Deep filled Spinach & feta pie

This was inspired by the pie at Muffin Break. I’d never seen so much spinach packed into anything before, especially not anything this delicious!  Great to boost those iron & vitamin levels too 🙂

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Ingredients – makes one 10″ pie

250g pastry of choice (we used puff pastry – but use your favourite)
1kg spinach, frozen or fresh
2 medium onions
2 medium – large carrots
1 sweet pointed red pepper (ramiro)
150g crumbled feta cheese (up to 300g if you prefer)
3 egg whites or 2 small whole eggs
1/2 cup mature grated cheddar to top
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1 level tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp ground white pepper
3-5 tbsp olive oil to fry
3 tbsp dried or 5 tbsp chopped fresh oregano

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.  Place a large saucepan with the oil on a medium heat.
2. Peel & quarter onions then finely chop in food processor (don’t wash it yet, we still need it). Add to pan and fry until translucent.
3. Peel and cut carrots into chunks then process until finely chopped. Add to pan & fry 1-2 min.
4. De-seed pepper & food process until fine. Add to pan & fry for 2 mins. Tip filling into a large bowl. (now you can wash the food processor)
5. Fry spinach in the pan until wilted and the juices are starting to run out. You need to reduce the liquid so you can either squeeze it out carefully using ladles and spoons before placing in the filling bowl, or fry until the liquid dries up. Either way, spinach less water goes into the bowl.
6. stir in all of the other ingredients except the pastry and cheddar. This is your filling, hooray!
7. Line or grease (or both) a deep 10″ pan, I used a cake tin lined with foil, should have greased it too as it stuck a little. Roll out the pastry to cover the base & edges in a very thin layer.
8. Spoon filling into pastry, top with cheese then bake for around 1 hour, or until set in the centre & cheese is golden.
slice when cool for best results
Enjoy!

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superhealthy super-tasty mixed bean and pickle salad

This dish is the kind of salad you could serve to someone who hates salad, and be pretty sure they’ll still like it.  Unlike the standard leafy vegetables with cucumber, tomato, blah that salads can be, this is more filling, has a texture like “real” food, and is much more flavourful.  Its like a far more delicious cold version of refried beans, with a few of the same crunchy ingredients as guacamole (minus the avocado). You can serve it as a side dish, or alongside more standard salad options such as lettuce, spinach, cucumber and flaked tuna as we did here – because these finicky perishable ingredients are served separately it means your lovely bean salad can be stored for up to a week in the fridge – if it lasts that long!  It contains numerous super foods (beans being the top of the list), and is so healthy you could literally fill up on it at a relatively low caloric intake.  It is also so good that my other half forgot all about the tuna – one of his favourite foods, and polished off three servings of this salad instead 🙂

What makes this recipe so delicious is the flavour combination.  Slow cooked beans, crunchy red onion, diced cherry tomatoes and red peppers, chopped gherkins, capers, herbs and a special lemon and garlic dressing.  What makes the dressing unique is the amount of acidity in it – a regular dressing contains twice the amount of olive oil as vinegar or lemon juice, this dressing has the opposite – an increase in tasty sourness being necessary to balance the unflavoured beans and to prevent indigestion from the beans and onions.  Incidentally, when eating this (or any other dish containing pulses or onion) I recommend drinking orange or apple juice, or lemonade or soda with it as opposed to water, because any dilution of your stomach acids can leave you feeling rather bloated (sour drinks help reduce that).  If you really don’t like those options, its best not to drink anything for an hour or so after eating.

superhealthy-mixed-bean-pickle-salad

Ingredients – serves 4 (recipe can be halved)

  • 3 cups mixed, cooked beans (or the contents of 3 cans of beans of choice such as kidney beans, butter beans, chickpeas, mixed beans etc drained)
  • 1/2 red onion, diced finely
  • 1/2 punnet (about 150g) baby plum or cherry tomatoes, diced
  • 1/4 red pepper or pimento, diced
  • handful of baby gherkin pickles, diced
  • 2 tbsp capers, chopped
  • 4 sundried tomatoes or preserved slowbaked tomatoes (from a jar), finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp arabian dried thyme and sesame (or regular dried thyme)
  • 4 or 5 pieces of preserved artichoke (in oil- from a jar), diced
  • 4 tsp olive oil, or the oil from one of your jars such as sundried tomatoes
  • 6 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp salt plus more to taste (varies if using canned or home cooked beans)
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder
  1. combine all of the beans and chopped pickles/ vegetables in a large salad bowl.
  2. in a cup or small bowl, combine all of the remaining ingredients to make a dressing.  Mix well.
  3. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss well to ensure everything is coated.  Taste, and adjust seasoning if necessary – The salad should be crunchy, flavourful and with a tart hit from the lemon and vinegar – if the bean/ tomato/ herb flavours seem too bland it is probably lacking salt.  Carefully add more a pinch at a time, stirring well and tasting between additions.
  4. Serve immediately if desired, or store in the fridge for the flavours to develop.  Can be made in advance and kept for up to a week.  This makes a lot 🙂  Enjoy!

Heavenly sweet potato and soy mince layer bake

The guest we were expecting today jokingly requested food that was “a taste of paradise”. Not sure what that meant, I decided to go into the kitchen and “feel” what to put together (no thinking, just instinct / inspiration), and this is the result.  An amazing, light yet filling dish which could be served for dinner or lunch, containing no meat, low in refined carbohydrates, and high in flavour.  Heavenly indeed!

Another great point about this dish is its ease of assembly – unlike many dishes where a mince type sauce is used, no pre-cooking is required before you put it into the oven. The seasoning is pretty foolproof too, because the crispy onion, stock cube and passata used all have the flavouring required, you don’t need to add anything – not even salt. Just layer it all, bake it, then eat 🙂 this sauce would also make a great fast vegan bolognese if you needed one.

This dish can easily become vegan, with the substitution of a vegan bechamel sauce and omission or substitution of cheese. For paleo you may do the same (or omit the sour cream if you wish) , but use a more paleo friendly (low in dairy) hard cheese like parmesan. Either way, this meal will fill you up without making you lethargic or giving you indigestion – even if you can’t stop yourself and eat a little more than you should have (like I did 😉 )

So what was the verdict of our guest? He said it really was the food of paradise.  we’ve packed the leftovers for him to take away too, so all in all I call that a good result 🙂

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Ingredients – serves 3-4
4 medium sized sweet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced (half a cm thick at most)
250ml plain passata (about 1 cup)
200ml flavoured passata of choice (just over 3/4 cup – I used pepper & chilli flavour, or if you wish use plain passata and add a teaspoon of your chosen flavouring or herbs)
1/2 cup of nice quality crispy onion pieces – preferably containing only onion, a little flour and salt (for true paleo/GF you can substitute for one medium onion, diced & fried til golden, & 1 tsp salt)
2 cups dehydrated soy mince of non gmo origin
1 vegetable stock cube
3 tbsp sundried tomato puree or chopped sundried tomatoes
Optional – 1/2 cup roasted red peppers in sunflower oil
4 tbsp dark soy sauce of choice
1/2 cup sour cream, or for vegan option 3/4 cup rice/almond/soy milk and 2 tbsp cornstarch (or arrowroot/ other thickener for paleo)
Grated cheese to top

1. Place the stock cube, soy sauce & spy mince in a large heatproof bowl. Pour on boiling water in a slow, steady stream and mix well. Keep adding water until all the soy mince looks fluffed up, and there is a very small puddle of water at the bottom of the dish – the idea is not to drown the mince as many packet instructions call for, just rehydrate it slightly on the firm but not crunchy side. It’ll soften more once it absorbs the juices from the passata.
2. Mix in the sundried tomato paste and make sure the stock cube has fully dissolved – break it up well if it hasn’t.
3. Pour the passatas and crispy onion over the mince. Combine. This is your no-cook bolognese style sauce 🙂
4. If going vegan, stir the cornflour (cornstarch to americans, or other thickener) in a couple of tbsp cold milk of choice, in the bottom of a saucepan. Once the lumps have gone and it is smooth, add the rest of the milk. Bring to a boil and stir constantly until the sauce thickens like a white thick custard. Remove from the heat and add a pinch of salt.  If using sour cream, skip this step.

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5. In a large ovenproof dish, layer the bolognese, sweet potato and bechamel /sour cream much like you would some kind of amazing healthy lasagna. Start with the mince, end with the potatoes, and you should get another 2 bolognese, 2 potato and 1 bechamel /sour cream layers out of these quantities. If using the peppers, sprinkle the oil between the layers and place the peppers flat somewhere in the middle level of the dish.

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Instructions for the other half xD

6. Top with cheese then bake at 180 degrees c (325F – woo I knew that one) for 1 hour, or until the sauce bubbles and the cheese is melty and golden)
Serve with salad of choice. Enjoy!