Recipes From The Wee Fat Lawyer’s Diet Book – Part 4

Well, the food A - Z is (gently, I hope) suggesting that pasta and pizza shouldn't feature on your regular menu. Here are a couple of lower calorie options which may fool the brain slightly.

Spiralised Courgettes All' Amatriciana

Now when spiralisers hit the market, I was right up there voicing my contempt at this ridiculous fad. But, not having control over the kitchen, despite what many may think, I soon found one in my cupboard. (You can get a half decent one for under 15 quid.) This is the only dish it gets used for. In non weight loss times, pasta is one of our staples. Alas, 80g of uncooked spaghetti has the best part of 300 calories, and that's before you add a generous dollop of butter and add the sauce. By contrast, 100g of courgettes contain 17.

Subject to one caveat, you could serve the courgettes with almost any sauce you would use with spaghetti. The caveat is that it is better to cook the veg in the sauce itself, so it needs to be liquid enough for that - though not excessively so, as moisture will come out of the veg.

This sauce was a childhood favourite and the first dish I ever learned to make, though at the time I didn't know the word amatriciana. Now being a keen Italian scholar, I looked it up in the dictionary. The English definition is given as amatriciana sauce. Hey ho.

Ingredients (serves 2 - 243 calories per serving)

2 courgettes, spiralised.

For the sauce

1 onion, finely chopped; 1 - 2 rashers of streaky bacon, finely chopped; 1 clove of garlic, crushed; squeeze of tomato purée; 1 tin of tomatoes; small slug of red wine (optional); 1 bay leaf; about 1 tsp of dried thyme or oregano or rosemary; pinch of sugar; olive oil; salt and black pepper.


Using as little oil as you can manage, soften the onion in a frying pan with the garlic. After a couple of minutes, add the bacon and cook for another couple of minutes. Season with pepper and a little salt. When the onion is soft, stir in the tomato purée and cook for a minute or two. Add the tomatoes, breaking them up. Add the herbs and season with a lot of black pepper. Pour in the wine, if using. Bring to a simmer and cook until the sauce starts to thicken. If you have time, a longer slower cook is best.

Check the seasoning. Like any pasta sauce, this should be slightly overseasoned to compensate for the blandness of the courgettes. Add the courgettes to the pan, increasing the heat slightly. They will take 2 - 3 minutes and should still be al dente. Stir occasionally to ensure the sauce doesn't stick.

As you have been so virtuous, allow yourself a grating of parmesan on top.

Portobello Mushroom Pizza

Well, it's obviously not a real mushroom pizza, is it? Otherwise it wouldn't be featuring in a column of diet recipes. And, yes, I too have heard that life is too short to stuff a mushroom. But I have made variations on this theme a few times. As with real pizza you can play around with toppings to your heart's (and stomach's) content. Cheese does contain quite a few calories, but you don't need a huge amount. I would suggest you use proper buffalo mozzarella as opposed to the cheaper cow's milk version (fior di latte). The former melts and will completely cover your base. The latter just goes stringy.

I have seen some recipes which suggest you prebake the mushrooms before stuffing to dry them out, or prick the tops with a cocktail stick to release the moisture, or cook them on a rack over a baking tray. Do what you like, but I quite enjoy the succulence of the juicy mushroom. Unlike using some weird vegan ingredient, you're not trying to fool anyone into thinking they're eating something else.

Look for mushrooms that have a rim as opposed to being completely flat. They will hold the topping better.

Ingredients (serves 2, or 4 as a starter - 320 calories per "pizza") 

4 Portobello mushrooms, peeled (NOT washed - never wash mushrooms as they will absorb the moisture); 1 small onion, very finely chopped; ½ red pepper, seeded and very finely chopped; 1 clove garlic crushed; 4 - 6 tsps passata; thin slices of buffalo mozzarella - allow about 30 - 50g per mushroom; Italian style mixed herbs; chilli flakes, optional; s & p; olive oil  - as little as you can get away with - use an aerosol or small brush to limit the help limit the quantity; grating of Parmesan cheese (optional).


Preheat the oven to 200˚C/Mark 6. Gently soften the onion and pepper with the garlic, salt and pepper. Brush the mushrooms with a tiny amount of oil on a baking tray (or on a rack placed on a baking tray - see above). Season lightly with s & p. Put a teaspoonful or two of passata on each one, and spread it to cover the base thinly. Add the slices of mozzarella, then a few spoonfuls of the onion and pepper mixture. Season with mixed herbs and chilli flakes if using, Top with a grating of Parmesan, again if using.

These will take about 10 minutes to cook. The cheese should be melted and the mushrooms softened a little.



  1. Mary Corcoran on 9th July 2021 at 6:11 pm

    Happy birthday 🎂🥳🎉🎈🎁🎊

    • Tom Johnston on 9th July 2021 at 7:59 pm

      Thank you, my lovely. T xx

  2. David Dickson on 9th July 2021 at 10:37 pm

    All the best Tom! Enjoy your day- glass or two of fizz 🍷🎉

    • Tom Johnston on 10th July 2021 at 9:45 am

      Thank you, mon brave. There is a lobster out there with my name on it.

  3. Janet Hood on 10th July 2021 at 4:40 am

    Happy birthday Tom hope you have the best time will raise a glass of fizz in your general direction

    • Tom Johnston on 10th July 2021 at 9:46 am

      Thank you, dahling.

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