Tomato and Mascarpone Courgetti

It was the Hemsley sisters (some of my favorite foodies) that got me into one of the hottest new food trends-spiralizing -and I am now a sworn believer. Even the briefest look at #courgetti on Instagram will show you that I am not alone in this, making long spaghetti like shapes out of veg is such an amazing way to up your vegetable intake whilst still enjoying all of your favourite pasta/noodle dishes.

By switching carb heavy pasta to courgette (amongst numerous other vegetables you can sprialize with ease) you can feel a little less guilty about enjoying rich sauces and I promise that you won’t notice the difference. I’m not one for health fads and yet I would literally scream from the rooftops to everyone I know about how fab this is; it tastes the same, you really don’t feel like your missing out, and just proves how much we eat with our eyes. It’s even boyfriend friendly- tried, tested and completely approved!

I use the Hemsley & Hemsley spiralizer but if you don’t want to invest in one until you have been converted then a julienne peeler- or even just an ordinary hand held peeler- works absolutely fine. You can use a knife (that’s how I started to do it) but be warned, it’s fiddly and takes a while!

I hope you all enjoy this as much as I do. In the run up to Christmas little tricks such as sprializing go a really long way in helping you to eat lighter without feeling that you have to compromise on deliciousness. This is such a simple dish where the flavours of basil, mascarpone and tomato compliment each other beautifully. The dish feels like Italy on a plate and yet is still substantial and warming enough to be enjoyed on a cold winters night; once tried it’s sure to become a household classic!

Ingredients

2 large courgettes

3 cloves of garlic, crushed.

1 finely diced onion (either red and white is fine)

300g passata or alternatively you can use a tin of chopped tomatoes

80g mascarpone (approx. two heaped tablespoons)

100g young spinach

plenty fresh basil

½ teaspoon of dried oregano

salt and pepper to taste

(you will need a spriralizer, a julienne peeler or hand held peeler)

Method

Start by gently frying your onion in a little coconut oil or ghee for a couple of minutes until soft before adding the garlic and oregano and continuing to sauté for a couple of minutes. If you want to up your vegetable intake further- which after a heavy weekend I often do- then at this stage you can add a finely diced red pepper add cook for another minute.

Add your passata/ tomatoes to the pan and bring to the boil before simmering for around 10 minutes until you have a lovely rich sauce. At this stage you can start to gently stir in your mascarpone until completely incorporated before throwing in the fresh spinach. At this stage you can taste, season and add half your basil leaves as well. As you stir the spinach will wilt and you should be left with a lovely silky sauce to which you can add your spiralized courgette.

Keep the pan on the low heat whilst you stir in the courgette to make sure that it is both warm and completely mixed up with the sauce. Once this is done you are ready to serve. Garnish with the remaining fresh basil leaves and enjoy!

Salmon en Croûte

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • 1 ready rolled sheet of fresh puff pastry (you definitely will not need all of this, half will do but make sure to check by eye that you have enough pastry to wrap each individual salmon piece up securely before cutting)
  • 2 salmon fillets
  • 2/3 of a bunch of watercress very finely chopped.
  • 2 shallots very finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon and 1 tablespoon of butter.
  • 300ml milk
  • 1 tablespoon of flour
  • juice and zest of half a lemon.
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 beaten egg yolk

Method

This recipe is for individual salmon en croûte as, having tried it both ways, I think that the pastry stays crisper than when you make one large one. If you’d prefer to save time then get one piece of salmon big enough for two from your fishmonger and follow the same wrapping steps with just one large piece of pastry.

For ease and speed I chop my shallots and watercress in the food processor, which has the added bonus of giving the sauce an even more beautiful green colour than if you were to do it by hand.

Set your oven to 200°C, line a tray with some baking parchment and start by making the watercress sauce. To do this you will need to make a roux, but fist sauté the finely chopped shallots in the teaspoon of butter in a non-stick saucepan on a medium to low heat. Once they have softened- this should take about 4 minutes- add the remaining tablespoon of butter and then add the flour. Keep vigorously stirring the roux until it resembles a peanut butter coloured paste. Now you can start to add the milk, which should be whisked in little by little so as to ensure that you get a nice silky smooth sauce. Bring the mixture to the boil and then simmer on a low heat until you have a beautiful thick sauce, at which point add the watercress, lemon, nutmeg and seasoning to taste. Simmer for a final couple of minutes before removing from the heat and allowing to cool.

Now it’s time to cut your pastry. You should have two pieces that are each large enough to be folded over the salmon fillet and sealed, with a little bit of pastry left at the top and bottom as well so that you can tightly close up your parcel. My advice is to do all of this on your lined tray, as it not only saves on washing up but means you won’t have to move your delicate parcels around. Place the fillet on top of the pastry and spoon some of the sauce on top of the fish, taking care not to over fill or to get the sauce on the pastry, before folding the pastry right over it (this sounds quite complicated but once you actually do it you’ll see that it’s really easy, all you need is a little common sense!).

Wet your finger with some cold water and seal up your parcel all the way round, crimping all of the sides with a fork to ensure you don’t get any leaks. It’s really important not to be tempted to overfill the parcel with sauce, as you want the pastry to be nice and crisp. I heat up and serve the remainder of the sauce on the side, which works really nicely. Use any little bits of left over pastry to decorate before brushing the parcels with the beaten egg yolk to ensure that they have a beautiful golden shine. Pop them in the oven and bake for twenty minutes, keeping your eye on the pastry as once that looks done the fish will be too.

Serve with green vegetables and the warmed left over watercress sauce. Enjoy!