Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Quorn Carbonara with Mince


I was a bit baffled by even the concept of this recipe when I first looked at it. This was not helped by the fact that this is one of few recipes in the book which does not have an illustrative photograph of the completed recipe. Mince!? With carbonara!? It just did not sound right.

As I mentioned fairly recently when I made the standard quorn carbonara, this pasta dish is not one of our favourites anyway - but we were actually pleasantly surprised by this and so I was ready to be convinced that a version with mince (as absurd as this seemed) could also be impressive.

Unfortunately it was not.

It is a very simple recipe where basically you just cook off the quorn mince with some sauteed onion and garlic, cook the spaghetti and drain then whisk together a couple of eggs and a tblsp of parmasan and mix the whole lot together. The heat of the pasta and mince cooks the egg mixture and it coats the pasta. And it is DRY. Very dry.

To be fair, the first few mouthfulls were pretty ok, garnished with fresh parsley and some freshly grated black pepper...but halfway through I started to feel like I was eating straw...and I was just LONGING for some kind of sexy sauce with pizazz and flavour and heat...and this is not it.

Here is a photo of the pasta served:

Personally I just do not think carbonara with mince is a good idea. The mince and spaghetti soak up any moisture out of the eggs (which is really the only place any moisture is) and the whole thing is really rather bland. H (husband, getting bored of typing it so H will suffice) summed it up by saying 'it's not very exciting is it?' which was very diplomatic to be honest.

I do not think I will make this one again.

Points wise it is a very low dish for pasta, mainly because it is so simple, each portion works out at 10 points as follows: pasta (6), eggs (2), parmasan (1). I got round the oil by using a spray version to saute the onions and garlic.

Thanks but no thanks for this one, we gave it an uninspiring 5/10.

Quorn Fajitas


We eat a lot of fajitas in our house, it is one of our favourite meals and I have been making them with quorn pieces for years so this was an interesting recipe to try. The main difference was that this recipe creates the seasoning from scratch whereas I would normally just use a packet mix to save time.

However, I have to say that the seasoning was very simple to make and tasty and due to the marinading it could easily be done in a morning for a quick meal later in the day. The marinade consists of lime juice and zest, cayenne pepper, sugar, cinnamon, cumin and oregano and I left mine soaking in for a couple of hours although the recipe suggests 30 minutes is sufficient.

The making of the fajitas is very simple, you just fry off some onion and peppers and then add the marinaded pieces, fry it all together for a few minutes and serve in the usual way with fresh salsa and sour cream to accompany them.

These are some photos of the process and the finished product:

I really enjoyed these and liked the citrus zing that the lime juice and zest had given to the marinade. My husband was not so convinced and almost immediately declared that he prefers the standard packet mix. He really is not a fan of citrus in savoury dishes though so I was not incredibly surprised.

I felt that it gave a fresh, balanced flavour which worked really well with the salsa, I very much enjoyed these fajitas and I also think this would work very well with steak strips instead of normal chicken style pieces.

In terms of ww propoints, these work out at 10 points per portion based on having 2 fajitas each with around a table spoon of reduced fat sour cream (I honestly cannot tell the difference between the full fat version and this) and fresh salsa.

The 10 points is broken down as follows: flour tortillas x 2 (5), quorn pieces (2), sour cream (2), oil (1). This is pretty good considering how filling and tasty they are and to be honest you could even get away with an extra tortilla for another 3 points and it would still be within a good points value for a main meal.

I gave this 8/10. Husband says 7/10 so somewhere around there!

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Quorn Teriyaki


I do apologise for the slow progress currently being made with this project, life has been incredibly busy of late and for some reason the manic activity (both at work and at home) looks set to continue until at least September. We have weddings, deadlines, family events, various application processes and professional hurdles to accomodate. 2011 looks set to be a demanding year all round.

Anyway, I made this Quorn Teriyaki over the weekend as I happened to have everything in to make it with. The recipe suggests marinading the quorn steak strips for around 30 minutes but as with all marinades I always believe that the longer the better. I prepped mine mid afternoon and allowed it to soak for a good few hours and I do believe this intensified the flavours.

The other good thing about doing this early is that when you come to cook the dish it is incredibly quick and easy, most of the ingredients go in the marinade so you are only left with stir-frying the lot and cooking the noodles, making this a speedy dish to produce.

Here is a pic of the steak strips marinading - the marinade consists of oil, grated fresh ginger, chopped garlic, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, fresh orange juice and zest:

And this is a photo of the finished dish:

I actually 'cheated' and used some 'straight to wok' noodles so the whole thing was rather effortless at the end! I thought that the taste was pretty good and quite distinctive although as you also add fresh lemon juice whilst stir-frying this was yet another strangely citrus flavour (seems to be a favourite of the Quorn cook book in general). I liked the fresh coriander burst but then I do love the taste of coriander in anything, it is pretty strong here as it is added in at the last minute.

Points wise this is a pretty healthy dish with a portion coming in at 10 points including noodles. This is based on the recipe serving 3 portions though as personally we did not think 4 portions would have made very generous or filling meals. Here I have used 2 x 150g packets of straight to wok noodles intended to provide 3 servings so this should be factored in.

The 10 points is broken down as follows: quorn (2), noodles (6), oil (2). Everything else in this recipe has zero points values because it is all fresh veg and seasoning elements.

I would certainly make this again as I enjoyed it and it is so low in points. My husband was not overly keen on it but thought it was 'ok' - for him the citrus flavour made him less keen. This could be balanced out though in a future attempt and I would be tempted to increase the soy and rice wine instead to bring those flavours through.

Overall I would give this a 7/10. 

I will endeavour to get more on here sooner rather than later but we are off to Italy next week on a fly drive foodie adventure (hoping to bring back some fresh parmasan and balsamic vinegar). Have fun in the meantime!    

Monday, 13 June 2011

Quorn Schnitzel Parmi

This is not from the book, it is a recipe I have adapted to recreate a dish which we saw a lot of in Australia and which my husband desperately wanted to try. It features on pretty much every pub menu across Australia as Chicken or Beef Schnitzel, the parmi bit is the option to have the dish Parmigiana style - but the ozzies all just refer to it as a 'parmi'.

I, of course, tried the chicken version a couple of times while we were out there and watched my veggie husband's face as he plainly coveted my tea. I immediately realised that by using quorn escalopes this dish would be fairly easy to recreate and therefore I tried it the minute we got home (literally less than 24 hours after we got off the plane).

It is safe to say it was a roaring success and as good as he imagined it was going to be - accordingly it has now become one of our 'treats' (due to the amount of cheese). I have adapted elements of some of the best parmi's I had out there, although not all contained either the ham or the tomato sauce. This recipe would also be very easy to adapt and you could also add sliced and griddled aubergine instead of (or in addition to) the ham layer.

To create the 'parmi' I take a quorn escalope (it does not matter which one, I have used both lemon & black pepper and the goat's cheese & broccoli and both work well although I prefer the former) and oven cook it as normal. Once it is cooked through I switch the grill on and apply a layer of pizza topper tomato sauce, a slice of quorn ham and about 20g of grated mature cheddar.

This is what it looks like about to go under the grill:

And here it is served with the perfect accompaniment - chunky oven chips!

We really enjoy this, the crunchy escalope really works with this addition and to be honest, it is hard to tell its not the real thing (in my humble opinion) because the texture is pretty much bang on.

The weight watchers points are not too bad considering - each parmi portion is 10 pro points, split out as follows (and based on lemon and black pepper version): quorn escalope (7), cheese (2), pizza topper (1). As only one ham slice is used my tracker does not bother counting this (one of the eccentricities of the pro points system). 

This is not too bad a points value, with low fat oven chips it means a very filling and tasty meal for around 18 points and is well worth it.

I am quite pleased with how this experiment turned out and I will definitely be making these again, maybe Quorn should include it in the 2nd edition of the Recipe book!

Monday, 6 June 2011

Greek Style Quorn Salad


After the indulgence of the bank holiday weekend and a week where I ended up eating out three times (purely by chance!) I decided to make one of the salads from the cookbook. This is despite me not being the biggest salad as a meal fan (can't stand cucumbers or raw tomatoes) but we do get through a lot of it on sandwiches and the such like.

I had the added incentive that my lovely friends the Haywards had provided me with some of their excess lettuce, fresh from the greenhouse (many thanks Mike!). I therefore picked the greek salad as I happened to have everything in that I needed and off we went.

The quorn in this recipe is pieces which are marinaded in lemon juice and olive oil before being browned off and put to one side. I prepped everything else while these were browning and the whole thing took less than 10 minutes to put together.

The 'dressing' for the salad is made of more lemon juice and olive oil combined with salt, pepper, oregano and fresh mint. This is then tossed with crumbled chunks of feta cheese, thinly sliced spring onions and avacado. You then layer the salad leaves and quorn pieces before tipping the dressing over and adding sliced tomatoes and black olives as garnish.

This is what it looked like:

This was actually a lovely dish, very light and with a zingy and very mediterranean tasting dressing. The spring onions came through as a stronger flavour than I thought and I would possibly use less of them next time and more feta - but overall this was thoroughly enjoyable.

Fantastic in terms of weight watchers points as most of the ingredients are free - I took it easy with the olive oil too and used less than the 5 tblsp recommended (I used 4). Each portion is therefore 6 points as follows: quorn (2), oil (2) avacado (1), feta (1).

I do think I would make this again and would seriously consider it as a lunch option for work although that would mean storing the dressing seperately for the freshest possible result.

It seems there are a number of light dishes to work through now so expect more of these kind of recipes which hopefully will be ideal for summer eating!