Brinjal (Aubergine/Eggplant) Walnut Pesto and Butternut Spaghetti with Roasted Tomatoes

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Spiralized Butternut Spaghetti……finally !!!!  Do you know how long I have wanted to do a Butternut Spaghetti meal? Well, let’s just say…a l-o-n-g time ! and, you are going to love this one….

Firstly, it is incredibly easy.  Secondly, it is extremely tasty, and…Thirdly, you just need to make this.

This pesto, is my everything right now. I mean,who would have thought that a brinjal (sorry I am using the name I use for it here in this country) pesto would be so incredible awesome?….. Me !  because I love nuts and anything with nuts IS awesome !!! By the way, if you don’t have walnuts, I am sure any nut will be equally as great…it is just that I had ….Ummmmm…a fair amount of walnuts, so walnuts have been going into EVERYTHING 🙂

So, here goes.

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Brinjal (Aubergine/Eggplant) Walnut Pesto and Butternut Spaghetti with Roasted Tomatoes

Preparation time:  15 minutes

Cooking time:  25 – 30 minutes

Total time:  40 – 45 minutes

Serves 4

Ingredients:

For the pesto:  

1 medium-sized (approximately 400 grams) brinjal (Aubergine/Eggplant)

6 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2 teaspoons white vinegar or white wine vinegar

1/2 – 1 cup of dry toasted walnuts, chopped

1/4 cup packed basil leaves, chopped

1 – 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped (depending on size)

salt and pepper to taste

Makes  just over one  cup of Pesto 

approximately 800 – 900 grams uncooked spiralized butternut spaghetti (for the best results, please use the largest, thickest blade you have on your spiralizer).

approximately 350 grams tomatoes of your choice (I used exotic tomatoes and cherry tomatoes, cut in half).

Instructions:

Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius / 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

To make the Pesto:  Cut the brinjal in half, lightly drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Put the brinjal in the heated oven and roast for about 25/30 minutes or until done. Then remove from the oven.  Scoop out the insides and discard the skin. Allow to cool. Place the cooled flesh of the brinjal into a food processor and add all the other ingredients.  Process until the consistency you like and taste and add more salt or pepper if necessary. If you find that you would like a thinner consistency, by all means add another tablespoon or two of olive oil .

In the meantime, place the spiralized butternut onto a couple of baking sheets. You may want to just get a knife and cut the spiralized butternut pieces a little shorter (mine were massively long) so it’s more edible. Drizzle with a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Mine took about 8 minutes till it was firm but done. (Try not cook the butternut until it is too soft, as it will just mash up and break when tossing through the pesto.) When done, set aside and keep warm.

Whilst the butternut spaghetti is in the oven roasting, dry toast the walnuts, and roast your tomatoes.

To dry toast the walnuts:  This you do by just adding the dry walnuts to a small frying pan and frequently toss with a wooden spoon.  You do not add any oil to these, as nuts have their own natural oils. Continue to toast until slightly fragrant, and then remove from the stove and set aside.

To roast the tomatoes:  Place the tomatoes (cut side down if you cut them in half) on a baking sheet, drizzle the tomatoes with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place in the pre-heated oven and allow to roast till the tomatoes pop oven and look a bit wrinkled.

Once everything is done, serve hot.  Add more cherry tomatoes and fresh basil leaves for garnish.

Enjoy 🙂

NB*  For the pesto: If you do not have a food processor and will be using a blender, you may want to use a pestle and mortar and break the nuts up more.

Also, quantities do not have to be the same and can vary. (That is what I like about pesto’s, you can make it your own)

 

Polenta Pizza with Caramelized Onions, Cherry Tomatoes and Feta

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Healthy carbs guys!  Healthy carbs, and it is all in a pizza !!!

This pizza just had to happen. Load it up with whatever your heart desires and you are sorted. Pizzas are one of those things you can go all out with and do loads of crazy, delicious toppings and stuff but I was in the mood for simple, so simple it was :-). For awhile now, I have had this thing for caramelized onions, so I just had to top mine up with them. Then, some cherry tomatoes, I love the baby ones and once the pizza is in the oven, I watch through the glass window of the oven (Yes, I am weird, it is like I am stalking the pizza !  I am a Pizza Stalker !) and eventually those baby tomatoes pop and get all wrinkly.  There is a method in my madness,  with the oven on, I keep warm and I get to make sure nothing burns (because I have a thing with my oven…long story, don’t ask).  Then of course the basil leaves, I mean of course…tomatoes and basil, need I say more, and then of course you have guessed…. feta cheese.  I mean, there has to be cheese on a pizza right? well not really I suppose,  I have had loads of pizzas without cheese, but on this pizza, cheese was just an added bonus.

Okay, so this is not your usual pizza base, but it is a nice light option, if you want to try something a bit different, and it is even gluten free.  What is that saying…don’t knock it, till you’ve tried it ! 🙂

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Polenta Pizza With Caramelized Onions, Cherry Tomatoes and Feta

Preparation time:  3 minutes

Cooking time:  35 minutes

Total time:  38 minutes

Serves 2 or 3

Ingredients:

1 cup uncooked polenta

dash of salt

2 cups water

Topping:

4 medium-sized onions, sliced thinly

125 grams cherry tomatoes (or more if you like)

200 grams feta cheese (or more if you like)

fresh basil leaves

fresh rocket leaves

To caramelize the onions:

a little olive oil

1 – 2 teaspoons brown sugar

1 -2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

a little water (if needed)

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius/350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a large pan, with a little olive oil, saute the onions.  Add a teaspoon or two of brown sugar and allow to cook. Stir continuously to prevent burning.  If you feel the onions are sticking a bit, add a little water. I personally like my onions to be nicely browned, and just before the cooking process is done, I add the balsamic vinegar, stir it in, and then take the pan off the oven and set aside.

To cook the Polenta:  Add polenta to the boiled water and reduce the heat down to simmer.  Using a whisk, whisk for about 5 minutes continuously until the polenta starts to thicken.  The polenta will start to pull away from the sides of the pot.

Once the polenta is cooked, spread it into an oven proof dish approximately 18 x 28 centimetres/7 x 11 inches in size.  Flatten as best as possible and place in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and place toppings on. Return to the oven for a further 15 minutes or until the topping has cooked.

Add fresh basil and rocket leaves.  Serve either on its own or with a salad.

Enjoy 🙂

 

Baby Marrow (Zucchini, Courgette) Pizza Base with Roasted Miso Chickpeas and Cheesy Cherry Tomato Topping

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So, what is not to love?  Remember when the Baby Marrow Pizza Base was all the craze.  I think the whole veggie base thing started with the cauliflower pizza base…low calories and such like, then the baby marrow one came in for the play…yet another success, and then….. it all kind of fizzled out !  Where did the fancy healthy veggie pizza bases go ??? Well, fizzled out or not, for me they are the ultimate best !!!  So, they can be a little work, but really…lets not split hairs over a little bit of an arm workout….and it is healthy !

So, the squeezing out of the water content is crucial, otherwise ….. 😦 soggy pizza … and that is not cool !  Otherwise you are good to go !

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Baby Marrow (Zucchini, Courgette) Pizza Base with Roasted Miso Chickpeas and Cheesy, Cherry Tomato Topping

Preparation time:  25 minutes (excluding draining of water content)

Cooking time:  1 hour

Total time:  1 hour and 25 minutes

Ingredients:

1 kilogram baby marrow (zucchini, courgette), grated

1 jumbo sized free-range egg

1/2  medium onion, finely chopped

1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese

1/2 cup all-purpose flour or gluten-free flour*

salt and pepper

extra salt for grated baby marrows (zucchini, courgettes) to help release the water content from veggie

origanum and thyme (fresh or dried)

Instructions:

Once the baby marrow (zucchini, courgettes) have been grated (this takes about 10 minutes) sprinkle liberally with some fine salt, add to a colander which fits into a bowl with sufficient space underneath for the water to drip into and place in the refrigerator. This can even be done overnight or let it sit for minimum 45 minutes.  Once time is up, remove the colander from the bowl and tip the grated baby marrow (zucchini, courgettes) into the middle of a dish towel/cloth.  Bring the corners and sides up from the cloth and twist, so that the baby marrow (zucchini, courgettes) form a ball. Twist and squeeze over the kitchen sink.  Continue to do this, squeezing every last drop of water out from the baby marrow (zucchini, baby courgette).

I managed to squeeze out 425 millilitres of water content from mine, so you can see a fair amount of water is trapped within the veggie!

Once done, add the grated baby marrow (zucchini, courgettes) to a large bowl.

Then add the balance of the ingredients, and stir well so all the ingredients are combined well.

Season well to taste.

Add the mixture to a baking tray greased and lined with baking paper (I use Spray ‘n Cook) on the baking paper as well or use a silicone sheet.

Top the baking paper with the base mixture and flatten with your hands until you reach the thickness you want for your base.

Place baking tray into your preheated oven at 210 degrees Celsius (fan oven) for 15 minutes /220 degrees Celsius for 10 minutes. Then, reduce the oven temperature by 10 degrees and cook for a further 15 minutes.  Once the one side is done, (and it must not be soft, but firm) take out the oven, and carefully flip over.  This is delicate.  I use a board to assist the actual turning over and then back onto the baking sheet. Please don’t try to turn with utensils, trust me the base will just break.  Once turned over, cook for about 15 minutes on the other side. Cook until you are happy.  I like a firm and crisp base, so depending on your oven times may differ slightly.

Remove from the oven and put the topping on.

Topping:

Pasta Sauce

a combination of mozzarella and feta cheese

cherry tomatoes

roasted miso seasoned chickpeas*

baby spinach

Place in the oven again till the cherry tomatoes pop and the cheese melts to your liking. Remove, and add loads of fresh basil leaves.

Enjoy 🙂

  • If using Gluten-Free flour, you may need a more flour than mentioned.
  • For Miso Roasted Chickpeas:  Roast in oven at 180 degrees Celsius for 20 minutes (or until crisp) with salt, pepper and miso seasoning

Phyllo Breakfast Pie

 

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For me to do a cooked breakfast during the week, just does not happen. Everyone is rushing around, so to throw something down quickly is what happens.  I look forward to something different over the weekends, and egg and bacon always hits the spot.

Anyway, this last weekend, I made this Breakfast Pie, made with phyllo pastry! I have done it before with puff pastry and loved it (but not with the phyllo).  I love not having the fat splattering around my stove which inevitably happens when frying eggs.  I now, either grill or microwave my bacon, again to elevate the fat splatter…I am pathetic hey, …but it is what it is… 🙂

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So, usually the concept of this Breakfast Pie would be done with normal puff pastry in a pie shell, but I had the phyllo pastry and thought why not? lets change it up a bit and so the Phyllo Breakfast Pie was born.  A ovenproof pie dish, seemed apt as I was using the phyllo pastry, and the vision of the phyllo pastry hanging over the pie dish, just seemed appealing.  Not only that, but the substantial amount of bacon and eggs filling the pie dish…..there just aren’t words……

Once the pie had cooked for 35 minutes.  The egg contents plumped up beautifully to the height of my ovenproof pie dish and was set to perfection.

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This was a filling brunch for us and was so delicious.  I particularly enjoyed the thin layers of the crunchy pastry as I bit into it.

The hubby is still trying to understand the concept of the phyllo …well, it’s just a change…and a change is as good as a holiday ! I mean I could do the good old puff pastry pie, but then it is not different.  Oh well, he still ate it and wanted more, so …I will say no more.

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Apologies for the pictures, they are not great, but you can just imagine the deliciousness of the ingredients all intermingled into a pie form with crunchy, crispy phyllo.  Total awesomeness !!!

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Phyllo Breakfast Pie

Preparation time:  30 minutes (you can cut down on prep time if bacon bits are already cooked)

Cooking time:  35 minutes

Total time:  1 hour and 5 minutes

Ingredients:

500 grams bacon bits, cooked

6 – 8 phyllo pastry sheets

a little melted butter to baste on the phyllo pastry sheets

10 – 12 cherry tomatoes, halved

2 – 3 spring onions, chopped

8 free-range jumbo eggs

1 tablespoon of fresh herbs (I used chives)

freshly ground salt and pepper to taste

1 extra egg and milk until egg and milk reach 125 millilitres (1/2 cup) for pouring over the top of pie

Instructions:

Firstly, preheat your oven to 180 degrees C/350 degrees F.

Grease a ovenproof loaf dish (approximately 20 x 12 centimetres / 7.75 x 4.75 inches), then separate one phyllo pastry layer and place in the ovenproof loaf dish, allowing it to overlap the sides of the dish.  Using a basting brush, baste  the entire phyllo pastry sheet with a little melted butter. Continue this method of layering the 6 – 8 phyllo pastry sheets until finished.

Then, place a layer of cooked bacon bits, cherry tomatoes, sprinkling of spring onions, herbs and freshly ground salt and pepper. Repeat again until all the ingredients are used up.

Make an indentation in the mixture and crack an egg into the indentation.  Do this until all 8 eggs are used up.

Break the extra egg into a measuring jug, and whisk with a fork.  Add some milk to the egg until it reaches 125 millilitres (1/2 cup). Whisk with fork until thoroughly mixed.  Pour this egg and milk mixture over all the ingredients and with a knife, make holes in the mixture to allow the egg and milk mixture to fill the holes.

Place the ovenproof dish into the preheated oven and cook for 35 minutes. You will see the actual mixture will rise, and the phyllo pastry will become golden brown. Test if set with a sharp knife, then remove from the oven and serve hot.

Enjoy 🙂

 

Rustic Semi Healthy Pizza

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This is so super easy, it is ridiculous !  I had 5 or 6 phyllo pastry sheets left over in the refrigerator.  When I unravelled them, I noticed they were torn, and broken, far from repair.  I contemplated tossing them out, but that is far from what I really wanted.  I wanted to do something with them.  Tossing them out would just be pure waste…..So I decided I would just do my best, unravel what I could , put all the pieces together and of course use melted butter over each layer of pastry, and go from there.  I really had no idea what I was going to concoct. Firstly I took out my baking tray, sprayed it with spray ‘n cook and prepared the phyllo pastry.  The bigger pieces I placed at the bottom and basically just layered the bits on top of that.  I folded the corners and edges in, to give it a bit of a rustic looking finish.  The plan was that, that would act as a lip so to speak, to my filling so that my filling would not fall out.

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At that point I had no idea what filling I was going to use.  I had no idea whether this rustic pizza would be going back into the oven, it was a matter of…well….whatever happens, happens. ( I had not even taken photo’s at this point…I did not even know if it was worthy of being photographed!) Anyway, so the rustic base was done, and I decided to put it in the oven to bake until golden brown, with a couple holes made with a sharp knife in the base of the pastry (this just helps release some steam and will prevent the phyllo pastry from puffing up). Whilst that was cooking I had to think of a filling and to be honest, I had not decided until this rustic pizza was out of the oven, so it was a matter of grab, chop and disperse.  Feta, cherry tomatoes, rocket, spring onions and toasted sunflower seeds ended up being the topping and so the Semi Healthy Rustic Pizza was born…AWESOME !!!

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Rustic Semi Healthy Pizza

Preparation time:  15 minutes

Cooking time:  10 minutes

Total time 25 minutes

Serves 1 or 2

Ingredients

5-6 sheets phyllo pastry

about 3-4 tablespoons of butter melted

Topping:

1/2 disc of plain Clover Feta Cheese

8 cherry tomatoes, cut in half

1 spring onion, sliced thinly

8-10 fresh rocket leaves

a sprinkling of toasted sunflower seeds

Instructions

Pre-heat oven at 180 degrees C.

Grease a medium sized baking tray.

Separate as best you can the phyllo pasty.  Put a damp cloth on the remaining pastry so it does not dry out.

Place a layer of phyllo pastry on the baking sheet, and moisten liberally with melted butter.  Continue this until all 5/6 sheets are done.

Then fold in the corners and the sides of the pastry, again moisten with melted butter.

Using a sharp knife, pierce the bottom of the phyllo pastry base a few times.

Place in pre-heated oven, until golden brown. (Check after ten minutes.)

Once the pastry is a nice golden brown colour, remove from the oven and continue to fill the pizza base with the crumbled feta cheese, cherry tomatoes, rocket leaves and toasted sunflower seeds.

(Alternatively you can use any topping you prefer)

Enjoy 🙂

 

 

Bacon, Tomato and Halloumi Bake

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Lunch time always tends to baffle me over weekends.  I am so used to just having a good old salad for lunch during the week and often just feel like something different on a weekend.  Anyway, after a lot of pondering and wondering… I decided to do a dish with one of my favourite cheeses’…. Halloumi :-). Why not, it was the weekend ! …. Any excuse to have Halloumi ! Really, I can’t get enough of Halloumi, whether it is baked or fried, I will take it anyway !

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This dish is particularly easy.  I came across it in a cooking magazine several years ago, and with a few odd changes here and there it has become a firm favourite.  It is more of a throw all together quick dish, just my kind of dish and perfect for a lunch or brunch.

I did use a Gluten Free and Wheat Free Brown Bread in this dish, purely due to the fact that I have had my eldest daughter on a Gluten Free and Wheat Free way of eating for several years now, and I tend to be following suit….

This dish would be amazing though with a Ciabatta bread or even a sour dough bread, so if you are not Gluten and Wheat intolerant, try either of them, I am sure you won’t be disappointed.  Ciabatta bread crisps up so nicely once in the oven, and that added crunch just will take this dish to another level of perfection.

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Bacon, Tomato and Halloumi Bake

Preparation time:  15 minutes

Cooking time:  30 minutes

Total time:  45 minutes

Serves 4

Ingredients:

500 grams diced bacon bits

500 grams Red Cherry Tomatoes *

300 grams Halloumi cheese *

1 Ciabatta Bread, broken into bite size pieces (approximately 2 cups) or a bread of your choice

3 tablespoons Avocado Oil or Olive Oil

bunch of fresh basil leaves

For the dressing

1 tablespoon of honey *

1 garlic clove

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons of olive oil

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 220 degrees C/ 525 degrees F

Start cooking bacon pieces till partially cooked just to give them a head start. (I started mine off in the microwave)

Slice the Halloumi into slices, about a few millilitres thick and set aside.

Crush the garlic clove and set aside for the dressing.

Once the bacon is slightly done (not crisp) as it will crisp up in the oven, it will be time to start assembling the ingredients.

In an oven proof dish (I used a square one, approximately  22 x 22 centimetres/8.5 x 8.5 inches in size) place the bacon, tomatoes, Halloumi cheese and bread.  Toss gently, and pour over the avocado oil or olive oil.

Place oven proof dish into the oven and allow to cook for about 30 minutes. Watch the bread, that it doesn’t crisp up too much and burn (this will depend on the actual bread you are using.)

Whilst everything is cooking, place all the dressing ingredients together and shake well.

Once the bacon is crisp, the tomatoes have wrinkled and cooked, and the Halloumi slightly golden brown on the edges and the bread perfect, take the oven proof dish out of the oven.

Serve immediately and place basil leaves on.  This is not great just for colour but adds a great flavour with the tomatoes.  Sprinkle with the dressing. *

Enjoy 🙂

*  Any red cherry tomatoes will do. The size may differ, but that will be fine.

*  I used Raw Honey for the dressing, runny honey will blend a lot easier.

*  You may have some extra dressing left, depending on how much each person likes on their meal.