Nigel-LESSima! Tempted by Nigella's recipes but can't face all that fat Our Crafty Cook dishes up low-cal versions
19:26 GMT, 19 October 2012
Made with lashings of double cream, pounds of butter and kilos of chocolate, the recipes in Nigella Lawson's latest book, Nigellissima, are certainly mouth-watering.
But the fat and sugar-laden dishes have drawn criticism for the huge number of calories they contain.
But is it possible to tuck into the chef’s new dishes without piling on the pounds The Mail's cook ANNE SHOOTER has devised versions that taste just like Nigella's recipes — but with as little as half the calories…
Cook-a-like: Anne Shooter copies Nigella's pose from her latest book cover – and reproduces her recipes with less fat content
CHOCOLATE HAZELNUT CHEESECAKE
Still delicious but less calories: Anne's version of the chocolate cheesecake uses tofu
WAS: 700 calories a slice
NOW: 414 calories a slice
Nigella’s version of this cake has a shocking 7,000 calories — that’s 700 a pop if you cut it into ten pieces.
Nigella made this announcement on television with typical, unapologetic, indulgent glee, saying: ‘I don’t know if I should apologise for this or boast about it. Either way, I feel you will thank me for it.’
Perhaps not! She uses Nutella chocolate spread mixed with cream cheese on a base made from combining digestive biscuits with butter, hazelnuts and Nutella.
To bring the calorie count down, my version uses tofu. Don’t be scared — you won’t know it’s there and it gives an amazing silky, creamy texture. In fact, my young daughters declared it the best cheesecake they had ever eaten!
For the base
250g half-fat digestives
75g light butter e.g. Lurpak Lighter
25g toasted hazelnuts
1 tsp cocoa powder
For the filling
450g silken tofu
200g reduced-fat creme fraiche
250g low-fat cream cheese
100g ground hazelnuts
100g cocoa powder
2 tsps vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
4 tbsps of Splenda or other sugar substitute
For the topping
50g chopped toasted hazelnuts
HOW TO: Blitz the biscuits in a food processor. Melt the butter and combine with the biscuit crumbs, hazelnuts and cocoa powder.
When you have a mixture with the texture of damp sand, stop and press into the base of a springform tin. Chill while you make the filling.
Put all the filling ingredients in the food processor and blitz until smooth. Pour and spread over the base, carefully. Sprinkle with the chopped toasted hazelnuts.
Chill overnight. Serve.
QUICK CALABRIAN LASAGNE
Meat-free: Anne made a vegetarian version of the lasagne by using Quorn
WAS: 841 calories a portion
NOW: 450 calories a portion
Nigella layers pasta sheets with a loose beef sauce, torn mozzarella, chopped boiled eggs and slices of ham. It’s a dish that Nigella says is ‘reassuringly homespun and feels like cosy, safe-making food’.
She also says it is as good a party dish as it is a hangover cure — though I’m not sure I’d fancy it for breakfast, even after a big night.
As it is, I’m not big on cooked boiled eggs, so I dropped those altogether and used half-fat mozzarella and natural yogurt to create a ‘bechamel’ layer, with a tasty Quorn and passata ragu replacing the meat. My husband didn’t realise this dish had no meat in it and couldn’t believe it was a light, vegetarian lasagne.
He loved it, as did the children. This recipe supposedly serves six to eight, but ten hungry adults would be satisfied with this, reducing the calorie count even further.
1 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, peeled and chopped
1 tsp salt
500g Quorn mince
750ml passata plus 500ml water
200g bag low-fat grated mozzarella
450g tub natural yogurt
300g lasagne sheets
2 tbsps Parmesan
HOW TO: Preheat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6. Warm the oil then sweat the onion until it is soft. Add the Quorn, and brown all over. Add the passata and water and salt to season.
Put the lid on, then simmer for five to ten minutes.
Put a layer of ‘meat’ sauce in the bottom of your dish. Add a layer of lasagne sheets.
Top with a third of the yogurt and sprinkle with around a quarter of the mozzarella. Repeat three times. When you get to the last layer of pasta, top with a layer of the ‘meat’ sauce and sprinkle with mozzarella and Parmesan.
Cover tightly with foil and cook for 40 minutes. When the pasta has softened, return to the oven uncovered for ten minutes so the top starts to brown. Let it stand for 15 minutes before serving.
ONE-STEP NO-CHURN COFFEE ICE CREAM
No need for an ice cream maker: Double cream can be substituted to make it less calorific
WAS: 541 calories a portion
NOW: 190 calories a portion
If eaten as Nigella suggests, in a brioche bun, this has some 541 calories per serving, being a mixture of double cream, condensed milk, coffee powder and liqueur.
Nigella gushes: ‘Its flavour is deep, complex and utterly compelling’ — and, admittedly, it is clever as you don’t need an ice cream machine to make it. My version takes slightly more effort as you have to whisk egg whites, but the light, condensed milk and alcohol content means it still doesn’t need any churning and remains creamy.
I also served it on a slice from a brioche loaf, rather than in a bun. My family declared it to be delicious!
2 egg whites
40g caster sugar
300ml light condensed milk
175g reduced-fat creme fraiche
2 tbsps of strong instant coffee powder
2 tbsps of Tia Maria liqueur
HOW TO: Whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Add the sugar a spoonful at a time, whisking to stiff peaks with each addition until you have a glossier mixture.
Whisk the condensed milk with the creme fraiche, coffee powder and liqueur, then fold in the egg-white mixture.
Pour into a container and freeze for a few hours or overnight. Remove from the freezer ten minutes before serving.
Need not be so rich: Anne's lower fat version keeps all the taste of Nigella's
WAS: 715 calories a portion
NOW: 449 calories a portion
Hats off to Nigella — this is an amazing recipe. It’s so easy, yet the flavours are complex and it looks hugely impressive.
Nigella says she based it on risotto Milanese, an Italian classic, and in her usual understated way describes it as ‘spaghetti in an eggy, saffron-tinted, lightly cheesed and creamy sauce: it is a bowlful of golden heaven’.
My version keeps all those flavours and is still so rich you won’t believe it’s essentially a ‘diet’ dinner. I’ve simply replaced the double cream in the original recipe with half-fat creme fraiche, omitted the eggs and reduced the Parmesan content — it’s so rich it really doesn’t need as much as Nigella suggests. The quantities below should be enough for two people.
Pinch of saffron strands
2 tbsps Marsala wine
Salt for pasta water
2 tablespoons of Parmesan
2 tablespoons of half-fat creme fraiche
Salt and pepper to serve
HOW TO: Steep the saffron in the Marsala for five minutes. Cook the pasta in a large pan of salted boiling water. When the pasta is cooked, strain it, reserving a tablespoon of the cooking liquid.
Mix the tablespoon of cooking liquid with the saffron-infused Marsala, Parmesan and creme fraiche.
Toss the pasta with the sauce. Season and serve.
Meaty pizza: But Anne would prefer one made on dough
Was: 514 calories a slice
Now: 294 calories a slice
When I saw the children on the TV show being served this meal, which replaces the dough base of a pizza with beef mixed with Parmesan and breadcrumbs I felt a bit sad.
What’s wrong with a proper pizza Were all those kids on high-protein diets or something Proper Italian pizza is one of the best dishes in the world and it doesn’t even feature in Nigella’s book. In case you want a meaty pizza — or meatzza — here is a lower calorie version, replacing the beef with turkey mince, and using half-fat mozzarella.
500g minced turkey
2 tbsps breadcrumbs
1 egg, lightly beaten
Salt and pepper to taste
1 can chopped tomato with herbs
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 ball half-fat mozzarella, Sliced fresh basil leaves
HOW TO: Preheat the oven to 220C/gas mark 7. In a large bowl combine the turkey mince, breadcrumbs, egg and plenty of seasoning. Press the mixture into a shallow round non-stick baking tin.
Drain the juice from the tomatoes, then mix the tomatoes with the crushed garlic, and season well.
Spread over the meaty base.
Arrange the mozzarella over the tomato sauce, then bake for around 25 minutes, until mozzarella is bubbling and the base is firm.
Garnish with basil leaves, before serving in wedges.
MASCARPONE AND RICOTTA PANCAKES WITH RUM-STEEPED STRAWBERRIES
Fruity: Use Slenda instead of sugar and fat-free Greek yoghurt to maker this healthier
Was: 538 calories a portion
Now: 313 calories a portion.
Nigella’s recipe for these delicious Euro-pancakes (French crepes with an Italian filling) contains mascarpone and ricotta cheeses.
I’ve replaced these ingredients with fat-free Greek yogurt and cottage cheese and reduced the quantity of rum used, too, as well as replacing the sugar in the filling with Splenda, a low-calorie sugar substitute. But I really don’t think you’d notice the difference.
For the strawberries:
1 tbsp caster sugar
1 tbsp rum
For the pancake filling:
30g butter, melted
2 tsp rum
250g fat-free Greek yogurt
150g low-fat plain cottage cheese
2 tbsps of Splenda or other sugar substitute Zest of one lemon and one orange
1 tsp of vanilla extract
8 crepes, shop bought
HOW TO: Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4. Hull and dice the strawberries and sprinkle them with one tablespoon each of rum and sugar. Stir them gently, cover with cling film and set aside.
Line a lipped baking sheet with parchment.
Stir two teaspoons of rum with the melted butter and set aside. Blend the yogurt and cottage cheese, then beat in the egg, followed by the Splenda, lemon zest, orange zest and vanilla.
Lay out the crepes, one by one, and dollop roughly an eighth of the mixture on to one quarter, then fold the crepe over it in half, and then into quarters, so you have parcels.
Lay them on the baking sheet, drizzle with the rum butter and cook for 20 minutes. Serve with a sprinkle of macerated strawberries.