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Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Quark: what is it and how to use it?

One of the weird and wonderful things you discover through Slimming World is Quark! I never knew it existed before and I am sure I am not alone in this! So, quark is a skimmed milk soft cheese that not only is free on Slimming World but it is also a P food so can be had on a SP day! Up and down the country in Slimming World groups people are asking, what is quark? And, how can you use it? Many people are put off buying it and trying it as they just are unsure of what to use it for, so this post is full of simple ideas for you that may give you a little something to try from starters, to desserts and everything possible in between it is a pretty versatile ingredient and as most supermarkets sell it I would say its worth giving it a try! Quark is usually around 80p-£1 a pot so not that expensive and worth experimenting with!


Using Quark to make a dip
By mixing a few other ingredients with your quark you can make a very simple dip to enjoy with falafels, vegetable sticks, onion bhaji, chips, or pretty much any other nibbles! Here are a few simple dips for you to try!
Creamy Garlic dip - 4tbsp quark, 2tbsp lemon juice, 1 clove crushed garlic
Mushroom dip/pate - 150g quark, 250g mushrooms, one small red onion, 2 cloves garlic crushed, a few mixed herbs. Blend together can have smooth or coarse.
Garlic Dip (more like a garlic mayonnaise than the above) - 200g quark, 200g fat free fromage frais, 1tbsp cider vinegar, 1-2 cloves garlic crushed.

Quark!

Using Quark to stuff things
Quark can be mixed with chopped pepper, tomato, onion or made into a dip above and used to stuff cherry tomatoes, snack peppers, or wrapped with ham or similar to make a cold snack or buffet item. As Quark doesn't always have much flavour it is sometimes necessary to add plenty of black pepper etc so give the mixture a taste as you make it and you cant go far wrong.
Quark can also be used to stuff things in a hot context, slicing open a chicken breast and stuffing with garlic and quark for example, stuffing peppers, or layering quark in a loaf you make can add a nice creamy middle to a dish. Roll grilled aubergine or courgette to make mini snacks with a cheesy filling. Quark is lovely mixed with cherry tomatoes and basil then used to stuff peppers. Sometimes it is best to cook the item you're stuffing first so it doesn't heat the quark too much as it is much nicer like that. 
Using Quark instead of cottage cheese in a crustless quiche
When I make crustless quiche I use 6 eggs to every tub of cottage cheese or quark and then add herbs and vegetables of your choice. Using quark instead of cottage cheese makes the quiche a smoother texture but otherwise just as nice so worth a try if you like quiche and have a tub of quark you want to use!

Using Quark with potatoes
You can use quark in mashed potatoes to add a creamier texture without adding any syns. The amount to put in is really up to you but its syn free so the choice is yours!
It can be used to top a jacket potato with if you're used to putting butter on and want a bit of something spread on before your topping.
Quark can be stirred through cooked new potatoes with a few herbs and some pepper to give them a bit of a creamy sauce.
Using Quark with spicy foods
Quark can be used as an alternative to sour cream with chilli and other spicy foods, it is syn free so a much better alternative to sour cream if you like it. It can also be mixed with cucumber and a little cider vinegar to make a Tzatziki type dip.
Using Quark to make a sauce creamy
If you are making a curry or even a soup and you want to give it a creamier texture quark is pretty good for that! You can add a dollop of quark and stir it through after cooking. Be careful not to heat it through too much or the quark can split and curdle which isn't nice so it is best to remove from the heat and stir through the quark before serving in my experience.

a Dessert made with quark!


Using Quark with pasta
Again be careful to stir through the quark off the heat before serving to avoid it splitting. It is lovely stirred through tagliatelle or spaghetti with mushrooms cooked in garlic to make a creamy garlic mushroom pasta dish.
Quark is also used in some macaroni cheese dishes and is a great way or making them without adding too much cheese so keeping them as low syn as possible whilst still tasting lovely! There is a recipe for a lovely leek macaroni cheese on a previous blog of mine which can be found here.
Using Quark to make a dessert
Quark can be sweetened and used with strawberries or other fruit to make a little sweet dip for them which is lovely! My 10 year old son actually prefers it to "squirty" cream with strawberries!
Quark can be sweetened and had with fruit as an alternative to yoghurt if you are following Slimming World and doing an SP day too.
Quark can be used to make a kind of cheesecake by sweetening it and adding some drops of flavouring and then topping a biscuit, cereal bar or similar with it for a quick cheesecake type dessert!
There are also recipes that use quark, fromage frais and eggs to bake and make a cheesecake. Many of these recipes involve gelatine which I don't eat as I am vegetarian and don't often use the vegetarian equivalent. They can also be high in syns but using quark tends to limit the syns a little so worth a search online and see what recipes you can find!
Using Quark with bread/toast
Quark is nice in sandwiches, on toast with mushrooms and other such things as is a soft cheese like others, given that it is made from skimmed milk and as such lower in fat some find it a bit bland but its worth a try experimenting with it.
Lasagne with a quark topping!



Used as a topping for lasagne, moussaka or similar
By mixing a 250g tub of quark with approximately 3 tbsp. of fat free fromage frais and some nutmeg you can make a nice topping for lasagne etc. I personally prefer the natural yoghurt and egg topping but everyone's tastes are different so maybe worth a try to see what you think.
Used to make lemon curd, or a lemon fool type dessert
Beat together 2 eggs and 1tbsp lemon juice, measure out 4 tbsp. granulated sweetener into a bowl then pour over the egg and lemon mix and stir well. Place in a bowl over simmering water for around 6-8 minutes stirring frequently or you end up with something that resembles scrambled egg/omelette! When it has thickened to around the consistency of passata remove it from the heat allow to cool for 2 minutes then stir in 60g Quark. Mix well and then cool in the fridge or use/eat warm! This recipe makes around a ramekin full so adjust the amounts accordingly. I enjoyed it warm but also as a custard type dessert!
Please remember whilst at the moment plain quark is free on all plans on Slimming World there is a chance this could change in the future. Flavoured quark currently has a syn value so this needs to be checked if you buy a flavoured one, obviously if you add any flavouring yourself this depends if the flavour you add is syn free so please remember to check yourself. Remember if any of the above suggestions use ingredients you're not sure of check if they are syns, healthy extras or free as it is your weight loss journey! Some recipes using quark are commonly referred to as "tweaks" meaning that they use free ingredients in a way they are not intended so not as filling and thus meaning it is easy to overeat. It is your choice whether you consider this and something to discuss with your consultant.


Please take a look at my previous blog posts by clicking below or in the margin to the left (this may be different on a mobile device).

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