Health Foods - Nutrition - Diets - Recipes:
Italian Pepper Gratin
Below is my favourite recipe of late - Its easy to make, you can use a variety of ingredients, it's pleasing to the palate, tastes even better the 2nd day and can be made low fat, non-dairy, non wheat. I will list some variations at the end that I have tried and we loved them. This dish is traditionally served as an appetiser or side dish, however I tend to add a lot to it so it can become a main with some greens or veggies on the side.
The first time I made this with the peppers as per the instructions, after that I found some peppers at a reasonable price that were ready to go and so I used those instead. (the prepared peppers sometimes work out to be similiar in price to the fresh ones) Other times I haven't had the peppers on hand and so improvised (see bit at the end). I also double all quantities to make a enough for 4 serves. This doesn't really come out together like a piece of lasagne would, you have to scoup it out to serve it.
- 2 Red capsicum
- 15ml/1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- 5 ml/1 tsp capers
- 8 pitted black olives, roughly chopped
- 15ml/1 tablespn chopped fresh oregano
- 15ml/1 tablespn fresh flat leaf parsley
- salt and fresh ground black pepper
- 60ml/4 tablespn fresh white breadcrumbs
(for GLUTEN free- use white rice crumbs - found in most health food stores)
- fresh herbs to garnish
To prepare the peppers
Preheat the grill to high. Lightly grease a small ovenproof dish and set aside. Place the peppers on a grill rack and place under the hot grill. Turn occasionally until they are blackened and blistered all over (watch them carefully!). Remove from the heat and place in a plastic food bag. Seal and leave to cool. This allows them to 'sweat' and the skin will be easier to peel away from the flesh.
Preheat the over to 200°C/400°F/Gas6. When cool, skin the peppers. (Not under the tap as the water would wash away some of the delicious smoky flavour.) Halve the peppers lengthways and remove and discard the stalks, cares and seeds, then cut the flesh into thick strips.
Arrange the pepper strips in the prepared dish. When I double the ingredients, I use a over proof dish that is about 21cm x 21cm.
Sprinkle the remaining ingredients evenly on top, drizzle with the olive oil and add salt and pepper to taste. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes or until the crumbs on the top have browned. Garnish with fresh herbs and serve immediately.
The Variations on this delicious meal
- Instead of peppers I have used zucchinis and mushrooms. Fry 1white onion chopped fine and 1 clove of finely chopped garlic in a tablesppon of olive oil, add the sliced mushrooms and zucchinis (peeled) drain them well before putting them in the dish. Then add the other ingredients. I used 2 large zuchs and 8 mid size mushrooms.
- You can add a 425g can of tuna (drained) on top of the peppers/or zucchinis.
- Another addition that goes well with all of these is a can of cannellini beans (drain first).
- I have also added extra black olives and about 1 cm of a red onion, thinly sliced and spread around.
- The oregano that I used the first time, was left out on the bench top and has dried nicely - and so I have been using the dried leaves in place of the fresh ones, adding it into one of the layers as the moisture enhances flavours and still creates that aromatic Mediterranean taste. I don't always have the parsely on hand to add either.
- You could also use lentils in this dish with these combinations.
If you find meal preparation after work a chore - this dish is great because it can be very quick and if you double it - have enough for the next day. Its nice with a simple salad like rocket or baby spinach and some fresh tomatoes.
Another relatively easy dish is Vegetable Paella again this is low fat, good fibre and is great on its own or with grilled fish or grilled chicken.
- 1 onion chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 225g leeks, washed and sliced (or red onions, or shallots)
- 3 celery sticks, chopped
- 1 red capsicum pepper, seeded and sliced
- 2 zucchini sliced
- 175g brown cap mushrooms sliced
- 400g can cannellini beans (or black-eyed peas/beans)
- 175g 1 1/2 cups of frozen peas
- 450g/2 1/4 cups long grain brown rice
- 900 ml/3 3/4 cups vegetable stock
- 60 ml/4 tblsp dry white wine
- a few saffron threads
- 225g cherry tomatoes - halved
- 45 - 60ml fresh mixed herbs
- salt and ground black pepper
- celery leaves/parsely and cherry tomatoes to garnish
- lemon wedges to serve.
Put garlic, onion, leeks, celery, red pepper, zuchs, and mushrooms in a large pan and mix together.
Rinse and drain the cannellini beans. Add them to the pan with the paces, rice, wine and saffron threads.
Cover and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for about 35 minutes, or until almost all the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is tender.
Stir in the tomatoes. Chop the herbs and add them to the pan. Season to taste. Serve immediately, garnish with cherry tomatoes and accompanied by lemon wedges for squeezing.
Article by Shauna Kendall