The thing I like most about these vegetable Singapore noodles is that you can throw in whatever you have left in the fridge at the end of the week. Add a few simple store cupboard staples and voila, dinner in 15 minutes. I have been perfecting this recipe for a little while now to get a good balance of sweet, salt and spice and by Jove I think I’ve cracked it. No more takeaways needed! You really can play around with this recipe too; try using different noodles or rice, different vegetables and nuts.
Chard has such a fantastic earthy flavour and I love using it in all sorts of dishes. I used Swiss chard for this recipe but the rainbow variety would work just as well and look fantastic. My Sticky Soy Chard came about because I wanted to treat the chard exactly as I would treat bok choi; covering it in a savoury, sticky glaze. The chard plant itself does have a habit of getting a bit of mud stuck in the leaves so make sure you give it a good wash before you use it.
You will need (for two as a side):
There’s always a pack of lentils in my kitchen cupboards. Sometimes more than one; the quick cooking red variety to throw into soups, the big fat yellow ones for making dahl and the more elegant puy for making a wholesome side dish or salad. The mealy, earthy taste and texture that comes from a lentil is part of its charm; the fact that they are so humble but so versatile and filling is why I always find myself with lentils on my plate at least once a week. This dish of lentils and chard was served alongside some simply griddled chicken but it was so good that I think it’s perfect as a meal on its own.
First impressions are terribly important, but then so is not judging a book by its cover. This may look, on first glance, like a bowl of indistinct yellow mush but trust me, don’t judge this bowl of incredible-ness by its ‘rustic’ appearance. When I have a bowl of dahl it has to be three things: comforting, frugal and full of garlic. My Yellow Split Pea Dahl, which I have been trying and testing for some time now, fulfils all of my dahl needs and wants. Absolutely dahl-icious.
I tried something similar to these Mexican black beans at a restaurant a few weeks ago. They were so tasty and I loved the frugality of them that I really wanted to try and make them at home. Attempt one tasted fine but the texture was all wrong, attempt two was an improvement but the spicing wasn’t quite right. By the third attempt I’d got it; tasty, slightly spicy, cheap and easy to make. Does it get much better?
You will need (for 2):
- 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed £0.65
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed £0.10
- 1 small chilli, halved £0.15
- 150ml chicken stock (you could use vegetable stock to make these vegetarian or vegan) £0.30
- ½ tsp ground cumin £0.05
- ½ tsp smoked paprika £0.05
- oil for cooking £0.10
- salt and pepper £0.05
- fresh coriander, chopped £0.30
- Rice to serve £0.30
Total for two: £2.05
Heat a little oil in a saucepan on a medium heat and add the garlic. Fry for a minute or so and don’t let the garlic catch. Add the chilli and spices and keep everything moving.
Add the beans, stock, a little salt and pepper then pop a lid on and leave to simmer lightly for 15 minutes.
Take the lid off and continue to cook for another five minutes; lightly mash most of the beans with the back of the spoon until it’s like a very thick soup.
Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly and thicken up a little more, stir through the fresh coriander and serve.
I had this on the side with my enchiladas recently but the previous versions were served with rice or quinoa (both good choices) and a fresh tomato salad. I left the chilli out of the first batch I made and it still tastes great but adding it does give that lovely fresh chilli flavour to the beans and along with the spices, garlic and coriander this is a very tasty bowl of stuff. And I bet you’ve got most of the ingredients in your cupboards already. I would be tempted to thicken these beans up further, spread them over a wrap, top with some leftover shredded chicken and fresh tomato salsa, roll and enjoy.
Wholesome food always makes you feel good; it’s made from humble ingredients and is full of good things like beans, vegetables and whole grains. I normally eat slow cooked, what I would describe as wholesome, meals in the autumn and winter but this easy white bean stew with purple sprouting broccoli is the perfect dish for this time of year. It’s quick and easy to make, is full of seasonal vegetables and is absolutely delicious. Using seasonal veg not only makes the best of what’s around but means it’s super cheap to cook up too, feeding four people for around £4.50 (most of what I used was organic too!).
You will need (for two hearty bowls):
- 1 large leek, sliced £0.40
- 2 cloves garlic, finely sliced £0.10
- Olive oil for cooking £0.10
- 2 carrots, diced £0.10
- 2 bay leaves £0.05
- 2 cans cannellini beans, drained £1.30
- 500ml vegetable stock £0.30
- Handful fresh parsley, roughly chopped £0.20
- Purple sprouting broccoli, woody ends removed (4-5 stems each) £1.75
- 1 lemon £0.30
- Salt and pepper £0.05
Total price £4.65
Get a casserole pan on a medium heat and add a little oil. Stir the garlic in and stir briefly before adding the carrots, leek and bay leaves. Add a dash of water (2-3 tbsp is all) then leave everything to soften for around 10 minutes.
Add the beans and stock and then simmer everything for 10-15 minutes with a lid half on.
Fill a pan with a steamer with a little water then get it on to boil.
Check the stew, it should be like a thick soup, you can add a little water if you need to thin it out then season with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and keep warm. Stir through the parsley.
When the water is boiling steam the broccoli for 2 minutes then remove and squeeze over the juice from the lemon and a good grinding of black pepper.
Serve with nice crusty bread.
This is one of my favourite dishes and one that I can see myself returning to again and again. It’s also vegan, which I realised afterwards so if you’re looking to expand your vegan cooking repertoire then I can recommend this as an excellent place to start! It’s lovely to have the seasonal purple sprouting broccoli as the star of the dish and the acidity the lemon brings cuts through the comfort of the bean stew. I also normally have some sort of white bean in my cupboards and I think it would work with any of them. If you make double the amount it’s also very tasty served as a soup the next day. I would advise serving this with crusty bread so you have something to mop up the juices from the stew.
The next pasta recipe up my sleeves is a super quick one; ideal for a midweek meal you need in a hurry but still want it to be tasty too. My Spicy Tomato Fusilli with Garlic Pangrattato takes less than thirty minutes from fridge to plate, is super cheap and great at using up odds and ends you may already have in the fridge and cupboards.
You will need (for two):
- 175g pasta (I used fusilli)
- 1 can chopped tomatoes
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1 chilli, diced (I used a jalapeño but use whatever you have)
- Oil for cooking
- Salt and pepper
- 1 slice stale white bread
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 large garlic cloves, crushed
Heat a little oil in a saucepan on a medium heat and add the onion. Fry for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
While the onion cooks blend the bread in a food processor until you have breadcrumbs.
Add the tomatoes and chilli to the onion with a little seasoning and simmer for 15 minutes until thickened.
While the tomatoes simmer cook the pasta in a large pan of boiling water. At the same time put a small frying pan on a medium/high heat and add the olive oil and breadcrumbs. Fry, stirring frequently, for five minutes before adding the garlic and continue to stir until the garlic is very lightly brown and the crumbs are toasted.
Drain the pasta when cooked then mix the spicy tomato sauce into the pasta. Serve up and top with the garlic pangratatto.
Frying the onion gently is key to giving this dish a little sweetness to complement the slightly acidic tomatoes and the heat from the chilli. I love the crunch and crispness that the pangrattato gives, along with a good hit of garlic. It’s a great recipe to use up a bit of old bread, a tin of tomatoes and other bits and bobs to leave you with a nice cleared out fridge. If only it worked out that well every week!
I’ve never much been a fan of chilli cone carne; I’ll eat it but usually it’s a bit harsh and acidic for me because of the tinned tomatoes and I’m not that keen on kidney beans. However, I love the principal of it; plenty of chilli, spice and flavour and I’ve been working on my own version for a while. I think I’ve cracked it. My Lentil and Black Bean Chilli has all the same flavour but none of the meat; I promise, you won’t miss the minced beef at all. I’ve said this is enough for four but actually it’s probably enough for six and it’s amazing with homemade guacamole and plenty of rice.
You will need:
I’m not sure you can ever have too many vegetables in the house at once but at this time of year with the peas in the garden, the veg box and whatever looks tempting at the farmers’ market I can find it a little challenging to close the fridge door. You know it’s got a bit excessive when your carrot fronds are getting in the way of the door seal. If you find yourself fighting some spinach to reach the butter or battling beans to get to the mayonnaise there’s only one thing for it: make a minestrone.
At this most wonderful time of year I would estimate that I’m around 10% booze, 20% pastry, 40% cheese, 10% bacon wrapped sausages and 20% mince meat. It’s not a good look. The thought of tucking into a cucumber really doesn’t appeal to me. Not at all. No. If I am in need of some cleansing and a break from all the indulgence it still has to be in keeping with the season. Hence walnuts, clementines and pomegranates all become great mates through the vehicle of chicory.