Archive for May, 2011

May 31, 2011

Vegetarian Lasagna Rolls

I haven’t had much luck with lasagna in the past, so I decided to take a bit of a different approach this time. Instead of layering my pasta like I usually would, I made them into cute little rolls.

Not only did this technique work much better for me, I find the dish looks so much nicer that way, so elegant and classy! Of course, it makes using different layers / components a tad more difficult, but I am guessing, not entirely impossible. One could probably spread the sauce over the pasta and top that with a little bit of cottage or ricotta mixture before to start rolling the lasagna. I’ll have to give that a try next time.

I made 2 different versions of this, one using whole wheat pasta and one using regular “white” pasta (for my son, who still refuses to eat whole grain pasta of any shape, kind or form) and I find whole wheat worked a lot better. Their firmer texture and the fact that they are a little thicker helps the rolls hold their shape a lot nicer.

As for the sauce, I used 2 different kind of lentils, red and green. I figured the red would go a lot more unnoticed and would make the sauce more accessible to those who don’t really care for lentils, while the green would add a little bit of a crunch and texture. I also added a wide variety of vegetables, namely aubergines, zucchinis, red bell peppers and spinach.

This sauce might look like it would take forever to make, but the truth is, as soon as the lentils are cooked, which takes about 25-30 minutes, it’s pretty much ready to go. So from start to finish, you’re looking at probably an hour and a half to get this elegant dish on your table. It may not be something you’d want to whip up on a busy weeknight, unless you were to make the sauce one night and assemble the next, but really, whichever way you choose to go about it, this is one dish that is very well worth taking the time to make.

INGREDIENTS
(for 8 rolls)

  • 8 lasagnas, preferably whole wheat
  • 125g low fat mozzarella cheese

SAUCE

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • ½ red bell pepper, chopped
  • ½ eggplant, finely chopped
  • 1 zucchini, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 2 tbsp dried parsley
  • 1 tbsp italian seasoning
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ¼ cup red lentils
  • ¼ cup green Du Puy lentils
  • 1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup water
  • 100g spinach, chopped

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. In large saucepan, cook onions, celery, garlic and bell peppers over medium heat until fragrant and the onions become translucent, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add zucchini, eggplant, seasonings and lentils and continue cooking for 2-3 minutes, then add tomatoes and water. Bring to the boil then lower heat and simmer, partly covered, for about 25 minutes, or until lentils are tender.
  3. Remove from heat, stir in spinach and allow to cool for at least 30 minutes before you start rolling your lasagna.
  4. Preheat oven to 375F
  5. While sauce is cooling, cook lasagna per package instructions. When cooked, lay them flat on a towel and pat them dry.
  6. Spread a little bit of sauce at the bottom of a baking dish. Set aside.
  7. Place lasagnas in a plate, one at a time, and spread about ¼ cup of sauce on the entire length of the pasta. Carefully roll and place in the reserved baking dish. Repeat with the remaining lasagnas.
  8. Top each lasagna roll with a little bit of sauce, then sprinkle mozzarella cheese.
  9. Bake in oven for 15-20 minutes, until cheese is melted and starts to color slightly.


May 30, 2011

More Power Walnut, Carob and Banana Bread

I love banana bread! Not only does it taste amazingly good, but it’s also a very efficient way to use up those super ripe bananas that you inevitably end up with week after week. Well, if you’re like me, that is, and buy bananas every week but only eat them when they are a beautiful bright yellow and then completely lose interest in them as soon as they start to develop the tiniest of brown spots… although I have gotten much better and now eat my bananas a lot riper than I used to, because I know they are in fact better for me when they are good and ripe. But still, I must end up throwing at least one, if not two per week in the freezer to use in smoothies or banana bread, mini loaves or muffins.

Up until now, I’ve always used the same recipe, but this week, I decided to play with the Pumpkin, Rasberry and Buckwheat Loaves recipe and to turn it into a More Power Walnut, Carob and Banana Bread.

Basically all I did is replace the pumpkin puree with banana puree. It took 3 bananas to make the required cup and a half.

Of course, I left the cinnamon, ginger and all spice out of the equation. Oh, and I added 100g of carob chips, which ended up being an enormous waste of time, since they all sunk right to the bottom, and I think they also decided to gang up and have a little party right in the middle of the loaf!

I mean, look how sad! All you can see in the picture is a mere dark spot, a lonely chip that got lost or something… I guess when I get more towards the other end of the bread, I will get a mega dose of crazy happy carob chips all bunched up together!

They’re probably having a good laugh right now at this great prank that they pulled on me.

Maybe next time I will use a little bit less milk to make the batter a tad on the firmer side, that way, the carob chips won’t get to sink that much. Still, the loaf has a very good texture as it is, so you can feel free to go ahead and use that exact recipe.

If you are the kind of person who loves their toasts in the morning, this makes for an absolutely gorgeous breakfast. Just cut a couple of slices and pop them in the toaster, then spread some good all natural peanut or almond butter on them.

Of course, this would also make an excellent afternoon snack!

INGREDIENTS
(for one large banana bread)

WET

  • ¾ cup buttermilk
  • ¾ cup soy milk
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ cup egg whites
  • 1½ cup banana puree
  • 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract

DRY

  • 120g vanilla flavored whey protein powder
  • 1½ cup buckwheat flour
  • 1/3 cup black chia seeds
  • 2 tsp baking powder

ADD-INS

  • 100g carob chips (entirely NOT necessary!)
  • 75g walnuts, chopped

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 425F and line loaf pan with parchment paper
  2. In a large mixing bowl, mix wet ingredients together and whisk until well combined.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix dry ingredients and whisk until well combined. Add wet ingredients and stir until well incorporated. Fold in carob chips and nuts. Mix to combine, no more.
  4. Pour batter into loaf pan. Put them in the oven and immediately turn the heat down to 375.
  5. Cook for 40-45min until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  6. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before removing from the pan then cool completely on a cooling rack.
  7. Store in the refrigerator in an air tight container for up to a week

May 29, 2011

Ratatouille Pizza

I did get an inspiration for that last ball of dough that I still had in the freezer. Best part is, I had all the ingredients I needed in my fridge!

I had bought aubergines and zucchinis for my vegetarian lasagna rolls (this is coming soon, by the way!) but, luckily, I had bought way too much. I sometimes get carried away, like that. I guess I haven’t adjusted to cooking for one or two just yet… I’m still in “cooking for an entire family” mode in my mind!

So anyway, I decided that I would try and make a beautifully layered ratatouille right on a pizza dough. I started by cutting all my vegetables real thin. I tried a mandolin for the aubergines, but that didn’t work very well. A knife does a much better job. The mandolin tends to just shred the delicate flesh of the aubergines.

The zucchinis, however, cooperated beautifully with the mandolin’s blade. As for the tomato, well, I didn’t even try that! A serrated knife was the tool of choice for that one.

So I sliced all my veggies as thin as I possibly could, and then I layered them in a circle, starting with the aubergines, then tomatoes and finally, the zucchinis. Since their circle ended up in being rather small compared to the others, I thought these poor guys didn’t get enough stage… so I went back and inserted one zucchini slice between each aubergine slice. What a great decision that was! It made the pizza look even prettier!

See?

Seriously, this has got to be one of the prettiest pizzas I have seen so far! And it was pretty darn good too if you ask me! The only thing that I would maybe change if I did it again (which I most probably will!) is to remove the seeds from the tomatoes, as they did leak a little more than I would’ve liked them to and the dough ended up being a little soggy in the middle by the time I got to the 3rd slice.

Wait, 3rd slice, you say??? Does that mean you ate the whole thing???

Why, yes, I did! I know, that’s a whopping amount of calories to eat in one go, but I figure an entire pizza like that still has less calories than half of one of the standard stuff from the pizzeria. Plus, it has all sorts of things that are actually good for me. So yes, I do splurge when I have a beautiful, home made, healthy pizza and eat the whole thing to myself most of the time. Hey, it’s not like I do it every day!

So there, I said it. Confession made. I feel so much better now! 😉

DOUGH

“SAUCE”

TOPPINGS

  • ½ eggplant, in very thin slices
  • ½ zucchini, in very thin slices
  • 1 tomato, in very thin slices
  • Salt, pepper and za’atar, to taste
  • 2 tbsp red onions, finely chopped
  • 100g low fat Mozzarella cheese, grated
  • 25g goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1 tsp fresh parsley, chopped

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Preheat oven to 500F.
  • Roll or stretch dough into 10-12 inch disc and lay on a baking sheet. Spread fermented garlic flowers (crushed garlic would do the trick) and sprinkle generously with za’atar.
  • Top with mozzarella cheese, followed by aubergine slices, tomato and zucchini, then sprinkle red onion. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and more za’atar.
  • Bake in the oven for about 8-10 minutes, until cheese is melted and starts to colour on the edge.
  • Take out of the oven, sprinkle goat cheese and return to the oven for 2-3 minutes, just to soften goat cheese
  • Take pizza out of the oven and sprinkle fresh parsley.