Friends will know that my Marmite obsession is almost as out of control as my peanut butter obsession. In leaner times, I would substitute Marmite, which was well out of my budget range, for a paste made from a crumbled Basics beef stock cube, mixed with boiling water, and allowed to cool. Smeared onto toast with butter, it delivered that tongue-warming tingle and salty kick I used to get from my yeast-extract friend. These days, my cupboard has a jar of Marmite in for toast and snacks, and today, it went in here, too. If you’re a hater, not a lover, just leave it out – or of course, you could always cook your pasta in a stock made from a crumbled Basics beef stock cube, and we’ll call it quits…
Serves 1 at 36p per portion.
75g pasta, 5p
250ml water (or half a beef stock cube crumbled in – don’t knock it til you’ve tried it)
2 tsp butter (10g), 4p
20g hard strong cheese – you might want to use more, but I like hard and strong and scant myself, 23p
½ tsp (2g) Marmite or other yeast extract, 3p
Tip your pasta into a mug, and cover with cold water. Cover with clingfilm and pierce several times, or balance a small saucer on top – make sure neither mug nor saucer have any metal on please, the Fire Service are busy enough… Stand it in a bowl or jug – you’ll see why in a sec. Cook on FULL power for 2 minutes, then remove the mug. It’s usual for water to bubble up over the sides and drench the bottom of your microwave, so to save cleaning it up and topping it up again, which will slow your cooking time down, just tip the water back into the mug. Give it all a good stir and leave to stand for a minute. Repeat this step twice more, until your pasta is soft and swollen. You may need to add a splash more water here or there, which is fine – not all microwaves, nor pasta, were created equal.
Add your butter, stir in the Marmite, and grate the cheese over. Cook for one more minute on full power, stir well, and serve.
For a work-easy version, or a portable one, simply mix together oil instead of butter, marmite and finely grated hard cheese and pop into a small container – it’s not going to look the greatest, but it will taste absolutely fine when it’s cooked. Portion out your pasta, and take the pasta and the oil-cheese-marmite paste with you wherever you’re off to. Now all you need is to cook the pasta as instructed, stir in the paste, and voila. Nearly-instant lunch that doesn’t have to be kept in the fridge.
Prices worked out at Sainsburys and are correct at the time of blogging (March 2015). Basics pasta 35p/500g. Basics butter 90p/250g . Basics hard strong cheese £2.30/200g. Marmite £1.70/125g.
I’ve given up my oven for Lent and am exploring cooking with my microwave – I hope people will find this useful, and I’m certainly finding it very interesting! You can follow my progress here, or on http://www.instagram.com/msjackmonroe or http://www.twitter.com/msjackmonroe
My blog is free and always will be, but if you would like to buy a recipe book, they can be found on http://www.hive.co.uk/by/jack-monroe/ – they’re in all major bookshops and supermarkets too, but Hive supports your local independent book stores, which is important and super cool.
Jack Monroe. Twitter & Instagram @MsJackMonroe