FOOD
13/06/2017 7:00 AM AEST | Updated 13/06/2017 7:05 AM AEST

Try These Comforting, Delicious Low-Carb Recipes

Low-carb meals don't have to be boring.

It's not often that we think of 'low-carb meals' and 'comforting' together. Especially during the cooler, darker months, we associate comfort food with loads of hot carbs, like pasta and nachos. While delicious, these aren't exactly helpful if you're trying to reduce your carb intake.

Good news: comforting low-carb recipes do exist. And they taste delicious.

From low-carb bangers and mash to hearty lamb curry, these comforting, satisfying recipes from Cooking for Family and Friends by Joe Wicks have got you covered.

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1. Low carb bangers and mash

This is a really awesome low carb alternative to potato mash -- perfect for rest days. It's so tasty I reckon you'll want this cheesy alternative every time.

Prep time: 15 minutes.

Cooking time: 20 minutes.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 medium cauliflower, florets only (about 600g)
  • 1 x 400g tin of butter beans, drained and rinsed (about 240g)
  • 12 sausages
  • 25g parmesan, grated
  • 40g cheddar, grated
  • Salt and pepper

To serve:

  • Sage and onion gravy
  • Small bunch of parsley, finely chopped
  • Steamed greens

METHOD

  1. Preheat your grill to maximum.
  2. Bring a large pan of water to the boil and then chuck in the cauliflower florets and the drained butter beans. Simmer for 15 minutes, or until soft. Drain the cauliflower and beans thoroughly and return to the warm pan.
  3. While the cauliflower and beans are simmering away, slide the sausages under the grill and cook them for about 12 minutes, turning a couple of times until they are cooked through.
  4. While the cauliflower and beans are hot, roughly mash the whole lot together (you won't end up with a smooth mash -- it will still have texture to it). Add both kinds of cheese and stir in to melt. Add a little salt and pepper if you think it needs it.
  5. By now your sausages should be cooked, so serve up the cheesy mash with three sausages each and a ladleful of sage and onion gravy. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve with a healthy portion of steamed greens on the side.

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2. Lamb madras curry

There's nothing better than a night in with good friends and a home-cooked curry. This one is really easy to make and lamb makes a nice change from the usual chicken.

Prep time: 15 minutes.

Cooking time: one hour and 45 minutes.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1½ tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 onions, finely diced
  • 3 tsp garlic puree
  • 3 tsp ginger puree
  • 120g madras spice paste
  • 1.25kg lamb neck, trimmed of fat and then cut into 3cm chunks
  • 250ml chicken stock (optional)
  • 100g cashew nuts
  • 1 small cauliflower, florets only (about 500g, large florets cut in half)
  • 125g ready-to-eat puy lentils
  • 260g baby spinach
  • Large bunch of coriander, roughly chopped
  • Equipment: blender

METHOD

  1. Melt the coconut oil in a large saucepan or casserole dish over a medium to high heat. When it is hot, slide in the diced onions and fry, stirring regularly for four minutes, or until they start to soften and turn translucent.
  2. Spoon in the garlic and ginger puree and continue to fry for another minute, stirring regularly before pouring in the spice paste along with 50ml of water. Stir fry for two minutes. If the mixture starts to burn or stick to the bottom of the pan, then pour in another splash of water and reduce the heat a little.
  3. Add the lamb chunks and fry, stirring for one minute. Pour in 250ml of stock or water and bring to the boil.
  4. Put a lid on and simmer for one hour, until the meat is just tender. Keep checking on the curry during the cooking time and if you feel that too much liquid has been lost, add a little more. Give it a little stir every now and then to stop it from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  5. While the curry is cooking, make the cashew cream. Place the cashews into a bowl and cover them with boiling water. Leave them to sit for at least 30 minutes, then drain, discarding the water. Tip the cashews into a blender and blitz until smooth. Keep to one side until needed.
  6. After one hour, when you are happy that the lamb is tender, stir in the cauliflower florets and lentils. You will have to prod them a little to cover them in the sauce, adding a little more water if needed. Simmer the curry uncovered for 25 minutes, or until the cauliflower is tender.
  7. Stir in the cashew cream, spinach and chopped coriander, and then divide between your bowls or plates.

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3. Chicken, chorizo and cauliflower tray bake

This is one of those meals that is well worth the wait. It tastes incredible and everything gets thrown in the same tray. I recommend preheating the oil in the roasting tray to get the chicken skin nice and crispy.

Prep time: 12 minutes.

Cooking time: 40 minutes.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 chicken breasts, skin-on
  • 1 cauliflower, florets only (roughly 500g)
  • 1 red onion, cut into 12 wedges
  • 150g cooking chorizo, cut into 1cm pieces
  • 4 sprigs of thyme
  • 16 cherry tomatoes, preferably on the vine
  • 2 large handfuls of baby spinach

METHOD

  1. Preheat your oven to 190℃ (fan 170℃/gas mark 5).
  2. When the oven is hot, pour the oil into a roasting tray and slide it into the oven. Leave the tray to heat up for 10 minutes.
  3. When the oil is nice and hot, carefully slide the tray out of the oven and lay the chicken breasts in it, skin-side down. Tumble the cauliflower florets around the breasts and put the tray back into the oven to roast for 10 minutes.
  4. Remove the tray from the oven and scatter over the red onion, chorizo and sprigs of thyme. Return the tray to the oven and roast for a further 15 minutes.
  5. Take the tray out again, flip over the chicken breasts and give all the vegetables a bit of a stir.
  6. Place the tomatoes on top of the mixture and give the whole lot one more 10-minute blast in the oven.
  7. Remove the tray from the oven and while it is hot, drop the spinach on top and carefully stir it through so it wilts a little in the heat. Serve.

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4. Chicken and mozzarella with tomato dressing

Poaching the chicken in stock keeps it really moist and gives it so much more flavour. I think your family and friends will love this one.

Prep time: 15 minutes.

Cooking time: 20 minutes.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1.25 litres chicken stock
  • 4 skinless chicken breasts
  • 5 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 spring onions, finely sliced
  • 2 large sprigs of rosemary, needles only
  • 1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 red chilli, de-seeded and finely sliced
  • 16 cherry tomatoes, roughly halved
  • Salt and pepper
  • 6 tbsp breadcrumbs
  • 2 avocados, de-stoned and cut into wedges
  • 2 x 110g balls of mozzarella, torn into large chunks

To serve:

  • 2 large handfuls of rocket
  • 1–2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

METHOD

  1. Pour the chicken stock into a large lidded saucepan and bring it to the boil. Slide in the chicken breasts -- if the liquid doesn't cover them then add a little more stock or water. Bring back up to the boil, clamp on the lid and then reduce to a low heat.
  2. Cook the chicken breasts on a very low simmer for 10 minutes, then remove the pan from the heat and leave the chicken in the warm stock for a further 10 minutes with the lid still on.
  3. Meanwhile, make the dressing. Pour 4½ tablespoons of the oil into a saucepan and add the spring onions, rosemary, garlic, red chilli and tomatoes along with a good grinding of salt and pepper. Place the saucepan over a medium to low heat and cook for 10 minutes, being sure not to let the oil get too hot.Turn off the heat and leave the mixture to sit while you prepare the rest of the salad.
  4. Heat the remaining ½ tablespoon of oil in a large frying pan over a medium to high heat. When it is hot, tip in the breadcrumbs and fry for about three minutes, or until they are crisp and golden. Transfer the breadcrumbs to a clean piece of kitchen roll to drain off the excess oil.
  5. Carefully remove the cooked chicken from the stock and tear it up with your hands or a couple of forks. Place the chicken onto a large serving plate along with the avocado and mozzarella chunks. Spoon over the warm tomato dressing, then top with the rocket and the fried breadcrumbs. I like to serve this salad with a little balsamic vinegar on the side.

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Recipes extracted from Cooking for Family and Friends by Joe Wicks. Available now, Bluebird, RRP $44.99.

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