Italian? Pasta? Yes please!

This is not a cuisine I usually pay much attention to, but something must be changing because I had pizza on Friday and tonight I ate pasta. The pizza was delicious and if you are in London and you can get to Franco Manca then you should do so. I can eat gluten without any obvious reaction, unless I eat too much at once and then I feel bloated, but that goes for eating too much of anything. If you don’t like to eat gluten, or it actually makes you sick because you have Crohn’s or celiac’s then clearly pizza is not for you, even Franco Manco pizza. I am doing a sad face as I type. But there is pasta that is for you (and for me) created and made by Nomad Food- it is gluten free and fits in with a paleo diet (if that is what you like). I tried the sesame pasta tonight which has 3 ingredients- sesame, tapioca and egg. Vegetarian but not vegan. It ticks a lot of boxes anyway! Super simple to cook- drop in salted boiling water for 3-5 minutes and drain. Done and dusted. It kept it’s shape, with a pleasant firm texture and a slightly nutty and delicious flavour. Had someone served it to me without me seeing the packet I wouldn’t have known it wasn’t just pasta, although the fusilli shape is slightly less chunky than I remember. As I am currently training to do a half marathon, I am quite excited to have a really quick and easy option to add to my diet- nobody wants to be hanging about waiting for food after a long (and at the moment, very cold) run. So I recommend you grab some for yourself and let pasta be a part of your life again.

I served it with my new favourite Italian ragu recipe which is rich and tasty and paleo and whole30 and glutenfree and all those things! Youi can also get ahead on making this if you make up the base from my last blog, as that is where it all starts.

Ingredients (serves 2):

250g turkey mince

1 red onion diced

4 cloves garlic minced

1 ½ fresh chillis chopped small

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

300ml stock (compliant if doing whole30)

3 tsps dried oregano

3 tsps dried basil

Olives (optional)

Coconut oil

Method:

Melt the coconut oil in a heavy frying pan over a low heat and then add the red onion, garlic and chilli and cook for a few minutes until softened. Add the turkey mince and break it up with a spatula, pushing it around the pan and cook until lightly browned. Add the balsamic vinegar, sometimes I add more because I love the richness and piquancy it gives, and the herbs. Add the stock and bring to a vigorous simmer, then turn down the heat so it is a more relaxed simmer. Leave for about 10-15 minutes, depending on how much ‘juice’ you want. If you are going to add the olives, then add them at this point. Once it is simmered to your liking it is ready to go. Buon apetito!

PS Please check out my insta @experimentalmonkeyfeeder for pictures! My computer is playing up and won’t let me upload them 😦

 

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Variety is the spice of life: meal prep.

Turkey and Butternut Chilli

turkey-and-butternut-chilli

It feels like I haven’t really done any proper prep and cooking for a while. I was cat sitting over Christmas and New Year (looking after a cat rather than literally sitting on it), and for some reason living in someone else’s place for a short time makes me really lazy, even though they clearly have all the same things in their kitchen I do, plus a fridge as standard, and a local supermarket that sells all the food I would usually buy. I ignore all of that and buy fripperies and snacks and camp out. It has also been a difficult and confusing start to the year- 2017 is definitely going to be one of change. Then last week I was ill and food was the last thing on my mind, unless I wanted to vomit. But this week, I decided I have to get my shit together. I enjoy cooking, I enjoy the process and the eating and having healthy stuff all around. Plus, when I eat it, I feel better. So I went shopping and I prepped. One thing I have stolen from somewhere- I can’t remember where because it was a random video on my facebook was about prepping mince. Normally I would just make a load of burgers, a massive bowl of chilli or some stir fry and that is what I would be eating for the week. I know some people can do that for weeks on end, but I cannot. I get bored and then I go out and buy something different for dinner, which results in food waste and pointless prep. But if you make a simple base that you can add different flavours to throughout the week, then you can still have quick n easy meals on demand, but you also get to mix it up according to your mood.

Base:

Minced meat (I believe it is called ground in the US). You can use beef, pork, chicken…I used turkey this week because it was on offer. It was 500g but you can use different amounts and adjust your flavours accordingly. It depends on how many people you are cooking for and how spicy you like your food.

Fresh chilli chopped up small (I used one and a half).

Red onion or shallots (I used one).

Garlic crushed (I used 4 cloves).

Coconut oil (I used about a teaspoon full).

Heat the oil in a heavy based frying pan (skillet) on a lowish heat and add the onion garlic and chilli. Cook for a few minutes, stirring, until they are softened. Add the meat and turn up the heat a little. Use the spoon to break it up and turn until it is cooked through.

Your base is done- well done you!

At this point I emptied about half the meat into a storage container and stuck it in the freezer.

Turkey and Butternut Chilli:

To the base add the following spices:

  • Cumin
  • Nutmeg
  • Smoked sweet paprika
  • Hot paprika
  • Cinnamon

I usually add about equal amounts of each- about a teaspoon, but feel free to omit any you don’t like, or add any you do.

Add 400g of tinned tomatoes and a big squirt (about a dessert spoon) tomato paste to the mix and then about 200ml of water and stock cube. Stir over a low heat and leave to simmer.

Dice up about half a butternut squash and add to the pan, cover with a lid and leave for about 20 minutes until the squash is tender. Meanwhile dice up a yellow pepper and add to the pan after the twenty minutes is up. Leave uncovered about let simmer until the sauce is at your desired consistency. There you go! One more meal. Mix it up even more by serving it with different things e.g. cauliflower rice, zoodles, lettuce scoops, cabbage ribbons…. You know what you like!

Meal 2: Asian cabbage rolls.

You will need:

1 Lime- zest and juice. I used half the lime zest and half the juice.

Cashew nuts

Fresh chilli- I used about a quarter

Red onion thinly sliced

Fresh herbs- your choice! Lots of people go with coriander (cilantro) but the taste makes me want to puke, so I don’t. You could use basil, mint…

Cabbage leaves (I used sweetheart cabbage).

If you froze the other part of your base then defrost it. I was cooking for one tonight so I only used half the base (leaving me another meal for tomorrow). Add to a small pan with a splash of water and heat. Add the lime zest and half the juice to the pan and stir through the base. Leave it to simmer until the water is almost gone and the meat is hot.

In boiling bubbling water cook the cabbage leaves for about a minute and then leave to steam dry, or pat them dry.

Lay the cabbage leaves out on a plate and pile up with the base, top with a sprinkle of fresh chilli, cashew nuts, red onion and fresh herbs.

Wrap the rolls and eat- messily!

Tomorrow I will probably make up something more Italian inspired with the leftover base I have left. But let’s see how I feel!