All posts tagged: baby spinach

Salad-Bag Pesto, 13p

Bagged salad is one of the most wasted foods in Britain, with over half of it ending up in landfill. I have had this recipe in mind since my first cookbook, A Girl Called Jack, and although it is something I make for myself on a regular basis, absorbed into my household as a common staple, it has never been committed to paper (nor screen) until now. Bags of salad can be expensive to buy full price, but can often be found in the reduced chiller at the supermarket, which is where I nabbed the first one I ever made this with. (I have priced it as a regular bag of salad to hold off the stampede to my local cornershop supermarket; it’s a long way to come for a half price half wilted bag of leaves!) I like using salad leaves for pesto for variety, too, the peppery tang of rocket, the pop of colour from a beetroot leaf or baby chard, the sweet crunch of a tiny piece of spinach – and as …

Self Love Stew, 38p [Cooking On A Bootstrap]

This recipe first appeared on my Instagram account (for readers clutching this book [Cooking on a Bootstrap] in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, Instagram is a photograph-sharing network where people mostly show off their dinner and houses that are much larger and cleaner than mine). It was a rough night, in the middle of a tough week, embedded in a hellish year, and I wasn’t cooking. Overwhelmed by life and sadness, I hadn’t been in my kitchen for days. I needed comfort, and nourishment, and I forced myself to the stove. This revelation may come as something of a surprise, but even I can’t cook sometimes. This did the trick – and you can use a handful of frozen veg in place of chopping anything, if you like. (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 and make a purchase.) SERVES 2-4 from 38p each oil, for frying, 3p …

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 …

Lentil & Spinach Daal, 37p

So, if you’ve made the Beetroot, Feta and Lentil salad that I kicked off my Guardian recipe column with – or you have some lentils and spinach still kicking about, here’s a recipe for a quick warming winter dinner. It’s easy and filling – I love mine with pitta breads dunked in… Serves two at 37p 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 and make a purchase. 1 onion, 5p (54p/1kg) 1 red chilli or pinch of dried flakes, 1p (£1.15/100g) 1 tbsp oil, 2p (£1.10/1l) 2 tsp cumin or turmeric, or a tsp each if you have them, 3p (£1.15/100g) 100g red split lentils, 18p (£1.80/kg) 1 stock cube, 3p  200ml water 200ml natural yoghurt, 16p (80p/1kg) 130g spinach, 22p (£1.50/900g) 1 tbsp lemon juice, 3p First, peel and finely slice the onion, and finely chop the chilli, and add to a large frying pan …

Tinned Fishcakes, 17p [Cooking On A Bootstrap]

A couple of years ago, I was later asked to do a stint on a BBC programme, Inside The Factory, on tinned food , and went for the day to a four-star hotel to play head chef to unsuspecting diners, who believed they were trying out the upmarket hotel’s new menu. This was their starter, and they all enthusiastically loved it, even when the ‘big reveal’ at the end proved that it had been made with value range tinned potatoes and a 40p tin of sardines. At the time of filming, these fishcakes worked out at 17p per head – prices change all the time, of course , but they remain a nifty, inexpensive, filling little number. And good enough for a roomful of self-styled food connoisseurs, too. (I’m currently trialling a partnership program with the budget supermarkets that I shop in for my recipes. If you click the links in the recipes I may earn a small commission, but don’t just click for the sake of it as they’re wise to that! As ever, …

Spinach, Lentil & Lemon Soup, 34p [Cook For Syria]

This easy, comforting spinach and lentil soup was inspired by a recipe in Saha, by Greg and Lucy Malouf. I made it a few times as a quick late-night supper, before I lost the notebook with the details in one of my many house moves. For a long while, as a single mum on benefits, I all but lived out of a pile of boxes as I ran from rent arrears to damp and mould to a single mattress on a floor in a shared house, and a lot of pieces of paper – and nerve endings – got lost along the way. Here’s what I remember of it, in happier times these days, with a few blanks filled in. Homely, comforting and filling, it can also be made with tinned lentils and frozen spinach for the ultimate easy, inexpensive lunch or dinner. (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 …

Red Mushroom Curry, 40p

This hot spicy little number is a favourite in my household for dealing with the dreaded cold and flu, or when feeling a little run down. The combination of garlic, ginger, chilli, tomatoes and a kick of citrus is a feisty relief for the symptoms of even the most grim winter germs. I make a double batch of the paste and pop it in the freezer for future use. Of course, you can use a jar of shop-bought curry paste too, if you are feeling really rough; I’ve been there and I absolutely sympathise. I blitz mine in a blender to get the paste super smooth, but it’s not essential, you can just throw it all in a pan for a similar effect, just with a little extra texture, which is fine. Serves 2-4 from 40p each 1 large onion, 9p (90p/1.5kg, Sainsburys Basics) 4 cloves of garlic, 6p (35p/2 bulbs of garlic, Sainsburys Basics) A small piece of ginger, 3p (30p/100g loose ginger, Sainsburys) ¼ tsp red chilli flakes, 1p (80p/100g, Natco or KTC …

Black Bean & Peanut Stew, 26p

The original version of this dish contained chicken, so I have substituted it with black beans here. It makes for a more filling meal, and a cheaper one, too, as beans and pulses are generally far cheaper than meat and pulses. Dried beans work out even cheaper, but they require a degree of organisation to remember to soak them the evening before, or even to know what you will be eating in advance. I have never managed to be quite so organised, so it would be disingenuous of me to urge you all to do so, but if you are a meal-planning person, bear in mind that dried pulses are a lot cheaper than the convenience of popping open a tin of pre-cooked ones. If you find black beans difficult to get hold of or not to your taste, you can use kidney beans, green lentils, or really, any bean will do. The cooking time given here is a minimum, not an absolute, as with any pulse-based stew, it will simply improve the longer it …

Caribbean Style Chilli, 28p

Winter is coming, the time of year where perpetual colds and snuffles are imminent, the nights draw in darker, and I start to crave a little bit of heat and spice. Usually I spend my winters making long slow curries, but, ambling around the Caribbean section of a supermarket I don’t usually manage to get to, I started to rifle through the unusual (to me) goods on offer, and muse about what to do with them. I enjoy a new culinary adventure, and I picked up a few tins of gungo peas, callalloo (a little like spinach), ackee. I wrote down ‘cornmeal porridge’, threw a large bag of rosecoco beans into my basket, and made notes in the little back-pocket notebook I am rarely without. I went home and tweeted about my haul, and Twitter followers with a lifetime of experience in cooking with these ingredients kindly sent me recipes and ideas. A new adventure is beginning, and I am super excited to explore it. This chilli was my first foray, not dissimilar from my …

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 …

Courgette, Tomato & Cheese Gratin, 34p [A Girl Called Jack]

This recipe from my microwave series is based on a recipe from my book, A Girl Called Jack, that I see popping up on my Twitter feed and Facebook pages time and time again – it seems to be a definite favourite among my lovely readers! And so, I wondered if it was possible to make a portable microwave version, either for busy evenings, energy saving cooking, or even to pop into a jar in your work bag to stave off the boredom of yet another soggy cheese sandwich or expensive takeaway lunch. The microwave version has fewer ingredients than the original, oven-bake recipe – trying to keep it simple. I’ll also confess that I’ve made it with a few different rices as an experiment; although the simple basic 45p-a-kilo white rice will always be my go-to budget staple, this dish IS delicious with nutty brown rice too, if it’s the kind of thing you keep in the cupboard, and if not then don’t worry about it. (This post is not sponsored; I provide links …

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 …

Majorly Curried Eggs, 56p [A Year In 120 Recipes]

Early on in my career as a political commentator and food writer, I appeared on Channel 5’s ‘Big Benefits Row‘ programme, hosted by Matthew Wright, and featuring Katie Hopkins, White Dee from Benefits Street, and Edwina Currie. During the program, Edwina made some atrocious remarks about my (recently deceased) grandfather, and – I am not an easily upset person – I burst into tears on live television, to be comforted by Boris Johnson’s sister. It was an odd night, all in, and I went home at the end of it, bashed out an excoriating letter to Edwina, and made myself a Major pan of Curried eggs to console myself with. It was petty, but, it’s become a favourite recipe in my household, and not just for the wry grin it gives me every time. Rich, simple, cheap and easy…and not a bad dinner, either. Ingredients: (Serves 2) (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 …

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 …