In weight-loss surgery forums and groups the recipe for Ricotta Bake is passed around frequently – and there are a few variations of it. I have my own favourite developed for ‘The Bariatric Bible’ cookery book (see details here).
Why is it so popular? Well generally it is a dish that has a soft texture and consistency that allows it to be eaten and enjoyed soon after surgery. It’s also flavoursome when bland food has been the order of the day; it also has a high protein profile with over 15 g per WLS portion; and leftovers will reheat well (in the microwave).
I still enjoy it (a lot) but think it is due a bit of an update and overhaul – the time is ripe but nothing too drastic mind – just the addition of a few veggies – to add a bit of fibre, more texture (but still soft) – making it suitable and perhaps more interesting for those a little further out. To be honest you may not notice that they are even there (save for a bit of colour and slightly grainier texture).
The ‘hidden’ veggies are in the form of cauliflower rice and broccoli couscous and can be as coarse or as fine as you like. I think they make a ricotta bake that serves as an intermediary step between soft food and what I call ‘food for life’ or regular food (our ‘new normal’).
I would still stick with the ‘nude’ or basic ricotta bake to begin with or early doors and then progress to the veggie version later (say at 4-6 months) for more nutrition and fibre plus a more textured end result – adding variety too. I had tired a bit of the original (but then I am almost vintage post-op) and have now found a new fondness for this variation.
You can of course make your own cauliflower rice (we have a recipe here) or blitz your own broccoli to make a couscous style offering but so many stores now offer a ready-prepared option. For this image I have used ready-made – the cauliflower rice has also had some chopped parsley added to it and is to the left in the little pot above (nearest the ricotta bake with the white handled fork); and the broccoli couscous is to the right (nearest to the bake with the green handled fork). Why not divide the basic recipe in two and try it both ways?
RICOTTA BAKE WITH ‘HIDDEN’ VEGGIES
225 g/8 oz ricotta
50 g/½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 large egg, beaten
1 tsp dried Italian seasoning
75 g/3 oz or ¾ cup cauliflower rice or broccoli couscous (see intro)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
125 g/½ cup low-sugar Marinara or tomato pasta sauce
50 g/½ cup grated reduced-fat Mozzarella cheese
- Preheat the oven to 220 C/425 F/gas 7.
- Mix the ricotta with the Parmesan, egg, Italian seasoning, cauliflower rice or broccoli couscous and salt and pepper to taste. Pour into a medium baking dish or the desired number of smaller ones if preferred).
- Spoon the sauce on top and sprinkle with the Mozzarella cheese.
- Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or a shorter period of time for smaller dishes until just firm and golden.
- Allow to cool slightly before serving.
WLS PORTION: ½
V suitable for Vegetarians
CALORIES PER PORTION: 371
PROTEIN: 32.3 g
CARBOHYDRATE: 9.9 g
FAT: 22.9 g
Image © copyright Bariatric Cookery (UK) Ltd