All posts filed under: Pasta

Mac n Blue Cheese With Bacon, 54p

This is an idea that has been kicking around in my head for a long time; combining the soft salty kick of a blue cheese sauce with a classic mac n cheese recipe. I made it for my colleagues for lunch today, and it went down an absolute storm. Simple, classy, comforting – and sure to become a quick staple for feeding a crowd. Veggie readers; replace the bacon with mushrooms tossed in a little paprika. Vegan readers, this ‘free from’ blue cheese and any plant milk of your choice would work here. Serves 4 from 54p each. This post is not sponsored; I provide links to the ingredients that I use so you can see how I calculate my recipe costs, and I may earn a small commission if you click the links or purchase any ingredients. All prices correct at the time of printing and are subject to change. 3 tbsp butter or soft spread, 3p (75p/500g) 300g macaroni or other pasta, 29p (95p/1kg) 2 tbsp flour, 3p (45p/1.5kg) 500ml milk, 24p (£1.09/4 …

Jonny’s Sausage & Bean Bolognese, 14p

I try my best to follow a vegan diet, but I have never gone so far as to force that on my only child, who at eight years old is a rather headstrong young man, one I would no more force to an abattoir than he could make me eat a cheap gristly sausage. He understands that I choose not to eat animals, and I understand that he sometimes wants things that I disapprove of. Minecraft. Mud pies. And sausages. This style of parenting may not be in line with ‘gold star veganism’, but I run my household as I see fit, and I advise you to do the same. This evening, Small Boy insisted he wanted sausages for tea. I dug the Linda McCartney ones out of the freezer and waved them at him. He retaliated by raiding his plastic Minion piggybank and offering to buy and cook his own sausages. I was stumped, but, half-convinced he wouldn’t go through with it, walked with him to the local shop. He spent his pocket money …

Mac n Swede, 19p

The humble swede is a much misunderstood vegetable, and one I can truly empathise with. Misshapen, lumpy, outwardly tough, slightly bitter and difficult to get under the skin of, but once you get inside, it’s soft, delicate, sweet and surprisingly versatile. Asda have them for 20p each at the moment, and as the author of an ultra low budget cookery website, it seemed too good an opportunity to pass up really getting to know the inscrutable rutabega once and for all. The cheese in this recipe can be substituted for any vegan cheese of your choice – I didn’t have any to hand, and am not going to pretend otherwise. (I made myself a separate cheese-free portion but my 8 year old would not have touched it without the cheesy element, and parenting is challenging enough at times without fighting over liquidised root vegetables). Can be made gluten free by using GF pasta of your choice. Serves 4 at 19p each 1 large swede, 20p (20p each, Asda) 2 tbsp cooking oil, 3p (98p/1l, Asda) …

Slow Rich Lentil Ragu, 29p (slow cooker)

Cooking anything for 12 hours when on the most stringent of budgets sounds like an eye-popping luxury, but fear not bootstrap fans, there’s only as many hours actual cooking as you want to stretch to, and done in a slow cooker it costs less than keeping a lightbulb on. For the last few years readers have been asking me to venture into slow cooker recipes, and mine is this nifty little £12 number from Wilko (no I’m not on commission, unfortunately!). At 1.5l it just holds enough for a main meal for two hungry people or four smaller appetites. I have had mine for around 4 years and it is still going strong, so it is well worth the investment if you can afford it, for what you will save in energy costs, time, effort and headspace alone. It is no big secret that I am not always in the greatest of health, mental or physical, and on low spoons days I need something that delivers the maximum nutrition on the minimum of effort; I’m …

Soffritto, 19p

For the last few months, I have been spying little jars of soffritto paste in the specialty foods aisles of various supermarkets. Snuggled next to such exoticisms as ancho chillies, dried porcini mushrooms, and other things that it is ‘nice to have but not essential’ (although Waitrose now feature artichoke hearts in their Essentials range, for the love of God!). I picked a jar up out of curiosity, as I like to imitate fancy ingredients myself, cheaply, on this here blog, to make them more accessible. I turned it over, bracing myself for the hard-to-find ingredients contained within, steeling my nerves for the inevitable reverse-engineering process to follow…and snorted with laughter. This jar of soothingly yellow paste contained such far-flung ingredients as celery, carrots and onion, with a dash of salt and pepper. I snapped a quick photo of the label, and went back to the vegetable aisle, picking up 3kg of carrots and onions and a bag of celery for less than the puny jar of paste would have cost. Such is often the …

Don’t Throw That Away! An A-Z of leftovers, tired veg, etc and what to do with them.

This piece started after an article in the Independent about the top 10 foods that we apparently throw away in the UK. I took to Twitter to ask people what usually ended up in their bin, and then spent a whole day and night answering hundreds of queries – some of them came up a lot, like bread and mushrooms, and some were rather more surprising, like ‘half a jar of caviar’ (not a problem I can say I have ever had, but I am here to help, and inverse snobbery is as ghastly as the original kind so please, resist the urge.) I have compiled them all here as an A-Z, and will keep this list going, and add to it regularly, as a handy reference point – so keep checking back! And add your own tips at the bottom, our ‘hive mind’ is a much better thing than my admittedly limited experience!! Also remember you can always use the search bar on the blog to find recipe ideas too, for that stray carrot, …

Mushroom & Spinach Bolognese, 38p

I’ve been meaning to write about my ‘mushroom mince’ for months now – I use it instead of soya mince or Quorn as a cheaper alternative that isn’t full of unpronounceable ingredients or a gazillion processes. It’s simple, quick, and actually tastes like food, and can be dried out and stored in a jar for months, or frozen to use as required. Basically, finely slice your mushrooms, then chop them up like billy-o until they’re finely diced. They’ll shrink a bit in the pan as they lose moisture anyway. Then either use them straight away, or freeze, or spread thinly on a baking tray (or any tray) on a layer of kitchen paper and leave to dry for a day or two somewhere safe and not moist (not the bathroom, for example). Now for the fun part – a bolognese packed full of veg, costing pennies, suitable for your vegan friends but convincing enough for the carnivores – enjoy! This is my new favourite winter comforting bowl-food. Serves 2 adults and 2 children at 38p …

Gram Flour Pasta, 17p

As part of my ‘health binge’ that I’m currently embarking on after the carbtastic Live Below The Line challenge followed by scarcely and sleep and a lot of crap sandwiches to power through a General Election, I decided to experiment and see if I could make gluten free pasta. I’m not a fan of ‘gluten free’ flour, having used it a few times in the past and being decidedly unimpressed with the results – and pasta being one of my absolutely favourite foods, I wasn’t going to run the risk of something that tasted like wet cardboard spoiling one of my favourite experiences. And so, the big bag of gram flour came down from the top of the fridge again, and I decided to have a play. I’ve made pasta with ‘ordinary’ flour in the past (once!), using a simple ratio of 1 egg to every 100g of flour and a splash of oil for good measure – so I applied a similar theory here to see what happened, upping the egg ratio for no …

Carrot Ribbon Pasta, 30p

This recipe was one of my favourite, simple ones from my first cookbook, A Girl Called Jack. Originally borne of a way to use up a bulk-buy bag of carrots (in the days before the guinea pig!), and to make veg exciting for a then two-year-old boy, it’s a simple, bright staple in my home today. In fact, I’ve just had it for my lunch. It’s beautiful, simple and delightful, and can be enjoyed all year round. Use whatever herbs you have to hand for the green sauce, I usually like basil or parsley in this one, but the Chief Herb Buyer in our house accidentally bought a ton of dill last week for a cooking project, and I’m reluctant to buy anything else until I’ve made a dent in the dill mountain in the fridge. Turns out it’s really yummy with dill, but if you don’t have it in or won’t use it in a week or two, don’t buy it specially – stick to a failsafe herb that’s easier to use up, like …

Minestrone Soup, 19p

I often receive letters and emails from friends, family and readers asking for ideas for cheap lunches. Aside from the ubiquitous cheese sandwich or home made scone-muffin-type-thing and an apple, banana or pear, one of my favourite staple lunches for this time of year is A Good Hearty Soup. And nothing says hearty soup quite like one packed with pasta and beans and chunky vegetables! I’ve been making minestrone soup for so long, I’m amazed it didn’t make it into either of my books – but I guess I’d never taken the time to write the recipe down and think about it too much. It’s one of my staples for a leftover half can of beans or chopped tomatoes, a scraggy little carrot or half an onion in the bottom of the veg drawer, tired greens, and those little broken bits of pasta in the bottom of the bag, or odds and sods of pasta that aren’t quite enough to do anything with. I keep all the last few bits of pasta, and the broken …

Jack Monroe, ITV This Morning

Cauli Mac-N-Cheese [A Year In 120 Recipes]

This is part mac ‘n’ cheese, part cauliflower cheese, and deliciously golden and moreish with some crispy bacon thrown in for good measure. Baking it at the end to melt the cheese isn’t essential, but oh, it’s so good. It’s a quicker method than the traditional ‘melt some butter and flour to make a roux then thin with a little milk’ – but with pretty much the same end results. You know me, I like to keep things simple, but if the thought of not making a ‘real white sauce’ distresses you, then melt a tablespoon of butter over a low heat with a scant level tablespoon of flour, mix well to form a thick paste, thin with a little milk, stir until smooth, add more milk, toss in the cheese, melt, and remove from the heat and set to one side until you need the saucy bit. I find (personally) that the eggs thicken the mixture and a good whack in the oven finishes it off, but hey, there’s many roads up the mountain …

Spaghetti Alla Puttanesca [A Year In 120 Recipes]

My take on Spaghetti alla Puttanesca is a little different – I prefer tinned sardines to the more traditional anchovies, and I like to add some of the preserved oil for a distinctive flavour. This dish is a hot, fast joyride for your tastebuds with its fiery chilli, soft chunks of fish, vinegary capers and salty aftertaste. (Serves 2) 4 fat cloves of garlic, peeled 1 fresh red chilli, chopped 2 tbsp oil 400g chopped tomatoes 100g tinned sardines in oil 200g dried spaghetti 1 tbsp capers 1 tbsp olives, pitted and diced Roughly chop the garlic – I like mine chunky in a dish like this, but if a mouthful of slightly crunchy garlic will put you off, chop it finely. Put it into a large saucepan with the chilli and oil and saute on a low heat for a few minutes. Pour over the chopped tomatoes and the oil from the sardines, and turn up the heat to bring it to the boil. Carefully remove the bones from the sardines by splitting them, …

Cauli & Bacon ‘Carbonara’

This is part spaghetti carbonara, part cauliflower cheese – and deliciously golden and moreish. Baking it at the end to melt the cheese isn’t essential, but does lift it to a better place. Using hard, strong cheese means that you don’t need very much of it, a trick I use quite often. I mean, what is the point of mild cheddar other than for kids packed lunches? (Serves 2) 150g spaghetti 1 tbsp oil 100g cauliflower, broken into small florets 100g streaky bacon, chopped 2 eggs 100ml milk Black pepper 30g hard strong cheese, grated Bring a medium saucepan of water to the boil. Add the spaghetti and reduce to a simmer. Meanwhile, gently heat the oil in a large saucepan, then add the cauliflower and bacon. In a separate bowl, beat together the eggs, milk and pepper. Add a few tablespoons of the pasta cooking water and beat in. When the pasta is al dente, drain it and add to the pan with the cauliflower and bacon. Pour in the egg mixture and mix …

Liver & Lentil Bolognese

Tonight’s dinner came courtesy of some chicken liver at the back of the freezer, and some veg left over from a photoshoot yesterday. Idly flicking through my cookbook collection to find a new chicken liver idea, I came across a bolognese in Save With Jamie. Mine’s not identical – I’ve left out the bacon and mushrooms and chicken stock for a start, and replaced the balsamic vinegar with white wine vinegar, and added frozen spinach for some greens and to lift the flavour… And far more tomatoes than his recipe, because I like a good tomatoey ragu sauce. The result? I ate a good portion of this from the pan, and proclaimed it the best bolognese I’d ever eaten. Between me and Jamie, this is a job jobbed. Cheers. Chicken liver and lentil bolognese, serves 4. Ingredients: 1 carrot 1 onion 2 fat cloves of garlic 1tbsp oil 200g chicken livers 1 tsp fennel seeds 1 red chilli 400g chopped tomatoes 1 tbsp vinegar – red wine or white wine 100g red lentils 100g frozen …