Sometimes I make something like a veggie stew or pasta sauce and realise that it could become a delicious soup with just a little extra water. That’s exactly how this Tomato, Butterbean and Spinach Pesto Soup came about. I had made it as a sauce for baking with gnocchi, similar to this recipe, and I thought it would make a great soup; something a bit different from a normal tomato soup. And I was right. Full of flavour, colour and easy to make from a few ingredients you probably already have in the cupboards.
I always think cauliflower is at its very best when served with cheese. As much as I think this is still true I have been really enjoying roasting and frying it lately and this cauliflower and sundried tomato pasta is my current favourite way to eat cauliflower. Cheap to make, vegan, delicious and so fast to cook; we’re talking 15 minutes from fridge to table. If only all weeknight cooking could be like this!
You will need (for four servings):
- 300g pasta £0.30
- 1 small romanesco (or other) cauliflower, chopped into small florets £1.50
- 6 sundried tomatoes, finely chopped £0.30
- 2 small garlic cloves, crushed £0.10
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil £0.15
- Pinch saffron £0.50
- Salt and pepper £0.02
You’ll need a pan full of boiling water with a steamer to go on top. It’s no problem if you don’t have a steamer; you’ll just need an extra pan of boiling water for the cauliflower.
I really struggle to know what to have for lunch sometimes. Usually I am scrambling round in the cupboards trying to find some sort of suitable sandwich filling but I do get terribly bored of sandwiches. If I’m lucky I’ll have some keptovers to warm up and I do pay a visit to a local independent café from time to time too. Well enough is enough. I have decided to batch cook and freeze a range of healthy, filling, vegan soups; one of which is this Chipotle and Bean Soup. So that I can grab whichever soup I fancy and not have to think about what’s on the meal plan for dinner I am making them vegan, stuffed full of veg and flavour packed. I hate to have the same thing for lunch and dinner you see!
I imagine that as you read sage and black pudding pasta you’ll fall into one of two camps of people; either the ‘a full English isn’t the same without it’ camp or the ‘I don’t like it’ camp. If you know what goes into making a black pudding I can understand that it doesn’t really help to sell itself: pork blood, pork fat, oatmeal and spices. The spices vary between producers so try out a local one if you can get your hands on it, it’s definitely worth it. Black pudding is such a polarising ingredient but it’s actually pretty cheap meaning it’s perfect for cooking on a budget.
I have made these black bean quesadillas a few times and I am always surprised how filling they are! They are deliciously full of black beans, spices and cheese and are really simple to make. You could add different beans, leftover chilli (or maybe leftover vegan chilli) and serve with your favourite dips. I love scooping up a big load of guacamole; but then I am a guacaholic. Sour cream, chilli sauce, salsa or whatever you like would be amazing on the side of these. One quesadilla each might not sound like a lot, but they are seriously filling.
There’s ragu, and then there’s proper ragu. You know the two kinds I mean; the quick one that we Brits chuck on top of a pile of spaghetti and the one that takes time, effort, care and attention to make. Don’t get me wrong, the former has its place but this recipe is for the latter; which incidentally freezes very well meaning it is perfect for cooking up a big batch and then reaping the rewards in the weeks to come. It has taken a long time to get this recipe to be my version of a perfect ragu so I hope you enjoy it.
When I make pizza there are no shortcuts. Making it all from scratch from fresh ingredients does take a little longer but it is so worth it, and, good news, batch cooking pizzas is so easy and they freeze really well. Most of the pizza preparation time is waiting for the dough to prove or the sauce to reduce so you can mostly leave it to itself and then reap the rewards in the weeks to come. Coming home and knowing that dinner will be ready in 20 minutes is even better when you know it’s a fantastic homemade pizza.
Feta’s not just for salads you know. I enjoyed something similar to this tomato baked feta while in Greece a few years ago; I needed to try and make it at home. I have previously posted about some Greek inspired feta and tomato spaghetti (which is delicious by the way) and the key to both of those dishes is using the best tomatoes and feta you can get your hands on. In this case it’s also about baking the tomatoes perfectly; not too hot so that they dry out and not too cool so that they turn into mush.
I think this is a perfect meal in many ways: firstly, it’s just the right size for two people; secondly, it’s really simple to make; thirdly, it’s deliciously vegetarian and full of veg and lastly, it’s really versatile. My tomato and mascarpone gnocchi bake is made from a few ingredients which I often have in the kitchen anyway. Just the thing for a busy Monday night when you want something quick and tasty. You could add anything to it that you had hanging around in your cupboards, maybe some olives, sundried tomatoes, leftover chicken or roasted veg or you could pop some cheese on top.
This is actually surprisingly quick to make and I normally have some or most of these ingredients in the kitchen so it’s a great recipe to keep coming back to. My squash and chickpea tagine is a great way to use up some spices and a few tins from the cupboard. The fennel and paprika aren’t perhaps the most traditional tagine ingredients but I really think they add to the sweet squash and earthy chickpeas. If you roasted the squash before adding it I think it would be even tastier. Try and find apricots that aren’t completely dry, when they’re still a little soft they have a beautiful honeyed flavour. A few toasted flaked almonds on the top would give a lovely crunch to the dish.