Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Baked spinach & ricotta gnoccchi (gluten free/low carb)

I'm currently on a lower carb diet and do you know what I miss?
Bread?  No!
Potato? No
Sugar? Not even.
I miss pasta. It's yummy and it's hearty and it's a great fall-back family meal.
So this is my way of having pasta while not really having pasta. The gnocchi doesn't stay together as well as traditional gnocchi because it lacks flour to bind it but once it's baked it's reasonably firm and it's rich and cheesy and gives you that lovely "I just ate Italian food" feeling.
You can use full-fat ricotta and parmesan or low-fat. The result is the same.
I froze 2/3 of this for another meal so I think with salad this feeds 6.
Baked Spinach and ricoota gnocchi
500g ricotta
1 egg
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1 teaspoon dried Italian herbs (or use fresh)
1 box frozen spinach (thawed per instructions and drained).
500g spagetti sauce (Home made or the jarred variety)
pepper to taste
1. In a bowl combine ricotta, egg, spinach, herbs, parmesan and pepper. Stir to combine.
2. Spray a dish with olive oil.
3. Using two tablespoons form dumplings and arrange in dish (or in two as I did). Make sure they don't touch.
4. Pour sauce around the gnocchi.
5. Bake in a moderate oven about 25 minutes.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Simple Asparagus Frittata

For some reason my fridge is especially full today. It's not a bad thing but it's a bit crowded in there. I have loads of lovely vegetables to use up.
Luckily we're having visitors tomorrow and we'll be making good use of the beans, asparagus, sweet potato and corn which we'll have with a nice leg of lamb on the bbq. We also have loads of avocados so I think some guacamole might be in order too.
Even so I decided to whip up a quick aspargus frittata this afternoon to clear out some eggs. Fritatta's are a great way to use things up. Last week I made one using a bit of leftover ham, the last of the frozen peas, half a box of frozen spinch and a big handful of herbs including mint, basil and oregano. It was delicious!
I often make my frittata in a slice tin and bake it in the oven. It means I can walk away and do other things. However, for sheer presentation you can't beat a skillet. This would be delicious for a breakfast or brunch, to take on a picnic or just served with some salad and crusty bread for a simple meal.
Simple Asparagus Frittata
1 bunch of asparagus
1/2 a leek, diced (of course an onion would be fine)
a spash of olive oil
about 20g of butter
a handful of herbs - I used fresh basil, sage and oregano but dried would do
6 eggs
salt & pepper
1/2 a cup of cream
1/4 cup grated tasty or cheddar cheese (swiss would be nice too)
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1. Combine oil and butter, leek and herbs in a skillet and cook on low until leek is soft.
2. Meanwhile in a bowl whisk together eggs, cream, s&p and tasty cheese.
3. When leek is soft arrange aspargus in skillet and pour egg mixture on top.
4. When the fritatta is almost firm, sprinkle with parmesan and a little pepper and put under grill (or broiler as the Americans say) and cook till golden - about 10 minutes.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Crab salad

The thing about seafood is it has to be eaten quickly or it turns.
Today I had to use up the other half of the crab from yesterday's Cucumber Crab Boats.
I decided on a simple Crab Salad. It was yummy and what made it extra good was the addition of some sunflower seeds and sushi seasoning on top.
Crab Lunch Salad
Serves one
Spinach leaves
1/2 an avocado diced
1/2 a cumber diced
4 cherry tomaatoes diced.
a tablespoon of sunflower seeds
a sprinkle of sushi seasoning
Crab salad (combine the following)
70g crab
a tablespoon of mayo
a squeze of lemon juice
1 celery stick deiced
1/2 teaspoon of dill
salt & pepper
1. Put spinach leaves in a bowl and layer other ingredients on top...finishing with sunflower seeds and sushi seasoning.
Side note: this is sushi's great flavouring and you use it on inside-out sushi! My daughter is adding it to everything these days. This brand is available at major supermarkets in Sydney but I'm sure there is quite a variety in Asian grocery stores.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Cucumber crab boats

At the moment I'm trying to reduce the carbohydrates I eat. I find that easy for dinner and even breakfast. Lunch is more of a challenge.
It's very easy to gran a roll or a couple of slices of bread or even some crackers and make something tasty and quick. In winter I make lots of soups which make great lunches full of veggies and legumes that fill me up.
Summer is a different challenge. Some of it is about your mindset as well. People readily pay $5-10 for lunch out while working but we all seem to baulk at buying slightly more expensive ingredients to make our own lunch.
This lunch involves crab. Fresh crab meat is $6 for 140g at my local supermarkets. I used about 70g for this lunch so $3 worth.
With the other ingredients I had it was probably less than $4 total...more than I spend on homemade lunches usually but less than anything I can buy out of the home.
For low-carb options of course you could use a tomato or an avocado if you have those and not a cucumber available. Or make a lettuce wrap.
If carbs aren't an issue this mix would be lovely on some rich rye bread!
Cucumber crab boats
Serves 1.
70g crab meat
1 celery stalk diced
a squeeze of lemon juice
salt & pepper
1 tablespoon of good quality whole egg mayo
1/2 teaspoon dill.
1 Lebanese cucumber.
1. Half the Lebanese cucumber and scoop out the seeds (I used my cherry pipper because it was a good size. Cut each half in half so you have 4 boats.
2. Combine other ingredients.
3. Scoop into cucumber boats.
Enjoy! (My photo only contains one as I had already eaten the other 3. I couldn't wait!)