Leek Chimichurri – Low FODMAP, Gluten Free & Vegan

Leek Chimichurri - Low FODMAP, Gluten Free and Vegan, fructose malabsorption, irritable bowel syndrome, healthy, low carb

When we moved into our new house in February just been, there was a run-down little veggie patch by the front door. I looked at it in dismay – I had just left behind the gorgeous wooden planter box that Ev built for me the year before at our last rental – and then proceeded to ignore it every time I walked by it. The box was cheap plastic, the soil full of weeds and the dried out remnants of what was once a zucchini plant were splayed out on a trellis.

After a couple of weeks, I looked at the “garden” tab of the house folder the previous owners had left us and got a little shock. Apparently, the veggie patch was full of leeks, chives and kale. Yum. I checked the garden again and there were the leeks and chives, hidden among the weeds; no kale, though, it obviously hadn’t made it through the winter. There was one problem, though. There was grass growing up throughout the chives and the leeks were apparently planted next to some small agapanthus, whose leaves look a lot like a leek but are not edible. Why on earth? Anyway, it was still February, so these hardy little plants hadn’t begun to flower yet. I was reasonably confident that I could tell them apart from the bulb/lack of bulb (agapanthus vs leek) but, to be sure, I wanted to see the flowers.

Finally, the leeks and agapanthus flowered a week ago and last weekend we decided it was time to get rid of the sad little veggie patch and replace it with a lawn, instead. Unfortunately, our backyard is surrounded by pine trees and gets very little sunlight, so I understand why they chose the front yard for the veggie garden – I just wouldn’t have done it in quite the same way. Also, because our backyard gets basically no sunlight, the “lawn” is about 95% weeds, so we’re going for a forest/path/hidden surprise backyard with shade loving plants and we want to get as much lawn out of the front yard as possible. But I digress. Even after ditching the leeks that were growing so close to the agapanthus that they were intertwined (and all the chives, because they were thoroughly knotted together with grass and nobody had time to sort that mess out), we had a sink-full of leeks. I’m not even kidding, our extra deep, double-sized kitchen sink was overflowing.

This wasn’t even half of what we kept, which was half of what was there. Please excuse the weeds, the garden is a work in progress.

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What on earth could we do with so many leeks? It’s warming up, so it’s no longer really soup weather and simply processing the leeks and freezing them seemed like a cop out. A few weeks ago we had watched an episode of No Reservations (Anthony Bourdain’s show) and they had dipped leeks into chimichurri. Why not make leeks into chimichurri, instead?

Chimichurri is a very versatile sauce. It’s primary use is for grilling meats but you can use it as a dipping sauce, a condiment, a sandwich spread (mixed with mayo – yum!), a pasta sauce, a salad dressing, to spice up omelettes and add flavour to mashed potatoes. You can also use it as a base from which to build an entirely new sauce. It’s definitely handy to have around, as it allows you to cut some corners during dinner prep – I won’t say no to that!

FODMAP Notes

  1. Green leek tips are considered FODMAP friendly in 1 cup servings.
  2. Garlic olive oil must be made ahead of time and cooled, or it can be pre-bought. If you are buying garlic olive oil, make sure you choose an oil quality that is more suited to how you plan to use your chimichurri. For example, we grilled the chimichurri marinated beef kebabs we made, so a refined olive oil was more suited to this particular dish than if we had used the chimichurri as a dipping sauce, in which case extra virgin olive oil would have been fine (due to the heat resistance/smoke points of different oils).
  3. As all FODMAPpers are different, if you can tolerate a bit of actual garlic, feel free to replace the garlic olive oil with the same amount of olive oil plus 1-2 cloves of garlic, to taste.

Leek Chimichurri

Makes about 600 ml of sauce, depending on how firmly packed the leeks are.

  • 4 cups green leek tips
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup pre-made garlic olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional – 1 tbsp. red pepper flakes or fresh oregano

Place the garlic oil (or actual garlic if you can tolerate it), roughly chopped leek tips and red wine vinegar into the bowl of your food processor and blitz until combined. Add some salt and pepper (and the optional herbs if you like) and keep blitzing until smooth. Taste the chimichurri, then add in more salt and pepper (or garlic oil or red wine vinegar) to get the exact taste and consistency that you like. We like ours a little thicker, so feel free to add more oil if you see fit.

That’s it. It’s very simple. Store in the fridge for up to two weeks, or freeze for up to two months. It’s especially important to practise safe food handling if you’ve used an homemade infused oil, due to the risks of botulism that rise when infused oils are stored incorrectly/for too long. Store bought infused oils have been prepared in such a way that they have a much longer shelf life.

But please don’t let that put you off making chimichurri! The simple measure of freezing extra jars right away will keep the sauce safe for a couple of months. I know our batch won’t last longer than that, and it made 10 jars. It’s that good.

Here is our leek chimichurri, served with a yolk porn-worthy poached egg on top of polenta and wilted spinach. Simple, delicious and nourishing. The perfect meal.

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Spiced Capsicum Spread/Sauce/Dip – Low FODMAP & Gluten Free

Red capsicums were FINALLY cheap a couple of weeks ago. Basically, for the whole year we would have to pay $2/capsicum (bell pepper) if we wanted them… which we did, just not that much.

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So, we stocked up. We got about 20 red capsicums for $5. Bargain! But what were we going to do with those capsicums? We couldn’t eat them all at once. Well, we could have and that would have put us off them until they were cheap again this time next year but we wanted a steady supply of red capsicum flavour throughout the year.

I looked up how to preserve red capsicums, and instead of roasting them first (Ev – okay, I admit that might have been a better idea but we don’t learn without mistakes, do we?) I decided to blanch them and then pressure-can them, following the instructions I gave for preserving non-acidic foods.

So, I left the skins on and washed them thoroughly, de-seeded them and cut them into 4×4 cm strips. After blanching them for 3 minutes, as per the recipe from a canning-specific book, I processed them and then a week later tried the results. The taste was there but the capsicum flesh had turned to mush – I suppose because it was cooked for 30 minutes while it was processing. It wasn’t what we wanted at all. So, I had to decide what to do with all the capsicum we had, about 10 jars.

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FODMAP Notes

  1. Red and green capsicums (bell peppers) are safe in 1 cup serves.
  2. Garlic is high in the FODMAP fructans, so if you cannot tolerate it, please replace it with garlic infused olive oil.
  3. Tomatoes are low FODMAP in the amounts included.
  4. The spices included are low FODMAP in those amounts.

Spiced Capsicum Spread/Sauce/Dip

Makes 8 x 240 ml/half pint jars; a serving is approx 60 ml or 1/4 cup.

  • 8 cups of pureed red capsicum (about 20 capsicums) 
  • 3-4 roma tomatoes
  • 6 cloves of garlic/1 tbsp. garlic infused oil
  • 2 tbsp. sea salt
  • 2 tbsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp. paprika
  • 1 tbsp. curry powder

De-seed and roughly chop your capsicums. Cook in boiling water for 7-8 minutes, until quite soft. Strain and then puree them in your blender/food processor until smooth; you may require a little extra liquid. If you want to remove the capsicum skins, slice shallow slits down their sides and remove from boiling water after 2 minutes to peel of skins, then replace and continue cooking til soft.

Slice shallow slits, length-wise, down your tomatoes and them blanch for 1-2 minutes. Run under cold water to cool down and then peel off the skins. Puree the tomatoes in your blender, along with the cloves of garlic or garlic infused oil.

Finally, combine all ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Let it simmer for 20 or so minutes to reduce, you can leave it longer if you want a thicker sauce, or less time if you want it thinner.

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From here on, you will need instructions on how to preserve non-acidic foods.

Using a wide-mouthed funnel, pour the sauce into your awaiting, sterilised jars, leaving 2 cm of air at the top. Wipe the rims and place on the lids/rings or just the lids if you are re-using old jars – just make sure they still have rubber sealant inside the lids.

Process for 30 minutes at 10 psi and then let the pressure come down completely before you remove the lid, following the instructions linked above to let the jars cool before removal. After 12 hours/over-night, test the seals with the magnet and re-process/refrigerate any that do not pass.

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This is great as a dip if thickened, a condiment on sandwiches, or used in a pasta sauce. According to Ev, I accidentally made a Russian condiment called “Adjik” (no idea about the spelling). All I would have needed was to include some spicier chilies in there to give it a little heat. Which I might try next time; sounds delish.

How to Preserve Non-Acidic Foods

Previously, I wrote about how to preserve acidic foods at home, which can save both money and your peace of mind, knowing exactly what is going into your foods. The same goes for non-acidic foods; I want to know what I’m eating, not just because it might have too much fructose in it.

Acidic foods, like tomatoes and raspberries, have the advantage in that their acidity provides an innate defense against bacterial growth.

Non-acidic foods, like capsicums, green beans and carrots, do not have this luxury. You will need a pressure-canner to properly process these, as only by pressurising the chamber the jars are processed in can you reliably heat the contents enough to thoroughly kill off any bacteria that might be present – the temperature needs to reach 116 C/240 F.

How to Preserve Non-Acidic Foods

Equipment required:

  • Canning jars and lids
  • Ingredients
  • Pressure canner, small saucepan, pot to prepare filling
  • Wide-mouthed funnel
  • Non-metal spatula
  • Jar tongs
  • Jar gripper
  • Magnet
Jar tongs, tongs, wrench, magnet, spatula with incremental measurements, wide-mouthed funnel

Jar tongs, tongs, wrench, magnet, spatula with incremental measurements, wide-mouthed funnel.

Place jars in a large saucepan with a stand in the bottom (to keep them raised off the base) and fill with water so that they are immersed. Bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer to await whatever filling you are preserving.

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Place the lids in a separate saucepan, bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer. This will both sterilise them and soften the sealant that is around the rim. If you are using store bought canning jars that come with lids and rings, you only need to sterilise the lids, not the rings.

Prepare your filling; examples include relishes, chutneys, or blanched vegetables. Make sure you keep it hot, unless you are raw-packing, of course.

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Using the jar tongs or gripper to manipulate the hot glassware, remove each jar from the boiling water and empty it. Fill each jar using the wide-mouthed funnel (if necessary), leaving 2 cm between the filling and the mouth of the jar. Sterilise the spatula for 2 minutes in boiling water, then use it to remove any air bubbles from the jars by scraping the inside edges.

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Pre-scraping, you can see an air bubble that needs to be removed

Wipe the jar rim and place on the lid, then the ring and tighten – only use your hands to do this, do not over-tighten the ring with any implement.

Replace all the jars into the pressure canner, on top of the stand to keep them raised off the base of the pot. The jars should not be submerged – the water should be sitting between half and three-quarters of the way up the jar.

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Bring the water in the pressure canner to the boil and fasten the lid; let it boil for 10 minutes. Place on the weight to gauge the pressure at 10 psi (for those living close to sea level. Higher altitudes will require higher pressures of 1/2 a pound per 1000 ft/300 m, as listed here).

A weighted gauge pressure canner/cooker

A dial gauge pressure canner/cooker

Once the pressure inside the canner has reached 10 psi (or whatever the recipe/your altitude calls for) start your timer and begin processing. A standard amount is to process for 30-35 minutes but this can change for certain foods. Follow your recipe.

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Once the time is up, turn off the heat and let the pressure reduce slowly. DO NOT OPEN THE LID OR REMOVE THE WEIGHT until the pressure inside is equal to outside. This sudden loss of pressure could cause the glass jars to break, let alone be dangerous for you or any bystanders.

Remove the lid and let the water continue to cool for 10 minutes before removing the jars with the jar tongs and letting them cool on a rack for 12 hours at least. Then test the seals with a magnet the next day. If any pop up, they are not sealed. Either re-process them with new lids or freeze/refrigerate immediately.

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There are two types of pressure canners:

  • Weight gauge – a different weight for each pressure required, so put on the weight for 10 psi.
  • Dial gauge – a single weight only, with a pressure dial to read the psi inside. Manipulate the pressure by adjusting the stove top temperature. This is the type I have, not as accurate as a weight gauge but I haven’t had any issues.

How To Preserve Acidic Foods

Making your own preserves can be both rewarding and fun. Doubly rewarding, really, because if you buy your produce in season, it is generally much cheaper than buying a pre-preserved version later on.

Example: I paid $5 for 1.8 kg/4 lb of strawberries and ended up with 10 half pint/240 ml jars of jam… Each jar was about 50 cents but they can also be re-used. $10 for ten jars of jam? Yes please! And what’s better is you can dictate how much sugar, if any, that you add.

How you handle the preserving of different foods depends on their acidity, which helps to protect them from developing bacteria:

  • Acidic foods, like tomatoes and strawberries, need to be “processed” (boiled) for 10-15 minutes and then left to cool completely over night.
  • Non-acidic foods must be pressure-canned to really super-heat the contents of the jar and thoroughly eliminate any nasties that might be present because they don’t have the innate defense of acidic foods. I will go into more detail on non-acidic foods here.

The following will outline the steps required to safely preserve acidic foods, which if followed correctly should be safe for up to 12 months. However, be smart about it. If, in a few months time you open the jar and it looks/smells off – don’t eat it.

How to Preserve Acidic Foods

Equipment required:

  • Canning jars and lids
  • Ingredients
  • Large saucepan, small saucepan, pot to prepare filling
  • Wide-mouthed funnel
  • Non-metal spatula
  • Jar tongs
  • Jar wrench
  • Magnet
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Jar tongs, tongs, wrench, magnet, spatula with incremental measurements, wide-mouthed funnel

Place jars in a large saucepan with a stand in the bottom (to keep them raised off the base) and fill with water so that they are immersed. Bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer to await whatever filling you are preserving.

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Place the lids in a separate saucepan and simmer. This will both sterilise them and soften the sealant that is around the rim. If you are using store bought canning jars that come with lids and rings, you only need to sterilise the lids, not the rings.

Prepare your filling; examples include strawberry jam, raspberry puree, cranberry sauce or tomato puree/sauce. Make sure you keep it hot.

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Using the jar tongs and wrench to manipulate the hot glassware, remove each jar from the boiling water and empty it. Fill each jar using the wide-mouthed funnel, leaving 2 cm between the filling and the mouth of the jar. Sterilise the spatula for 2 minutes in boiling water, then use it to remove any air bubbles from the jars by scraping the inside edges.

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Wipe the jar rim and place on the lid, then the ring and tighten – only use your hands to do this, do not over-tighten the ring with any implement.

Replace the jars in the simmering water, ensuring they are fully submerged by about 4-5 cm. Bring to the boil and process for 10-15 minutes to kill off any remaining bacteria that might be present.

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More water must be added to submerge these jars before processing

Let the water stop boiling and the jars sit for 10 minutes further to let the glass cool slowly, then use the jar tongs to remove each jar and place them on a cooling rack. Dry the metal lids/rings to prevent rust and leave them to sit for 12 hours at least. After this time, test each seal with the magnet; if it pops up then either re-process or refrigerate/freeze the jar immediately. Refrigerated jars should be used within 2-3 weeks of opening.

* There is nothing preventing you being doubly certain about killing bacteria and pressure-canning acidic foods instead of water-bath canning them – you can do this, but the colours will not be as bright in the end.