Paleo Mediterranean Stuffed Veggies

_DSC0905

Such an easy dinner. Can be made in advance and left in the fridge to bake when you get home.

 

Stuffed Vegetables with Dill Sauce and Salad

 Assorted vegetables

Eggplants, capsicums, tomatoes, mushrooms, peppers, zucchini or anything ‘suffable’ and Mediterranean

The following filling will fill 6-8 large stuffed veggies (halved eggplants or regular capsicum or whole large field mushrooms). Or 8-12 smaller veggies like halved Lebanese eggplants, long peppers, smaller mushrooms or medium sized tomatoes.

Filling

100g pork mince
1 tomato quartered
1 clove garlic (optional, omit for FODMAP)
1/2 bunch dill roughly chopped (use the bottom stalk half)
innards from your veggies
salt, pepper and nutmeg to season
1/4 tsp paprika or smoked paprika
1/4 cup pine nuts

1/2 jar tomato pasatta

I used 2 large field mushrooms, 1 large eggplant cut in half and 2 small long thin green peppers in halves so had 8 stuffed veggies. Next time I’ll use Lebanese long thin eggplants as they cook quicker and are easier to divide up. This fed 4 hungry adults and a little one.

For larger veggies its a good idea to pre cook them first to ensure they are nice and tender and it gives you the opportunity to add some nice smokey flavours if you do so by char grilling or BBQing them!

With your eggplants/zucchinis cut it in half and score it in a criss cross pattern through the flesh almost but not all the way to the skin. Drizzle with a little olive oil. BBQ or char grill until its nicely grilled but it wont be fully cooked yet. Do the same with large field mushrooms turning once. Capsicums and tomatoes don’t need pre-cooking.

Remove the stem from your mushrooms and scoop the innards from your eggplant halves to add to your filling. Cut your capsicums or peppers in half and take out the seeds and white veins and discard. If you are going to stuff tomatoes you can use the scooped out innards of them in the filling in place of the extra tomato.

In a Thermomix in Australia​ or blender add all the ingredients except the pine nuts and chop together on speed 4 or 5 for 10-20 seconds or until well combined. Add the pine nuts and mix on reverse on speed 4 until mixed through or stir in with a spatular.

Stuff your veggies liberally dividing the mix between them all.

Place in a baking tray and pour in the tomato pasatta – which keeps them moist as they cook and makes a lovely sauce to go with your veggies.

Optionally top with an extra sprinkle of paprika and salt, especially if you forgot to add the salt into the mix!

Bake at 180°C for an hour or until the veggies are tender and the filling is cooked through.

_DSC0893_DSC0894_DSC0902_DSC0906

As this dish is kind of a cross between my high school friends moms Greek Stuffed Veggies and my moms Hungarian Capsicums I like to have it with the creamy dill sauce my mom serves but the filling itself is more Mediterranean. The creamy sauce works wonderfully with them lifts it to another level but is not strictly necessary as you have the tomato sauce (unless your dear dad accidentally added tomato sauce as in ketchup, not passata to the baking dish before baking them for you while looking after the little one while you picked up your mother in law from the airport).

_DSC0903
Creamy Dill Sauce Paleo Version

1/2 cup cashew cream or thick coconut cream
1/2 bunch dill leaves finely chopped
very generous squeeze of lemon juice
zest of quarter lemon
spoon of dijon mustard
salt, pepper and nutmeg to season

Mix and season to taste.
Creamy Dill Sauce Primal Dairy Version

1/2 tub organic sour cream or cream
1/2 bunch dill leaves finely chopped
squeeze of lemon juice
zest of quarter lemon
spoon of dijon mustard
salt, pepper and nutmeg to season

Mix and season to taste.

_DSC0906
Other Herb Options:

If you don’t like dill you can use parsley, chervil, mint, sage, oregano, thyme or a combination of herbs. Fresh are best for a lovely fragrance in both the stuffing and sauce but in a pinch you can use a dry herb mix. You can freeze herbs which is handy if you don’t have them growing.
Other meats or Vegan version:

If you don’t like pork mince use lamb, beef or chicken mince or you can even use tofu for a vegan version – I recommend Earnest Bean smoked tofu or Byron Bay Chick Pea Tempeh for soy free and divinely creamy.
Can use diced tinned tomatoes:

If you have tinned tomatoes in your pantry then use a can of tinned diced tomatoes. I only use passata as there is no BPA in the glass bottles in comes in – especially with highly acidic ingredients like tomatoes they can leach a lot out of the can and its lining.

The Perfect Paleo Waffles

 

After many, many trials…

_DSC0923_DSC0908_DSC0712_DSC0922

I have perfected the Paleo Waffle!

What I wanted was an easy, scalable recipe that would yield crunchy, fluffy, not too sweet waffles that you could top with any sweet topping and easily flavour with say Matcha Green Tea Powder or Raspberries and ‘White Chocolate’ or… anything you fancy.

I use some of my favourite ingredients, like seasonally available and well worth seeking out, chestnut flour. Which can be substituted for tapioca starch.

 

Basic Paleo Belgian Waffles

100g Butter or Ghee
100g Coconut Oil
4 large Eggs
1 cup Almond Milk or Coconut Milk
1 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar or Lemon Juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups Almond Meal
1 cup Chestnut Flour or Tapioca Starch
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/3 cup Coconut Sugar or Honey
Optional: 2 Tbsp Green Banana Flour or 1 Tbsp Grass Fed Gelatin

Melt the butter and oil together then whisk in the eggs, milk, vinegar and vanilla. Mix in the dry ingredients then set your waffle iron to heat, giving your batter time to rest and thicken.

I use a Breville ‘Smart Waffle’ iron set to ‘Classic’ setting with 2 extra notches to darker.

Fill to half way or just covering the peaks and impatiently leave to cook until done. Make a cuppa tea or plunger of coffee in the mean time.

Top with Blueberry Syrup, Stewed Apples, Honey and Butter, Coconut Cream and Loving Earth White Chocolate, Bananas… or anything you like.

_DSC0716_DSC0715_DSC0713_DSC0719

Thermomixing it

Melt the butter and oil for 3 minutes at 60°C on speed 2.

Add the eggs, milk, vinegar and vanilla and whisk at speed 4 for 5 seconds.

Add the rest of the ingredients and blend on speed 10 for 20 seconds.

You can use 2 cups of whole almonds and simply blend them into your batter in the last step for 1 minute at speed 10. Your batter will be golden brown not ‘white’ from the almond skins. 

_DSC0908

Additions and Substitutions

Add banana flour if you want denser waffles or gelatine for chewier ones. Both are great supplements in their own right for different health benefits. Green Banana Flour is high in gut healing resistant starch and Grass Fed Gelatine is also gut healing.

Use the milky part from the bottom half of a can of coconut cream and save the creamy top to make a whipped cream for your waffles or some other crazy Paleo treat.

If you don’t have chestnut flour or tapioca starch you could use cornflour (not Paleo but GF), or ¾ cup quinoa flour, buckwheat flour or millet flour (all Grain Free but not Paleo).

The vinegar or lemon juice help to activate the baking soda.

The vanilla is optional.

If you want them EGG FREE then use 2 Tbsp chia seeds and an extra ½ cup milk mixed together first and left to thicken.

For a NUT FREE version use sunflower meal made by grinding sunflower seeds. Or use desiccated coconut that you grind into a flour first, I don’t really like coconut ‘flour’ as it is very dry where as making your own coconut meal from desiccated coconut is easy and much moister.

_DSC0718

Chicken & Eggplant Tagine with Rosewater Hazelnuts

_DSC0823

This is a very simple recipe for one of my favourite dishes, a tagine. Bursting with warm, spicy, sweet, sour, savoury, fresh and slow cooked flavours a tagine is the ultimate taste experience. Right down to the unveiling when you lift the lid off at the table and everyone enjoys an intense waft of aroma…. Ok my mouth is watering and we just ate!

This is a very simple version, one that is onion/garlic free (however feel free to add both if you fancy) and is very Paleo with a rich, thick sticky sauce that takes advantage of slow cooking on the bone. The recipe is also very versatile. See the notes at the end for some alternative veggies or meats. For example its great made with lamb shanks in place of chicken legs.

Choose your pot well. It needs to be thick bottomed, stove and oven proof and just large enough to fit all the chicken legs in one layer. I have a beautiful black tagine, but chose to use my Chasseur because we weren’t entertaining and its easier to get in and out the oven and to clean.

I intended to do rosewater hazelnuts but pictured are chickpeas because it was a pregnant craving for a few carbs. I didn’t have a cauliflower to make cauli-couscous but I very highly recommend planning ahead and making it. Or at least serving with some steamed green beans or on a bed of baby spinach. But its midweek and I’m not shopping till Thursday.

_DSC0817

 

Chicken & Eggplant Tagine 
9-12 chicken legs
¼ cup high smoking point fat (lard, tallow, ghee or coconut)
1 large eggplant, diced
1 large sweet potato, diced (or 2-3 carrots for Paleo)
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground pepper
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
¼ preserved lemon or zest of 1 lemon or orange
handful of dry sour cherries or sultanas
handful of dry apricots or prunes or figs
Rosewater Hazelnuts or Chickpeas:
1 cup roasted hazelnuts or 1 can chickpeas
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp red wine or apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
1 Tbsp rosewater
1 Tbsp coconut aminos or 1 tsp honey
a sprinkle of cinnamon, nutmeg, black pepper and paprika
To serve:
a handful of fresh mint

To make Cauli-Couscous see my Cauli-Rice post and make a finer version. Either plain or Moroccan spiced.

_DSC0812_DSC0813_DSC0815_DSC0818
Chicken & Eggplant Tagine 
Heat your heavy based pan on high heat with the chosen high smoking point fat. I used the fat that had rendered off a roast pork last weekend, it was faintly apple scented but any fat will do. Use either ghee (clarified butter), lard (pork fat), tallow (beef fat), schmaltz (chicken fat), duck fat or coconut oil. Olive oil or regular butter will burn but you could use avocado oil which has a higher smoking point.
Once smoking hot carefully lay in your chicken legs and brown well then turn over and brown the other side.
Meanwhile dice your eggplant and salt with a teaspoon of sea salt. Leave in a bowl while your legs are browning.
Take the pot off the heat and remove all the legs or work quickly to get them all out then add the eggplant to the pan. Stir well to coat all the eggplant evenly as it will suck up the fat. Cook until a little charred and smokey. Turn off the heat then scoop out into a bowl with your diced sweet potato.
Pour in about a cup of water and scrape the base of the pan to release any suck bits.
Add the legs and any liquid that has accumulated on the plate back to the pan then sprinkle with all the spices and the fruits. You can add more preserved lemon, up to one whole lemon. Either sliced or diced. If using lemon/orange zest add half a teaspoon salt.
Add enough water to come up half way up the legs.
Spread the eggplant and sweet potato over and pop on the lid. Bake at 180°C for 4 hours or until the meat is falling of the bone and the sauce is dark and sticky. Add more liquid if needed during cooking so it doesn’t dry out.
To serve:
Once your tagine is ready toss all the ingredients for the rosewater hazels/chickpeas in a small pan until the liquid has reduced. Scatter over your tagine along with the chopped fresh mint. Serve with cauli-rice or cauli-couscous.
 _DSC0819_DSC0820_DSC0821_DSC0826
Alternative Ingredients and Substitutions:
Spices: if you have a good Middle Eastern, Moroccan or Tagine spice mix you can just use 1-2 Tbsp of that in place of all the spices. I have a lovely organic one but it contains onion/garlic powder which I am avoiding at the moment.
Chicken legs: the benefit of cooking legs is you take advantage of the slow cooking and draw out all the gelatine, effectively making your sauce a concentrated bone broth. If you prefer you can use thighs, on or off the bone or even breasts. But you wont get any gelatine. Alternatively you can use a cut you favour and add a few necks or wings in that will make a thick Paleo sauce and you don’t have to eat them if you don’t like – feel free to drop them off here for me!
Other Meats: this is equally divine using lamb shanks or another cut of lamb on the bone. Or you can use any fowl such as duck, pheasant, goose or pigeon. If using another bird then I recommend using the whole thing cut up into pieces unless you can get your hands on a few kilos of just legs. You could use beef, such as diced gravy beef with lots of gelatine or oxtail.
Other Vegetables: I only had a sweet potato and an eggplant so that is what I used. Eggplant does make it very luscious and gets smokey when fried but you could use 2 onions or a fennel bulb or a few zucchini. You can add lots more veggies such as carrot, turnip, zucchini or tomatoes. Green beans or peas would be best added 10-20 minutes before you serve it. Spinach could be scattered over while you prepare the hazelnuts.
_DSC0821