I'm always on the lookout for cookbooks by Rose Elliot. They aren't always easy to find, particularly if you are like me, living in the United States. For those of you who haven't heard of her, Rose is an accomplished UK-based cookbook author who focuses on vegetarian recipes - three million copies of her books in print. I loved the idea behind her golden, puffy, sun-dried tomato muffins which I came across in Vegetarian Supercook. Not only does their cottage cheese and ground almond base make them a smarter way to start the day, the combination of tomatoes, cheese, and basil baking in a hot oven makes your kitchen smell like a pizzeria.
Backing up a bit, one of the great things about Rose's recipes (generally speaking) is that many of them strike a strong nutritional balance. They tend to combine proteins, complex carbohydates, vegetables and good fats together in interesting (and delicious) ways. This is something that is actually harder to do than it sounds - certainly something I struggle with in my own cooking and recipe creation.
A few of the other recipes from Vegetarian Supercook I'd like to eventually try: Lentil and Olive Pate' with Grilled Fennel, Wild Mushroom Roulade, Sweet Potato and Wild Rice Patties with Lime Salsa, Crunchy Hazelnut Croquettes with Red Onion Marmalade, and her Spicy Vegan Carrot Cake.
I encourage you to give these muffins a try, but keep a few things in mind. The texture here isn't attempting to emulate a traditional flour-based muffins. These are much moister, less bready, and more quiche-like. Well, maybe a better way to think of them is like a souffle's heartier, denser, more portable cousin. Also, I don't normally bake basil, but this worked out nicely. The muffins can be made gluten-free. If you make the muffins mini-sized they are perfect party fare, and in place of the sun-dried tomatoes you can dream up countless other ways to flavor the cheese and nut base batter.
- chopped olives, lemon zest and chopped herbs
- sauteed, chopped mushrooms and fresh thyme
- chopped chipotles and adobo sauce
- roasted garlic, pesto and toasted pine nuts
- sauteed chopped potatoes and rosemary
Let me know what you think of these, I really enjoyed them hot, as well as room temperature as a quick snack.
Sun-dried Tomato Cottage Cheese Muffin Recipe
You can use the flour of your choice in this recipe. The original recipe calls for soy flour (great for people looking for a gluten-free option), I use white whole wheat flour - unbleached all-purpose flour will work as well. To grind the almonds I gave them a whirl in my food processor. You are looking for a flour-like consistency - be sure to stop short of turning them into an almond paste.
1 cup plain cottage cheese (low-fat is fine)
3/4 cup parmesan cheese, freshly grated
1/4 cup flour (see headnotes)
1 cup almonds, very finely ground
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes (in oil), finely chopped
1/4 cup basil, finely chopped
1/4 cup water
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 400F degrees. Line a muffin pan with medium-sized paper baking cups, you'll need nine of them.
Put the cottage cheese into a bowl with all but 1/4 cup of the Parmesan cheese, the flour, ground almonds, baking powder, sun-dried tomatoes, basil, water, and eggs, and season with salt, then mix all together.
Spoon the mixture into the muffing cups 3/4 full, scatter with the remaining Parmesan, and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until set, risen, and golden brown. Serve as hot or at room temperature.
Makes 9 muffins.