Lovingly grain free

Making love happen is so much better when you aren’t bloated, uncomfortable and in pain. here are some ideas for a grain free Valentines Day meal that will leave you with enough energy and spunk for the real deal:

First Course: Herby cracker wedges with a Labaneh dip

For the herby Crackers:
Original recipe from Elena’s Pantry

2 cups Ground Almonds
1 tsp Salt
2 Dired Figs, chopped into small cubes (if figs don’t agree with you, used dates)
1 Rosemary Sprigs, roughly chopped
1 Egg
2 tbsp Olive Oil
2 tbsp water (optional)

Method:

  1. Heat the oven to 160˚c
  2. In a bowl mix together the ground almonds, salt, figs and rosemary.
  3. In a separate small bowl whisk together the egg and olive oil.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the bowl of dry ingredients and combine with a spoon to a greedy dough. If the dough is too dry and won’t come together, add some water, a little at a time.
  5. Roll the dough out between two sheets of  parchment paper and slice the raw dough into wedges (like slicing a pizza)
  6. Bake for 10min or until the crackers are golden brown, remove from the oven and let cool for 5 min before serving with SCD Labaneh.

* If you are vegan these wedges work great without the egg.

Fig and Rosemary crackers in the making

For the Labaneh (a Lebanese style cream cheese spread):

The night before your dinner, line a sieve with a muslin cloth and place over a bowl. Pour into the lined sieve 3 cups of SCD yogurt (if you can tolerate it, shop bought sheep or goat’s yogurt are also good). Gather the edges of the muslin over the yogurt so nothing falls in and leave in the fridge or a very cool place over night. When you are ready to serve scrape the creamy cheese from the muslin into the serving dish and decorate with olive oil and Zaatar if you have. If not, use thyme or smoky paprika.

Meatballs and Cavolo Nero 'Pasta'

Main Course: Meatballs in tomato sauce and cavolo nero ‘pasta’

Inspired by Disney’s Lady and the Tramp

Cavolo Nero is ‘black cabbage’ and is both yummy and healthy. It’s available this time of year and it’s shape lends itself to be a great replacement to pasta, but don’t be discouraged if you can’t find it in the shops, use kale instead.

For the meatballs:

1 Onion, finely chopped
2 tbp fresh or dry herbs (whatever you have at home… rosemary, thyme, oregano, basil…)
500gr Minced Beef
1 egg
Salt and Pepper to taste
Oil for frying

For the tomato sauce:

1 large onion, roughly chopped
2 cloves Garlic
2 Carrots, grated
2 cans Chopped Tomatoes or 1 bottle of legal Passata
1/2 cup Dry Red Wine (add more to taste or if sauce is too dry)
2 tbsp herbs of your choice (I used rosemary)
Salt and Pepper to taste
Olive Oil

Method:

  1. Make the meatballs: Combine all the meatball ingredients in a bowl and leave to rest at room temperature whilst you make the sauce.
  2. In a deep pan heat a glugg of oil and an equal amount of water, add the chopped onion and fry on a medium heat until translucent and golden brown. If the onions start to burn add a little more water. Browning them slowly will develop a sweet taste but burning them will give a bitter flavour. Add the garlic and grated carrots and continue frying for 3-5min.
  3. Add the tomatoes, red wine and herbs and season to taste.
  4. Cook, uncovered, on a medium heat whilst you are frying the meatballs.
  5. Heat a glugg of olive oil in a pan.
  6. Roll meat balls to the size of a ping-pong ball and brown in the heated oil, about 2-3 min on each side. Make sure the meatballs are not crammed in the pan, as this will make them boil rather than fry. This might take a few batches, so transfer the cooked balls into the bubbling sauce.
  7. Once all the balls are fried and cooking in the tomato sauce, make you ‘pasta’

For the Cavolo Nero ‘Pasta’:

1/2 ‘head’ of Cavolo Nero cabbage or half bag of ready to use chopped Kale
1 sprig Rosemary
2 garlic cloves (if you are both eating garlic than it won’t matter when you kiss)
1tsp Olive Oil
1 tsp Ghee
Salt and Pepper to taste
Grated Parmesan to taste

Method:

  1. Fill a large saucepan with salted water and bring to the boil.
  2. Wash the cavolo nero thoroughly and shake to dry, then place each leaf up-side-down on a cutting bore and using a sharp knife, cut the dark leaf away from the light green stem. The stem is quite woody even when cooked so I usually discard it. The leaves are now long strips and resemble pasta noodles.
  3. When the water is boiling, drop the leaves in and simmer for 3-4 minutes.
  4. Whilst the leaves are cooking, finely slice the garlic cloves and rosemary.
  5. When the Cavolo Nero is cooked, drain into a colander. Leave the leaves in the colander and return the saucepan to the heat, melt the ghee and oil together, add the garlic and rosemary and stir gently for about 1 minute before adding the cavolo nero leaves. Warm through and make sure the leaves are covered. Season to taste.

Assemble:

  1. The cavolo nero is your pasta, so pile it in the middle of a pasta dish and top with the meatballs and tomato sauce (I usually serve 4 balls for each diner).
  2. Grate or shave parmesan over everything and enjoy.

* If you are gentle, you might even be able to re-inact the movie scene.

Layered Dessert

Dessert: Fruit, Crumble and Cream Layered Heaven

Make the crumble and whipped coconut crease in advance the assemble just before serving.

First thing’s first: The night before your dinner, put 1 can Coconut Milk (Make sure you get pure coconut milk with no stabilisers and additives) in the fridge. Don’t shake it. The milk will separate to water and cream and you want the cream for whipping later.

1 cup blanched almonds
1/2 cup cashew nuts
1/2 cup pecan nuts
(use any nut combination you like and have in the house: Walnuts, Macadamia or Brazil nuts work really well too)
2 tbsp coconut flakes, optional (shredded coconut is also fine just make sure you use an unsweetened product)
2 tbsp Ghee
2 tbsp honey
Pinch of salt (use pink Himalayan if you have)
1 Mango / 1 punnet Strawberries / 1 punnet blueberries / pitted cherries or any other fruit you like and works with a soft and crunchy combination.

Method:

  1. Heat the oven to 170˚c and line a baking tray with parchment paper.
  2. Scatter all the nuts and coconut flakes, if using, on the tray, drop little clumps of ghee in and around the nuts and drizzle the honey over everything, then sprinkle the salt.
  3. Roast in the hot oven for 10-15min, checking and shaking the pan every 5min. You what the nuts to turn golden and the honey to caramelise, but nothing should burn, so keep an eye on it.
  4. Once golden and beautiful, remove from the oven and cool completely. The nuts may seam soggy at the start but as they cool they will crunch up.
  5. Put the cold nuts in a food processor and pulse to brake them up. DON’T MAKE A POWDER! Set aside until you are ready to serve.
  6. Prepare the fruit you are using (peel and slice the mango or hull and quarter the strawberries) and set aside until you are ready to serve.
  7. Open the cooled coconut milk can and scoop the hardened cream into a mixing bowl. Save the ‘water’ for cooking but make sure none of it gets into the bowl.
  8. Using an electric mixer whisk the coconut until it resembles fluffy whipped cream. Sweeten with a little honey if required. Store the cream in the fridge until you are ready to use.

Assemble:

In wine glasses or martini cocktail glasses, layer the fruit and then the nut crumble, a bit at a time. When the glass is full, dollop the coconut whipped cream and top with a mint leaf or lemon verbena garnish.

Enjoy and may you have a happy and loving Valentines day. x

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