Tag Archives: lemon

Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Torta di Riso (Italian Rice Cake)

Rice cake

Rice dishes are very common in Italy, especially in the northern areas, because rice was so plentiful (rice has been grown in Italy since the 15th century). Traditionally Torta di Riso was served as a celebration cake – for weddings, baptisms, Christmas and Easter. A particular favourite in Tuscany, apparently, it’s a flourless cake that uses risotto rice instead of flour, and can also be eaten as a dessert.

It’s lovely to make a cake without the usual flour-combination-method. Not for those on a low-carb diet(!), this cake is mouthful after mouthful of sweet, substantial comfort. The risotto rice is simmered in flavoured milk (I’ve used dairy-free, of course) until soft and creamy, then mixed with lots of beaten eggs and the remaining ingredients, before being baked in the oven. The vanilla and cinnamon imbue the cake with sweet tones, and the lemon zest gives a citrusy kick. Make sure you don’t overcook the rice in the first stage (take it off the hob while it still has some bite) and use really good quality eggs, preferably organic.

gluten-free, dairy-free, yeast-free, seed-free

Serves 4     Preparation time 15 minutes plus cooling time     Cooking time 1 hour 35 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 50g/1¾oz dairy-free margarine, plus extra for greasing
  • 150g/5½oz/⅔ cup fruit sugar or caster sugar
  • 1 vanilla pod, split
  • 1.25l/44 fl oz/5 cups dairy-free milk
  • 250g/9oz/heaped 1 cup arborio or risotto rice
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • grated zest of ½ lemon
  • 2 large eggs, plus 5 large egg yolks
  • 25g/1oz/scant ¼ cup ground almonds
  • 1 tsp gluten-free baking powder
  • ½ tsp xanthan gum
  • icing sugar, to serve
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4 and lightly grease a deep, springform 20cm/8in cake tin with dairy-free margarine and line the base with baking parchment.
  2. Put the margarine, sugar, vanilla pod and milk in a large, heavy-based saucepan and bring to a gentle boil over a medium heat. Add the rice and turn the heat down to medium-low. Simmer for about 30 minutes, until all of the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is creamy and soft, but still has a slight bite. Remove from the heat and scrape the seeds from the vanilla pod and add, then add the cinnamon and lemon zest and stir in thoroughly. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and leave to cool completely.
  3. Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs and egg yolks until pale and thick. Fold the ground almonds, gluten-free baking powder and xanthan gum into the mixture. Make sure the mixture is well mixed but take care not to overmix it.
  4. Remove the vanilla pod from the rice mixture. Pour the egg mixture into the rice and stir gently until combined. Spoon the mixture into the tin and level the surface with the back of a spoon.
  5. Bake for about 60 minutes until firm to the touch and cooked through. Remove the cake from the oven and leave to cool for 5 minutes, then remove from the tin, transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool completely. Once cooled, sprinkle icing sugar over and serve.

Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Roasted Aubergine with Amaranth & Harissa

Stuffed aubergine

I’ve had a bag of amaranth sitting in my kitchen cupboard for a while now, so I thought it was time to use it. Like quinoa, amaranth is a true superfood, but unlike quinoa, it hasn’t started to become mainstream – people generally haven’t heard of it and don’t know how to use it. Amaranth dates back about 8,000 years and was a staple part of the diet for the Aztecs in Mexico. Although it’s a grain, it’s a fantastic source of non-meat, complete protein (it is about 15% protein), along with complex carbs and fibre. Packed with nutrients, too, especially calcium and iron, as well as vitamins A, B6, C, folate and riboflavin, and phytochemicals that are great for boosting the immune system and reducing blood pressure and high cholesterol.

You can cook amaranth exactly like quinoa (simmer in boiling water or stock until tender and the water has been absorbed, or toast the grains and then simmer). And, just like quinoa, it’s incredibly easy to incorporate into your diet – use it instead of couscous or rice and add fruit, nuts, herbs or spices to flavour it. Here I’ve used it to make the stuffing for the aubergines – and I’ve made a dish with layers of flavours. You can take it back by leaving out the fruity bit (the sultanas) and/or the cheesy bit, leaving just the harissa, lemon and herbs, or you can add the whole caboodle. Either way, it’s delicious!

gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, seed-free

Serves 4     Preparation time 15 minutes     Cooking time 50 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 4 aubergines, halved lengthways
  • 2 tbsp harissa paste
  • 300g/10½oz/1½ cups amaranth
  • 100g/3½oz/heaped ¾ cup sultanas (optional)
  • 600ml/21fl oz/scant 2½ cups gluten-free and dairy-free vegetable stock
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • 2 handfuls finely chopped mint leaves
  • 2 large handfuls finely chopped coriander leaves
  • 8 spring onions, white part finely sliced
  • 200g/7oz dairy-free cheese, crumbled or grated (optional)
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • salad, to serve
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4. Using a sharp knife, score the flesh of the aubergines with a diagonal crisscross pattern, making sure not to pierce the skin. Put the aubergine halves on baking trays and spread the harissa paste evenly over. Bake for 40 minutes until tender.
  2. Meanwhile, put the amaranth in a fine sieve and rinse well under cold running water. Transfer to a saucepan, add the sultanas, if using, and pour over the stock. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down, cover with a lid and leave to simmer for 15–20 minutes until the amaranth is tender and the water has been absorbed.
  3. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and add the lemon juice, herbs, spring onions, and add the dairy-free cheese, if using. Mix together thoroughly and season lightly with salt and pepper.
  4. When the aubergines have cooked, remove from the oven and carefully scoop most of the flesh out of the aubergines, leaving a layer of flesh next to the skins. Mash the flesh, then add to the amaranth mixture, and mix in thoroughly. Spoon the mixture into the aubergine cases and bake for a further 10 minutes. Serve hot with salad, if you like.

Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Cannellini Bean, Beetroot & Carrot Soup

Beetroot soup

This soup came about because of a pile of root veggies sitting in my veggie box. When I have beetroot, I usually bake it and make a salad with avocado, nuts, seeds, that sort of thing. Or steam it and serve it as a veggie. But I wanted to do something different, and this was the result.

This is a really delicious soup – and fantastically good for you, too. A combination of sweet, earthy beetroot and carrot, with the creamy cannellini beans and herby parsley make a great flavour combination. What’s more, this soup is great for cleansing and boosting your immune system. Beetroot has powerful detoxing qualities (mainly from the antioxidant betacyanin) as well as being rich in iron and folic acid (which help prevent anaemia and fatigue). The humble carrot is one of the richest sources of beta-carotene which helps fight infection and colds, as well as enhancing vision, skin and digestive function. Carrots and beetroots are also fantastic sources of fibre – as cannellini beans are, too. And this is a great example of how you don’t need to spend tons of money on ingredients to eat nutrient-dense food. Excellent!

gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, seed-free

Serves 4     Preparation time 10 minutes, plus soaking the beans     Cooking time 1½ hours

Ingredients:

  • 200g/7oz/1 cup dried cannellini beans
  • ½ tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 celery stick, chopped
  • 4 beetroots, peeled and diced
  • 4 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1.25l/44fl oz/5 cups gluten-free and dairy-free vegetable Stock, boiling, plus extra if needed
  • 1 handful parsley leaves
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • dairy-free yogurt, to serve (optional)
  • coriander leaves, to serve (optional)
  1. Put the cannellini beans in a large bowl. Add the lemon juice, cover with warm water and leave to soak, covered, for 12 hours or overnight.
  2. Drain and rinse the beans and put in a large saucepan. Cover with 1.2l/40fl oz/4¾ cups water and bring to the boil over a high heat. Boil vigorously for 10 minutes, skimming any scum that rises to the surface, then turn the heat down to low and leave to simmer for 1 hour, until the beans are tender. Drain and leave to one side.
  3. When the beans are nearly cooked, heat the oil in a heavy-based saucepan over a medium heat until hot. Add the onion and fry for 2–3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until starting to turn golden, then stir in the garlic. Add the celery and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2–3 minutes, then add the carrots and beetroot. Pour in the stock and season lightly with salt. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down to low and simmer, covered, for 15–20 minutes until the carrots and beetroot are soft.
  4. Add the cooked beans and parsley, then blend the soup until smooth and add more salt, to taste, and pepper. Serve hot with a spoonful of yogurt drizzled over and some coriander leaves sprinkled on top, if you like.

Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Tiger Prawns with Cauliflower Couscous

prawns and cauliflower couscous

If, like me, you’re keen to clean up your diet a bit, following on from a cake-filled Christmas holiday (!), you might like The S Factor Diet, by Lowri Turner. You probably know Lowri from TV but she’s also a nutritionist who writes for, among others Grazia, Now Diet and Mother & Baby. According to Lowri, this is “a diet that can put a smile on your face!”. Apparently certain hormones, such as serotonin, dopamine, leptin and adrenals, can increase your appetite, send cravings sky-high, make you feel depressed and demotivated, and cause your body’s natural fat-burning process to dwindle. You can rebalance those hormones in your body easily with certain foods like chicken, avocados, bananas, fish, nuts and seeds, and dark green and brightly coloured veggies. And Lowri’s book shows you how to work out which hormones are out of kilter, and which foods you need to eat to rebalance them – and gives you lovely recipes, too.

I tried this recipe yesterday for lunch. And, although Zoë insisted on a version without chopped herbs (“yuk, green bits”), it was really good. I have been wanting to try cauliflower ‘couscous’ for a while and it was great. Super-easy to make (you just whizz cauliflower florets in a food processor) and, with the lemon juice, sweet paprika and herbs, it had a lovely taste. And the prawns were gorgeous – really tender, with loads of garlic.

Prawns are a good source of lean protein, which is great for all your S Factor hormones, especially dopamine. And, by swapping normal wheat couscous for cauliflower ‘couscous’ you immediately reduce the starch and calorie content, which helps rebalance all of these hormones – and, of course, it’s gluten-free!

gluten-free, wheat-free, dairy-free, yeast-free, soya-free, egg-free, nut-free, seed-free

Preparation time 15 minutes, plus 3 hours marinating     Cooking time 6 minutes     Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 400g/14oz raw tiger prawns, peeled and deveined
  • fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • lemon wedges, to serve (optional)

For the marinade:

  • 5 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tbsp chopped tarragon leaves
  • 1 tbsp chopped dill
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

For the couscous:

  • 1 head of cauliflower, broken into florets
  • 1 handful of finely chopped mint leaves
  • 1 handful of finely chopped parsley leaves, plus extra to serve
  • ½ red onion, finely sliced
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • 1 large handful of cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  1. If using wooden skewers, soak them in cold water for at least 30 minutes before grilling. To make the marinade, put all of the ingredients in a non-metallic bowl, season with salt and pepper and mix well. Add the prawns to the marinade and toss well, making sure the prawns are covered in the marinade. Cover and chill in the fridge for 3 hours.
  2. Meanwhile, make the “couscous”. Put the cauliflower in a food processor and pulse until it resembles couscous grains. Transfer to a bowl, stir in all of the remaining ingredients and season with salt and pepper. Leave to one side.
  3. Use a slotted spoon to remove the prawns from the marinade, reserving the marinade. Thread about 6 prawns onto each of 4 skewers. Heat a griddle pan over a medium-high heat and cook the prawns, brushing with the reserved marinade, for about 2–3 minutes on each side until they are pink and cooked through. Remove the skewers and divide the prawns and “couscous” into 4 equal portions. Sprinkle with parsley and serve with lemon wedges for squeezing over, if you like.

Nutritional analysis per serving: Calories 148kcal  Protein 21.3g  Carbohydrates 4.3g  Fat 5.6g

Gluten-Free Buckwheat, Butterbean & Roasted Vegetable Salad

Most people think of buckwheat pancakes when they think of buckwheat – made with buckwheat flour. But the grain itself (totally gluten-free) is a fantastic addition to your storecupboard. It is highly nutritious (full of magnesium, B-vitamins, rutin which helps circulation and all eight essential amino acids) and in particular it’s great in terms of your blood-sugar balance. Don’t be put off by the nutty taste of buckwheat, though. As this recipe shows, it can be delicious if you mix it with strong, fresh flavours. Here I’ve added sweet roasted veggies, and fresh, tangy lemon and mint. Serve this as a main course, with a salad, for a delicious dinner – and it makes a brilliant meal for your lunchbox, too.

gluten-free, wheat-free, dairy-free, yeast-free, nut-free, seed-free, egg-free

Serves 4     Preparation time 10 minutes     Cooking time 20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 aubergines, diced
  • 2 red peppers, deseeded and cut into strips
  • 1 onion, cut into 16 pieces
  • 200g/7oz buckwheat
  • 240g/8½oz/scant 2¼ cups tinned butter beans, drained and rinsed
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 large handful chopped mint leaves
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4. Put the aubergine and peppers onto 3 separate baking trays and drizzle 2½ tablespoons of oil over. Bake for 10 minutes, then add the onion and drizzle ½ tablespoon of oil over. Bake for a further 10 minutes until tender and slightly browned. Remove from the oven and transfer to a large serving dish.
  2. Meanwhile, wash the buckwheat thoroughly, put in a saucepan and pour over 400ml/14fl oz/scant 1⅔ cups cold water. Bring to the boil over a high heat then turn the heat down to low and leave to simmer for about 6 minutes until softened, scimming off the scum with a flat metal spoon. Remove the pan from the heat and leave to stand for 10–15 minutes until all the water has been absorbed and the buckwheat is soft, but not mushy. Rinse thoroughly with boiling water and transfer to the serving dish with the roasted vegetables.
  3. In a small jug, mix together the lemon juice and the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil and season lightly. Add the butter beans to the serving dish and pour over the dressing. Mix thoroughly, then add the mint leaves and mix gently. Serve either warm or cold.