Tue | Apr 23, 2019

Delicious and healthy post-Easter dishes

Published:Thursday | April 5, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Oven-baked jerked spareribs. This dish is from a recipe by Sara Moulton.
Homemade turkey breakfast sausage.
Eggplant and chicken marinara. This dish is from a recipe by Melissa d'Arabian.

The Easter holiday is over and many of us my have regretted all the bun and cheese sandwiches we consumed. So lets see if we can clean up our diet a bit with some hardy but healthy recipes. Breakfast, lunch and dinner we have you covered. Try these recipes and let me know what you think.

Breakfast: Home-made Turkey sausage Breakfast patties
Servings: 12 pattiesStart to finish: 25 minutes


1lb of 96 per cent lean ground turkey
1 tsp dried crushed rosemary, or 2 tsp fresh
1/2 tsp dried fennel, ground or seeds
1 tsp dried sage (rubbed leaves), or 2 teaspoons fresh
3 tbs chopped fresh parsley (or 1 tablespoon dried)
1 tsp smoked paprika
pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
1 egg white
2 tsp maple syrup
3 tbs of onion pulp (To make it, grate yellow or white onion on a microplane or fine grate on a box grater. You’ll need about 1/4 of an onion to make 3 tablespoons of pulp.)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper


Mix all the ingredients in a medium bowl. Form into 12 compact patties.
Spray a large non-stick saute pan with some olive oil from a mister (or use non-stick spray).
Cook the patties in the pan over medium heat, until outside edges have nice deep golden crust and meat is cooked through, flipping once, about ten minutes total.

Chef’s Note: The texture will be less crusty, but you can also bake the patties on parchment-lined baking sheet at 400 F for about 12-15 minutes (add a few minutes more if uncooked patties are frozen.)

Dinner: Oven-baked jerk spareribs

Why wait for summer to enjoy pork ribs cooked slow and low on the grill? If you cook them in the oven, you can enjoy them right now. They won’t boast the trademark smokiness produced by grilling, but otherwise they’ll be as tender, succulent and finger-licking good as ever.

The key to making great baked ribs is to follow the same prep as for grilled ribs. Season them with a rub, paste or marinade containing salt, then bake them at a low temperature for many hours or until they become tender. The salted mixture acts as a brine, which helps keep the pork juicy and infuses it with flavour. Cooking slow and low makes the meat tender.

The marinade used here is a jerk paste, a spicy Jamaican flavouring that Jamaicans typically apply to pork and chicken, but which can be found glorifying everything from beef and lamb to fish and seafood to vegetables and tofu. Jerk is based on three key ingredients: Scotch Bonnet chiles, allspice and thyme.
Scotch bonnets are some of the hottest chiles in the world. The rub will be hotter or less hot depending on the number you choose.

The labour-intensive part of this recipe is gathering all the ingredients and making the marinade, but then it’s easy-going.
Finish them with a sweet/sour/spicy glaze. It’s not traditional, but I think it adds the perfect last touch.

Lunch: Eggplant and chicken marinara

Many eggplant recipes start with slicing or dicing and sauteing in oil. But this approach can add a lot of unnecessary fat to your dish, as porous eggplant flesh absorbs oil like a sponge as it cooks, leading most of us to add more fat than we realise. Instead, consider roasting the eggplant whole.

Simply pop the entire eggplant in a hot oven prick a few holes for steam to escape and lightly spray or rub with the tiniest bit of olive oil to keep the skin moist and in 20-45 minutes (depending on size), your eggplant will be cooked and ready to join almost any recipe.

Besides being a healthier cooking method than frying, roasting is easier, almost completely hands-off.
Today’s recipe, eggplant and chicken marinara, is a one-dish-wonder, where you have veggie, complex carbohydrates, and chicken, all in one gorgeous dish that is simple enough for family meals, but pretty enough for company.

Leftover cooked brown rice and chicken add heft to the super-low-calorie eggplant (under 30 calories a cup), but note you can make this meatless simply by leaving out the chicken.
But no matter what you decide to call it, enjoy knowing your family is loading up on veggies as they dig in.


Servings: 6
4 small eggplants (“baby” or “Japanese” eggplant at the grocery store)
1 tbs olive oil, divided
1 medium yellow onion, diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried Italian herbs
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice
2 cups cubed cooked chicken breast
2 cups prepared marinara sauce (no sugar added)
3/4 cup shredded Italian cheese (half mozzarella; half Parmesan), divided
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
Fresh basil for garnish (optional)


1. Preheat oven to 400 ºF. Rub 1 teaspoon of the olive oil over all the eggplants, prick once or twice each with a fork, and roast them on a baking sheet until soft, about 30 minutes. Allow to cool 15-30 minutes.
2. Once cool enough to handle, slice the eggplants in half lengthwise, and scoop out the flesh. Select the 6 prettiest eggplant skin halves for stuffing and set aside. Roughly chop the eggplant flesh into cubes (don’t worry if it’s “pulpy” from roasting and doesn’t hold a cube shape.)
3. In a large saute pan, cook the diced onion, salt and pepper in the remaining 2 teaspoons of olive oil over medium heat until soft, about 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the eggplant flesh, garlic and dried herbs and cook another 3 minutes. Add the wine and stir, allowing most to evaporate over a minute or two, and then remove from heat.
3. Stir in the cooked rice, the chicken, and 1/4 cup of the cheese. Taste the filling for seasoning and adjust if needed. Gently spoon the filling into the reserved 6 eggplant skin halves. Pour the marinara sauce into the large saucepan (wipe out any remaining filling first, if needed). Place the filled eggplant skins gently on top of the sauce and top with remaining shredded cheese.
Place the saucepan in the oven and bake until sauce and filling are hot and cheese is melted, about 20 minutes. Serve with fresh basil, if desired.

Nutrition information per serving: 352 calories.


Breakfast holds the promise of a new day, and fills the soul. Adding the unmistakable aroma of an herby breakfast sausage is the icing on the cake of breakfasts and brunches.

Making your own breakfast sausage patties is surprisingly quick, and just plain smart: you can adjust flavours according to your preferences, and control the quality of the ingredients.

Try this recipe for home-made Turkey breakfast sausage patties for an easy take on a traditional breakfast sausage. Rosemary, sage and fennel seed work together to create that classic breakfast sausage taste, although if you find fennel too powerful, you can substitute with thyme. The invisible hero of the dish is the onion pulp made cleverly from rubbing yellow onion along a microplane or fine grater it adds needed onion flavour without actual pieces of onion to mess with the texture or overpower any one bite. A quick note about the maple syrup: This recipe is not “maple-flavored” Add the tiniest bit of maple syrup that drives home the breakfast feel, taking the patty squarely from flavourful turkey burger territory into breakfast sausage.

The recipe as written is my go-to, but know there are options to explore. Swap out flavourings, or increase (or omit) the red pepper flakes to adjust the heat. The patties can be pan-sauteed or oven baked.

You can also make these with lean ground beef or ground pork, but be aware that the ground beef version made us all feel like we were having tiny, tasty, bunless burgers for breakfast. Ground pork is wonderful, but the nutrition profile changes, and we all actually preferred the turkey version. Mixing half pork and turkey is a happy compromise, worth doing if you like pork sausage.


Oven Baked Jerk Spareribs

Start to finish: 20 hours, 40 minutes (30 minutes hands-on)
Servings: 8

1/2 cup coarsely chopped onion
1 cup coarsely chopped scallions (white and green part)
1 to 3 Scotch bonnet chiles, or to taste
6 cloves garlic, smashed
1/4 cup fresh lime juice, divided
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup soy sauce (low-sodium if you prefer)
2 tbs fresh thyme leaves
3 tbs packed dark brown sugar, divided
2 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
5 to 6 pounds pork spareribs (preferably St Louis style)

In a blender, combine the onion, scallions, chiles, garlic, 2 1/2 tablespoons of the lime juice, oil, soy sauce, thyme, 1 tablespoon of the brown sugar, salt, allspice, nutmeg and cinnamon and puree until smooth. Set aside 1/4 cup for the glaze.

Pull off and discard the silver skin from the bone side of the ribs and cut them into 6- to 8-rib lengths. Coat both sides of the ribs with the pureed marinade and put them in a shallow container. Cover and chill 16 hours, turning occasionally.

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F. Remove the ribs from the marinade allowing the excess to drip off. Discard the excess marinade. Arrange the ribs, meat side up, on two racks set into each of two baking pans. Put the pans on the middle shelves of the oven and bake, switching the pans midway through the cooking time, until the meat is very tender when stuck with a fork, 4 to 4 1/2 hours.

While the ribs are baking, in a small bowl combine the reserved jerk paste with the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons lime juice and the remaining 2 tablespoons brown sugar. Remove the ribs from the oven when they are tender and brush the tops evenly with the glaze. Return the ribs to the oven and bake for an additional 10 minutes.