lemon-scented cous-cous salad

Lemon-scented cous-cous salad

This fat-free, low-carb, low-calorie salad is a feast for the eyes as well as the stomach

Lemon-scented cous-cous salad, served with seared tuna steak

I’ve created this salad for my pre-surgery diet before my weight-loss surgery, but despite the lemon-scent (obtained from grating in some lemon zest), if you take out the tomatoes and replace them with additional vegetables, e.g. cucumber, sweetcorn, freshly shelled peas etc, it is also suitable for anyone following a reflux diet.  I am tolerating tomatoes quite well now my reflux has settled down a lot, and as my diet is so severely restricted for these few days before my surgery, I have opted to use the tomatoes. 

You can have this salad on its own, or serve it with a variety of meat or fish.  In this instance, I served it with a delicious seared tuna steak, seasoned with sea salt, garlic and chilli. 

Ingredients (for one generous portion)

  • Three small tomatoes, chopped into small pieces (see note above if you are following a reflux diet)
  • 1/3rd of a red pepper, chopped into small pieces
  • 1/3rd of a yellow pepper, chopped into small pieces
  • 2tbsp cooked cous-cous
  • 1tbsp flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • zest of 1/3rd of a lemon, finely grated
  • sea salt, to taste

Method

Mix all ingredients together.  Serve & enjoy!

Gloriously simple, gloriously good!

Disclaimer: I am not a dietitian or medical professional.  These are simply ideas based on meals I have created to suit my own dietary needs and, as I’ve enjoyed them, I wanted to share them. If you are unsure about the suitability of any ingredients or recipes on my blog for your own requirements, please check with a health professional first. 

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Tomato Risotto | Risotto al Pomodoro

How to make a simple tomato risotto

Tomato Risotto | Risotto al Pomodoro

Ingredients (for a 2-person meal or a 4-person ‘Primo’ – first course – or light meal)

  • 300g Italian rice (e.g. Arborio)
  • 1 medium-large onion, finely chopped
  • 50g lightly salted butter, plus an extra knob of butter to add at the end
  • 1tbsp sundried tomato purée
  • 1tbsp olive oil (optional)
  • 300ml tomato passata
    • TIP: If you prefer your risotto to be less strong on the tomato flavour, use less passata but compensate by using more stock
  • 700ml vegetable stock (If you’re not feeding vegetarians, use chicken stock instead – either home made or made with stock cubes, as it gives the risotto more depth of flavour)
  • Salt, to taste/if needed…check towards the end of cooking time for the risotto
  • Grated parmesan, approx. 2tbsp plus enough for each person to sprinkle on their own portion

TIP: Quantities of tomato passata and vegetable stock can be adjusted, as described above, to suit different tastes; in any case, the actual quantity of stock used will depend on a number of factors: the exact rice used, the ambient humidity, the temperature you’re cooking at, etc. As long as you add the stock a little bit at a time and don’t add any more until all the liquid has been absorbed, you will be fine.

Method

Melt the butter and oil in a non-stick saucepan or stockpot, on a low heat.

Add the finely chopped onion and soften, still on a low heat, until translucent (this should take a couple of minutes), then stir in the sundried tomato purée.

Add the rice and stir it in for up to a minute, to allow the flavours to infuse the rice grains.

Add the passata and stir.

Cook on a low heat, stirring regularly but gently (don’t over-stir as you may break the rice grains) until the passata has almost completely absorbed into the rice, then add a small amount of stock (50-100ml at a time, at most).

Continue to cook on a low heat, stirring regularly to make sure the risotto doesn’t stick/burn to the base of the pan, until the stock has almost completely absorbed into the rice, then add another small amount of stock.

Repeat this process until the rice is cooked; this can take up to 40 mins (check cooking times on the pack of rice), but it will depend on lots of factors, so let your eyes and taste-buds guide you: you need the rice to be a sticky, thick risotto. The rice needs to be soft but still have a distinct rice-like and slightly ‘al dente’ consistency (i.e. not have disintegrated/turned mushy).

Stir a knob of butter in at the end of the cooking time, along with a couple of tablespoons of grated parmesan. Serve immediately and provide additional grated parmesan to be sprinkled onto each individual portion.

TIP: If you use the risotto as an ingredient in Supplì, you will need it to be drier than it would be if you were eating it on its own. Also, in that case, do not add the final knob of butter or the parmesan.

Risotto – Gloriously Simple, Gloriously Good!

Sugo al Pomodoro | Basic Tomato Sauce

How to make a basic Italian tomato sauce

This basic tomato sauce can be used as a base for many pasta sauces or for pizza

Sugo al Pomodoro | Salsa al Pomodoro | Basic Tomato Sauce

 

Ingredients (adjust quantities depending on how much sauce you need – I often make it in big batches, then freeze portions)

  • Onion
  • Celery
  • Carrot
  • Olive oil
  • Chopped tomatoes or Passata
  • (if using for pizza, you can also add some oregano and garlic)

Method

First, make the soffritto:

Very finely chop the onion(s), celery and carrot(s) – I use an electric chopper to get them really fine.  Roughly you are aiming for 1 carrot and 1-2 celery stalks per 1 onion and 500ml of tomatoes, but it also depends on how much ‘texture’ you want your sauce to have.

Fry up the finely-chopped onion, celery & carrot in abundant olive oil on a low heat so that they soften.  Make sure they don’t burn.  This will take about 5-10 mins, depending on quantities.

Note: if you were using garlic (this does not form part of the traditional Italian ‘soffritto’), you would also finely chop this and fry it up along with the carrots, onion and celery.

Add the tomatoes / passata and season with salt.

Cover and simmer on a low heat for 1.5 – 2 hours.

If you’re going to use this for pizza, you could stir in some oregano at the end of the cooking time.

Use as required, freeze what you don’t use.

 

Sugo al Pomodoro | Gloriously Simple, Gloriously Good!