Saturday, July 17, 2010

Even better than the real thing - 'ricotta' + spinach stuffed pasta shells

We suddenly have kitchen cupboards and jars overflowing with various shaped pasta...which is good because I'll never need to buy pasta again, and it's all fancy brands haha. For about a week Nadine was bringing home packets that had holes in them etc, can't be sold but can still be eaten! One of the shapes were these giant shells, perfect for stuffing. So I followed a recipe from Skinny Bitch in the Kitch for vegan stuffed shells. Fantabulous. The 'ricotta' is literally just firm tofu, olive oil, oregano and garlic whizzed in a blender until smooth. It literally tastes like and has the same texture as the real thing - only difference was that it didn't give me a stomach ache as soon as I ate some.

I know it's pretty much just a recreation of the only option a lot of restaurants (particularly pubs) offer vegetarians, but you know, sometimes you just want squishy cheese and spinach stuffed pasta. This is just a tastier and healthier version of it. Good to give to omnivorous family and friends. You can't even tell the difference. I'll be using this ricotta recipe for my homemade ravioli next time I decide to pull out the machine. I don't why I haven't before :)

I have been juicing up a storm since I got my juicer last week. I've got all sorts of vegetables in the fridge to use (I read somewhere that if you have too much of one thing too often you can actually become allergic to it - wouldn't it be tragic if I was allergic to carrots?) from carrots to fennel. I found a delicious sounding recipe with celery, fennel and cucumber juiced together. I know you are supposed to avoid mixing (according to a fresh fruit and veg guide to women's health I picked up in the fruit shop), but I don't know if I could do straight fennel. I'm not really the biggest licorice fan - then again, I've never eaten fennel in my life so who knows, I might love it.

Anyway this juice is beetroot, carrot and celery. (Root vegetables are ok together). I think this is my favourite combination so far, I just love beetroot juice. The carrot and the celery seem to take away the 'earthy' taste that people (Nadine) don't seem to like about raw beetroot.


1/2 large beetroot, peeled and cut to fit in juicer
3 med/large carrots
1 large stick celery

Juice each vegetable. Mix together. Drink :) Makes enough for one.

This morning I decided to adapt a recipe I found in Karma Cookbook 'Agar Agar Drink'. It's supposed to help relieve constipation, and let me tell you, it works. The original recipe called for 600ml sugar free organic apple juice, but I can't afford to buy that and I can't stand the regular kind you get in the supermarket. Way too sweet. So I juiced two large fresh granny smith apples with my juicer - this made about 250ml, and then I diluted it with 50ml of water. I made half the recipe.

Note: nothing compares to the deliciousness of freshly squeezed apple juice. Nothing.

300ml apple juice
pinch of salt
1 tsp agar agar flakes

Pour into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Simmer for ten minutes. Drink hot.

Now, I forgot to read the whole thing so I didn't simmer it for ten minutes and therefore my agar agar wasn't quite fully dissolved. But I just ate it with a spoon when I got to the end :) This was so delicious. It took a few minutes to get used to hot apple juice, but it tasted kind of like apple pie without the spices.

With the vegetable pulp left in the juicer at the end I made these burger patties. I can't remember what exactly I put in them (I really should have written it down) but next time I make them I will. I hate wastage. Other things I could do with the pulp could be adding it to pasta sauces or stir frys, or muffins. I've read somewhere that the pulp is tasteless because all the taste and nutrients come out with the juice, but I think because my juicer is old and second hand it doesn't quite get all the juice it could out so the pulp is still quite tasteful. Obviously not as much as if the vegetable was whole, but doesn't taste of cardboard. So I may as well use it :)

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