January Savings

Looking back over the recipes you and I have done together over the many weeks, it occurred to me that there are probably little jars/packets/leftover veg and fruit lurking about in the back of a cupboard and fridge, so today I’m going to give you some ideas about what to do with them in this time of cutting down on waste.

In no particular order (other than popping into my mind!) . . . .

Salad onions: Blanch whole for 2 minutes and drain. Heat a griddle pan and chargrill for a few minutes each side and serve with a honey and lemon dressing as a side dish (whisk 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 2 tablespoons olive oil and a large teaspoon of honey together)

Kale: Make Kale crisps by preheating the oven to 150oC, Toss torn Kale with a little oil and season and roast in a single layer for about 20 minutes until crisp

Most vegetables can be roasted so just toss any sad looking potatoes/parsnips/carrots/sprouts/whatever in a little olive oil and put in the oven at 180oC till crisp

Herbs: (of course, you can also freeze herbs but they want to be at their best for this and here we are using up the little bits found at the back of the fridge!)

  • Shallow fry whole sage leaves for 2 – 3 minutes till crisp.  Drain on kitchen paper, toss with sea salt and pepper and scatter over soups and pasta dishes.
  • Fry as above, cool, finely chop and beat into softened butter with a little sea salt. Wrap in cling film and chill and use slices to stuff fish, top chicken or melt over filled pasta
  • Roughly chop sage, mix with breadcrumbs then fry in butter until golden. Season and scatter over cauliflower cheese or steamed green veg,
  • Finely chop some capers and mix with chopped coriander, parsley and mint (there are always some of these hiding in my fridge drawer), olive oil, lemon zest and chilli flakes. Serve with grilled meat and fish or roast vegetables.
  • Crush cooked peas with a little butter, lemon juice and chopped mint.  Season and spoon over toast and top with crumbled feta

Cheese: (again, big lumps can be grated and frozen)

  • Finely grate and add to shortcrust pastry with a pinch of smoked paprika and use to make a tart case for a savoury quiche
  • stir fry left over brussels sprouts with pancetta or chopped bacon and scatter with grated cheese to serve
  • Finely slice and toss into a leafy salad with slices of crisp green apple and add a mustardy vinaigrette

Coconut milk:

  • Blend a 1/4 can with half a banana, a dollop of yogurt and some berries for a quick smoothie
  • Try a new gravy: stir a few spoonfuls into roast chicken cooking juices along with a chopped chilli, a squeeze of lime juice and some coriander
  • Use instead of an oil in a marinade

Black Pudding

  • Add va va voom to eggs on toast by sprinkling over fried and crumbled black pudding
  • Toss slices through cubed roast potatoes for the final 5 minute cooking time. Serve with white fish, wilted spinach and aioli
  • Mix with caramelised onions and sage to stuff chicken or serve with firm fish such as monkfish

Any fruits can be poached and whizzed up with leftover yogurt/cream/custard (is there ever such a thing as leftover custard!?) to make a fool – and to give a nice contrasting crisp topping crush the broken bits of biscuits at the bottom of the box.

Oranges, limes and lemons can be zested (and frozen) and either sliced and frozen for drink additions or squeezed and the juice saved in ice cube trays.

Which tin has been sitting in the back of your cupboard and needs using up? Perhaps a pulse which could be rinsed and used in a salad? Or charred in a hot pan as a basis for a smoky taco? Perhaps it suits to be cooked slowly with herbs and wine to become a warm, comforting supper? Think how a few fresh ingredients could enhance and contrast with your chosen tin? A handful of toasted nuts, seeds and spices could help lift softer tins.

This recipe is using a tin of green lentils – but you could easily substitute these for cooked pearl barley, spelt or cooked rice.

Garlic Mushroom Lentil and fried eggs

  • 4 tablespoons oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
  • 200 grams mushrooms, sliced (you could use frozen or tinned as long as they are dried off)
  • 2 sprigs of rosemary chopped (or sage,       tarragon or thyme)
  • 1 x 390 gram tin of green lentils, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 lemon, zest and juice
  • salt and pepper
  • 100g spinach, washed and drained
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 tablespoons grated parmesan (you could also use mature cheddar or goats’ cheese)

Fry the garlic in 2 tablespoons of oil, taking care not to burn it. Take out and set aside. Increase the heat and add 1 tablespoon of oil, add the mushrooms and cook for about 4 – 5 minutes. Stir in whatever herb you are using and add the lentils, lemon juice and spinach until wilted (add a little water if the pan looks dry).  Add the remaining oil to another pan, crack the eggs and fry to your liking.  To serve: pile the mushrooms on two plates, add the egg, the crispy garlic, grated parmesan and lemon zest. Toasted sourdough an excellent partner to mop up the juices!

Good comfort food is needed more than ever and  Ribollita is a main course soup using tins again with leftover bread and a little fresh cabbage. This serves more than one – but I will allow you to batch bake on this occasion! Keeps in the fridge for a few days or freeze a portion or two when cooled on the day.

  • 1 large onion
  • 2 celery sticks (celery wrapped in tin foil and kept in the fridge will keep for a while)
  • 1 leek
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon tomato puree
  • 400g tinned tomatoes
  • 750ml vegetable stock (from a cube will do)
  • salt and pepper
  • 400g tin cannellini beans
  • 2 thick slices of (older) bread, torn (sourdough is best but not necessary)
  • 200g of cabbage or spinach or cavolo nero
  • grated parmesan cheese

Chop the onion, celery, leek and carrots into dice and tip into a large saucepan.  Add the olive oil and cook over a low heat for about 10 minutes until softened, stirring occasionally.  Add garlic and tomato puree, mix well.  Pour the tinned tomatoes into the pan, add 500 ml stock, season and bring to a gentle simmer, Half cover with a lid and cook for 30 minutes to soften the vegetables.  Add the beans and cook for a further 20 minutes. Add the remaining stock and bread and cook for about 10 minutes until the bread is broken down and thickened the soup.  Add the green veg and cook till wilted.  Serve in bowls with a drizzle of olive oil and some grated parmesan on top.

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