5 minute thing with Tom Cruise Dressing*, 60p


One afternoon in the all-hours flail-and-flurry that was this-glorious-top-secret-for-now-project, I emerged from my writing corner (apologies to Virginia Woolf for not managing an entire ‘room of my own in which to write’ but, recession, gentrification and a dislike of cleaning mean I basically live in a nook. Anyway, when there is a small child around all rooms are rightfully theirs and filled with plastic horror and there is no fighting it). I digress. I emerged from my corner (hungry) and hulked to my fridge (empty). Rummaged in the cupboard. So many of my favourite recipes begin this way. To cut a slightly rubbish story short, five minutes later I was photographing this for my blog before swiftly devouring it. Enjoy. And always keep a can of chickpeas in your cupboard and a bag of something green and leafy in your freezer.
Serves 2 at 60p each, as ever prices are based on my most recent Sainsburys shop because it’s near me, but similar products are available at most supermarkets. I use Sun Pat peanut butter as it’s the cheapest one I have found that is free from palm oil, I don’t generally buy into heebie jeebie food scares but I feel deeply uneasy about palm oil. There are cheaper peanut butters available for those on tighter budgets, Sainsburys Basics do a jar for around 62p.

For the dressing:
2 tbsp peanut butter (or other nut or seed butter), 18p (£1.89/340g)
60ml oil, 6p (£3/3l)
a pinch of salt and a good grind of pepper, <1p (Basics: 25p/750g)
scant ¼ tsp any kind of mustard, <1p (Basics 30p/jar)
1 tbsp bottled lemon juice or zest and juice of half a small one, 3p (50p/250ml)
a pinch of chilli flakes or cayenne pepper, <1p (£1/32g)

And the rest:

Half an onion of any colour, we are not onion-fascists round here, 6p (Basics 1.5kg/90p)
6 fat cloves of garlic, 10p (Basics 2 bulbs/35p)
1 x 400g can of chickpeas or other legume, 39p (KTC)
100g frozen spinach, 13p (£2.50/2x1kg)
a large tomato or two, 22p (Basics 65p/450g)

Grab a jar with a good lid. Put the dressing ingredients in it and screw on said lid. Shake it all about like you’re Tom Cruise, either in Cocktail or leaping up and down on the Oprah sofa, your shout. Remove lid. Dip a finger in. Yummy isn’t it? If you disagree, add some more of something to balance it to your liking. Set to one side.

Pop the frozen spinach in a small bowl. Top and tail the garlic (chop the gnarly end off the bottom of the clove and the pointy bit off the top) and stab all the way through with the tip of your knife. Put in another small bowl. Pop both in the microwave for 3 x 20 second bursts. Your garlic should resemble roasted garlic, one of my favourite lazy cooking tricks, and the spinach mostly defrosted. Fling the spinach back in for a minute, and pop the garlic out of it’s skins.

Finely dice the onion, roughly chop the tomato and fling into a bowl. Drain and rinse the chickpeas and add ‘em. Stir in the spinach and garlic. Throw the dressing over the lot. Give it a good mix, season to taste, and enjoy. I like mine coolish, but it’s lovely hot as well. And even better the next day when it has been lolling around in the fridge, so make double and eat it for a couple of days – it’s a great quick lunch and as the title suggests, I seriously cannot get enough of it.


If you like this, I’m also on Twitter and Instagram @MxJackMonroe, and there’s a couple of cookbooks out too – available to buy from Hive, supporting local independent bookshops: http://www.hive.co.uk/book/a-girl-called-jack-100-delicious-budget-recipes/18105011/


My new book, Cooking on a Bootstrap, is now available to order HERE.

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  1. That’s today’s (and probably tomorrow’s) lunch sorted! My car radiator died yesterday so I’m going to need to seriously budget this month if I can afford to buy Christmas presents for my children. Thanks Jack!

  2. That’s today’s (and probably tomorrow’s) lunch sorted! One bust car radiator = serious budgeting before Christmas! Time to see what’s lurking at the back of the cupboards. Thanks Jack!

  3. Ah, so that’s why it’s Tom cruise dressing. I was wondering why you want to descibe a dressing as ‘small and can’t act’. Anyway it sounds lovely.

  4. It was delicious! I heated the chickpeas in a little oil with some chilli and used up my leftover fresh spinach. I have enough for lunch tomorrow and hopefully my iron levels will be high enough to give blood tomorrow – my first time since becoming a vegan. Thanks again – I appreciate the budget vegan recipes.

  5. Sounds yummy, love chickpeas, will try that this week. I ordered your first book last week through Book Depository and not through Hive books, as I live in NZ postage would’ve been too high. I hope to buy your second book but would love it to be a paperback edition. Any chance this is likely to happen?
    Absolutely love your blog and tell anyone who will listen about it. A lot of awesome banana bread being eaten down here ! As for your naysayers and nitpickers what miserable gits they must be to live with! LOL!
    Keep up the good work Jack your’re doing great!

  6. Elizabeth Gaskell (1810-65), had a spot in the house between two doors to write and in between all her house hold responsibilities and would grab moments to write there. Linda x

  7. Made this for lunch, minus tomatoes because I had none in and with a little bit of balsamic vinegar and honey thrown in the dressing. Delicious – made enough to last til tomorrow but not sure it will be in the fridge that long.

  8. This is pretty awesome as are all yr recipes but something really bothers me. I’m a HUGE peanut butter fan – and like you I avoid palm oil but also avoid nestle as they are seriously EVIL. Sunpat are part of this nasty corporation so I’ve got really into the whole peanut butter thing and have found pure peanut butter for £4.75 for 1kg from ebay ( no postage) appreciate this doesn’t work for low budgets – but for those who can afford it is,well worth it- if u go to the effort to avoid palm oil – nestle can also be avoided. Realise is a pure personal choice but in terms of fair trade etc this seems logical to me – I cant afford brands like meridian etc or the organic brands but this one I thought was great value. – keep up the awesomeness – really love it 😊

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