Tag Archives: white beans

How to make a ‘ta-da’ meal (that is undercover special needs)

Beetroot-starter Chorizo-stew

When I first started my unfeasibly-restrictive-diet I not only stopped eating out in restaurants and accepting invitations, but I assumed that it was curtains for my days as a hostess. I really love nothing more than cooking a huge meal for my friends and family – but how could I inflict my diet upon them?

As luck would have it, that turned out to be just the panic talking and, if anything, I have become even more of a dedicated and enthusiastic cook for other people since starting this diet. I just love the uniting effect that delicious food can have on people, and conversation. And what I have found is that although my diet is restrictive, I can make huge feasts and serve them to people who have absolutely no idea that I’m cooking around restrictions.

However, there is nothing worse than turning up for supper to a hostess who is red-faced, furious and stressed out; unable to properly talk or even offer you a drink, dammit, because she is either trying out a new recipe that’s going wrong, or because the timing of the meal is so precise and complicated that there is room in her brain for nothing else. Not even a little martini.

So please note: by ‘ta-da’ I do NOT mean complex or complicated, with a capucino froth wrapped in a sugar basket.

What I mean is a meal that is delicious, a bit decadent, makes people feel looked after and – crucially – doesn’t taste compromised. But also which can be made with minimal fuss and bother, ideally in advance, so you can get on with the important business of martini-making and putting the world to rights with your friends.

I have fed this chorizo stew to many many people over the years and I honestly don’t think anyone has noticed that it’s grain-free, sugar-free and, now I come to think of it, dairy-free too.

A quick note on ingredients: When I’m buying the chorizo, I scrutinise the label to make sure it hasn’t got dextrose or sugar in (lots do). Ideally, it should just have pork, smoked paprika, salt and pepper. Also, I can’t emphasise enough how worth it it is to splash a bit of cash on the jars of posh beans (which are only £3.50 but that seems a lot compared to 50p for a tin). I like Navaricco, which you can find in the big branches of M&S and some delis but be warned: once you have tried them there is no going back. When I go to a shop that sells them I automatically buy as many as I can carry, because running out is just WOEFUL when you are grain-free, because these beans are so good at taking your mind off the fact that you are.

Beets with rocket pesto

Serves 6

Beets – I allow about 2 small beets per person for a starter

Red wine vinegar for cooking

2 bags rocket leaves

200 g walnuts roughly chopped

150 g parmesan (grated or chopped into small chunks)

1 large clove of garlic, chopped

extra virgin oil

salt and pepper

Boil the beets in water with a splash of red wine vinegar until they are tender (which depends on the size). Drain and cool and then peel and chop them into quarters.

Put the rocket, walnuts, parmesan with a good pinch of salt and grind of pepper and blitz it in your food processor, adding olive oil until it’s the consistency of pesto. Dress your beets with as much pesto as people like and hey PESTO! (sorry).

Chorizo, red pepper and posh bean stew

Serves 6 

2 medium onions, chopped

2 chorizo sausages (uncooked)

5 red/yellow/orange peppers

2 tins tomatoes

1 jar posh haricot beans (though any white bean will do).

2 garlic cloves

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

salt and pepper

This stew is so easy to cook it’s almost embarrassing.

Fry the onions until they are soft. While you are doing that, chop the peppers into thinnish slices then cut them in half. Then cut the chorizo into thick slices. I then cut the slices in half because it’s easier to eat – but I’ll leave that to your discretion. Also, drain and rinse the beans.

When the onion is cooked, add the chorizo and let it cook for a bit before adding the peppers, stirring every so often. After about five minutes add the beans and, a few minutes later, the tomatoes, garlic and smoked paprika. Definitely taste before you salt as chorizo is often quite salty. Then cook slowly on a low heat for about an hour before eating. I served it with purple sprouting broccoli and I didn’t even spare a thought for the patatas bravas that might have gone with it if I could eat potatoes.

simple fish cake with pesto dressing

Fish cake with pesto dressing

 

This is a good example of the kind of thing that, when I started on the carb-free road, I just thought I’d have to live without – after all, how do you make a fishcake without potato, flour and breadcrumbs? But I love a fishcake, I do. And why should I live without them? Why!? So, the other day when I was looking at some left over white bean mash and wondering what to do with it, I thought I’d just see if I could cobble together a fish cake using beans instead of potato, and almond flour instead of flour. And although the end result wasn’t as ‘contained’ as a traditional one, it was completely delicious, and the almond flour fried itself into a beautiful golden crisp which (especially when you are coming from the stand point of there otherwise being no fish cakes) was entirely satisfactory. Next time I might blend in some parmesan with the almonds and see if that creates more of a ‘crust’. And I might add some black olives to the bean/tuna mix for a bit of texture. But in the meantime, this entirely and happily scratched the fish cake itch (that I didn’t even know was bothering me until this mini epiphany) and the whole venture only took about twelve minutes. I whizzed up a pesto dressing, which is very easy to do and which was a fine companion but mayonnaise would have been, too. Add a crispy green salad and Bob’s your uncle, and Fanny is your aunt (as they say in the States, apparently).

Fish cake 

Leftover bean mash or a can of white beans. I use haricot (because of being on the Specific Carbohydrate diet) but any would do.

Can of tuna

egg and almond flour

In a bowl blend the beans and tuna together. If you are using beans from the tin you might consider frying them up first with a bit of spring onion and garlic to add taste.  Use your hands to make ‘patties’ – I made traditional burger shapes but I know people who swear by a cylinder which makes it easier to get at every angle when you are frying them. Whisk up your egg and put it on a plate. Sprinkle the almond flour on another plate. Coat the fish cake thoroughly in egg and then dip it in almond flour so it is as covered as you can make it. Then lightly fry until the flour is golden and it’s heated through.

Pesto dressing

This is MEGA easy to make BUT only really really if you have a food processor, so sorry if you don’t have one; you may have to make do with mayo instead. And sorry my amounts are so imprecise but so much of it comes down to your own taste, so seize the power and be a bit experimental, remembering you can always add more (harder to take away).  Also, a really good thing to remember about pesto, if you are going to the faff of making it, is that it freezes really well, so you might want to make too much on purpose. Just a thought.

Bunch basil

parmesan (how much depends on how big your bunch of basil is: start with a few cubes then add more if you think you need it).

garlic (to taste – but remember you’ll be eating it raw so err on the side of caution)

pine nuts (a couple of tablespoons, but more if you are making lots)

extra virgin olive oil and salt and pepper

Shove all the ingredients into the food processor. Start blitzing, while slowly adding olive oil until it’s the consistency you want. For a ‘dressing’ add more. For traditional pesto it’s a bit less.

White bean mash

As I may already have mentioned, I am currently eating these beans about three times a week at the moment as a) they go with everything b) they really fill you up which instantly reduces the hard-done-by factor that often goes hand in hand with carb deprivation and c) they are super quick plus d) completely darn delicious!

Ingredients

Posh haricot beans (ie in a jar rather than a tin),

A lemon for juice and zest

Garlic

Thyme

Oil for cooking and dressing

Method

  1. Pour some olive oil – quite a lot – into a deep frying pan and add some sprigs of thyme or lemon thyme then heat gently to flavour the oil.
  2. Roll an unwaxed lemon on a hard surface with the palm of your hand a few times then zest the skin and cut it lengthways (all of which yields more juice).
  3. Drain some haricot beans – ideally a jar of posh Spanish ones, which cost three times as much as a tin but are three times as nice, although tins work too for this – in a sieve and rinse. Remove the thyme from the oil then add the beans along with a clove or two of crushed garlic plus the lemon zest and the juice, which I just squeeze straight in through the sieve, to catch any pips.
  4.  Heat the beans through then mash with a potato masher and add a glug or two of extra virgin oil then salt and pepper to taste. Oh my god – so easy and SO DELICIOUS!

Roasted beets, halloumi and white bean mash

ROASTED BEETS HALLOUMI AND BEAN MASH

I must admit that I did not have high hopes of this dish – but it is sublime! And, as importantly, pretty much easy peasy to put together.

The beets arrived in our veg box so I felt obliged not to let them wither away into a wrinkled mush until they guiltily chucked out, as could so easily happen. I know you can roast beets in their skin but I prefer the crispy, slightly fried edges that you get from peeling them before roasting.

It all just really works with the lemony beans and the slightly goaty halloumi, plus the peppery rocket.

Roast beets

Ingredients

Beetroots, Olive oil

Method

I peeled them then quartered them (or more than quartered the big ones – main thing is to make sure they are all the same size). Oil them in a bowl and use your hands to make sure they are all fully coated. Salt and pepper liberally then put them in a baking tray and roast at 180 degrees for longer than you’d expect – at least an hour – but use a fork to see if they are done or not (think potatoes). You could also put in some herbs – oregano, say, or thyme – but I just did them neat. When they are ready, let them cool a bit then arrange artfully on a bed of rocket, which you can dress with some extra virgin oil and white wine vinegar.

Halloumi

The main thing to say about halloumi – other than when I first saw someone cooking it I couldn’t actually believe they were frying cheese! I have totally got over this mental hurdle now and have it at least once a week – is that it is really SO much better if you actually go the whole hog and fry it in oil – I use olive but ground nut or vegetable or probably even coconut oil would work too. I used to dry fry it but when you introduce some oil into the equation it just radically improves the taste, texture and overall eating experience (because if you are going to eat fried cheese, you may as well make it as delicious as it can be).

White bean mash

As I may already have mentioned, I am currently eating these beans about three times a week at the moment as a) they go with everything b) they really fill you up which instantly reduces the hard-done-by factor that often goes hand in hand with carb deprivation and c) they are super quick plus d) completely darn delicious!

Ingredients

Posh haricot beans (ie in a jar rather than a tin),

A lemon for juice and zest

Garlic

rosemary

Oil for cooking and dressing

Method

  1. Pour some olive oil – quite a lot – into a deep frying pan and add some sprigs of thyme or lemon thyme then heat gently to flavour the oil.
  2. Roll an unwaxed lemon on a hard surface with the palm of your hand a few times then zest the skin and cut it lengthways (all of which yields more juice).
  3. Drain some haricot beans – ideally a jar of posh Spanish ones, which cost three times as much as a tin but are three times as nice, although tins work too for this – in a sieve and rinse. Remove the thyme from the oil then add the beans along with a clove or two of crushed garlic plus the lemon zest and the juice, which I just squeeze straight in through the sieve, to catch any pips.
  4.  Heat the beans through then mash with a potato masher and add a glug or two of extra virgin oil then salt and pepper to taste. Oh my god – so easy and SO DELICIOUS!