Enchilzone – an enchilada-calzone

enchilada-calzone-enchilzone-3There are a lot of cool ideas for food mash ups, but an enchilzone is my new favourite. I had the idea when we were travelling recently and ate at a restaurant that had Italian food and Mexican food on its menu. My brother and I were discussing combining the two. Fajita pizzas would be an obvious choice. Maybe burrito filling layered between tortillas like a lasagne. We had many ideas, but our winning one was definitely an enchilzone though!

It is a delicious enchilada filling, encased with a crunchy folded tortilla like a calzone pizza and baked with the enchilada sauce over the top. And plenty of cheese, of course! I used a chicken filling, but you could experiment with whatever you like in your enchiladas.

Ingredients (makes 4 enchilzones)
– 300g passata
– 2 teaspoons each of: ground cumin, oregano, brown sugar, ground coriander, paprika and chilli powder (optional)
– 1 medium sized onion, peeled
– 2 garlic cloves, peeled
– 2 peppers (your choice of colours – I use a green and a yellow)
– 2 chicken breasts
– 4 flour tortillas
– 150g grated cheese (such as cheddar or Monteray Jack)

To serve – sliced jalapeños and soured cream

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Method
1. Preheat the oven to 180*C. Pour the passata into a small saucepan with half of each of the spices. Simmer over a low heat and leave to thicken. Stir occasionally.
2. Slice the onion, garlic, peppers and chicken. Heat a little oil in a large frying pan and sauté the onion and garlic for about 2 minutes. Add the chicken and stir for five minutes, then add the pepper.
3. Stir in the other half of the cumin, oregano, sugar, coriander, paprika, and chilli powder to the chicken and vegetables. Coat thoroughly. Cook for about 10 minutes until the chicken is cooked through. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
4. Place a quarter of the chicken mixture in the centre of a tortilla and fold over. (You can use a dab of the tomato sauce as a glue if necessary.) Repeat three times.
5. Taste and season the sauce. Spoon over the folded tortillas in a line down the centre. Sprinkle the grated cheese over the top.
6. Bake for 15 minutes until the tortillas are crisp and the cheese is melted. Serve with sliced jalapeños and soured cream.

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Gluten free lasagne (chicken lasagna with zucchini “pasta”)

Gluten free lasagne – chicken lasagna with courgette

Gluten free lasagne

This lasagne recipe is perfect for people avoiding gluten, as the pasta is replaced by layers of courgette. It’s also lower in calories than normal lasagne (although don’t worry, there’s still a very generous helping of cheese!)

The recipe is similar to my skinny chicken bolognese. If you want to try out that recipe, you can find it here.

Ingredients (serves 2)
– 200 g chicken mince
– 1 carrot
– 1 white onion
– 2 cloves garlic
– 1 tablespoons tomato puree
– 200 ml passata
– 1 zucchinis
– 1 tablespoon Worchestershire sauce
– 1 teaspoon each dried oregano, thyme and rosemary
– 125 g mozzarella, sliced
– 75 g Parmesan cheese, grated

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Finely chop the onion, garlic and carrot (you can also do this in a food processor to make life easier).
2. Heat a little oil in a large saucepan. Cook the onions for about two minutes, then add the garlic and stir together until they begin to soften.
3. Add the carrot with the Worchestershire sauce. Stir together then cover and leave to sweat for 5 minutes.
4. Stir in the chicken mince and cook until the meat is white and firm. Pour over the tomato puree, passata and herbs and combine well. Cook on a low heat for 15 minutes until the sauce is thickened. Season to taste.
5. Use a vegetable peeler to peel long strands of the courgette. Stop when you get down to the seeds (you can also chuck this bit in the food processor and add it to your sauce).


6. Take a heatproof dish and spoon in a layer of the filling. Top with slices of courgette until you have covered the sauce, then place over half of the mozzarella and half of the Parmesan. Repeat with the sauce, courgette and cheese.
7. Bake for 15 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbling.

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Skinny chicken Bolognese with zoodles

Skinny chicken Bolognese with zoodles

A few years ago, I travelled to Bologna and had the very best Bolognese I’ve ever tasted. It was in a tiny little backstreet restaurant – thick, rich ragu with tagliatelle (not spaghetti – the traditional way is with wider pasta noodles because they take on more of the sauce). It was just amazing and one of the best things I’ve ever tasted. I went back the next night and ordered the exact same thing!

It’s a pretty perfect food memory and I’m not sure that I could recreate the recipe. To be honest, I probably don’t want to think about the amount of butter, salt, red meat etc that went into making that dish! So I decided I’d go in a different direction. I’d make a Bolognese that would still be delicious but would be healthier.

This recipe uses chicken mince instead of beef and I’ve replaced the pasta with spiralized zucchini. That makes it lighter, much lower in calories and gluten free. Spiralizing is a super easy way to reduce the gluten and calories in your meal, but still feel full. You can buy the spiralizer I use by following this link – I really recommend it.

In addition to the “zoodles” I’ve included lots of vegetables in the ragu sauce, so this can provide up to 4 portions of fruit and veg per serving! If you were wanting to be extra healthy, you could skip the Parmesan cheese but really, is life worth living without cheese?

I think this recipe is a great way to let you enjoy a family favourite but in a lighter way. I hope you like it!Skinny chicken bolognese (2)

Ingredients (serves 4)
– 400 g chicken mince
– 2 carrots
– 1 white onion
– 2 cloves garlic
– 100 g cherry tomatoes
– 2 medium zucchinis
– 1 tablespoon Worchestershire sauce
– 500 ml passata
– 100 ml chicken stock
– 1 teaspoon each dried oregano, thyme and rosemary

Black pepper and grated Parmesan cheese to serve

Skinny chicken bolognese (1)Method
1. Prepare the vegetables. Peel and finely chop the onions and garlic. Peel and dice the carrots and halve the cherry tomatoes. Dice a quarter of one of the zucchinis, then spiralize the remaining zucchini on the fine noodle setting.
2. Heat a little oil in a large saucepan. Cook the onions for about two minutes, then add the garlic and stir together until they begin to soften.
3. Add the diced carrot, tomatoes and zucchini with the Worchestershire sauce. Stir together then cover and leave to sweat for 5 minutes.
4. Stir in the chicken mince and cook until the meat is white and firm. Pour over the passata, stock and herbs and combine well.
5. Cook on a low heat for 15 minutes with the lid on. Stir well, then cook for a further 15-20 minutes until the sauce is thickened and reduced. Season to taste.
6. During the last 5 minutes of cooking time, heat a little oil in a large frying pan (or I used roasted garlic butter for extra flavour). Cook the zucchini noodles in the frying pan until slightly softened -I like mine still with a bit of bite to them. Drain and pat dry with a little kitchen paper, or your sauce will turn watery.
7. Serve the Bolognese sauce with the cooked zoodles and top with black pepper and Parmesan cheese.

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Delicious meat free recipes – easy vegetarian meals

Delicious meat free recipes

Here are some delicious recipes to help you on your way to eating less meat!

One pot gnocchi and halloumi with rocket and red pepper
This warm salad only has four ingredients and takes less than 20 minutes to cook. The halloumi adds so much flavour and is complemented brilliantly by the sweet roasted red peppers and the peppery rocket. A real winner for a week night dinner that will also wow if you have guests pop over.
Gnocchi and halloumi salad (1)

Zucchini, Gruyere and pea tart
This simple puff pastry tart is elegant yet easy. I use ready-made pastry for the base, then layer a smooth cream cheese filling with gorgeous vegetables and Gruyere cheese. If you’re watching your weight, just use low fat cream cheese.
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Smokey vegetable and black bean enchiladas
You can still have amazing Mexican food if you’re going meat free! The onion, pepper, tomatoes and carrots mean you get lots of lovely vegetables and the black beans provide plenty of fibre. It’s all wrapped up in a smokey, spicy sauce and (of course) topped with cheese!Vegetable enchiladas (8)

Stuffed zucchini rolls
These rolls are surprisingly filling. Use a vegetable peeler to make long strips of zucchini then roll up around cooked rice and ricotta. Then you bake them with a tasty tomato sauce. They’re great as a starter or sharing platter, but it also makes a fabulous main course for two people.
Courgette rolls (6)

Tortilla pizza
If you want a quick, simple snack that is meat free, try these tortilla pizzas. They are much lighter than regular pizzas but no less delicious.  Plus the final bonus is you can choose your own toppings!
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Asian ribbon and rice noodle salad
For this salad, a vegetable peeler is your best friend! Use it to make long slices of cucumber and zucchini, then mix with leeks and rice noodles and a delicious Asian dressing. It makes such a healthy light lunch!
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Lasagne cupcakes – Individual sun-dried tomato and three cheese lasagnes

Lasagne cupcakes

When I made these, one of the first things I did was send an excited message to my brother saying, “Just made lasagne cupcakes!!” and he replied “Gross.” I think he thought I’d made cupcakes with cheese and tomato in, or some awful cake-pasta hybrid. Thankfully, the only thing “cupcake” about these individual lasagnes is that they are cooked in a muffin tin, making delicious baby lasagnes that cook really quickly.

There are lots of versions of these on the internet at the moment, but I love the combination here of sun-dried tomatoes with the bolognese sauce. Also, mine use an actual bolognese sauce, rather that buying a ready-made jar of “pasta sauce”. It maybe takes slightly longer to make your own, but it is much tastier and there’s less of the hidden salts and sugars you get in shop-bought tomato sauce.
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This recipe also uses my current favourite trick of re-purposing the oil in jars of sun-dried tomatoes. That oil is full of flavour, so use it in place of your regular olive oil. It’s great as a salad dressing. I wouldn’t normally use olive oil to cook with but I made an exception in this case.

The recipe makes 12 individual lasagnes and we found that two was enough per person along with a nice salad or even just some garden peas. They reheat really well in a microwave so are fabulous for work lunches, and they also freeze easily.

The final test will be if my brother agrees now that these are as amazing as I think they are!

File_001Ingredients (makes 12 individual lasagnes)
– 400g beef mince
– 1 small onion, finely chopped
– 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
– 1 teaspoon dried oregano
– 1 tablespoon Worchestershire sauce
– 1 pack wanton wrappers
– 75g sun-dried tomatoes in oil
– 125g ricotta cheese
– 125g mozzarella cheese
– 100g parmesan cheese
– 200g tomato paste

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Method
1. Heat a tablespoon of the oil from the sun-dried tomatoes in a large pan. Add the chopped onions and garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes until softening. Add the mince and Worchestershire sauce and cook until the mince is brown.
2. Stir in the tomato paste and oregano. Chop the sun-dried tomatoes into halves or thirds and add them to the sauce as well. Leave to simmer, stirring occasionally.
3. Grease a 12-hole muffin tin (I used the oil from the sun-dried tomatoes again). Place two wanton wrappers in the bottom of each hole. Overlap them at an angle make a star shape.
4. Season the Bolognese sauce to taste, but remember not to add too much salt because the Parmesan also adds a saltiness. Take half of the sauce mixture and divide between the muffin holes.
5. Top with a little of the ricotta, the mozzarella and grate some Parmesan over the top.
6. Place two more overlapping wanton wrappers on top and then repeat the layers with the remaining sauce, ricotta, mozzarella and finally Parmesan. Finish off with freshly cracked black pepper.
7. Bake in a preheated oven at 180°C for 15-20 minutes until the cheese on top is melted and bubbling.
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Note – You can cut the wanton wrappers into circle shapes with a glass or cookie cutter to make more elegant shapes, but I prefer the rustic overlapping edges!
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Easier than it sounds – Beef ragù-stuffed pasta with spinach cream

Ragù-stuffed pasta with spinach cream

Paccheri with spinach cream (12)

This recipe is a delicious mix of pasta, beefy ragù and creamy spinach, with plenty of cheese. The pasta used is “paccheri” which are large tubes. When stacked together, they create a beautiful honeycomb shape, and you can stuff them with all manner of tasty treats. I first got the idea from the “Two Greedy Italians” recipe book. They make a vegetarian paccheri stuffed with passata and topped with an asparagus sauce.

Paccheri with spinach cream (4)

Mine are filled with a ragù made with beef mince, garlic, onion, carrot and tomato. They are topped with a creamy spinach sauce, flavoured with plenty of Parmesan cheese.

Paccheri with spinach cream (11)

I think these fillings would work really well in a lasagna as well. You could layer it like a normal lasagna, with spinach sauce instead of bechamel. I’ll try it out at some point. Any excuse to make a lasagna!

Paccheri with spinach cream (14)

Ingredients (serves 3)
250g paccheri pasta

Ragù
– 250g beef mince
– 1 onion
– 3 cloves garlic
– 2 carrots
– half a courgette
– 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
– 400ml passataPaccheri with spinach cream (2)
– 1 tablespoon dried oregano
– salt and pepper to taste

Spinach sauce
– 200g frozen chopped spinach
– 200ml single cream
– 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
– 50g Parmesan cheese

 

Method
1. Start the ragù. Place the onion, garlic, carrot and courgette in a food processor and pulse until you have small pieces. You can also chop them all finely, but it takes longer!
2. Heat a little olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the vegetable pieces and rosemary and sweat for 3 minutes until starting to soften.
3. Add the mince to the pan. Cook until mince is browned. Pour in the passata, along with the oregano. Simmer, uncovered, for at least 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. Preheat the oven to 180⁰C.
5. Cook the paccheri in a pan of water for 10 minutes. Drain and leave to cool.
6. To make the spinach sauce, add the frozen, chopped spinaPaccheri with spinach cream (3)ch to a large pan. Stir until warmed through. Add the cream, nutmeg and MOST of the Parmesan cheese. Stir through and simmer until reduced. Season to taste.
7. In an oven proof dish, spoon a layer of the spinach sauce. Stand the paccheri upright in the dish. I had used up the end of one packet and started another… at this point of assembly I realised the two packets were different sizes, so I ended up with a slightly honeycomb shape. Oh well!
Paccheri with spinach cream (6)8. Now for the fiddly bit – fill each paccheri tube with the ragù. I used a tablespoon and spooned it in a bit at a time. As you can see, I got a little messy at this point – it still tasted good so don’t worry! If you have extra ragù, spoon it over the top.
9. Cover with the rest of the spinach sauce, and sprinkle over the remaining Parmesan cheese.
Paccheri with spinach cream (8)

10. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes. Give it a few minutes to stand after taking it out of the oven – it will make it easier to serve.

Let me know if you try it as a lasagna before I do!

Paccheri with spinach cream (9)

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