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Full of the flavours of the Mediterranean, this recipe transports you to sun-drenched Italy! As someone who has been intolerant to gluten and dairy for many, many years, I’ve generally stayed away from Italian food, thinking that it’s mainly based around pasta, pizza and a lot of cheese. But when we went to Tuscany recently, I discovered that real Italian food is a wonderfully, all-embracing cuisine. Of course there’s pasta and pizza and of course there are many different cheese showcased throughout the menus. But there’s also a delicious range of recipes that create little bites of heaven with vegetables, meat, fish and fruit, as well. In Tuscany I gained enormous respect for the way Italians work with local produce and hope that this (dairy-free) Italian-style recipe does the cuisine justice.
gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, seed-free, citrus-free
Serves 4 Preparation time 10 minutes Cooking time 35 minutes
- 60g/2¼oz basil leaves
- 30g/1oz/scant ¼ cup pine nuts
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 50g/1¾oz dairy-free cheese
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 2 large aubergines, sliced widthways and ends removed
- 3–4 tbsp olive oil
- 6 large tomatoes, sliced and ends removed
- 200g/7oz dairy-free soya cheese, cut into small square-shaped slices
- 1 large, ripe avocado
- a few basil leaves, to serve
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4 and put the aubergine slices onto a baking tray. Drizzle over the oil and bake for 20 minutes until tender.
- Meanwhile, make the pesto. Heat a large heavy-based frying pan over a medium heat. Add the pine nuts and dry-fry until just starting to turn golden. Remove from the heat and leave to cool. Wash the basil and pat dry in a clean kitchen towel. Put the pine nuts, basil, garlic and dairy-free cheese into a food processor and blitz. With the motor running, pour the oil until a thick, dense sauce forms.
- When the aubergines have cooked, put a slice of tomato on top of each aubergine slice. Then put a small dollop of the pesto sauce on top and cover with a slice of dairy-free cheese.
- Return to the oven and bake for about 15 minutes until the dairy-free cheese is starting to turn golden. Remove from the oven.
- To make the stacks, put one pile of aubergine/tomato/pesto/dairy-free cheese on top of another, on a serving plate, using the smaller piles to put on top of the larger ones. Press the stacks down slightly to anchor them. This will make about 12 stacks.
- Cut the avocado into quarters and remove the skins and stone. Slice each quarter into thirds and half each slice. Top the stacks with a couple of pieces of avocado each and sprinkle the basil over. Serve hot or cold.
This lovely recipe is from Christine Bailey‘s The Top 100 Baby Foods, which is one of my favourite books at the moment. Full of recipes that are truly healthy – all catering for little tummies, so either no- or low-sugar, lots of gluten-free and dairy-free, packed full of nutrition, and the recipes are truly easy to make. Cod is full of high-quality protein that’s easily digested by your baby’s immature gut. Although cod is not as rich in omega-3 essential fats as oily fish, it contains good amounts of these brain-boosting nutrients. It also contains plenty of B-vitamins, which help your baby’s body unlock the energy stored inside the food she or he eats. Make sure you check the fish carefully for any stray bones before you begin cooking. I made double the amount as I’d just bought 2 large cod fillets from the fishmongers.
gluten-free, dairy-free, soya-free, egg-free, nut-free, seed-free
About 4 servings for little ones Preparation time 10 minutes Cooking time 20 minutes
- 4 tomatoes, halved
- 2 red peppers, deseeded and chopped into chunks
- 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 175g/6oz skinless, boneless cod fillet
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 handful of basil leaves
- Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350°F/Gas 4. Put the tomatoes and peppers in a small roasting tray. Drizzle with the balsamic vinegar and half the olive oil. Bake for 5 minutes until the tomatoes are softening.
- Remove the roasting tray from the oven. Nestle the cod fillet among the peppers and tomatoes and drizzle with the remaining oil and the lemon juice. Scatter with the basil leaves and bake for a further 15 minutes until the fish is cooked through.
- Serve hot or put the fish and vegetables in a food processor and process to form a purée if you’re making this for a baby.
This is a brilliant juice, again from Christine Bailey’s Juice Diet. Utterly jammed with protective antioxidants, this is surprisingly delicious – tasting slightly like a juice-version of a gazpacho, with the garlic and tomatoes. You can buy tomato or vegetables juices ready-made in health food shops but this is so simple to make and miles better in terms of nutrients and taste.
Watercress and spinach provide iron and vitamin C for energy and stamina, while the medley of veggies is packed full of protective phytonutrients. Garlic contains powerful detoxifying and immune-boosting compounds, and is a powerful antibiotic, helping to clear infections, especially in the digestive tract, and is an effective decongestant, useful in the relief of cold and cough symptoms. Brilliant for winter-time!
gluten-free, dairy-free, yeast-free, soya-free, egg-free, nut-free, seed-free, citrus-free
Makes enough for 1 person
- 2 celery sticks
- 1 small garlic clove
- 4 tomatoes
- 1 large handful spinach and watercress leaves
- 2 carrots
- Juice all the ingredients and mix well.
Nutritional analysis per serving: Calories 107kcal • Protein 5g • Carbohydrates 18.7g [of which sugars 17.1g] • Fat 1.9g
It’s the 2nd weekend of my detox and it’s all going well! I’ve just made a lovely recipe from Max Tomlinson’s book, Clean Up Your Diet. Doing a detox is tough – there’s no getting around that. But there are so many benefits, including the fact that you find that you really appreciate the tastes, textures and aromas of foods in their pure state. And this recipe is a great example of that. I used puy lentils, and their nutty taste combines with the delicious sweet tastes from the nutmeg, pistachios, pine nuts and sweetened onions. Then there’s just enough lemon juice to give the whole dish a wonderful tanginess – and also to stop you wanting to add any salt to the dish. And all finished off with a great fresh tomato sauce and sprinklings of fresh coriander.
This recipe shows how when you cook vegetables very gently, you can bring out their deep, often sweet, flavours. To caramelize the onions here, there’s no sugar – but instead you cook them gently in water first to soften them and then gently fry them.
I have to admit that I didn’t bother to remove the skins and seeds from the tomatoes – completely up to you whether you want to or not.
gluten-free, wheat-free, dairy-free, yeast-free, soya-free, egg-free, seed-free
Preparation time 30 minutes Cooking time 1 hour Serves 2
140g/5oz/⅔ cup brown rice, rinsed
4 tbsp green lentils, rinsed
2 bay leaves
1 litre/35fl oz/4½ cups water
1 onion, peeled and finely sliced
1 small onion, peeled and chopped
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
450g/1lb ripe tomatoes
2 tbsp pine nuts, lightly toasted
2 tbsp unsalted pistachio nuts, lightly toasted
20 gratings nutmeg
2 tbsp plus 2 tsp lemon juice
2 pinches saffron threads
a small bunch coriander, to serve
- Put the rice, lentils, bay leaves and 900ml/30fl oz/scant 4 cups water in a saucepan over a medium heat. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat slightly, cover and simmer for 40 minutes, until the rice is tender.
- Meanwhile, put the sliced onion, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and 150ml/5fl oz/3⁄4 cup water in a frying pan over a medium to low heat and cook gently for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and sweet. Increase the heat to high and boil off any excess water, then cook the onions for about 8 minutes until brown and caramelized. Watch them carefully and stir frequently to prevent them burning.
- While the onion and rice are cooking, skin the tomatoes. Cut a cross in the top of each tomato and put them in a large heatproof bowl. Pour over enough boiling water to cover and leave for 10 seconds. Remove the tomatoes from the water using a slotted spoon, and peel off the skin when they are cool enough to handle. Discard the seeds and roughly chop the tomato flesh.
- Put the chopped onion and the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a medium saucepan over a low heat and cook for 10 minutes, until softened. Add the saffron and cook for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, raise the heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes, until the tomatoes have softened slightly but have not collapsed. Stir in 2 teaspoons of the lemon juice.
- Drain the rice and remove the bay leaves. Stir in the pine nuts, pistachios, caramelized onions, nutmeg and the remaining 2 tablespoons of lemon juice.
- Divide the rice between two plates and spoon over the tomato sauce. Scatter over the coriander and serve.