If you have ever tried to give up carbs, or even just tried to eat fewer of them, then I don’t need to tell you how hard it is to feel full – and how easy it is to feel deprived.
Now I am 7 years into my own carb-free journey, I am much less deranged with deprivation than I was for the first year during which I would – literally – go to bed dreaming about bread, cake and crisps. But there is no denying the fact that sometimes all the green vegetables in the world, delicious as they may be, just don’t quite cut the mustard on the fullness front.
And, since the secret to being happy on a carb-free diet is to find ways not to feel deprived, these 3 dishes are total stalwarts on my weekly menu, being that holy trinity of easy, delicious – and satisfying.
They each involve quite large and unwieldy vegetables though, so these are 3 recipes where it really pays to have a robust and sharp knife and in the case of the cauliflower rice, a food processor. Having said that, I have made it with a grater, and it’s fine – just a bit more work. The other thing to mention about cauliflower rice is that when I first made it, I used to microwave it, which totally does the trick. But roasting it, with a bit of oil, both brings out the flavour and dries it out too, which is a good thing when you are eating it with curry or something else a little bit saucy that needs mopping up.
The faff of both the celeriac and the squash is mainly in the preparation. You really do need a decent peeler but once you have one – I use the SharpPeel veg peeler from Lakeland, which is under a fiver but honestly the best peeler I have ever used – you will make short work of even the toughest and rootiest veg. And the faff-factor is so worth it for the resulting crispy gorgeousness, which is so good it can even eclipse actual chips!
This takes minutes to prepare and minutes to cook, so it’s actually one of the asiest way to have cauliflower – and it works so well posing as rice!
You will need:
1 medium-sized cauliflower
½ fresh chilli, seeds removed and finely chopped handful chopped coriander ground nut oil
Preheat the oven to 200C, gas 6. Remove the outer leaves from the cauliflower, cut it into quarters and remove most of the thick core, then cut each quarter into 2-3 chunks. To avoid overloading the blender, blitz it in 2-3 batches, for 30 seconds or so, until the cauliflower resembles fine rice. If you are grating, use the coarse side of the grater.
Toss the rice in a drizzle of oil in a baking tray and spread it out to a thin, even layer. Roast for 12 minutes, mixing halfway through cooking. Season after cooking, and add the finely chopped chilli and coriander (or other herbs, depending on what you are making to serve with it).
2. Celeriac chips with homemade aioli
A fab alternative to chips (and better for you), celeriac chips are just meant to be with aioli.
You will need:
1 celeriac ground nut oil
salt and pepper paprika
Preheat the oven to 190C, gas 5. Wash and peel the celeriac, which is no mean feat! Slice off the top and bottom and cut the celeriac into thumb-thick slices and then into fat chip shapes (or thin, if you prefer).
Put into a large bowl and toss in a little oil and sea salt. Transfer to a baking tray and cook in the oven for 15 minutes, then carefully toss the chips with two spatulas (so they don’t disintegrate) then cook for another 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Season with a dusting of paprika.
For the aioli:
½ small garlic clove, peeled freshly ground black pepper 1 large free-range egg yolk 1tsp Dijon mustard 285ml extra virgin olive oil 285ml olive oil lemon juice, to taste
Smash up the garlic with 1 teaspoon salt in a pestle and mortar, or with the flat of a large knife. Place the egg yolk and mustard in a bowl and whisk together, then start to add your oils bit by bit. Once you’ve blended in a quarter of the oil, you can start to add the rest in larger amounts. When the mixture thickens, add lemon juice. When all the oil has gone in, add the garlic then season to taste. Et voila!
Give butternut squash a kick with mild chilli powder. You’ll be making this again and again!
You will need:
1 butternut squash
oil mild chilli powder
Preheat your oven to 190C, gas 5. Peel and de-seed your squash, cut into 1cm cubes as evenly as possible (easier said than done, so don’t get too hung up on accuracy).
Before putting into the roasting pan, I put them into a large bowl to toss them in oil using my hands to make sure they are evenly coated. Once in the pan, shake pretty liberal quantities of chilli powder and sea salt and again, toss to make sure they are coated. A word about chilli powders: I use Sainsbury’s mild chilli powder, which is as good as its word, but be warned that other types of mild chilli powders can be no such thing so it is a good idea to proceed with caution if you haven’t tried whatever brand you are using before.
Roast for 25-30 minutes before gently tossing and dislodging any cubes that are stuck, and finish cooking for another 20 minutes or so or until they are totally soft when you fork them, and deliciously chewy and caramelised.