Broccoli & Parmesan Pasta

Stirfried broccoli florets in a white wine, garlic and chilli sauce tossed with wholewheat spaghetti and finished with toasted pine nuts and parmesan. This easy recipe is so quick to make and just requires a fresh head of broccoli – the rest you’ll find in your cupboard.

5 mins prep :: 7 mins cook :: 12 mins total :: 2 servings @ 415 calories per serving :: 5 Weightwatchers points per serving

Ingredients:

  • 1 head of broccoli
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 50 ml white wine
  • 1/2 red chilli
  • 1 garlic clove
  • Sea salt
  • Parmesan
  • 2 small handfuls of pinenuts
  • 200g dried wholewheat spaghetti pasta

Directions:

  1. Boil a kettle of water and cook the pasta as per pack instructions (about 10 minutes).
  2. Meanwhile, cut the broccoli in to florets; crush the garlic and finely slice the chilli
  3. Heat the olive oil on a medium heat in a large pan, then add the garlic and fry gently for 1 minute to release the flavour. Then add the broccoli florets with the chilli, and salt then stirfry for about 5 minutes.
  4. Once the broccoli starts to colour, add the wine and cook for a further 2-3 minutes as the alcohol cooks off.
  5. When the pasta is ready add the pinenuts to the broccoli until lightly toasted (about 30 seconds), then add the drained spaghetti and toss with a glug of extra virgin olive oil and serve topped with the fresh parmesan.

Foodwitch Factoid:

Stir in a spoonful of green pesto instead of the olive oil at the end for about 100 extra calories per portion and extra flavour. Make extra to reheat for lunch the next day or use any leftovers cold as a tasty snack.

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Mushroom & Rustic Lentil Sauce with Wild Rice

Velvety portobello mushrooms in an aromatic lentil sauce infused with garlic and rosemary, served with wild rice and scattered with fresh parsley.

5 mins prep :: 20 mins cook :: 25 mins total :: 2 servings :: 486 cals per serving :: One-off wonder

Ingredients:
* 8 large flat portobello mushrooms
* 1 red onion
* 200ml vegetable stock
* 3 garlic cloves
* 4 tbsp fresh parsley
* 1 tbsp fresh rosemary
* 1 tbsp brandy or white wine (vegan friendly)
* 400g tin of brown lentils
* 80g wild rice
* 1 tbsp olive oil
* Black pepper
* Sea salt

Directions:
1. Boil a kettle of water, wipe the mushrooms, rinse the herbs and cook the rice following pack instructions (usually 20 minutes).
2. Slice the mushrooms into 1cm slices, finely chop the onion, crush the garlic and finely chop the fresh herbs.
3. Heat the oil in a large frying pan on a medium heat, add the crushed garlic and onions and fry for 3 minutes until the onions are softening, then add the mushrooms with the rosemary and half the parsley and cook for a further 5 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, boil a kettle with enough water to make 200ml of vegetable stock; drain and rinse the lentils and make the stock.
5. Add the lentils, brandy and stock to the mushrooms and adjust the heat to keep at a gentle bubble, stirring occasionally and cooking for 10 minutes until the rice is ready. By this time, the liquid will have reduced to leave you with a wonderfully aromatic sauce. Drain the rice and serve scattered with the remaining fresh parsley.

Suggestions & Alternatives
You can serve the mushroom and rustic lentil sauce with pasta or a jacket potato instead of rice. If you can’t decide, why not make double the amount to have a different way another day. Simply cover and refrigerate overnight then reheat in the pan on a low heat for 5-10 minutes. If you choose pasta for the 2nd time your dinner can be ready in under 10 minutes!

Vegetable Lasagne

Chunky peppers, onions and courgettes in a rich tomato sauce, layered in between spinach lasagne pasta and topped with a deliciously thick, low fat cheese sauce. Whip this little beauty up in 25 mins, slam it in the oven and it’s ready in another 25. My top tip is to make more than you need to enjoy it again with zero-cooking another day.  Plus there’s no cook-in sauces so this vegetable lasagne is really cheap to make – costing about £1.50 per serving.

This vegetable lasagne recipe does involve making a bechamel sauce from scratch, but do not fear, it’s really not that complicated. If it goes lumpy just keep stirring until the lumps have gone – it’s great for those arm muscles! Only add a little bit of milk at a time and when you’ve added it stir the mixture quite vigorously. For the best lump-free results, create a little well for the milk to go into and gradually stir in from the edge of the well incorporating a little of the milk on each stir.  Don’t forget that the heat is constantly under the sauce so don’t leave the sauce to do anything else, it only takes about 5-7 or so minutes to make. If you absolutely must leave it, just take it off the heat temporarily and return it when you come back.

4 servings :: 500 calories per serving :: 25 mins prep :: 25 mins cook :: Lazy leftovers

Vegetable Lasagne

Vegetable Lasagne

Ingredients
3 tri-colour peppers (red, yellow, green)
2 red onions
4 courgettes
2 tins of chopped tomatoes with herbs
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
4 garlic cloves
Salt & pepper
4-5 spinach lasagne pasta sheets (no pre-cooking type)
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2pt semi-skimmed milk
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp plain flour
2 tbsp cheddar cheese
1 tbsp parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp nutmeg

Method:

1. Heat the oven to 220c. Peel and crush the garlic. Chop the courgettes. Heat the oil in a large pan on a medium/high heat. Add the garlic and courgettes and stirfry for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile deseed/chop the peppers into 1 inch pieces and peel/chop the onion into wedges and add straight to the courgettes, strirfrying until the vegetables have softened and starting to colour.
2. Stir in 2 tins of chopped tomatoes with herbs (add 1 tsp of dried basil/oregano if the tomatoes don’t have herbs already). Stir in 2 tsp of balsamic vinegar and season with salt and pepper to taste.
3. To make the low fat cheese sauce, take a small saucepan and melt 1 tbsp butter over the lowest heat setting. When the butter is melted add 2tbsp plain flour and make a “roux” (classic bechamel sauce base) by stirring together with a wooden spoon. The roux should have a similar consistency to sticky dough (just add a touch more flour if it’s too gloopy). Measure out about 1/2pt milk  and gradually add a generous splash to the roux, working in the milk into the dough until the milk has been absorbed and the roux is smooth. Continue to add a splash more milk, stirring it in so there are no lumps, until you have no more milk left and the sauce is a similar consistency to paint (add a bit more milk or stop adding if need be). Then just grate in some nutmeg and some cheddar, give it a stir and it’s done (taste test the sauce and adjust if necessary – “cook’s perk”).
4. To compile the vegetable lasagne take a large oven proof lasagne or casserole dish. Add a third of the vegetable sauce to the bottom, followed by 2-3 spoons of cheese sauce, followed by 2 sheets of lasagne sheets. Then repeat and repeat again so you have 3 layers, making sure you leave plenty of cheese sauce for the topping. Spread the cheese sauce to cover all the lasagne sheets (if they’re not covered they won’t cook). Grate some parmesan to help it go a lovely rich golden brown colour. Then bake it in the oven for about 25 minutes until you can’t wait for it any longer. Enjoy!

Satay Noodle Stirfry

Thai inspired noodles with baby corn, carrot, brocolli and beanspouts in a spicy chilli and peanut sauce. This vegetarian stirfry is so easy to make, is naturally low fat and tastes amazing.

Serves 3 :: Lazy leftovers :: 300 calories per serving :: cook in 15 minutes

Satay Noodle Stirfry

Satay Noodle Stirfry

Ingredients

2 tbsp peanut butter
2 tbsp sweet thai chilli sauce
3 tbsp soy sauce
1 brocolli
200g baby corn
1 large carrot
250g bean sprouts (1 bag)
1 bunch of spring onions
4 garlic cloves
1 inch of ginger
1 tbsp sunflower oil
150g wholewheat noodles

Method

1. Crush the garlic and cut the brocolli into small florets. Heat the oil in a large pan on a medium/high temperature and stirfry the garlic, baby corn and the brocolli for about 5 minutes.
2. Boil a kettle of water and cook the noodles for 3-4 minutes (as packet instructions).
3. Meanwhile, peel the carrot and cut into chunky batons and add to the stirfry and stir. Then trim the spring onions ends, cut them lengthways down the middle, then cut again into similar lengths as the carrot batons and add to the stirfry. Add the bean sprouts. Peel the ginger, chop into sticks and add to the stirfry.
4. Drain the noodles and set aside whilst you stir in the soy sauce, peanut butter and thai chilli sauce. Stir in the noodles, frying for a final minute to help the noodles absorb the flavour and serve.

Foodwitch Factoid
Peanut butter is often thought of as being bad for you but in fact, it’s naturally high in omega 3 and 6 fatty acids and a great source of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats – those handy fats that actually break down bad fat (whoop!). Although peanut butter does also contain a moderate amount of saturated fat so don’t go eating the whole jar!

Healthy Meal Plan 2

Tuesday :: Satay Noodle Stirfry

Peanut butter, sweet chilli sauce, soy sauce, carrot, baby corn, brocolli, spring onion, noodles.

Wednesday :: Sweet Potato & Spinach Chermoula (with flatbread)

Ground cumin, ground coriander, ground turmeric, harissa paste, lemon, sweet potatoes, apricots, onion, chickpeas, spinach 200g, flat leaf parsley, flat bread.

Thursday :: Sweet Potato & Spinach Chermoula (lazy leftovers with cous cous)

Leftovers, plus cous cous.

Friday :: Italian Bean & Pesto Tagliatelli

Kidney beans, parmesan, red pepper, red pesto, onion, oregano, pasta, pine nuts, parsely.

Saturday :: Wild mushroom risotto

Aborio rice, chicken/vegetable stock, garlic, porcini mushrooms, white wine, parsley, parmesan, pepper.

Sunday :: Roast

Beef, roast potatoes, cabbage and yorkshire pudding

:: Shopping list ::

Vegetables: garlic, 1 lemon, 1 squash, 1 red pepper, 2 onions, 1 carrot, baby corn, mange tout, spring onion, spinach 200g, flat leaf parsley, 3-4 potatoes, 3-4 parsnips, cabbage.

Cupboard: Ground cumin, ground coriander, ground turmeric, harissa paste, dried apricots, peanut butter, sweet chilli sauce, soy sauce, chickpeas, noodles, flat bread, cous cous, kidney beans, red pesto, oregano, pasta, pine nuts, aborio rice, chicken/vegetable stock, porcini mushrooms, white wine, pepper, flour, sea salt.

Dairy & Meat: Milk, parmesan, butter, beef, free-range eggs.

Winter Vegetable Hotpot

Deliciously nutty pearl barley with chunky carrots, swede and leeks in a herb infused stew, topped with slices of crispy golden potato. The pearl barley gets all fat and plump from absorbing all the lovely stock and the veg gets all sweet and yumptious. Just what you need on a cold winter’s night to warm the cockles.

By leaving the skins on the carrots and potatoes you make sure you get all the vitamins and minerals, which will help you fight off any nasty bugs that might be going around at this time of year.

If you haven’t got a pot with a lid or if you won’t have a chance to remove the lid half way through, do not fret, you could leave the lid off the whole way through but I just haven’t tried that myself yet (I’d maybe add a bit more stock as it will evaporate otherwise and leave your veg and barley all dry). If anyone tries the lidless option then do share the love.

This recipe is so easy to make and it uses all the gorgeous winter veg that is so cheap at the moment cos it’s in season. Yes ladies and gentlemen this gorgeous, easy, healthy, seasonal recipe is also just 75p a go.

Serves 4 :: 250 calories per serving* :: 75p per serving* :: 30 mins prep :: 60 mins cook :: lazy leftovers

Ingredients:
3 carrots
3 leeks
1 swede
4 potatoes
140g pearl barley
2 stock cubes
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dried bay leaves (crushed)
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp butter
0.5-1 tsp sea salt (a generous pinch to suit your tastes)

Directions:
1. Heat the oven to 200c. Put 1tbsp olive oil in a heavy bottomed pan that has a lid and heat over a low heat on the hob.
2. Wash and chop the leeks, then add them to the pan followed by the chopped carrots (leaving skins on). Peel the swede, chop and add to the pan.
3. Boil a pint of water in the kettle and make up a pint of vegetable stock using the vegetable stock cubes. Meanwhile add 1tsp each of bay leaves, rosemary, oregano and sea salt to the pot. Pour the stock over the top and turn up the heat underneath until simmering. Measure and add the pearly barley, ensuring all the grains are submerged so they cook (add more water if necessary).
4. Slice the potatoes (leave skins on) so they are about 1cm thick and lay them on top of the stew, overlapping each other in an ever decreasing circle until the stew is covered. Add a couple of small knobs of butter to the top, put the lid on and bung in the oven for 1hr. About half way through remove the lid to get a lovely crispy golden finish on the potatoes. Divide into 4 portions and serve (add a piece of bread and butter for an extra 150 calories).

* These figures are approximate and are based on averages.