Classic Lasagne – Low FODMAP & Gluten Free

Italian Lasagne - Low FODMAP & Gluten Free

Hi guys! I’m sorry that it’s been so long between posts but I’m finally writing recipes for my own blog again – and this lasagne is a great way to get back into it. It’s both a delicious and hearty dish that is perfect for winter meals (hello Melbourne!); it’s also easy to assemble and either refrigerate or freeze until you need a pre-made dinner, or you can bake it and then have your lunches made for the week ahead.

Who am I kidding? You’d have enough for ten lunches if you ate it with a side salad.

I’m not going to lie, you’ll need to set aside some time for this dish as it cannot be rushed – quick Bolognese sauce is almost never good – but it is totally worth all the effort. And, really, the Bolognese is not difficult, the stove does all the work. You just need to stir it every now and then. The bechamel sauce is more involved but, again, it’s really just a matter of stirring/whisking it properly to get it smooth. If it’s still lumpy and not getting better, you could also just chuck it in the blender. 😉

Once you get to assembly, this basically makes itself.

A note for the purists – I am not Italian, and I follow a low FODMAP diet – so this is as traditional as I can get while keeping this dish onion and garlic free. So far there have been no complaints.

FODMAP Notes

  1. This lasagne, while low FODMAP, does contain large amounts of protein and fats if you over indulge. In addition to FODMAPs, these can cause issues for some with IBS, so be careful if this is you.

Classic Bolognese Sauce

  1. This recipe is onion free but if you can tolerate onion then add in up to 1 onion diced finely and brown at the beginning with the other veggies.
  2. Either infuse garlic into your own olive oil or buy it pre-made. If you can tolerate the garlic, then feel free to mince it and leave it in. You’ll notice I’ve done this.
  3. Either use tomato paste, which is not low FODMAP but some can tolerate it spread throughout multiple serves, or a fructose friendly tomato sauce (as in ketchup for those in the USA) of your choice. Monash lists a serve (2 sachets) of non-HFCS containing tomato sauce as low FODMAP. If you can tolerate neither tomato paste or tomato sauce, add in 1 tsp. of sugar and 1 tsp. of white wine vinegar, instead.
  4. If you can’t tolerate any wines, a FF chicken or beef stock or tomato juice could replace some or all of the red wine for fluid. Just use what you can cope with, even water would do, though you might need to add in a little extra salt and pepper etc for flavour.
  5. Green leek leaves are low FODMAP in 1/2 cup serves; this recipe spreads 1 full cup over 6-8 serves, so is safe.
  6. Celery is low FODMAP in 1/4 medium stalk serves, 1/2 a medium stalk contains moderate amounts of polyols. This recipe contains 1 cup of diced celery, which is approx. 2 cups, so a 1/8th serving is low enough in celery to be low FODMAP but if you are extra sensitive, feel free to replace it with celeriac (celery root), which has a similar taste to celery and is lower in FODMAPs. For a completely different (yet delicious) taste, you could replace celery with red or green capsicums that have been roasted and peeled.
  7. One whole medium carrot is low in FODMAPs, though if you consume enough mannitol can become an issue. This recipe stays within safe serving limits.
  8. Canned tomatoes are low FODMAP in 1/2 cup serves; 800 g/28 oz of tinned tomatoes equates to approx. 3 cups of undrained tomatoes, so you could safely consume 1/6th of this recipe in terms of tomatoes (fructose) – however, you must remember that 1/8th of the dish is safe in terms of celery (polyols).

Bechamel Sauce (aka White Sauce)

  1. Butter, a butter/oil blend and dairy-free margarine are low FODMAP in 1 tbsp/19 g serves, according to Monash University. Half a cup of butter is equivalent to 8 tbsp., so the amount of butter in this recipe is safe when broken down into individual portions.
  2. Lactose free dairy milk is low FODMAP in 1 cup/250 ml serves, this recipe contains less than that per person.
  3. Parmesan cheese is a hard/aged cheese, which are low in lactose. If you are sensitive enough to lactose that you need to avoid even low lactose cheese then you could replace it with a low FODMAP vegan cheese or simply leave it out, as it’s an optional extra.

Classic Lasagne

Makes 8-10 low FODMAP serves.

Both sauces can be made ahead of time and refrigerated or frozen until you plan to use them.

Bolognese Sauce

  • 1/4 cup olive oil to seal pot
  • 3 cloves of garlic – to infuse oil
  • 1 cup green leek tips
  • 1 cup diced carrot
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 1 cup diced zucchini
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 1 cup fructose friendly stock – chicken, beef or vegetable.
  • 500 g/1 lb beef mince
  • 500 g/1 lb pork or chicken mince
  • 800 g/28 oz tin of whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 tsp. ground cloves
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/3 cup tomato paste or FF tomato sauce (ketchup)
  • Oregano – approx. 1/4 cup fresh or 1/8 cup dried.
  • Thyme – 1/8 cup fresh or 1 tbsp. dried
  • Rosemary – 1/8 cup fresh or 1 tbsp. dried
  • 1/2 cup finely minced chives

Follow these instructions to make the Bolognese sauce.

Bechamel Sauce

You will most likely have left over bechamel sauce. It freezes well in an airtight container, or can be kept for a week in the fridge – it goes really well with broccoli and zucchini as a side dish.

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick or 113 g) of butter or dairy free substitute
  • 1 cup of gluten free plain flour, potentially more or less if you use a different blend
  • 4-5 cups of lactose free milk or dairy free substitute
  • 2-3 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese (optional)

Slowly melt the butter in a medium sized saucepan (a heavy base is best), over a low-medium heat. Once it has melted, create a roux by sifting in the gluten free flour a quarter cup at a time; whisk it through the butter until it forms a smoothe paste, then add each further quarter cup. Keep the heat to low/low-medium at the most, we don’t want the roux to brown as this is a white sauce.

The paste will eventually thicken so much that you might need to change to a spoon (depending on the quality of your whisk). You are aiming for a dough-like consistency, a thick paste that will keep its shape, as demonstrated here.

Once you have the thick paste, begin adding in the milk a bit at a time and whisk/stir each portion through well, before adding in the next. The mixture will begin to resemble soft mashed potatoes and, eventually, a smooth white sauce. If your sauce isn’t smooth, just use a stick blender to get rid of any lumps.

Keeping the heat low, season the sauce and feel free to stir through the grated cheese for a little extra oomph (though that’s not strictly traditional).

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Assembly

  • One pack of Tinkyada brown rice lasagne sheets (or similar – corn tortillas will also work in a pinch)
  • One batch of my low FODMAP Bolognese sauce
  • One batch of my low FODMAP bechamel sauce
  • 2 large tomatoes, sliced into rounds
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil or oregano, shredded (to add after cooking)

Bring a large fry pan of water to the boil and pre-cook the lasagne sheets as per the packet instructions. Meanwhile, pre-heat your oven to 190 C/375 F and get out a large baking dish.

Once you have all of your ingredients (except for the basil) in front of you, you can begin to layer your lasagne like so:

  • Bolognese sauce (1 cm thick)
  • Lasagne sheets
  • Bolognese sauce (1 cm thick)
  • Bechamel sauce (thin layer)
  • Lasagne sheets
  • Bolognese sauce (1 cm thick)
  • Bechamel sauce (thin layer)
  • Lasagne sheets
  • Bechamel sauce (thin layer)
  • Tomato slices and Parmesan cheese

Your lasagne is now ready to cook, or to refrigerate or freeze for cooking later on. Cover the lasagne with foil and bake for 30 minutes, before removing the foil and baking for another 20-30 minutes until the top edges have browned nicely (but not burnt).

Remove the lasagne from the oven and let it cool for 10-15 minutes before slicing and serving with a healthy side salad or cooked veggies and a nice glass of the red of your choice.

Enjoy!

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Balsamic Rosemary Chicken Risotto – Low FODMAP, Fructose Friendly and Gluten Free

Balsamic Rosemary Chicken Risotto - low FODMAP, fructose friendly, gluten free and lactose free

As always, my predictable stomach began to crave warm, hearty meals right about the time the weather started to cool down. Instead of light salads, it seems to be nagging for all the proteins and fats and carbs. Thanks stomach, I wasn’t planning on going up a size this winter but you seem to have other ideas. Of course, you shouldn’t always give in to cravings but occasionally it’s alright – say, for instance, after you had been sick for a week and could finally stay out of the bathroom for long enough to cook a meal (this gluten challenge is almost over, my immune system can see the light!).

After said week, I couldn’t stomach much but I could manage chicken and rice… but how appetising (or nutritious, really) is boiled chicken and rice? This risotto is pretty basic, so it’s easy on the stomach; you don’t need much to fill you up and it packs in more nutrients than its plain cousin thanks to the homemade stock and vegetables it contains. Oh and it’s pure comfort food. Ready. Set. Nom.

FODMAP Notes

  1. Balsamic vinegar is low FODMAP in 1 tbsp. servings. The 1/3 cup in this recipe will give 3/4 tbsp. per serving if divided between six people, less if shared among eight. Make sure you have real Balsamic vinegar, as the cheaper imitations might not all be FODMAP friendly – check the labels and use what you can tolerate.
  2. Rosemary is a low FODMAP herb.
  3. Chicken is of course low FODMAP – just be careful you don’t buy pre-seasoned chicken, which might have high FODMAP spices added.
  4. Zucchini is a FODMAP friendly vegetable.
  5. Mushrooms contain large amounts of the polyol mannitol in 1 cup servings. The 6 crimini mushrooms called for in this recipe would be just under 1/4 cup in size each, so you would be ingesting at most 1/4 cup of mushrooms if you divided this recipe among six people, less among eight. Of course, if you are sensitive to mannitol in any amount, substitute it with more zucchini, or even some cherry tomatoes.
  6. One serving of a dry white wine is considered low FODMAP.
  7. Arborio rice is a low FODMAP and gluten free grain.
  8. Butter is low in lactose, as FODMAPs are water soluble and butter is mostly fat. However, if you cannot tolerate any butter, either add in your favourite butter replacement or simply omit. For a less creamy version (i.e. when you’re recovering from a stomach bug and can’t tolerate rich foods) omit the butter. It’s what I did for my recovering stomach but any other time I would add it in.

Balsamic Rosemary Chicken Risotto

Serves 6-8

  • 5 cups/1.25 L of fructose friendly chicken stock
  • 700 g chicken, diced into 2 cm chunks
  • 1/6 cup Balsamic vinegar
  • Olive oil to seal pan
  • 2 cloves of garlic – to be removed before cooking the rice
  • 1 cup diced green leek tips
  • 1 large zucchini, diced
  • 6 medium crimini mushrooms, diced (see FODMAP notes)
  • 300 g arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup/125 ml dry white wine
  • 1/6 cup Balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup fresh minced rosemary
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt (or to taste)
  • 1 tsp. fresh ground black pepper (or to taste)
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter (optional, see FODMAP notes)

Prepare the chicken and vegetables, wash the rice and set everything aside. If you have time/thought ahead, marinate the chicken in the 1/6 cup of Balsamic vinegar overnight, otherwise, just add them together while cooking. Obviously, in this case you would prep the chicken the day before all the other ingredients.

In a small saucepan, bring the chicken stock to a simmer and reduce to low. Put the lid on and leave until required.

Fry the chicken pieces in a large fry/saute pan and add the Balsamic vinegar (if it wasn’t added earlier for marination – time constraints and all that). Cook over a high heat until the chicken pieces are all fully sealed and then remove the meat and juices from the pan into a clean bowl.

Next, add in a little more olive oil and add in the leek tips and garlic cloves. Fry over a medium/high heat until the garlic becomes fragrant, then remove and discard the garlic cloves. Add the diced zucchini and mushrooms and cook over a medium heat until the vegetables are mostly cooked.

Push the vegetables to the side and tip in the rice; fry the rice to coat it in the oil/pan juices and then pour in the white wine and last 1/6 cup of Balsamic vinegar. Cook over a medium heat until most of the liquid has evaporated and then begin adding the warmed chicken stock, one ladle at a time.

Reduce the heat to a low/medium setting and stir occasionally, letting the stock gradually absorb into the rice. Add a fresh ladle of stock when the previous batch has almost dried out and keep going until the rice is fully cooked (soft) or the stock runs out. The chicken and its juices should be added back into the pan when the pot of stock is about half-used, so it can finish cooking with the rice. Season with the rosemary, salt and pepper when you add in the chicken and then tinker with a little more if required at the end. Finally, add in the optional butter and stir through, for a rich and creamy dish. For pictures of not-quite-cooked vs. cooked risotto, see here.

Serving suggestions: freshly grated Parmesan cheese, minced chives (green parts only) or a sprig of rosemary or parsley. Don’t forget the wine.

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Mirepoix – FODMAP/Fructose Friendly & Gluten Free

Mire Poix

A traditional mirepoix involves carrots, celery and onion; due to geographic and cultural divides, as well as taste preferences, variations have of course come about over time and often only include one of the original ingredients… which means that I don’t feel terrible at all about nixing the onion and replacing it with leek and chives!

A mirepoix actually forms the base of many sauces, stews and stocks – I’d been making one for ages unintentionally – and you have been, too – before I even knew it had a name. You know the browned vegetables that constitute the beginning of a stock, a pasta sauce, a chili or even the butter chicken sauce recipe on this blog? They are all actually a “mirepoix.” Go figure. I had no clue until a year ago, I just thought it was what you were supposed to do. Which you are. But it has a name. I’ll stop now.

I have adjusted this recipe of Alton Brown’s to be low FODMAP. You can use mirepoix as a pasta sauce on its own, to bake with oysters or top a pizza. Anything goes, really. I love versatility. Thanks to the dry heat used, which intensifies flavours, this simple method adds a real depth of flavour to dishes that require a tomato sauce base.

Notes:

  1. Celery contains enough mannitol to be high FODMAP if you eat an entire stalk, which you wouldn’t be doing here. However, if you are very sensitive, just reduce it or sub in some extra leek or add in celeriac (for texture).
  2. Green leek tips are low FODMAP in half cup servings, so unless you eat the entire batch of mirepoix, you should be fine.
  3. Tomatoes are low FODMAP in half cup servings.
  4. Carrots are low FODMAP in about a quarter cup serving size.
  5. Garlic infused oil is tolerated by many who are sensitive to fructans, even though it seems counter-intuitive. FODMAPs are water soluble, so the garlic sizzling/infusing in oil shouldn’t leach out too many fructans. Simple solution – use a pinch of asafoetida in its place, which is both low FODMAP and gluten free (unless wheat flour is used to cut it).
  6. Red wine is low FODMAP in 150 ml servings. Red wine vinegar is double fermented red wine, so it is also safe.
  7. Balsamic vinegar is low FODMAP in 1 tbsp. servings, which is all there is in the entire recipe.

Mirepoix

Serves 12-14 FODMAPers, depending on tolerance.

  • 2 large tins of whole, peeled tomatoes, separated into toms and liquid
  • 1 cup finely sliced green leek tips
  • 1 cup diced carrot
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1/4 cup minced green chives
  • 1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. Balsamic vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic, whole or diced
  • 2 tsp. fresh minced basil
  • 2 tsp. fresh minced oregano
  • 2 tsp. minced capers
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Strain the tinned tomatoes completely – give them a squish to make sure all the juice is out – and reserve the liquid. Prepare all the veggies as required above.

Combine the tomato liquid, red wine, chives, vinegars and herbs in a saucepan and bring to the boil, before lowering heat to a simmer and reducing volume by half. This should take about 20 minutes.

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Meanwhile, preheat grill/broiler of your oven (grill in Australia = broiler in USA) and then simmer the whole garlic cloves over a med-high heat on the stove top, in an oven-safe pan, until fragrant and then discard if you are sensitive (or dice and leave them in if not). I love my cast iron pan; like this sauce, it’s versatile – the most versatile piece of cookware that we own (bake cakes/breads, stove top, grill/broiler safe, arm workout, you name it).

Add in the leek tips, carrot and celery and sweat the veggies until tender. Add in the tomatoes, then put the pan under the grill/broiler (on the top/second shelf) and leave it with the oven door open for 15 to 20 minutes, until the tops have begun to char. This adds flavour and is a good thing, so let it get moderately charred.

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Once the veggies have sufficiently blackened, put them back on the stove, on a medium heat and add in the capers. Saute for a minute and then tip the veggies into the (now reduced) tomato liquid. Use an immersion blender to puree the mixture to the texture you need (i.e. pasta sauce would be chunkier than a pizza sauce), then flavour with salt and pepper before simmering for a further 5 minutes.

You’re done! Unless of course you want to preserve/can it, which I recommend, as you can make big batches and have jars on the ready for when you’re feeling lazy.

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Classic Spaghetti Bolognese – Low FODMAP & Gluten Free

Spaghetti Bolognese - Gluten Free and Low FODMAP

Seattle might not be as cold as it was back in December but it’s not close to what I’d call warm yet and that’s all the excuse I need to cook some comfort food. Add in the fact that Ev and I have been pretty drained from moving house and he’s even caught a cold, which never happens. Sounds like it’s now a necessity.

This Bolognese sauce is thick, rich and really hits the spot. It’s a long way from how I used to make Bolognese (brown the meat and dump in a jar of Barilla pasta sauce) and it’s worth the time. Oh yeah, fair warning, you’ll need 3-4 hours to do this properly. Repeat after me: It. Is. WORTH. It.

I found the original recipe years ago and printed it off without any information regarding its source, so if you think this is based on your recipe then please let me know. In any case, it’s definitely been FODMAPified.

FODMAP Notes

  1. This recipe is onion free but if you can tolerate onion then add in up to 1 onion diced finely and brown at the beginning with the other veggies.
  2. Either infuse garlic into your own olive oil or buy it pre-made. If you can tolerate the garlic, then feel free to mince it and leave it in. You’ll notice I’ve done this.
  3. Either use tomato paste, which is not low FODMAP but some can tolerate it spread throughout multiple serves, or a fructose friendly tomato sauce (as in ketchup for those in the USA) of your choice. Monash lists a serve (2 sachets) of non-HFCS containing tomato sauce as low FODMAP. If you can tolerate neither tomato paste or tomato sauce, add in 1 tsp. of sugar and 1 tsp. of white wine vinegar, instead.
  4. If you can’t tolerate any wines, a FF chicken or beef stock or tomato juice could replace some or all of the red wine for fluid. Just use what you can cope with, even water would do, though you might need to add in a little extra salt and pepper etc for flavour.
  5. Green leek leaves are low FODMAP in 1/2 cup serves; this recipe spreads 1 full cup over 6-8 serves, so is safe.
  6. Celery is low FODMAP in 1/4 medium stalk serves, 1/2 a medium stalk contains moderate amounts of polyols. This recipe contains 1 cup of diced celery, which is approx. 2 cups, so a 1/8th serving is low enough in celery to be low FODMAP but if you are extra sensitive, feel free to replace it with celeriac (celery root), which has a similar taste to celery and is lower in FODMAPs. For a completely different (yet delicious) taste, you could replace celery with red or green capsicums that have been roasted and peeled.
  7. One whole medium carrot is low in FODMAPs, though if you consume enough mannitol can become an issue. This recipe stays within safe serving limits.
  8. Canned tomatoes are low FODMAP in 1/2 cup serves; 800 g/28 oz of tinned tomatoes equates to approx. 3 cups of undrained tomatoes, so you could safely consume 1/6th of this recipe in terms of tomatoes (fructose) – however, you must remember that 1/8th of the dish is safe in terms of celery (polyols).

Classic Bolognese Sauce

Serves 8 FODMAPers.

  • 1/4 cup olive oil to seal pot
  • 3 cloves of garlic – to infuse oil
  • 1 cup green leek tips
  • 1 cup diced carrot
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 1 cup diced zucchini
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 1 cup fructose friendly stock – chicken, beef or vegetable.
  • 500 g/1 lb beef mince
  • 500 g/1 lb pork or chicken mince
  • 800 g/28 oz tin of whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves – optional
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/3 cup tomato paste or FF tomato sauce (ketchup)
  • Oregano – approx. 1/4 cup fresh or 1/8 cup dried.
  • Thyme – 1/8 cup fresh or 1 tbsp. dried
  • Rosemary – 1/8 cup fresh or 1 tbsp. dried
  • 1/2 cup finely minced chives
  • Pasta of your choice to serve 6 people

In a large sauce pan, heat the oil and drop in the garlic cloves. Let them sizzle for 2-3 minutes – until fragrant – to infuse their flavour into the oil. Pick them out and discard if required, otherwise complete this step with minced garlic cloves and leave them in if tolerated.

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Reduce the heat to medium and add in the green leek tips, carrots, celery and bay leaves. Saute for 30 minutes, until the veggies have developed a fond on the bottom of the pan and have acquired a golden-brown tinge. They will reduce in bulk by about 50%. Deglaze with 1 cup red wine and increase heat to evaporate the wine – it should take 2-3 minutes.

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Leaving the heat on high, add in the mince meat and brown it, then deglaze once more with 1 cup of fructose friendly stock, a further 5 minutes but potentially longer.

Meanwhile, puree the tomatoes in a blender and set aside to wait. When the red wine has evaporated, add the pureed tomatoes and ground cloves before seasoning with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to medium and let the sauce simmer for 30 minutes.

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Add in the tomato sauce or paste (depending on your tolerance) and bring to the boil before reducing the heat to low; let the sauce continue to simmer for another full hour at least, 90 minutes would be best.

At this point you may add in the chives, oregano, rosemary and thyme. Bring the pot to the boil once more and then reduce the heat back to low and simmer for the last 30 minutes.

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Tinker with salt and pepper and serve with the pasta of your choice. I have enjoyed this with spelt, gluten free and even zucchini pasta. Yum! Just make sure you fish out any bay leaves before serving.

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Eggplant Parmigiana with Potato Wedges – Fructose Friendly & Gluten Free

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If I was at a pub for dinner before my FM diagnosis, you can safely bet that I would be ordering a chicken parma. Kyatt’s was our favourite pub but it’s long since been turned into town homes, or something along those lines. That was a sad day.

The middle of winter is the prime time for me to get cravings for warm, substantial meals like a chicken parma and this eggplant parma is the perfect way to lighten up the meal and leave your stomach feeling less heavy afterwards.

Notes:

  1. Eggplant is low FODMAP.
  2. This recipe would also work with zucchini – yum! They’d just be more of an appetiser/entree than a main meal.
  3. Even though tomatoes (cherry, Roma, common and canned) are low FODMAP in 1/2 cup servings (tomato paste is concentrated, so it is high FODMAP), not all people can tolerate tomatoes, some for reasons other than FODMAPs – bear this in mind when you make this recipe.

Eggplant Parmigiana

Serves 4, along with a salad and potato wedges

  • 2 large eggplants (there will be scraps)
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 cups of Napoli sauce
  • 3/4 cup grated mozzarella cheese (or cheddar if that’s all you have)
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Slice the eggplant into 2 cm thick slices; lay the slices out on paper towelling and lightly salt the top side and let it sit for 20 minutes before you flip them and repeat the salting on the other side. After another 20 minutes, rinse off the salt and pat them dry.

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Turn the grill (broiler) of your oven on and place the slices underneath it for about 3 minutes per side – until they are slightly browned, as shown below.

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Preheat the oven to 180 C/350 F.

Line a baking tray with foil or baking paper. If your Napoli sauce is particularly runny, make little foil wells so that the slices/sauce remains neat and tidy (I’m a little OCD about this – if you’re not, that’s completely okay!). Spread the sauce out over the eggplant slices and then cover them with both cheeses – Parmesan last. Don’t spread too much cheese on it – unless you like it drowned in oil instead of browning.

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Nellie Belly wants some… what’s new?

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Bake for 20-30 minutes, until the cheese is nicely browned. Serve with a side salad and potato wedges, or whatever you want. 🙂

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Rotini and Cheese – Fructose Friendly & Gluten Free

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As a child, Kraft Macaroni and Cheese was the epitome of my dinner hopes and dreams. Before we hit teenager-dom, every time Mum would ask what my sister and I wanted for dinner, we would scream out macaroni and cheese. We were easy children to please.

Of course, this changed as our taste buds did and the last time I had the Kraft mac and cheese from the tin, at maybe 14 years old, I thought it was disgusting. What was my child-self thinking? When it came time to make macaroni and cheese in our Home Ec. class at school, I wasn’t looking forward to it. I only associated the stuff with fake cheese sauce… little did I know that you can make the sauce yourself! Haha.

Times have changed since secondary school and cooking is now something I have to do more than once a week for a semester, although luckily I don’t get graded on it. Well, I sort of do. But at least I don’t have to complete a write up afterwards! Wait, isn’t that what this is? Gah!

I have no idea where on Earth that Home Ec. recipe is – probably in Mum’s kitchen somewhere – and in all honesty, I don’t remember being in love with it. But last week, when I had finished making four jars of a fructose friendly General Tso’s sauce (recipe coming) and sealed them, Evgeny decided that he didn’t want a stir fry that night. Double GAH! Well, I wasn’t going to make anything gourmet after I’d just spent so much time on the sauce, so my mind switched to easy mode. We had made a lasagne on the weekend and instead of a traditional bechamel sauce we used cream cheese as a base – considering that we had more cream cheese to get rid of (we’re currently trying to eat through out fridge and pantry) I decided it was time to make macaroni and cheese again and worked off that sauce.

Before I go any further, don’t shoot me, I didn’t have macaroni. I (successfully, woot!) trialled spelt pasta and the only shape it came in was rotini. Let’s not go calling this “rot and cheese,” though, because quite frankly it sounds like something that’s gone off.

Notes:

  1. This meal is not lactose free.
  2. Substitute macaroni back in if you’d like, of course.
  3. Corn is low FODMAPs and gluten free, although it does contain other allergens.
  4. Cayenne pepper is generally well tolerated, just make sure the powder doesn’t contain onion or garlic.

Rotini and Cheese

Serves 3-4.

  • 2 1/4 cups uncooked pasta of your choice – I wouldn’t recommend spaghetti or fettuccine for this
  • 2 cups grated cheese – I used 1 1/2 cups cheddar and 1/2 cup Parmesan)
  • 1 cup/225 g/8 oz cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup natural sour cream
  • 1/3 cup crushed corn cereal/GF bread crumbs
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper – believe me, it makes a difference.

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.

Bring a pot with at least 1.0 L (4 cups) of water to the boil and add a good pinch of salt. Stir in pasta and cook at a gentle boil until al dente, following the packet  guidelines.

Meanwhile, melt the cream cheese and sour cream together over a low-medium heat until combined. Gradually add in the grated cheese, 1/2 cup at a time and stir with a whisk until completely smooth. Add in the salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper and leave on a low heat until the pasta is done. Cover it with a lid to prevent a skin from forming but this shouldn’t have to sit for too long until the pasta is done.

Cream cheese and sour cream

Cream cheese and sour cream

The completed sauce mixture has thickened with the added grated cheese

The completed sauce mixture has thickened with the added grated cheese

Something smells good!

Something smells good!

Strain the pasta and add it into the saucepan with the cheese sauce. Stir through thoroughly and then pour the contents into a baking dish, no greasing required. Top with the crumbs of your choice and sprinkle with extra cayenne pepper. Bake for 30-40 minutes.

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Pre-baking

Post baking

Post baking

Let it sit for 5 minutes before cutting into it and enjoy it with a fresh side salad.

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Simple Potato Gnocchi – Fructose Friendly, Gluten Free & Egg Free

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I mentioned in my last post that I had made my basil pesto from basil that I’d grown on our balcony this summer. This was an achievement – I have struggled previously to either grow enough basil to make pesto worthwhile or to pick it before a huge downpour tears all the leaves off and leaves me with bare plants.

Feeling very proud of myself, I decided the best way to “display” said basil pesto was in as simple a dish as possible. You know, so you couldn’t miss it. And Ev would have to comment on it, positively, of course.

Gnocchi seemed the best way to go. And pesto gnocchi is a classic, so – decision made. Of course, we need to know any possible allergens in the gnocchi ingredients.

Notes:

  1. I made this batch of gnocchi egg free… because I was rushing and I forgot. But you know what? I didn’t miss it, these were soft and delicious. I’d added sour cream (see #2) because Mum instilled me with a good love for all things potato and sour cream and afterward I realised that hey, some people, especially kids, can’t have eggs and they deserve to have delicious gnocchi as well. So there.
  2. You could add an egg in if you wanted the gnocchi to turn out a little more al dente – i.e. have a little more “chew” to them – but you will need to add extra flour. These were very tender but Ev prefers his with a little more bite.
  3. I added natural sour cream to this recipe. Full cream, not low fat – so if you use a low fat version I don’t know if the results will be consistent. But these were some creamy gnocchi(s). What’s the plural for gnocchi, anyway? If you are sensitive to lactose, use lactose free sour cream or, if you can eat eggs, replace the sour cream with a large egg and play around with flour til the dough reaches the right consistency.

I am not of any Italian descent whatsoever, so I don’t claim to be a gnocchi expert, or that these are “traditional.” Far from it. I just know that I like this variation of a gnocchi recipe for ease of assembly and cooking, and most importantly, taste. It’s the method that works for me, and it’s years ahead of store bought gnocchi in terms of everything, and if you make a huge batch and then freeze it in portions then you have a stash ready for whenever the need for comfort food calls.

Simple Potato Gnocchi

Serves 4 adults.

  • 850 g/1 lb 14 oz peeled and rinsed white potatoes
  • 1 cup GF plain flour – approximate
  • 2 tbsp. natural sour cream, LF if required
  • 1 tbsp. kosher salt
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten – optional, will need more flour
  • GF flour to sprinkle over bench

Cut the potatoes into chunks and boil them past the point of the fork piercing it easily (you know, when you’d usually stop). Keep boiling til the water gets starchy and the outsides have started to crumble a little. Then remove them from the water and roughly mash them in a large bowl.

Once mashed, tip them into a large metal sieve or colander with tony holes. If you have a potato ricer, use that. Unfortunately, I don’t. Place the sieve inside the bowl you just used for mashing – I’m all about as little washing up as possible – and, using the back of a spoon, force the mashed potatoes through the mesh and into the large bowl.

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Once done, scrape as much of the potato as possible from the outside of the sieve and plonk it into the bowl. Now, add the sour cream, egg (optional) and salt and mix through thoroughly.

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Add the flour, bit by bit, until you reach a good, doughy consistency. If you’ve added the egg, you’ll need to add in more flour; just make sure you add it gradually so the mixture doesn’t get too dry. The dough should be easy to handle, and look something like this. Please excuse my dirty hands, it was all in the name of good gnocchi.

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Next, break off chunks of the dough and roll them until they are logs with a diameter of about 2.5 cm/1 inch. Cut each of these logs into little, bite sized pieces. It doesn’t really matter what size, as long as they are consistent for cooking reasons. Ours are normally 2.5 x 2.5 cm.

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If you’re being super lazy (I’m not judging!) or you’re in a hurry – you can stop here and cook them. The next step is purely aesthetic; although, purists will say that gnocchi needs the little ridges and the dimple to allow as much sauce to cling to it as possible. This just reminded me of an old pasta add back in Australia, where they pasta shapes became progressively more ridiculous, with names like boot-oli and bucket-eli etc. Hehehe.

  1. Take one bite-sized piece,
  2. Roll it into a ball,
  3. Take a fork in one hand and the ball in another,
  4. Press the ball gently onto the fork’s prongs – firmly enough to create indentations but not so hard that you push the gnocchi through the gaps,
  5. Remove your finger – you should have left a dimple on the back,
  6. Lift the gnocchi up off the prongs,
  7. Roll it down off the prongs in such a way that the dimple become a fold,
  8. Finished!

How To Make Gnocchi

Now do this for as many bite-sized pieces that you cut… Ev and I like to do this as a team. It goes by much quicker if one of us rolls and cuts while the other one prettifies the gnocchi.

To Freeze the Gnocchi

Lay the individual gnocchi out on a freezer safe tray – our plastic cutting boards work perfectly – and freeze for half an hour minimum before piling them into a container you can seal. We have had the heart wrenching privilege of discovering our frozen batch of gnocchi stuck to each other like glue because we piled it into a container before they were individually frozen. Rookie mistake.

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To Cook the Gnocchi

Bring a suitably-sized pot of water to the boil, salt it, then reduce it until it is boiling only very slowly. Carefully put your gnocchi in the boiling water – I had a nice burn for the rest of the night – and leave them in until they begin to rise to the top of the water.

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Remove them and sit them on a plate to air-dry off a little. We used a paper towel in this photo but I wouldn’t recommend it. Not all paper towels are created equal and I’d hate for you to destroy your hard work with flimsy paper towel sticking all over it.

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Serve immediately with a sauce of your choice. May I recommend a basil pesto or a Napoli (called marinara in the US) sauce? Both go very well with gnocchi?

Enjoy! Xx

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