All posts tagged: easy dinners

Come-To-Bed Parmigiana, 74p [from ‘Veganish’]

Almost three years ago now, I turned up to work late, sleepless, an incoherent babbling wreck chewed up by an 18 month landmark court trial and with bright copper dye fading from my wiry, tousled mania of hair. I left my walking stick in the lobby, and limped in to work…to find a hand thrust towards me in a polite gesture of welcome, a smile, a curt hello. She introduced herself. I apologised seven times for my lateness and my pulled-from-a-car-wreck appearance. She was firm and professional, and she smiled at me again. And I felt that self-same car wreck collide with my solar plexus and toss me down a rabbit hole of giddy head spinning highs and that soaring, almost nauseatingly disorienting feeling of time stopping and slowing and turning on its head. I stumbled away, a new crush ablaze across my cheeks and in every tip of my fingers, burning coiled springs in the soles of my feet, a song whispering in the cold, grey, slumbering chamber of my strange little heart. And …

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 …

Perfect Roast Potatoes, 14p [from ‘Veganish’]

Perfect roast potatoes are simply one of life’s greatest pleasures – one of the soft and easy comforts that transports me straight back to a wicker chair in my elderly (and now devastatingly dearly departed) Aunty Helens conservatory in her house in Plymouth, where I spent the summers of my childhood being chased around the garden by a large and furious goose called Charlie. Aunty Helen – as any great Greek Cypriot woman is intuitively inclined to – would feed us from the moment we awoke beneath hand-crocheted heavy blankets, until the moment we crawled satiated and delighted back beneath the same. It was at Aunty Helens that I learned about the birds and the bees, aged 9, leafing open-mouthed through More! magazine’s ‘Position Of The Fortnight’ from a pile of women’s magazines carefully concealed beneath a Readers Digest in the downstairs bathroom. And it was at Aunty Helens that the first seeds of a love of cookery were planted, standing in her galley kitchen that was filled with light, peeling so many spuds we …

Peach & Chickpea Curry, 61p [A Girl Called Jack]

This is my favourite curry, my go-to, easy but perfect comfort food. I used to make it with a cheap turkey leg, but any protein source will do – so feel free to chuck a fistful of whatever you fancy in with the onions if you want to bulk it out or extend it. Recipe from A Girl Called Jack. Serves 2 from 61p 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 if you make a purchase.) 400g canned chickpeas, 40p 1 onion, 5p (54p/1kg) 2 fat cloves of garlic, 4p (17p/bulb) 1 chilli or a pinch of dried chilli flakes, <1p (80p/100g) a splash of oil, 2p (£1.10/1l) 1 tsp cumin (ground or seeds), 2p (£1.15/100g) 1 x 400g tin of peaches (or apricots or mandarins), 33p (33p/411g) 1 x 400g carton or tin of chopped tomatoes, 30p a handful of fresh coriander, finely chopped …

Ultimate Lasagne, 35p [from ‘Veganish’]

This beautiful lasagne barely needs an introduction, as when I posted it on my Instagram, it received rapturous demands for the recipe. Good things come to those who wait, and here it is. Making lasagne from scratch is always a bit of a fanny, so I have deliberately made this recipe enormous so you can freeze it in portions for a quick ready meal, to make all of the work involved worthwhile by rewarding yourself with days where you won’t have to cook. Simply portion it into foil containers with those cardboard lids (around 8 for £1 from most supermarkets and factory outlet type stores, and reusable dozens of times if you wash them carefully) and pop into the freezer for a lazy day. For those of you who don’t have wine kicking about the place or don’t want to slosh it into your dinner, simply add stock or extra tomatoes in place of it. I have opted not to put cheese on mine, but you can if you want – for my vegan readers, …

Simple Tomato & Bean Soup, 20p [A Girl Called Jack]

This simple staple started off as a tin of baked beans, thoroughly rinsed, plus a carton of chopped tomatoes – out of which I made a hearty, filling soup suitable for lunch or a light supper. I’ve jazzed it up a bit since then! And don’t be scared of rinsing baked beans, they are normally just haricot or borlotti or cannelini beans slathered in ‘that’ bright orange tomato sauce, and the value range versions are much cheaper than their plain counterparts. In case you’re interested, this recipe cost 15p per portion in 2012, and is up to 19p per portion 6 years later. Not the worst price rise I’ve seen when rewriting my older recipes, but still a little annoying.) (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 4 at 20p each 1 medium onion, 7p (59p/1kg, Farm Stores at Asda) 2 …

Mushroom Mac ‘n’ Cheese, 42p [from ‘Veganish’]

This is one of my favourite comfort meals, quick to assemble, using ingredients that I generally have kicking about the house, and can just be slung in the oven and forgotten about, left to slowly pull itself together in a haze of blissful creamy soft salty rich glorious goodness. I’ve just polished off my second bowl of it, and frankly, it’s too good not to share with you all, so here it is. It’s easy to make it vegan – replace the hard strong cheese and mozzarella with Violife or something similar, and the milk with coconut or almond or soya milk, depending on what you prefer. It’s easy to throw together, and the reward of a deep bowl of melting goodness far outweighs the minimal effort involved in making it. I consider this an essential part of my repertoire these days, and barely a week goes by without it. It freezes beautifully, too, so do double the recipe and sling some of it to one side for a lazy day. Serves three people, or …

Spicy Rice & Doublebean Soup, 31p [Tin Can Cook]

This soup was a soup to shake me out of a funk longer than any I have recently known. I had a serious accident one Saturday night in April and hit my head backwards on a concrete floor at some speed. I ended up with whiplash and concussion, both of which limited my ability to sleep, work, and in the case of the latter, have so much as a thought in my head. For the first few days I rather enjoyed the peace and quiet of absolute mental vacancy as my brain shut itself down to heal, but I also temporarily lost my ability to create – the thundering hum of a thousand ideas that usually fly around at any given time, as I clutch at them wildly trying to capture one to expand on it. And they vanished, to be replaced with absolutely nothing at all. I lived off crisps and apathy for a week, and being miserable, until on the seventh day I felt like wandering into the kitchen. I threw this together …

Cannellini, Cider & Garlic Risotto, 29p [Tin Can Cook]

I did not mean to make this. I did not imagine it, did not plan it, did not conceive of it in advance. I wandered into my kitchen one midday in May with friends to feed, and myself, and pottered absently at the stove throwing whatever came to hand into my, wide, shallow pan. I very rarely cook with onions these days, as any great quantity of them upsets my stomach – such are the perks of growing older with a compromised immune system and a body that seems to find a new failing on a near-weekly basis – but I inexplicably find myself still with half a fridge drawer of them, red and white and peeling at the edges, and so I shrug and accept the consequences. A tin of cannellini beans at eye level, a bag of basic rice so old by now that when I bought it that it has cost 45p, 65p and now 45p again before I have reached the bottom. I want comfort, soft and creamy, but subtle and …

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 …

White Bean, White Wine & Garlic Risotto, 29p

I did not mean to make this today. I did not imagine it, did not plan it, did not conceive of it in advance. I wandered into my kitchen around midday with a gardener and a friend to feed, and myself, and pottered absently at the stove throwing whatever came to hand into my, wide, shallow pan. I very rarely cook with onions these days, as any great quantity of them upsets my stomach – such are the perks of growing older with a compromised immune system and a body that seems to find a new failing on a near-weekly basis – but I inexplicably find myself still with half a fridge drawer of them, red and white and peeling at the edges, and so I shrug and accept the consequences. A tin of cannellini beans at eye level, a bag of basic rice so old that it was 45p when I bought it (it has risen to 65p now, and I no longer shop at that particular supermarket). I want comfort, soft and creamy, …

Coronation Frickin’ Burger, 13p

I discovered a taste for Coronation Chicken when I was still in primary school, finding a tub of the pre-made deli style stuff in my parents fridge and, after a tentative sniff, decided to try a little of it with my undoubtedly disgusting small-child finger. And I LOVED it. I begged my parents for it, queer little thing I was. Not that I knew its delightful secrets at the time, but the combination of sweet sticky mango chutney with a creamy sauce and subtle spice, spiked with fat juicy sultanas, became one of my favourite things. As a teenager, walking 14 miles to and from school on occasion accompanied by my slightly older brother, I would spend the bus fare we saved on a tub of it from the corner shop, dumped unceremoniously over a bag of chips and eaten with my fingers. And then I grew up, and promptly forgot all about it. This burger is a homage to the humble and delightful Coronation Chicken, yet no monarchs were crowned nor chickens harmed in …

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) …

Red Lentil & Mandarin Curry, 26p [Tin Can Cook]

The first time I stayed at my girlfriends house, all she had in the cupboard was Diet Coke, tinned mandarins and a sticky patch of something ominous that was possibly once soy sauce. Her hob hadn’t worked in over 2 years, and she stubbornly warned me not to try to change her. Undeterred, over the course of the last 10 months, I subtly snuck in the odd ingredient to make microwaveable meals from, a couple of spices to pep up salad dressings, and a jar of ginger-garlic paste ‘just in case’. Turmeric and black pepper made it over the threshold as a cold remedy, and a tin of tomatoes for an emergency gazpacho that never materialised. I frequently joke with her that she keeps me grounded and my recipes where they are meant to be, conjured from dust and thin air and a couple of tins of nothing. Last week, alone while she was out on a jolly, and armed with a YouTube video, a dogbone wrench, a phillips screwdriver and a mission, I fixed …