Despite the fact that creating recipes is the thing that I love to do the most, I actually find it really hard to write down the recipes that I make day-to-day. I've never been very good at following recipes - I can read cook books for hours, yes. But after a glance at the ingredient list, my brain is taking off thinking about what I have in the cupboard/fridge, what I can eat and how I can make my own version of whatever recipe has inspired me - what if I put this ingredient in, would it work with a rice flour base instead, would cinnamon be weird, can I make it better?
Last night was a classic Zoë making weird food situation. I wanted to make stuffed aubergine, but I couldn't be bothered waiting for the halves to cook, so I cut the aubergine into really thick slices, and used that as a base rather than a case. I also happened to have a random assortment of leftovers that came together amazingly well: a pork and fennel sausage, some already cooked polenta, spinach, capsicum and vegan cheese. If I made the recipe tomorrow it wouldn't be even remotely the same, it might have a tin of salmon, coriander and pine nut pesto, lemon zest, brown rice and goat feta to make up the filling/topping. And spinach, of course.
But me making up vague recipes like that probably isn't going to help anyone that's trying to get their head around the low-FODMAP diet. Or even like, a hungry person. So while today's approach to a recipe is going to be different to my usual approach, I am not going to leave you with a vague set of ideas and no instructions to follow!
Cut a medium-sized aubergine into four slices. My slices were about 1.5 cm. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Bake at 200°C for about 15 minutes, until the slices are lightly browned.
While the aubergine is cooking, get the topping ready to go. I made enough for two meals, using 1.5 pork and fennel sausages, about a cup of cooked polenta, half a sweet long capsicum (regular capsicum would also work well), and a couple of spinach bunches/plant/insert appropriate term here. Use the spinach stalks! Just cook them for a bit longer than the leaves and you won't even realise they're there.
In a frying pan, heat up a couple of tablespoons of olive oil over a medium-high heat, finely slice your capsicum and spinach stalks. Add these to the pan and sauté until they begin to soften. Add the spinach leaves and keep cooking until they wilt. You want the vegetables to be bright and softened, but not 100% done - otherwise you'll end up with overdone veggies once they've been toasted with the aubergine.
I had cooked polenta and sausages all ready to go, so I just mashed the polenta up and chopped the sausage into small pieces and mixed these together, adding the veggies once they were done. The mixture wasn't overly sticky, so when I scooped it onto the aubergine it kind of went all over the place, but I just tidied it up so that all of the topping did end up on the aubergine slices. I finished up by grated vegan cheese (regular cheese would definitely work here too) over the top - this served to bind the topping together as it melted in the oven. Bake the aubergine slices for another 10-15 minutes, until the cheese is melted and slightly browned, and the topping has somewhat amalgamated with the aubergine.
I ate mine with a sauce made by simmering a tin of chopped tomatoes with paprika, a dash of Worcestershire sauce and a teaspoon of rice malt syrup (and salt and pepper of course), for about 15-20 minutes.
Seriously, it was too good. You've got to try it.
To give you an idea of how else you could make this - because what are the chances that your leftovers are the same as mine? Pretty slim.
Instead of polenta, try using rice, leftover risotto, breadcrumbs, a piece of bread soaked in milk and mushed up (or a dairy free, gluten free equivalent), buckwheat groats...
Instead of sausage: pretty much any cooked meat would work. Chicken, pork mince, tinned salmon or tuna, fresh fish, prawns! Scrambled tofu or eggs would also be delicious, and you could add some toasted seeds or nuts in for extra protein if you like. If you use a plain meat, consider adding some herbs or spices to pep the flavours up a bit.
Vegetable-wise, pretty much any leafy green, green beans, peas, zucchini, corn... Whatever you've got lying around will probably work, just be sure to cut it up quite small so that it can combine well with other ingredients, and don't be too shy with the olive oil when you're sautéing them up.
If you create any amazing combinations, let me know! I'm always on the lookout for new ideas.
p.s. 'WeirdFood' is how I refer to the strange mix of food I eat every day. This is my attempt to share easy, daily recipes with you.