tomato salad


Celeriac Dauphinoise

by Susan Smith in , ,


If I could have one 'mardy' about my Primal diet it’s that I just can’t seem to tactically allow potatoes back into my life…not ever! Having initially lost one and a half stones by eating low-carb, high fat (LCHF), I have on more than one occasion subsequently pined for the simplicity and density of potatoes. Carby they may be, but potatoes are in a league of their own and their virtues are not easily replicated. As well as being a naturally nutritious whole-food, simple spuds need no more than the application of heat to make them into something very, very tasty indeed (is there anyone that doesn’t love golden, crispy roasties?). When pre-cooked and chilled (think yummy potato salad) potatoes are also an alluring dietary source of resistant starch - which is top-notch food for ‘good’ gut bacteria, and thus your overall health. Or so I debate with myself…

Unfortunately, neither my nostalgia for potatoes or their nutritional profile is of any help to me. As far as my metabolism is concerned it’s not playing! I cannot ignore the fact that previously, within an hour or so of eating potatoes, my feet and ankles would swell alarmingly. No doubt potatoes had also long been playing havoc with my blood glucose levels, but after the age of fifty the almost immediate inflammatory response (edema) not only made me look like a frump, it actually made me feel quite queasy. I may forever mourn their loss, but for me it’s a case of R.I.P. potatoes! 

Another thing that peeves me is cheese! It’s virtually impossible to be a non-meat eater on compassionate grounds and still follow Primal principles without eating eggs and cheese. Unfortunately, almost all vegetarian recipes seem to ignore the fact that the most wonderful-tasting, beautifully-textured, traditionally-made cheeses, such as Parmesan, Gruyere and Mozzarella, are totally unsuitable for vegetarians. Whilst I’ve found good-enough substitutes for Parmesan and Mozzarella, I have still not found a copy-cat vegetarian version of Gruyere D.O.P. that’s available to retail customers, which can emulate anything like Gruyere’s unique melting quality and depth of flavour. Even if you can get past the ‘no-no’ of cheese made with calf rennet, there’s still the massive cruelty involved in milk production generally, and the nutritional degradation that occurs with pasteurised milk taken from grain-fed cows. Given that not all cheese is created equal, there is one family-run traditional cheese dairy that I am happy to be acquainted with because they share Primal Plate’s ethos - a passionate commitment to animal welfare and human health. This family run business makes award-winning, artisan, vegetarian cheeses from the raw milks of free-range, grass-fed cows, goats and ewes. In this day and age of intensive factory farming, small enterprises such as The Traditional Cheese Dairy make my heart sing. Not only because they fly in the face of extreme human exploitation of animals inherent in the dairy industry, but also because their end-products taste so good and are naturally healthful to animals and humans alike. I know it isn’t always practical, but please try to seek out and support all farmers that treat their animals as animals - not just a commodity for ‘growing’ meat or as 24/7 milking machines. Raw milk from free-range, grass-fed cows is not only better for the animals it is far, far better for you.  

Wherever you shop, substitute any mature, organic, vegetarian Cheddar in recipes that call for Gruyere. You may need to ask for advice at the Deli counter. It is often a case of trial and error when you’re trying to find a decent tasting vegetarian Cheddar cheese that doesn’t disintegrate into an oil-slick when baked or grilled! I will keep you posted if and when I find the perfect one!

Rant over, I have stopped arguing with reality long enough to create a potato-like dauphinoise using that great potato ‘pretender’…celeriac. Whilst the finished result isn’t as pillow-soft as cooked potatoes, cheesy gratins and bakes always have the yummy, comfort factor that low-carbers sometimes crave - and this cheese-topped Celeriac Dauphinois is no exception. I’ve lightened-up the full-on fat experience of double cream and cheese (oftentimes called for in traditional dauphinoise recipes), by substituting dry white wine for most of the cream. The crispy, crunchy cheesy topping speaks for itself. All in all, much tastier and less rich, Celeriac Dauphinois is an excellent low-carbohydrate main course for a light family supper or when entertaining vegetarians. It’s equally delicious served as a vegetable accompaniment.  

Ingredients

3 medium/large shallots, finely sliced

2 small celeriac, total weight about 900g

½ lemon, juiced

2 tbsp fresh lemon thyme, leaves only

2 tbsp olive oil

40g butter

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg

150 ml dry white wine (I used a dry, white Spanish Rioja)

60 ml organic double cream

165g Gruyere (or mature, vegetarian Cheddar), finely grated              

60g Parmesan (or Parmesan-style cheese), freshly grated                 

 

Instructions

Pre-heat the oven to 190℃ / 375℉ / Gas mark 5

Fill a large bowl with cold fresh water and add the lemon juice.

Cut the top and bottom off the celeriac and then stand flat on a chopping board. With a sharp knife cut off the thick skin working all the way around the celeriac from top to bottom.

Cut each peeled celeriac into 4 quarters.

Using the thinnest slicer on a food processor, a hand-held mandolin slicer or a very sharp knife, cut the celeriac into 3mm thin slices. Put the celeriac slices into the lemon water to prevent them discolouring.

If not done already, finely slice the shallots. 

Heat the butter and olive oil together in a large pan until the butter has melted.

Drain the celeriac then either spin in a salad spinner or dry on a clean tea-towel. 

Add the shallots and drained celeriac to the pan. Continue to cook over a medium heat for about 5 minutes, turning the vegetables over now and again to make sure that everything is well coated in the olive oil and butter. 

Season with salt, freshly ground pepper and nutmeg then pour in the wine and continue to cook for about 10-12 minutes more with the pan lid on, stirring occasionally, until the celeriac is just tender.  

Tip the contents of the pan into a gratin dish. Scatter half the thyme leaves over the top then drizzle over the double cream and flatten the slices of celeriac down so they’re submerged as much as possible under the liquid.

Mix the two grated cheeses i.e. Gruyere & Parmesan (or vegetarian substitutes) together, then sprinkle on top of the celeriac in a thick even layer. Cover the dish with tin foil.

Place in the pre-heated oven and cook for 20 minutes. 

Remove the foil, then place back in the oven for a further 20-25 minutes until bubbling and golden brown. 

Remove from the oven and allow to stand for 2 minutes. 

Scatter over the rest of the thyme leaves before serving with a fresh green salad.

 

Notes

Cheese has a tendency to break down when cooked at high temperatures. The maximum temperature you should bake this dauphinoise - and any other cheesy casserole - is 190℃ / 375℉ / Gas mark 5, or below. If the cheese does separate and you’re left with a layer of fat sat on the surface of your Celeraic Dauphinoise, lightly dab off the excess oil with sheets of paper towel before allowing to stand for a couple of minutes prior to serving. It will still taste good!

If you like your cheese topping really brown and crozzly a couple of minutes under a very hot grill at the end of the cooking time should do the trick.  

Only buy small heads of celeriac - larger specimens can lack flavour, tend to be a bit woody and are much more unwieldy to peel and slice.

 

Carbohydrate 23g Protein 17g - per serving


Thai Green Curry With Prawns & Thai Green Garden Curry

by Susan Smith in , , , ,


Ever since I walked into the Royal Thai restaurant in Nottingham 20 years ago, I have been enchanted by Thai cuisine. Not so much the ‘farang' (Thai for Western foreigners of white descent!) version of Thai food, with our predilection for all things deep-fried - a sort of spring rolls with everything attitude - but the fresh and light, hot and spicy flavours brought together in a variety of harmonious dishes that seem to make every Thai meal a banquet.

Without dairy and hardly any emphasis on meat, Thai cooking is the embodiment of all the main flavour components - sweet, sour, spicy, salty and bitter - perfectly balanced in playful, imaginative dishes that are full of colour and texture. I’ll never forget the sheer joy and excitement of one gorgeous Thai girl called Tinkerbell (how endearing a nick-name is that?) as she ran out from the restaurant’s kitchen to proudly show us her first representation of a beautiful bird she’d painstakingly carved out of a carrot! 

Our first visit to the Royal Thai was an attempt to educate ourselves in anticipation of a month long business trip to Bangkok. At first they must have smiled at our naivety, but, prior to the journey we were generously afforded numerous ‘insider’ traveller’s tips and we quickly became one of their more regular customers…hungry for their companionship as much as the food! Subsequently, the amazingly beautiful, gracious and intelligent Thai girls running the business at that time welcomed us with open arms into the Thai community, and for many years it was as if we were part of their family. Sadly, the girl I most fell in love with died in a road traffic accident shortly after opening a second restaurant in Nottingham (formerly known as Siam Thani). Nang was the dearest of friends to me and the absolute epitome of all that I now associate with Thai people generally - kind, generous and incredibly friendly.

Now that we’re low-carb and Primal, it’s not so easy to eat out in Thai restaurants - you really do need lots of steamed rice to quieten down the chilli-heat - but for the home cook, authentic-tasting Thai food is simple and fast to prepare, and because you’re in control it doesn’t have to be the hottest of the hot. 

Prawns are synonymous with Thai cookery, but their popularity comes at a price. A violent, Asian slave trade exists to produce most of the prawns for sale in Western supermarkets, so please be careful that the prawns you buy are ethically and responsibly sourced. Choose organic king prawns from Waitrose or Honduran raw prawns from M&S. Thank you. Or you could forego the prawns altogether by opting for our vegan-friendly, equally flavoursome, Thai Green Garden Curry.

I’ve paired Primal Plate's tasty, just nicely spicy, warming green curry with pak-choi but Cauliflower Rice is good too. Vegans and vegetarians can simply substitute cherry tomatoes and asparagus tips for the prawns. Hand-carved vegetable flowers and birds are optional!

With food as delectable as this, no wonder Thailand is known as the “land of smiles”.

Thai Green Curry With Prawns (Serves 4) 

1 tbsp organic coconut oil

2 medium organic sweet red peppers, cored, de-seeded and cut into thin strips

4 medium/large organic spring onions, sliced diagonally into 5 or 6 pieces  

2 x 400ml tins organic coconut milk (full fat)

1 tbsp Marigold organic Swiss vegetable bouillon powder

4 tsp Thai green curry paste

1 tbsp organic tamari

450g raw peeled organic king prawns

200g frozen petits pois, defrosted  

½ tsp sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

20-30ml freshly-squeezed lime juice

2-3 drops organic liquid stevia

20g fresh coriander leaves, chopped

Thai Green Garden Curry

Simply follow the instructions given below - omitting the prawns and substituting with:

300g organic cherry tomatoes, halved

300g asparagus tips, trimmed and cut in to 5cm (2”) pieces

To Serve

2 x 235g packs pak choi, washed, prepared (*see below) and lightly steamed for 3 minutes. 

*If using very young pak choi they can be left whole or cut into halves or quarters. However, larger stems of pak choi will cook more evenly and are much easier to manage on the plate if you cut the leafy tops off their white stems. If the outer stems and leaves are still too large, split them in half down the middle. Place the white stems into the bottom of the steamer, then pile the green leaves on top and steam for 3 minutes with the pan lid on.

 

Instructions

Fill and boil a kettle of water. Pre-heat 4 large serving dishes/bowls. 

For making the Thai Green Garden Curry: Pour some of the boiling water from the kettle in to a medium saucepan. Bring back to the boil, throw in the asparagus and cook for just 2 minutes (do not overcook them, they should still have some ‘bite’). Drain and refresh the blanched asparagus in cold water (or place under a cold running tap) to stop the cooking process and set their bright green colour. Drain again and set aside.

To quickly defrost the petits pois: Put the peas in a heatproof jug, pour over the boiling water then drain and set aside.

Melt the coconut oil over a medium/high heat in a large, deep sauté pan. Add the pepper strips and spring onions to the pan and stir-fry for about 2 minutes or until just beginning to soften. 

Add the bouillon powder and the green curry paste and continue to stir-fry for a further 30 seconds - try to avoid breathing in the fumes at this stage, they’re quite pungent!

Pour the coconut milk into the pan and bring the mixture to the boil whilst stirring constantly. Once it comes to the boil turn the heat down to medium, then add the tamari, half the lime juice and a single drop of liquid stevia. Taste. Add a pinch of sea salt and a good grinding of black pepper - plus an extra drop of stevia, if you think it needs it. 

Let the sauce gently bubble away over a medium heat for 5 minutes to allow it to reduce down slightly.

Meanwhile fill a steamer with the rest of the boiling water from the kettle. Place the pak choi in the top of the steamer and cook with the pan lid on for 3 minutes.

Whilst the pak choi is cooking, tip the prawns (or, if making Thai Green Garden Curry, the cherry tomatoes and blanched asparagus tips) and the petits pois into the curry sauce and cook for a further 2 minutes or until the prawns turn pink and are completely opaque - or if making the Thai Green Garden Curry, just until the tomatoes, asparagus and peas are warmed through. 

Take the pan off the heat and stir in half the chopped coriander. Check the seasoning again and adjust to taste - also add a little more lime juice and/or another drop of stevia, if needed.

Pile the cooked and drained pak choi in the centre of the four pre-warmed serving bowls. Carefully ladle the green curry over the top dividing the prawns and vegetables equally between each bowl.

Sprinkle over the rest of the coriander and serve immediately. 

 

Notes

N.B. To keep the Thai green curry fresh and vibrant you need to be careful not to over-boil it in the final two minutes of cooking time. Gently heat through until just below boiling point. If you over-cook it at this stage, you’ll end up with tough prawns, collapsed tomatoes and dirty-looking, more-khaki-than-green, vegetables. Not very nice!

 

Carbohydrate 21g Protein 25g - per serving (with prawns)

Carbohydrate 26g Protein 10g - per serving (with cherry tomatoes & asparagus)


Red Pepper Rolls with Goat’s Cheese

by Susan Smith in , ,


Make a statement with this bright red and green Christmas Day starter of Red Pepper Rolls With Goat’s Cheese that looks like Christmas on a plate! Tasty and nutrient dense, I think the red pepper rolls are a luxed-up vegetarian version of smoked salmon! Though brought together with a goat’s cheese filling, a fresh tomato vinaigrette, basil pesto and watercress, I suspect this fresh-tasting, light introduction to the main event will do you more good!

Packed with the great flavours of Provence, these delicious red pepper rolls seem to hark back to warmer days. But for now, open a bottle of chilled Champagne or a crisp, grassy, Marlborough Sauvignon to cut through the flavour of the goat’s cheese, and you have a fantastic festive beginning to your foodie celebrations. 

As with the rest of Primal Plate’s vegetarian Christmas day menu, most of the preparation for this dish can be done in advance of the big day. Then just before you sit down to eat, simply bring the different components together on pure white porcelain plates. Absolutely stunning to look at, this light and flavourful starter will still leave plenty of room for what is to follow.  

Red Pepper Rolls With Goat’s Cheese (serves 4)

Ingredients - for the pepper rolls 

4 red Romano peppers (the long, pointy ones!)

140g full-fat, soft, vegetarian goat’s cheese, without rind (I used Rosary Goat’s Milk Cheese)

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tbsp chopped fresh chives

20g pine nuts, toasted

Freshly ground black pepper

1 tbsp Nonpareille capers, well rinsed - to garnish

Watercress sprigs, washed - to garnish

Whole fresh chives - to garnish

 

Ingredients - for the tomato vinaigrette

120g ripe tomatoes, chopped

2 tbsp red wine vinegar

2 tbsp low sugar tomato ketchup

1 tsp tomato paste

4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1-2 drops liquid stevia (alternatively, ½ - 1 tsp maple syrup), to taste - optional

 

Ingredients - for the basil pesto

50g fresh basil leaves

25g vegetarian Parmesan-style cheese

25g pine nuts, very lightly toasted (in a dry frying pan over a low heat)

4-6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (just enough to bind everything together into a thick, slushy sauce) 

1 small squeeze of fresh lemon juice - optional (but it helps the basil to keep its green colour)

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

 

Instructions for the red peppers and cheese filling

Pre-heat a grill to High. Line a large flat baking sheet or the grill pan with a non-stick baking mat or non-stick aluminium foil.

Cut the peppers in half lengthways, then remove the stalk end, seeds and any white stringy bits. 

Place the pepper halves cut side down - skin side up - on the baking tray and grill fairly close to the heat source for about 6 minutes, or until their skins blister and start to blacken. 

Remove from the grill. Lay a sheet of cling-film over the top of the peppers and allow to cool completely.

Meanwhile, in a bowl mix the goat's cheese and olive oil together with a fork until softened. Add the chopped chives, pine kernels and season with pepper. Set aside.

Carefully peel the cold peppers and place skinned side down onto a large clean plate.

If you're working in advance, the peppers and cheese can now be covered and refrigerated until needed.

Instructions - to make the basil pesto 

The easiest way to make pesto is to process the basil, cheese, toasted pine nuts and 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a food processor or blender - or use a hand-held stick blender - until it comes together into a thick, smooth, fragrant, bright-green sauce (scraping down the sides of the bowl as required). 

Tip the mixture into a bowl, stir in an extra tablespoon or two of olive oil if you think more is needed to make an oozy consistency, then season the pesto to taste with salt and pepper, adding a small squeeze of lemon juice, if liked.

Alternatively, you can pound the ingredients together in a pestle and mortar, gradually adding the olive oil until it is the right consistency.

Cover and refrigerate until needed.

 

Instructions - to make the tomato vinaigrette

Blend all the ingredients in a small food processor or blender, or with a hand-held stick blender, for 30 seconds until fully amalgamated.

Strain through a fine sieve into a small bowl. Taste and adjust seasoning to taste, then cover and refrigerate until needed.

 

Instructions - to assemble the dish

When you’re ready to serve the pepper rolls, lay the peppers out onto a cutting board - trim off any straggly edges, if necessary. 

Fill with the goat’s cheese mixture - about 1 generous tablespoon per pepper half. Spread the mixture evenly along the length of the peppers, leaving about 5mm clearance around the edges. Roll each half up into a neat roll.

Arrange the pepper rolls on individual plates. Garnish with sprigs of fresh watercress and whole chives (see picture). Drizzle the tomato vinaigrette around the edges of the plates and add 3 to 4 small dollops of the basil pesto. Finally, randomly scatter a few of the capers over and around. 

Serve with aplomb! Wowzers!  You’ve surpassed yourself!

 

Notes

The pesto will keep 3-5 days in a sealed jar in a fridge - it’s best to cover its surface with a little more olive oil if storing for more than a couple of days.

The tomato vinaigrette will keep for 2-4 days, in a sealed jar in a fridge. 


Make Ahead Christmas Vegetables

by Susan Smith in ,


On Christmas Day this year I don’t intend spending more than an hour of ‘hands-on’ time in the kitchen. Nevertheless, I want it to be our most delicious Christmas ever and, as much as I can know, completely cruelty-free (oh my, the dairy industry is so tricky!) 

This means much of our vegetarian food celebration has to be planned-ahead and cooked-ahead. So far so good. Writing a food blog certainly helps focus the mind! The Horchata Ice Cream is already in the freezer and by this weekend the Cranberry Sauce, Mince Pies, Port Wine Gravy and today’s recipe for Spiced Red Cabbage will all be done. I then have four days left to pre-prepare the ingredients for the starter, make the Cheese Cocktail Biscuits and assemble the Parsnip, Cranberry and Chestnut Loaf. 

Which leaves me just about enough time to blog the starter of Red Pepper Rolls With Goat’s Cheese and the dessert of Mincemeat Stuffed Baked Apples before D-day (recipes coming soon). If you’re still with me, my Christmas cooking schedule is in the Notes section below!

Meanwhile let’s get cracking on the veg. Spiced Red Cabbage and Brussels Sprouts are classic Christmas fare (red and green at this time of year is good) and both are easy, make-ahead vegetables. 

Spiced Red Cabbage (Serves 6-8)

Spiced Red Cabbage is another easy-going Christmassy recipe that can be made in advance and reheated. Perfect! 

A mixed spice combination - typically, a mixture of allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, cloves, coriander and ginger - is generally used for sweet baking such as in cakes and biscuits. It’s the sweet warmth of these spices in autumnal-inspired baked goods that invite us to gear up to the prospect of winter, and are a timely reminder of Christmas recipes to come. 

In this savoury recipe, it’s all about the interplay between sweet and sour. A wonderful mix of slow-cooked cabbage’s slight mustardy-flavour combined with the sweet, warming notes of pungent spices, the fruitiness of apples with a touch of sweetness and the sour of vinegar. Get it right and spicy braised red cabbage is one heck of a useful side dish to complement the rest of your Christmas table.

Spicy Red Cabbage doesn’t take very long to prepare; then it can be left alone to do its ‘thing’ for 1½ hours of gentle cooking. It also keeps warm without spoiling. 

This recipe actually improves with age, so it’s almost better to make it now and freeze for later. Alternatively, make it a couple of days before Christmas and store in the refrigerator. 

 

Ingredients

I small red cabbage (about 750g)

1 red onion, finely chopped

2 medium Bramley apples (or use Cox’s or Granny Smith’s)

zest 1 organic orange

1 tsp mixed spice

40g Sukrin Gold

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tbsp raw cider vinegar

150ml pure, no added sugar apple juice or still dry cider (I used Coldpress Granny Smith Apple Juice)

25g butter

Orange rind (without the white pith), cut into very fine strips - optional

 

Instructions

Peel the outer leaves from the cabbage and discard. Cut the cabbage into quarters and remove the core. Slice thinly into shreds (I used a mandolin)

Finely chop the onion. Using a fine grater, remove the zest from the orange. Peel, core and chop the apples. 

Arrange a layer of cabbage on the bottom of a large deep pan. Add a layer of onion, apple, orange zest, mixed spice, Sukrin Gold, sea salt and black pepper. Continue layering the ingredients in this way until they are all used up.

Finally, pour over the vinegar and apple juice (or cider) and dot with the butter. 

Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down to very low, cover with a tight fitting lid and allow to gently simmer for 90 minutes until tender. 

Brussels Sprouts

I’ve never had a problem with Brussels sprouts. In fact the opposite is true. When they’re In season (October through to March), I actually crave them and can happily scoff up to a dozen in one sitting. In fact, I don’t even bother weighing out Brussels sprouts in the supermarket. I simply count how many people are joining me for dinner and for each of them select 10-12 of the smallest, tightest, firmest, fresh-green sprouts I can find - though it can sometimes take ages to locate the perfect ones! If it turns out that there aren’t enough that measure up, I’ll just put them all back and choose a different vegetable for dinner! However, when they’re perfectly formed, these bright green, marble-sized globes of goodness, cooked to retain a bit of ‘bite’ and liberally doused in melted butter (sprouts love butter!) and freshly ground black pepper, are the quintessential Christmas vegetable. 

Surely the reason that beautiful Brussels sprouts have been so reviled is because many people were forced to eat stinky, soggy, bitter-tasting, ‘overblown’ sprouts as children. But there is a way to turn these mini ‘cabbages’ into desirable vegetables…don’t overcook them! 

Cooked quickly and al denté (still slightly firm to bite into), Brussels sprouts hold on to their healthy, green credentials. Overcooked, they’re really quite unpleasant - soggy, smelly and khaki-yellow - with a taste reminiscent of rotten eggs! 

Let’s not go there. My way of cooking Brussels sprouts without tears is:

  • Choose small, compact, ones - no bigger than an inch across and all the same size.
  • Take off the outer leaves (only if they’re damaged or discoloured) and trim the stalk ends. To ensure fast, even cooking, use a small sharp knife to cut a small shallow cross in the stalk end - some say it’s not necessary, but I always do!
  • Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Steam or boil the Brussels for 5 to 10 minutes - or perhaps only 4 minutes if they’re very tiny - with the pan lid on. After 5 minutes, check their progress by inserting the point of a small sharp knife into one of the Brussels (or just eat one if you think it’s cooked!). If they’re still too hard, you’ll need to keep checking them every 1-2 minutes until they’re done. Whatever you do, do not allow them to overcook
  • Brussels sprouts are cooked properly when they’re still bright green, have a little bit of resistance when you insert the tip of a sharp knife into them but can still be easily cut through without falling apart. If you’re taste-testing one, it should feel firm between your teeth when you first bite into it, but hot all the way through, and fully tender. If in doubt, they’re better slightly undercooked!
  • If you’re eating them straight away: drain well, then tip them into a warm serving dish with a generous knob of butter and a good grinding of fresh black pepper. 
  • If you’re preparing them in advance of your meal: drain the cooked Brussels then immediately plunge them into ice cold water to stop the cooking process (or continuously run cold water directly from the tap over them until they’re cold). This will set their bright green colour. When cold, drain well, cover with cling film and set aside.
  • To re-heat: put a large knob of butter and 2 tablespoon of water info a large frying pan. Set the pan over a medium heat. As soon as the butter starts to melt and the water bubbles to a simmer, throw in the Brussels and spread out into a single layer. Stir, shake, or agitate the contents of the pan for a couple of minutes until the water has evaporated and the Brussels are heated through and glazed in butter. Do not overcook! Season with freshly ground black pepper and serve immediately.

Bright Christmas green, fresh-tasting and good for you - what could you possibly not love?

Notes

The Spiced Red Cabbage can be stored in a refrigerator for 2-3 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month, then gently re-heated in a pan or microwaved. 

There’s a sort of rule for prettying-up a finished dish…if it’s gone in it, it should go on it! So if you want to ‘fancy-pants’ up the presentation of your Spiced Red Cabbage, use a vegetable peeler to remove long strips of orange peel from half an organic orange, then cut into very fine slivers with a small sharp paring knife and blanch in a pan of boiling water for 30 seconds. Refresh in cold water, then drain and dry on paper kitchen roll before arranging on top. Nice, but not necessary.    

Brussels sprouts stay fresher for longer if you buy them on the ‘wand’ they grow on, although you’ll only get very small ones at the top (you want small because they taste sweeter than their big brothers!)

Steaming is the easiest method of cooking Brussels sprouts because when you’re regularly having to check their degree of ‘doneness’ you don’t want to be chasing one around a pan of boiling hot water trying to stab it with a fork i.e. they’re safely and conveniently sat in the top of a steamer and easily accessible! 

Christmas is one of the rare occasions when I might use my microwave to re-heat vegetables because there’s not enough room on the hob. Prepare the Brussels in advance as directed above (cooking, blanching, draining) then tip the Brussels directly into a microwave-proof serving dish. Dot with butter, season with black pepper then cover with cling film. Don’t chill, they’ll be perfectly okay for a couple of hours at room temperature. When you’re ready to serve them, pierce the cling film covering the sprouts a couple of times to allow steam to escape, then microwave on High for about 45 - 60 seconds until piping hot. Be careful not to overcook them or burn yourself when removing the cling film - also don’t put one straight into your mouth to test! Instead, cut one of the Brussels sprouts in half on a chopping board to make sure they’re heated all the way through. If they need a little extra time, continue microwaving in 10 second cycles until really hot. 

My Christmas 2015 cooking schedule looks like this:  

2 weeks before: 

Make Horchata Ice Cream and Spiced Red Cabbage - freeze.

1 week before: 

Make Mincemeat (for mince pies & stuffed apples) and Cranberry Orange Relish - refrigerate

3-5 days before: 

Make Port Wine Sauce, Cheese Cocktail Biscuits and Mince Pies - refrigerate the gravy, store the biscuits, freeze the mince pies - to be topped and cooked on Xmas day (if required)

2 days before:

Prepare (skin) the red peppers, toast the pine kernels, make the tomato vinaigrette and basil pesto - refrigerate

Prep the Brussels sprouts - store in a freezer bag in the fridge

Christmas Eve: 

Defrost the mince pies

Make the crumble-topping for the mince pies and bake (or leave until tomorrow?)

Make Parsnip Cranberry & Chestnut Loaf - refrigerate

Defrost red cabbage

Make celeriac puree

Christmas Day: 

Cook the nut loaf

Bring cranberry sauce back to room temperature

Cream the goat’s cheese and assemble red pepper rolls

Decorate the red pepper rolls immediately before serving

Re-heat the spiced cabbage

Re-heat celeriac puree

Re-heat the gravy

Cook the Brussels sprouts

Make the sage butter

Pretty-up the nut loaf - decorate with sage, parsley and cranberries

Core and stuff the apples and bake


Parsnip, Cranberry and Chestnut Loaf with Port Wine Sauce

by Susan Smith in , ,


In just three weeks time we’ll all be sitting down to (or feeling replete from) one of the most planned-for meals of the year; Christmas Day. I love it!  I especially love it now I’m fully committed to eating vegetarian. 

Notwithstanding that I’m not getting the goodwill vibe of the ritualistic killing of 10 million factory-farmed UK turkeys immediately before Christmas, I’m actually somewhat bewildered by people’s obsession with eating a traditional turkey dinner. If you’re not an experienced cook (and all the feedback I get tells me they’re few and far between) roast turkey has to be be one of the trickiest, most labour intensive, time consuming meals to get right. Then there’s the expense of putting a decent, organic, free-range turkey on the Christmas table (albeit, in my opinion, nothing less will do).

Putting my money where my mouth is, four years ago I blew almost an entire week’s housekeeping (£120) on a medium-sized (6kg) organic Kelly Bronze turkey for our celebration meal. To meet my self-imposed lunchtime deadline of 1pm, I set my morning alarm call for 7:30am so I could switch the oven on at 8:00am. A pre-prepared bird that size (firstly you have to stuff it and lubricate it up-to-the-nines, inside and out, in butter) takes 4.5 hours to cook, including five essential clock-watching interruptions of rather more pleasant social interactions, such as opening presents and drinking Champagne, if you want to be certain of a ‘tah-dah’ moment and gasps of appreciation when you present your perfectly roasted and dressed bird at the table. In retrospect, all the effort required now seems a bit passé and Bah Humbug for my taste! 

This year I will not be found up to my elbows in turkey early on Christmas morning, nor will I be on tenterhooks waiting for the kitchen buzzer to repeatedly call me to my basting duties. Instead, I will have pre-prepared for our delectation a leisurely, spectacular-looking, vegetarian lunch full of the flavours of Christmas, without the fuss. 

The star of the show, a Parsnip, Cranberry and Chestnut Loaf, isn’t altogether my idea. The original recipe for Parsnip, Cranberry and Chestnut Loaf first appeared in Good Food Vegetarian Christmas magazine, December 2009 and, as you can see, I’ve borrowed its presentation (sort of!). However, being a Primal-phile, my version had to be grain-free (no breadcrumbs allowed), refined sugar-free (found lurking in their cranberry sauce) and, for my taste, much more umami-savoury. Without the addition of the mature Cheddar that I’ve added to my recipe, the original seemed boringly bland. I believe that this is why many people eschew eating vegetarian, especially on special occasions, because all too often what you end up with is second-rate stodge - pastry, pasta, potato or rice and other grain-based dishes - that in their mundanity simply don’t sing-out ‘celebrate’, or entice you to eat them, even if you could. Which, being staunchly Primal I can’t - though sometimes I could kill for a decent roast potato!

In reality, vegetarians do not need to be short-changed. Even followers of the Primal/Paleo diet, who don’t eat grains or potatoes and, for compassionate reasons are reluctant to eat meat, can feast just as well, if not better than, their carnivore counterparts. This is how Primal Plate’s Christmas lunch is shaping up (although the starter and dessert may still yet be subject to further flights of fancy!): A red, green and white starter of Red Pepper Rolls with Goats Cheese, which looks like Christmas on a plate. Then, today’s amazing recipe for Parsnip, Cranberry and Chestnut Loaf with Port Wine Sauce, accompanied by Braised Red Cabbage, Creamed Celeriac and Baby Brussel Sprouts. Followed by cinnamon-laced Horchata Ice Cream with Stuffed Baked Apples in Clementine Syrup. Maybe, a platter of cheese with seasonal fruit and finally, coffee and mince pies. 

All this fabulous food with absolutely no added sugar, no grains, no legumes, no potato, no meat and, if everything goes according to my ‘get-ahead’ menu plan, definitely nothing to drive me into a cook’s frenzy on Christmas morning. In fact, I intend to spend less than an hour doing hands-on cooking on the day itself, and even that will largely involve primping the food so it looks its best on the plate! 

This should help to make Christmas everything it promises to be - a happy, food-filled celebration that everyone, including the cook, can enjoy. Almost every component of this lavish, rainbow-coloured, festive vegetarian feast can be made oven-ready and/or stashed in the fridge/freezer and ready-to-go by Christmas Eve and, in most instances, well before. By my reckoning, that means the most exacting thing I’ll have to do on Christmas day is core and stuff the apples through a Champagne-induced haze of alcohol! As much as I love cooking, not spending almost the entire day in the kitchen sounds like the best-ever Christmas to me!

Parsnip, Cranberry and Chestnut Loaf (Serves 8)

Ingredients

45g butter, plus a little extra for greasing

3 onions, finely chopped

15g pack sage, 8 leaves reserved, the rest finely chopped

180g pack cooked chestnuts

120g walnuts

100g ground almonds

1 tsp ground mace

100g good quality vegetarian Cheddar cheese, finely grated

2 eggs, beaten            

600g baby parsnips, trimmed, peeled and cut in half lengthways (or choose standard parsnips - long, thin ones if you can - peeled then halved lengthways) 

1 tbsp honey

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

180g Low-Sugar Cranberry & Orange Relish

Fresh cranberries and flat leaf parsley - to decorate 

 

Instructions

Boil a kettle of water. Grease a 900g (2lb) loaf tin with some butter, line with a long strip of non-stick baking parchment to cover the bottom and the two ends of the tin.

Melt 15g butter in a non-stick pan, add the onions and gently cook with the lid on the pan for 10-15 mins over a medium low heat until very soft and just starting to turn golden. Stir in the chopped sage, cook for a further 1 minute, then tip into a large mixing bowl. 

Pulse the chestnuts in a food processor until chopped into small bits, then tip these into the bowl with the onions and repeat with the walnuts. Now add the ground almonds, cheese, mace, beaten eggs, 1½ tsp salt and a generous amount of freshly grated pepper and mix everything together well.

Pour the boiling water from the kettle into the bottom half of a steamer. Put the halved parsnips in the top of the steamer, put the lid on and steam for 3 minutes.

Tip the parsnips onto a clean dry tea towel and pat them dry. Line up the best looking halves of parsnip (you’ll need about 10 halves) and lay them widthways, cut side down, along the bottom of the loaf tin. You will need to alternate the parsnip halves ‘thick ends to thin’ and pack them tightly side-by-side, so they fit snugly in the base of the tin. N.B. If you’re using normal-sized parsnips, cut off lengths of parsnip from the thinner ends and fit across the base of your loaf tin in the same way. Keep going until you have enough parsnip halves to snugly line the base of the tin. 

Take the parsnip halves back out of the loaf tin and set aside. Chop all the leftover parsnip into small neat dice and mix into the nut mixture. 

Melt the remaining 15g of butter in a heavy based frying pan over a medium heat. When it starts to foam add the honey and the reserved parsnip halves laying them cut side down in the pan. Fry gently in the butter (on the cut side only) for about 5 minutes or until they are lightly browned - they should be just turning golden. Take off the heat and set aside to cool. 

Heat oven to 180℃ (160℃ fan) / 350℉ Gas mark 4

When the fried parsnip are cool enough to handle, fit them back into the loaf tin, as before (cut and browned side down). Top with ⅓ of the nut mixture – pack it down well and smooth the surface. 

Spread the cranberry and orange relish on top, leaving a small space around the edges. 

Top with the remaining nut mixture and pack down as before. Cover with tin foil. 

The loaf can be made up to 24 hrs ahead, then covered and chilled, before continuing. 

Bake in the pre-heated oven for 1 hour. Take the loaf out of the oven and remove the foil, then put back in the oven for a further 10 minutes. 

Remove from the oven and allow to stand for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt the remaining 15g butter in a small frying pan and sizzle the reserved sage leaves for 1 minute. 

Loosen around the sides of the loaf with a round-bladed knife if you need to, then turn the loaf out onto a warm serving platter. Peel off the parchment paper. 

Brush the top of the loaf with the hot sage butter then decorate with cranberries, fried sage leaves and sprigs of flat-leaf parsley.  

Serve in slices with extra Cranberry Orange Relish and Port Wine Sauce.

 

Carbohydrate 30g Protein 12g - per portion

Port Wine Sauce (Serves 6)

Ingredients

2 tbsp olive oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped

600ml (1 pint) soft, fruity red wine (I used McGuigan Estate Merlot)

1 dsp Marigold organic vegetable bouillon powder

2 tsp arrowroot powder 

3 tbsp port wine

1 dsp sugar-free redcurrant jelly

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

25g cold butter, cut into small pieces

 

Instructions

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan, add the onion, cover and fry over a low-medium heat for 10 minutes until it is tender but not browned. 

Stir in the bouillon powder and then pour in the wine, bring to the boil, and leave to simmer, without a lid, for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until it has halved in volume i.e. reduced to 300ml (½ pint). Take off the heat and strain through a sieve into a small clean saucepan

Put the arrowroot into a small bowl and mix to a paste with the port. Add a tablespoon of the hot wine mixture, stir, then quickly pour the slaked arrowroot into the saucepan with the rest of the wine mixture and stir briefly until it has thickened slightly (just below boiling point). 

Stir in the redcurrant jelly. Taste, then add salt and pepper, if necessary

You can make the sauce up to this point in advance. Either freeze and defrost overnight the day before you need it, or keep in the fridge until you want to serve.

Just before you want to serve the sauce, re-heat in a small saucepan to just below boiling point, then quickly whisk-in the cubes of cold butter to make it glossy.

 

Carbohydrate 5g Protein 0g - per portion


Roasted Cauliflower & Mushroom Curry with Green Pea Fritters and Avocado Cream

by Susan Smith in , , , , ,


Continuing my quest to find Primal Pronto veggie-inspired meals, I discovered these delicious Green Pea Fritters at The Healthy Chef. Initially, I was just looking for an alternative to Primal Naan Bread and Cauliflower Rice to accompany a family supper of Roasted Cauliflower & Mushroom Curry because, as satisfying as Primal naan bread might sound, since posting the original naan bread recipe I subsequently found out that I need to re-invent it without tapioca flour, (which increases blood sugar even more than wheat flour) and zanthan gum. Yikes! Sorry for the oversight! Plus, cauliflower ‘rice’ and cauliflower curry have zero gastronomic appeal when eaten in combo, so I wanted something new and tasty, preferably vegetable-based, to make our curry meal more appetising. 

As it turned out, the Green Pea Fritters were such a hit that I’m including them as part of this week’s blog, so today, three recipe posts for the price of one! Whilst the Green Pea Fritters and Avocado Cream are a perfect stand-alone meal for a fast and simple supper or to serve with drinks, when brought together with Roasted Cauliflower & Mushroom Curry you have several wonderful things that make for a fresh, creative, vegetarian meal fit for entertaining friends. I think the whole thing looks mouthwatering on the plate and it tastes just as good - spicy, savoury, creamy and delicious!

The cauliflower and mushroom curry recipe is adapted from a recipe in Daniel Green’s book, The Paleo Diet but there is one notable exception - if you try to make this curry with “1 tablespoon of chilli powder (or more to taste)” as directed in the book, please do not even think of inviting me for supper! It may simply be a ‘typo’ (I think it should read 1 teaspoon of chilli!) but it would nevertheless be ruinous to the finished dish and most likely would get missed by an inexperienced cook slavishly following the recipe. Thank goodness for Primal Plate’s extensive testing and tasting of all blog featured recipes before posting! 

I have added tiger nut flour to the pea fritter recipe to enhance the sweetness of the peas and on this occasion left out the lemon zest in favour of fresh mint because a) fresh mint and peas are a classic and b) the avocado cream has a lemony ‘hit’ all of its own that more than compensates for its absence in the fritters. Plus, it saves the time and effort of grating a lemon!

The pea fritters are very quick and easy to make - it’s just a matter of mixing everything together in a bowl and dropping spoonfuls of the mixture into a hot frying pan (only a few at a time), pressing them flat with the help of a spatula and cooking (for less than a total of 10 minutes) until they’re golden brown on each side. Meanwhile the avocado and cream cheese can be quickly whizzed to a luscious pale green cream in a food processor or with a hand-held blender.  

The Roasted Cauliflower and Mushroom Curry is just as fuss-free and makes a great vegetarian low-carbohydrate option for followers of Paleo and Primal diets. 

Put it all together for warming, nourishing mouthfuls of extreme pleasure.  

Green Pea Fritters (Serves 4)

Ingredients

300g frozen peas, defrosted

2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley (about 10g without stalks)

1 tablespoon freshly chopped mint leaves

2 large organic free range eggs, lightly beaten

100g full-fat soft cheese, softened (I used Longley Farm)

25g organic tiger nut flour

15g organic coconut flour

1½ tsp sea salt and a generous grinding of black pepper

1 small organic lemon, finely grated zest only - optional

1tbsp olive oil, for frying

Handful of pea shoots, to garnish - optional

 

Instructions

Crush the peas in a food processor using the pulse button. Make sure you keep the peas a coarse texture, this is not meant to be a puree.

Transfer the crushed peas to a bowl, add the parsley, mint, eggs, lemon zest (if using), tiger nut and coconut flours. The ground tiger nuts and coconut flour help to hold the mixture together during cooking. 

Season with the sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Taste and correct the seasoning if necessary. 

Soften the cream cheese by breaking it down with a fork then add to the pea fritter batter and combine well.

Heat a little olive oil in a large heavy-based non-stick frying pan over a low heat.

Add heaped tablespoons of the pea fritter mixture to the pan -  you should get about 16 bite-sized fritters. To avoid overcrowding the pan you may need to cook them in several batches. 

Cook the pea fritters over a medium heat for 5-6 minutes without disturbing them. When they are firm and golden on the underside, carefully turn them over with the aid of a flat-ended spatula. 

Continue to cook for a further 3-5 minutes or until the fritters are cooked through and golden brown on both sides. 

Immediately transfer to an oven proof dish (or serving platter if you’re handing them out with drinks) and then into a pre-heated hot oven until you’ve cooked the rest of the fritters and you’re ready to eat.

 

Avocado Cream (Serves 3-4)

Ingredients

1 large ripe avocado

½ lemon, juiced

100g full-fat soft cheese, softened by breaking down with a fork (or use Waitrose Duchy Organic Soft Cheese straight out of the tub).

Sea salt

Cayenne pepper

 

Instructions

Peel, stone and mash the avocado with the lemon juice then mix together with the soft cheese, sea salt and cayenne pepper to taste until it is completely smooth and creamy - this is best done in a food processor or with a hand-held blender.  

Serve as a dip with Green Pea Fritters or crudités.

 

Roasted Cauliflower & Mushroom Curry (Serves 4)

Ingredients

1 medium head of cauliflower, broken into small bite-sized florets

1 large onion, finely chopped

3 tbsp olive oil

250g button mushrooms

1 x 2½ cm piece of fresh ginger, grated

1 tbsp ground coriander

1 tbsp ground cumin

1 tbsp garam masala

1 tsp chilli powder

1 tbsp Marigold organic vegetable bouillon powder

400ml full-fat organic  coconut milk

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

a large handful of fresh coriander, chopped - to garnish

 

Instructions

Pre-heat the oven to 200℃ / 400℉ / Gas mark 7

In a large bowl, toss the cauliflower florets in 2 tablespoons of olive oil and season with freshly ground black pepper.

Tip onto a non-stick roasting tray and roast for 25 minutes, turning occasionally until the cauliflower is nicely browned. Remove from the oven and set aside.

In a wide, shallow pan set over a moderate heat, fry the onion in the remaining olive oil with the pan lid on for about 8 minutes, stirring from time to time, until softened and starting to brown.

Add the mushrooms and ginger and cook for another 1-2 minutes, stirring. Stir in the spices and bouillon powder and cook for another minute.

Add the coconut milk and season to taste. Bring to the boil then stir in the cauliflower.

Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan and cook for about 5 minutes. 

Ladle into warmed bowls and top with plenty of fresh coriander. 

 

Notes

I was in two minds about the Primal Pronto status of the Green Pea Fritters and Roasted Cauliflower & Mushroom Curry because both these recipes are so easy and fuss-free. In the end I decided that Primal Pronto should be defined as: a recipe with 5 or less main ingredients, or one that can be prepped, cooked and on the table within 45 minutes. The Roasted Cauliflower & Mushroom Curry didn’t quite make it on both counts (realistically it’s takes more like 50 minutes to make) but it is still wonderfully warming comfort food that’s simple to prepare. It’s also suitable for vegans.  

You can defrost the peas quickly by putting them in a heat proof jug and pouring boiling water over. Allow to stand for a few minutes, then drain well and proceed with the recipe. 

The uncooked pea fritter batter can be made well in advance and stored in the fridge overnight. The mixture will make approximately 16 small or 8 large fritters. I use a heaped tablespoon to make the bite-sized ones and a ¼ US cup for bigger ones.

Two large Green Pea Fritters per person served with a medium/soft boiled egg and a dollop of avocado cream is great for a fast and easy low-carb brunch or supper.

If you can’t get button mushrooms for the curry, use closed-cap mushrooms cut into halves or quarters instead.

 

Carbohydrate 14g Protein 11g - per serving (4 small or 2 large) of Green Pea Fritters

Carbohydrate 5g Protein 2g - per serving of Avocado Cream

Carbohydrate 22g Protein 8g - per serving of Roasted Cauliflower & Mushroom Curry


Roasted Squash Soup

by Susan Smith in , , ,


Autumn delivers an incredible array of squash, pumpkins and gourds, so what better way to celebrate the season than to come in out of the cold to a steaming bowl of glorious golden-orange Roasted Squash Soup? 

Creamy, with a distinct flavour and delicate sweetness, it contains neither cream or sweetener. It is comforting, delicious and vegan. You can serve it as it is but it’s even lovelier topped with toasted pumpkin seeds and sprigs of fresh thyme.

I’ve included this recipe in the Primal Pronto section of the blog because although the squash takes about 45 minutes to roast, the ingredients list is short and it’s such an easy soup to make. Basically, the squash roasts in the oven whilst you unhurriedly fry-off an onion and boil a kettle of water. Then all that’s left to do when the squash is cooked, is to spoon its flesh into a blender with water and vegetable bouillon powder and whizz to velvety smooth perfection.

Roasted Squash Soup (in mugs), Vegetarian sausages with Autumn Coleslaw (recipe coming soon) and Primal Pronto Energy Bars are the perfect outdoor grub to eat around the bonfire with family and friends to help make your Guy Fawke’s celebration a night to remember. 

Roasted Squash Soup (serves 4)

Ingredients

1 medium-sized organic squash (I used onion squash but if you can’t get hold of one use butternut squash instead)

1 large onion, finely chopped

2-3 tbsp olive oil

1.2 litres water

1 tbsp Marigold organic vegetable bouillon powder

2 tbsp pumpkin seeds

4 sprigs of fresh thyme

 

Instructions

Boil a kettle of fresh water. 

Pre-heat the oven to 190℃  375 ℉ Gas mark 5

Cut the top end off the onion squash then cut down lengthways into 4 quarters. Scoop out the seeds and fibres (discard these) then put the quarters of squash skin-side down on to a baking tray. 

Brush the cut surfaces with olive oil and roast in the pre-heated oven for about 45 minutes, or until the squash in soft. 

Whilst the squash is cooking heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a saucepan over a gentle heat. Add the onion, cover and cook gently for about 8 minutes until it is soft and just starting to brown. 

Add 1 litre of hot water from the kettle and the bouillon powder to the pan, bring to a simmer, then cover and take off the heat. 

When the squash is cooked, scoop out the flesh into a blender or food processor (discarding the skin) along with the onion/vegetable stock. Puree together until velvety and smooth.  

Tip the puréed soup through a metal strainer into a clean pan. At this stage, you can stir in in a little more water to make a consistency that’s pleasing to you. Season to taste with sea salt and pepper and gently heat through.

Meanwhile, heat a splash of olive oil in a small non-stick frying pan set over a moderate heat and fry the pumpkin seeds for 1-2 minutes until just toasted. Tip the pumpkin seeds onto a plate lined with piece of kitchen paper.

Serve the hot soup in 4 warmed bowls with the toasted pumpkin seeds and thyme sprigs on top of each bowl. 

 

Carbohydrate 22g Protein 3g - per serving

An array of homegrown squashes make a beautiful Autumnal display. Image courtesy of  Mirror Imaging Photography

An array of homegrown squashes make a beautiful Autumnal display. Image courtesy of Mirror Imaging Photography


Vegetarian Sausages, Creamy Cauliflower Mash and Red Wine & Onion Gravy

by Susan Smith in , , ,


The Brits love sausages. Grilled or fried to perfection, and piled on top of creamy ‘mash’ and slathered in onion gravy, or put to bed in a soft pillowy bread roll with tomato ketchup - sausages taste great! As a teenager, I certainly thought so. Every Sunday night a crowd of us would leave our church youth club and walk into town to catch the bus home. There was a burger stand next to my bus stop that sold what we thought were the most delicious hot sausage ‘cobs’  (a Northern English word for bread rolls) with HP sauce. Myself and my boyfriend, who always walked me to my bus stop before crossing town to catch his own bus home, would shelter together in a shop doorway, like young lovers do, to eat our late night feast before saying a long and wistful goodbye prior to my return to weekly boarding school. My father too always prided himself on buying ‘proper’ fresh sausages from a traditional butcher and would travel 25 miles across the county of Nottinghamshire for the privilege. Whilst nothing like the mass-produced muck that you find on today’s supermarket chiller shelves, my dad probably didn’t realise that sausages per se are one of the oldest processed foods in history and, despite their reputation for tasting good, most sausage-making is almost certainly best done behind closed doors!

Although sausages are currently making a comeback with the consumption of them soaring, producers bulk out their sausages with scraps, fat, cereal, chemical preservatives and water. In my view, it’s high time for a sausage re-think. I don’t want sausages packed out with cereal and other nasties and I don’t want to cause farm animals immeasurable suffering just so I can eat them. Notwithstanding the risks to our health, if you’re a pig, any mention of sausage is never going to be a good idea!

The highlight of many a British BBQ, a cooked English breakfast, or a child’s favourite meal of sausage and baked beans, I think it is perhaps more the walk down memory lane that’s responsible for our adult sausage cravings, rather than the reality of what they are and where they come from. But there is a kinder and healthier way to satisfy our desire.

Today’s blog post features no ordinary ‘bangers and mash’. It is a no-meat, grain-free, potato-free, alternative to this great British staple, which is nonetheless every bit as comforting and tasty as the original and, most importantly, looks just like people think ‘sausage and mash’ should!

For taste and texture these cheesy veggie sausages are as close to their meat counterparts as ‘damn it’ is to swearing! Plus, they cook like a dream (see note below) because they don’t spit and splutter like ‘bangers’ do. Fabulous with low-carb creamy cauliflower mash and served with a deeply satisfying vegetarian red wine and onion gravy, it is the best transition to autumnal comfort food that you could ever hope for. 

Vegetarian Sausages (Makes 12 large sausages - allow 2 sausages per serving)

Ingredients

600g vegetarian Lancashire cheese, crumbled or grated (I coarsely grated mine in a food processor)

4 large spring onions, finely chopped

165g organic ground almonds

20g organic milled flaxseed

15g green banana flour

1 tbsp Marigold organic bouillon powder

2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped

2 tbsp fresh flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

3 large organic eggs, lightly beaten 

Sea salt (about 1½ tsp) and freshly ground black pepper (about ¾ tsp)

Olive oil - for frying

 

Instructions

Put the grated cheese, spring onions, ground almonds, ground flaxseed, banana flour, bouillon powder and herbs into a large mixing bowl and mix everything together well. 

Add the beaten eggs and a generous amount of seasoning, then using a fork or your hand bring the mixture together so it binds into a soft cheesy dough-like consistency. 

Cover the bowl with cling film and set aside to chill in the refrigerator for a couple of hours.

When the sausage mixture is thoroughly chilled, form into 12 large sausages - about 7.5cm (3”) long, weighing approximately 85g each.

Pour a large glug of olive oil into a large non-stick frying pan and set it over a high heat until the oil is really hot. When the surface of the oil starts to shimmer shallow-fry the sausages until deep golden brown and crispy on all sides, about 5-6 minutes. Drain the cooked sausages on paper kitchen paper. 

Serve hot with the creamy cauliflower mash, red wine & onion gravy and peas for a low-carb, vegetarian ‘twist’ on a favourite British classic. 

 

Red Wine & Onion Gravy (Serves 4)

Ingredients

1 tbsp olive oil

2 large onions, finely chopped

1 tsp coconut palm sugar

1 tbsp green banana flour

200ml vegetable stock, made with 1dsp Marigold organic vegetable bouillon powder

200ml red wine

1 tbsp Clearspring tamari (soy sauce)

1 fresh bay leaf

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

Instructions

Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large pan. Add the onion and coconut palm sugar to the pan, then cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 4 minutes or until beginning to brown. Reduce the heat to medium/low and continue to cook with the pan lid on for another 15 minutes, stirring from time to time, until the onion is deep golden brown.

Add the banana flour and stir over the heat for another minute to incorporate, then gradually stir in the stock and wine. 

Bring to the boil, stirring continuously until the sauce has thickened, then turn the heat back down to low.

Add the tamari and taste check. Season with a very little sea salt (only if you think it needs it) and some freshly ground pepper 

Add the bay leaf (or thyme sprig) and gently simmer for another 20 minutes. Remove the bay leaf.

Serve this intensely flavoursome gravy really hot with sausages and other vegetarian savoury dishes. 

 

Creamy Cauliflower Mash (Serves 4)

Ingredients

1 large head of cauliflower, trimmed and cut into florets

1 fresh bay leaf

100g full-fat soft cream cheese (I used Longley Farm)

Generous pinch of freshly grated nutmeg 

Sea salt and freshly grated black pepper

 

Instructions

Boil a kettle of water.

Place the cauliflower in the top half of a steamer with the bay leaf tucked in-between the florets. 

Pour the boiling water from the kettle into the bottom half of the steamer, add some sea salt then bring back to the boil. Steam the cauliflower with the pan lid on for about 8 minutes, until it is cooked through.

Tip or spoon the cauliflower into a large bowl and allow it to cool down for a couple of minutes - this will let the steam evaporate and make for a drier mash. Remove the bay leaf. 

Using a stick blender or food processor, whizz the cauliflower into a rough puree. Add the salt, pepper, nutmeg and cream cheese then briefly process again into a creamy mash consistency.

Put the cauliflower mash into a clean pan and gently re-heat, stirring from time to time so it doesn’t catch on the bottom of the pan. 

Serve hot as a delicious low-carb alternative to mashed potato.   

 

Notes

Keep the formed ‘sausages’ really cold (in a refrigerator) until you’re ready to start cooking them. This will ensure that they stay sausage-shaped in the cooking process i.e. cook to a crispy exterior before the cheese gets a chance to melt and they become misshapen. For the same reason, it is important not to overcrowd the pan because this lowers the temperature of the oil. You want your sausages to fry quickly in the hot oil, not semi-steam, which can cause them to ‘squidge' out of shape as you’re turning them over in the pan (also causing them to absorb more oil).  

The uncooked sausage mixture will keep for several days in a refrigerator. With this recipe being hot-off-the-press I haven’t tried freezing it yet but I think that would probably work too.

If it looks like a sausage, tastes like a sausage and behaves like a sausage it probably IS going to be mistaken for a non-vegetarian sausage! Apart from the difference in colour when you bite into them (pale gold cheese colour rather than cooked-meat-grey) I’d defy anyone to distinguish the difference between these veggie sausages and meat ones, especially when cold. Cooked leftovers, eaten next day straight from the fridge, still had their crispy exterior intact and tasted so ‘porky’ I was genuinely gob-smacked! Which means I’ve also developed a brand new picnic food to go, which is an absolute god-send for when Sarah and I are doing full-day weddings on the move #happy

If you want a smooth gravy i.e. without onion bits,  strain through a fine sieve into a clean pan before re-heating and serving.

If you think the finished gravy is a little too thick just add more water to thin it out to your liking.

I used steamed cauliflower to create a creamy ‘mash’ that’s very similar to - albeit a lighter, low-carb version of - mashed potatoes. Sweet potatoes, carrots, celeriac, swedes, parsnips and turnips - either alone or in combination - all make a good alternative to potato mash. Just be wary of stacking up the carbohydrates when you eat the sweeter root vegetables i.e. parsnips and sweet potatoes.

 

Carbohydrates 11g Protein 40g - 2 sausages per serving

Carbohydrates 13g Protein 1g - per serving of gravy

Carbohydrates 12g Protein 6g - per serving of creamy cauliflower mash


Courgette Linguine With Cashew Pesto and Marinated Mushroom and Broccoli

by Susan Smith in , , ,


Although at Primal Plate we’re more than happy to occasionally have our grain-free, refined sugar-free cake and to eat it too, there comes a time (usually after a second slice of said cake) that I begin to pull back from borderline over-indulgence to something altogether more healthy and savoury. 

Sugar is sugar, and although raw honey, coconut palm sugar and pure maple syrup are much healthier options than refined sugar, they are still sugar. Even fructose, the natural sugar found in fruit, is unhealthy when eaten to excess. I know that because I used to make myself what I thought was a healthy multiple-fruit smoothie, which oftentimes boasted more than my ‘five-a-day’ in just one potent glass full. During this time I developed an inflammatory skin condition, which my doctor initially diagnosed as shingles. In fact it was a severe case of atopic eczema, which became infected. Within two weeks of switching to a low-carb Primal diet, which meant I stopped drinking excessive amounts of fructose in my breakfast smoothie, the rash disappeared for good.

The occasional sweet treat probably doesn't do much harm, but eating too much sugar (this applies to virtually everyone who eats a processed, high-carb Western diet and doesn’t do significant amounts of exercise) can have harmful effects on metabolism and is pro-inflammatory. Inflammation can lead directly to the development of all sorts of diseases throughout the body including diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer and undoubtedly it was sugar-linked inflammation that caused my erstwhile eczema. 

So, after developing and testing last week’s recipe for Tiger Nut Victoria Sandwich, which involved baking and eating two cakes within three days, I came across a recipe in Paul Gayler’s book Pure Vegetarian that is the perfect antidote to sugar overdose. 

My adaptation of Courgette Linguine With Cashew Pesto and Marinated Mushroom and Broccoli is a refreshing, vegan plateful of gorgeous colour and outstanding texture. Classic, Asian-style flavours come together in perfect harmony for one of the healthiest, zingiest, freshest-tasting meals ever! With virtually no cooking involved, it is also surprisingly simple to make. 

Try this almost raw ‘detox’ recipe if you don’t cook / won’t cook, if you need an instant energy boost or if you simply want to make amends for some recent foodie indiscretion. Good to look at, good to eat and oh so good for you, it really is health food at its best. 

Courgette Linguine With Cashew Pesto and Marinated Mushroom and Broccoli (V) (Serves 4)

Ingredients - for the cashew pesto

50g raw organic cashews

1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped

2cm piece of root ginger, peeled and grated

100ml extra-virgin olive oil

25g fresh coriander

15g fresh mint leaves

15g fresh basil leaves

Juice of 1 lime

Sea salt

 

Instructions

Place the cashews in a blender and blitz until broken down. 

Add the ginger, chilli, oil and herbs and blend until pureed.

Add lime juice, then season with sea salt to taste (I used ½ teaspoon) and briefly whizz again to incorporate.

Cover and set aside.

 

Ingredients - for the marinated vegetables

200g organic chestnut mushrooms, cleaned (I just wipe them over with a damp paper towel)

100ml organic extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon tamari (wheat-free soy sauce)

1 organic spring onion, very finely chopped

2cm piece of root ginger, peeled and grated

100g organic broccoli, cut into small florets (without stalk)

50ml fresh lime juice (approx. 1 large or 2 small limes)

4 crispy and firm organic courgettes

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

Slice the mushrooms very thinly, place in a large bowl and add the oil, soy sauce, onion and ginger. Allow to marinate for 30 minutes (no longer than this or they create too much juice)

Meanwhile, steam the broccoli for about 2 to 3 minutes until it turns bright green but is still crunchy in texture. Quickly remove and add to the mushrooms along with the lime juice and season to taste.

Cut the ends off the courgettes, then using a kitchen mandolin, spiralizer, vegetable peeler or sharp knife, slice as thinly as possible lengthways into long strips or ‘linguine’. 

Toss with the mushrooms and broccoli, adjust the seasoning and serve with a dollop of cashew pesto on top. 

 

Carbohydrate 13g Protein 8g - per serving

A Spirilizer makes perfectly thin and even courgette 'linguine'

A Spirilizer makes perfectly thin and even courgette 'linguine'


Nutburgers

by Susan Smith in ,


The heartbreaking news about Cecil the lion continues to haunt me. It isn’t just the immorality of seeking out and killing magnificent endangered species of wild animals for ‘game’, it’s also the general lack of reverence for animals and nature, prevalent in today’s society, which I find so depressing. Who’d think to dye baby chicks neon colours and then seal them inside plastic bags to sell as toys? Closer to home, I’ve just stood and watched a motorist swerve his car across to the opposite side of the road outside my house to deliberately run over a female blackbird that was foraging for insects in the verge!

I’ve been teetering on the brink of eliminating all meat from my diet for a long time, but a constant stream of ugly events, symptomatic of a worldwide epidemic of insensible violent acts against the environment, other people and animals, have pushed me over the edge. It isn’t just a question of killing animals for sport. Whilst ever beautiful vegetarian food is available, why raise innocent sentient beings and subject them to systematic cruelty, mutilation and suffering before destroying their bodies in an industrialised slaughterhouse designed to kill 200 animals per minute? Just to eat? What for?

The fact is, an abundance of delicious, healthy, life-giving vegetarian food IS available, so what need is there to continue the very crude, primitive, uncivilised behaviour involved in destroying a body to eat its flesh? If you think this is okay, why not eat dogs, cats and horses? Or, to take the okay-ness and disconnected-ness of killing unevolved animals for food to its logical conclusion, it's just another step away from killing evolved animals for food, a.k.a. cannabilism. Enough now.

Primal Plate is committed to sharing recipes that are more in tune with compassion, beauty and love - how life should be lived - rather than the inhumane behaviours associated with eating factory farmed meat. 

Sir Paul McCartney sums it all up: "If anyone wants to save the planet, all they have to do is just stop eating meat. That's the single most important thing you could do. It's staggering when you think about it. Vegetarianism takes care of so many things in one shot: ecology, famine, cruelty”.

Primal Plate wants to pave the way for healthy, nutritious, vegetarian, Primal-friendly alternatives to meat that won’t compromise on your foodie sensory pleasure. Quite the opposite in fact. Vegetarians all too often turn to grains and legumes to pack out their meals, but unfortunately these foods contain anti-nutrients, are pro-inflammatory and can ultimately make you fat and diseased. All Primal Plate recipes are created without the unhealthy ‘bad boys’ - grains, legumes, refined sugar, processed seed oils - but look equally as good, and often taste much better, than their gluten, lectin, trans-fat riddled counterparts. Making meat-free meals is aesthetically more appealing because vegetarianism respects life and doesn’t disconnect people from the suffering caused by them consuming “corpse and two veg”.     

These meat-free, vegan Nutburgers are serious contenders for the best of alfresco or BBQ fare. With a full-on savoury taste profile and a better texture than ground beef or lamb, they might easily be confused with ‘sausage-burgers’ for uninitiated carnivores.

Keep the Primal/Paleo ethos intact by ditching the burger bun and wrapping them up in the biggest, freshest raw savoy cabbage leaves you can find. Top with your choice of dressing - tomato ketchup (is sort of obligatory), homemade mayonnaise, or spicy chutney. Serve with sliced tomatoes, avocado and a handful of micro-leaves for a lovely-looking, very filling, nutrient-dense, moreish burger that doesn’t hurt or harm any animal - a conscious lifestyle change that doesn’t add to the pain and suffering in this mad world. Walter Palmer-ites, take note!

Nutburgers (V) (Makes 12-13 burgers)

Ingredients

2 medium onions, peeled and finely chopped

2 sticks of celery, finely diced

100g organic butter or vegan alternative (M&S Simply range do a vegan-friendly sunflower spread)

250g chestnut mushrooms, finely chopped

25g green banana flour

1 tbsp organic ground flaxseed

2 tsp organic Marigold vegetable bouillon powder

2 tbsp Clearspring tamari soy sauce

2 tsp yeast extract (e.g. Marmite)

200ml filtered water

450g mixed nuts (I used raw organic cashews, walnuts, macadamias, brazil nuts and pistachios) - finely chopped 

200g ground almonds

4 rounded tablespoons fresh mixed herbs (parsley, thyme, marjoram, rosemary etc.), finely chopped

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

To finish

75g ground almonds, to coat 

Olive oil for shallow frying

 

Instructions

In a large pan, gently sauté the onions and celery in the butter (or vegan alternative) for 10 minutes until they are soft a just turning golden brown.

Add the chopped mushrooms and cook for a further 5 minutes until soft and most of the liquid has been driven off as steam.

Mix in the banana flour and cook for a further minute. Pour in the water and stir continuously over a medium heat until thickened.

Add the stock powder, ground flaxseed, tamari, yeast extract, mixed nuts, ground almonds, fresh herbs and salt and pepper to taste. Allow the mixture to cool before proceeding to the next step.

Tip extra ground almonds onto a large flat plate in readiness for coating the burgers.

When the burger mixture is cool enough to handle, form into 12 burgers - about 6cm (2½”) wide x 2 cm (¾”) thick, weighing approximately 100g each. N.B. Don’t make the burgers much bigger than this because they’re easier to manoeuvre and turn them over in the pan (without breaking up) if they’re smaller and more compact.

Coat the burgers in the ground almonds and place onto a clean plate. Cover loosely with cling film and store in the refrigerator until you’re ready to start cooking.

Cook on a lightly oiled flat tin (or frying pan) over the barbecue. Alternatively, if you’re not firing up the barbecue, gently fry the burgers in a little olive oil in an oven-proof frying pan over a moderate heat for about 3-5 minutes on each side, until lightly browned. Then place the frying pan in the oven (pre-heated to 190℃) for a further 8-10 minutes to heat through completely. 

We topped the burger with ketchup and mayo, slices of tomato and vegetarian mozzarella and some pretty micro leaves, before wrapping around the savoy cabbage leaf. Knives and forks not needed!

We topped the burger with ketchup and mayo, slices of tomato and vegetarian mozzarella and some pretty micro leaves, before wrapping around the savoy cabbage leaf. Knives and forks not needed!

Notes:

The easiest, quickest and least messy way to finely chop the mixed nuts is in a food processor. Ditto the mushrooms and fresh herbs.

To make this recipe suitable for vegans, I used ground almonds for coating these burgers. However, if you eat eggs and you have some 2-3 day old leftover Grain-free Bread vegetarians can convert this into panko-style breadcrumbs for a crispier coating. 

To make panko-style breadcrumbs for coating: 

  • Pre-heat the oven to 140℃. 
  • Cut about 150g of grain-free bread (including the crust) into cubes. Using the coarse grater/shredding disk of a food processor, push the bread cubes through the feeder tube to make coarse crumbs. 
  • Spread the crumbs out onto a baking sheet in a single layer and bake for about 15-20 minutes until they are dry but not browned. Tip: To ensure the crumbs bake evenly, take them out of the oven every 5 minutes or so and turn them over with a spatula, then give the tray a good shake to level them out again before continuing with the cooking process.
  • When the crumbs are completely dried-out (crispy but not toasted) remove them from the oven and allow to cool.
  • Coat the burgers in the dried breadcrumbs and cook as above,

The burger mixture can be made 2-3 days in advance and kept covered in a refrigerator. It can then be shaped into burgers and coated with ground almonds/dried breadcrumbs the day you intend to eat them. 

 

Carbohydrate 10g Protein 17g - per burger

Good food, wine, a generous tomato and vegetarian mozzarella salad and our nutburgers are the perfect partners for chilled-out al fresco dining.

Good food, wine, a generous tomato and vegetarian mozzarella salad and our nutburgers are the perfect partners for chilled-out al fresco dining.


Cucumber and Lettuce Vichyssoise

by Susan Smith in ,


Continuing on from my last blog post extolling the virtues of resistant starch, I’ve been thinking about different ways to incorporate resistant starch into Primal Plate recipes. Vichyssoise nicely fits the bill because it’s not only a delicious summer soup to beat the imminent heatwave we’ve been promised for next week, it’s also a natty way to introduce more resistant starch into everyday food.

Now that the wedding season is upon me (oh boy, wedding photography is one of the toughest jobs!) and one of my rental properties has just become vacant and needs to be re-let (so many applicants to sift and sort), the inside of my head and fridge are stuffed full of food-related items that, although originally intended for several blog ‘works in progress’, still remain unused for lack of time.

I was therefore grateful to find this interesting Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall recipe from his book River Cottage Veg for Cucumber and Lettuce Vichyssoise, which not only neatly uses up some recent food purchases that would otherwise spoil and be thrown away, but also has been easily adapted to include resistant starch - both in its raw state and in the form of cooked and chilled white potato (retrograded). 

Although this soup is made from relatively cheap ingredients, do not be fooled - nor let the idea of cooked cucumber and lettuce dissuade you! It’s a classic. A really beautiful pale green, cooling and luxurious soup to be enjoyed in the garden at the height of summer. Fresh looking and tasting, it’s also perfect picnic fare.

Cucumber and Lettuce Vichyssoise (Serves 6)

Ingredients

2 tbsp (60g) butter

2 large leeks, trimmed (use white and pale green parts only) and sliced

1 large, starchy potato (about 250g / 8oz), peeled and cut into large chunks

2 pints vegetable stock (I used 5 level teaspoons of Marigold organic bouillon powder to 1 quart freshly boiled water) 

2 cucumbers, peeled and cubed

2 Little Gem or butterhead lettuces, shredded

2 level tbsp green banana flour

3 tbsp heavy cream

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

To finish:

Crème fraîche or double cream

Chopped chives

 

Instructions

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the leeks, cover, and sweat gently for about 10 minutes, until soft. 

Add the potato and stock. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 10 minutes, until the potato is almost cooked. 

Add the cubed cucumbers and shredded lettuce, return to a boil, and simmer for a further 4 minutes. Take off the heat and allow the mixture to cool for 10 minutes or so.

Scoop out the potato chunks and press them through a metal sieve into a large mixing bowl, using the back of a wooden spoon (whizzing these in a blender would make the soup gluey).

Using a large soup ladle, transfer the rest of the simmered mixture into a blender container and blitz to a smooth puree. You will probably need to do this in several batches. 

As each batch is processed, pass the pureed soup through a metal sieve into the mixing bowl containing the potato puree. 

When you get to the final batch, add 2 level tablespoons of green banana flour, then blitz and pass through a sieve as before. Stir the entire contents of the mixing bowl together to incorporate the potato puree, then add the double cream and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Leave to cool completely, then chill for a couple of hours, 

Serve the chilled soup topped with a swirl of cream or crème fraîche and some chopped chives. 

 

Carbohydrate 20g Protein 3g - per serving


Courgetti with Cherry Tomatoes & Asparagus

by Susan Smith in ,


It’s taken nearly two months for me to get my Lurch Spirali out of its box! A quick mid-week peek inside my refrigerator was the inspiration. Apart from organic courgettes, cherry tomatoes, a couple of bunches of asparagus that were begging to be eaten, half a raw cauliflower, eggs and several different cheeses, there wasn’t much else to speak of that could be converted into a substantial meal for three. Since we’d already succumbed to staving off our appetites with salted nuts and a large glass of wine, I knew I had to get something on the table sooner rather than later.

Besides which, I thought that at least making vegetable ‘spaghetti’ might distract us from our hunger pangs. And It did. Not that Courgetti with Cherry Tomatoes & Asparagus took very long to make. In fact, I think it was on the table in less than thirty minutes in spite of there being minimal instructions in or on the box and, according to my husband, not much more information on the internet! 

Anyway, vegetable spaghetti, for the purposes of this recipe we call it courgetti, was fascinatingly simple and quick to make. We were all quite excited to see these long beautiful green pasta-type spirals falling effortlessly from this genius little gadget (kids, especially those who find vegetables unappealing, will just love it!). Plus, we think the result is even better to eat than conventional pasta - altogether tastier, healthier and lighter - which lets your choice of pasta sauce sing even more loudly! 

My ‘sauce’ is an adaptation of a similarly entitled recipe in Rose Elliot’s book, Fast, Fresh and Fabulous. and, as well as befooling veggie-reluctant children (you might just change their minds by getting them involved in making the courgetti!), this low-carb, really healthy recipe is a slimmer’s delight - because who would not like to lose a little bit of excess weight in contemplation of baring all in the heat of summer? Or if that’s not your concern, when the sun starts to rise in the sky, you might just prefer spending more time outside rather than in the kitchen! 

A cross between a pasta dish and a warm salad, this is so quick and easy to make it’s practically convenience food! I’ve used slender asparagus spears here because they need very little preparation. Just snap off the bottoms, wash and cook. They also cook so quickly. Happily this means you can leave the ‘sauce’ to make itself under the grill whilst you attend to the courgetti, which is cooked al dente in just 3 minutes flat!

The images of the raw ingredients I’ve used for Courgetti with Cherry Tomatoes & Asparagus are not just for show! This is how I get organised when making any meal or recipe. I collect all the ingredients together and prep them first, i.e. before I even start the cooking process. 

This is a lovely, fresh way (looks so very Italian!) to eat young, thin spears of asparagus and get a healthy quotient of other fresh vegetables on your Primal Plate too. I’ve used soft goats cheese and some Gran Padano to add more depth of flavour and texture to the dish, but if you prefer, you could get your protein fix by substituting grilled meat, chicken or fish for the cheese.

Courgetti with Cherry Tomatoes & Asparagus (V) (Serves 2)

Ingredients

300g (10½oz) cherry tomatoes

250g (9oz) thin asparagus spears (about 12 thin spears per person, or if not available, 7 thicker ones see Notes below)

2 tbsp olive oil

Basil leaves, about 8 large ones, finely shredded

3 medium-large, firm, flat (not curved) chunky courgettes (size and shape matters!)

Sea salt 

Freshly ground black pepper

100g (3½oz) full-fat soft goat’s cheese

25g (1oz) Parmesan (or Gran Padano, or Vegetarian parmesan-style cheese), finely grated

Instructions

Boil a kettle of water. Set the grill to high.

Cut off both ends of the courgettes. Put the centre of the courgette into the centre of the Spirali vegetable support and holding the machine steady with one-hand, turn the crank clockwise with your other hand whilst pushing the vegetables tight up against the blades. - the courgettes are easily and quickly sliced twice into fabulous long julienne strips. What fun! Set aside whilst you prepare the ‘sauce’ ingredients.

Place the cherry tomatoes in a single layer on a grill pan. Put the washed and dried asparagus into a large bowl with half the olive oil and mix together with you hands until evenly coated. Put these on the grill pan too and season everything well with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. 

Put under the grill and cook for about 6-8 minutes or until the tomatoes are on the point of collapse and the asparagus just tender to the point of a knife, and perhaps tinged golden brown.

Once the tomatoes and asparagus are about half-way through their cooking time (after about 3-4 minutes) put the courgetti into the top half of a steamer and pour the boiling water from the kettle into the bottom half of the pan. Put the pan lid on and steam for 3 minutes. Keep your eye on the asparagus and tomatoes whilst the courgetti cooks.

Drain the courgetti well, then pour over the rest of the olive oil and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Divide the courgetti between two warm pasta dishes (large shallow bowls). Add the tomatoes and asparagus to the vegetable pasta and top with goats cheese, shredded basil and a sprinkling of Parmesan, if liked. Buon appetito!

 

Notes:

Select the finest (3mm blade) out of the 3 cutters supplied with your machine - this makes thin ‘spaghetti’ spirals out of your vegetables that not only look fantastic, they only need a very short period of time to cook. Assemble your Spirali machine on a clean flat surface and place a large container underneath to catch the prepared courgetti as it falls from the machine.

If you want to, you can peel the courgettes first so it comes out white, like pasta.

If you can’t get thin whole asparagus, use asparagus tips. Alternatively, first cut the tips off thicker asparagus and then split the stems vertically in half. 

For vegans, omit the cheese and try adding other finely chopped herbs to the basil - perhaps tarragon and chives. Serve the vegetable pasta with freshly chopped herbs and perhaps a good handful of toasted pine nuts scattered over.

You can make this dish completely fat-free by omitting the olive oil (although ‘low-fat’ isn’t a concern for people who follow a Primal or Paleo diet) 

 

Carbohydrate 16g Protein 22g - per serving