It’s now the sixth week of this year’s Empty the Storecupboard challenge, and we’re still using up our stored food stocks to save money, prevent food waste and make some tasty and healthy meals. Before we get to what I’ve been cooking in the past week, we first have a guest recipe.
I’ve been asking you to tell me what you’ve been cooking from your storecupboards as we go along, and Paula Bassanese – freelance writer with a passion for frugal cooking, and author of The Foraging Home Cook – has kindly shared one of her favourite thrifty recipes. You can find out more on her website. Now, over to Paola…
Paula’s pasta e fagioli recipe
“Seeing that Penny still has some borlotti beans and pasta in her cupboard, why not try out a staple dish from Italy’s ‘cucina povera’ (poor man’s cooking) this week? Pasta e fagioli is a traditional Italian peasant recipe that is perfect to use up your cupboard foodstuffs.
You can enrich the recipe with bacon or ham offcuts if you have any leftovers. In fact, my top tip, which I got from my Italian mother, is to go to the deli counter at your local supermarket and ask for catering off cuts – they are all those leftover pieces of ham that cannot be sold at the counter as they are too small for slicing.
Pasta e fagioli is also a great way to use up different pasta shapes lingering in the cupboard: sometimes we have a few grams of different types of pasta left in their bag and they are not enough to make a pasta meal. When I cooked this recipe I used some lasagne sheets and broke them up into small pieces.
For 1 person
- 120g cooked borlotti beans
- 50g pasta
- 50g chopped canned tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano or mixed herbs (fresh rosemary optional)
- 1 clove garlic
- salt and pepper
- warm water or vegetable stock (you can use a stock cube)
- In a pan heat the oil and add the garlic, chopped, cooking for about a minute to release the flavour.
- Add the beans, tomato and herbs (plus fresh rosemary if you have it) and cook for 2 minutes, then add the pasta and enough warm water or vegetable stock to cover the pasta.
- Bring to the boil then simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring regularly. If the pasta gets too dry during cooking add a ladle of water.
- Just before the end of cooking, season with salt and pepper to taste. The pasta should be well coated in the sauce but not soupy.
If you are adding ham or bacon, cook it in the oil after chopping it finely and garlic at the beginning then add the beans and tomato. As you can see this recipe shouldn’t take more than half an hour to make and it’s very filling.”
Thanks to Paola, and check out her book if you’re interested in starting to forage for wild foods.
My latest week of Storecupboard cooking
I started off with a prawn and spinach curry (above), which used up some more of the brown rice. The curry itself was mainly made of frozen prawns and frozen spinach, and I also added some papads and chutneys. Doesn’t look like much in the pictures for some reason, but it did taste great.
On Monday evening I used up the tiny amount of pasta in a hot nicoise-ish salad (pic above), adding grilled tuna and tomatoes, streamed green beans, kale, lemon juice and olives. Not the thriftiest meal I’ve ever cooked, but sometimes it’s good to treat yourself to something nice.
The final main meal (above) used up a cupful of cous cous and some more pumpkin seeds, and I added longlife beetroot, fresh tomatoes, spring onions, grilled goat cheese and home made tarragon vinegar. Beau gave this one eight out of ten, which was high praise for something that was essentially quite simple.
On Saturday morning we had porridge with raspberries that used up a big spoonful of cinnamon flax powder. We also did a mini roast dinner on the Sunday, which used up the half packet of bread sauce. We’d ordered a home delivery of groceries and somehow a free packet of chicken-style veggie burgers had ended up in the basket (maybe a sample or taster, or just a mistake…), and we cooked those with roast potatoes, mixed veggies, gravy, bread sauce and cranberry sauce.
All in all, it’s been a good week, and the food has nearly all been healthy as well. One of the recipes turned out a bit pricey, but the rest were great value for money.
Are you joining in with the Empty the Storecupboard Challenge? Look out for the #EmptyTheSC hashtag, and let us know what you’ve been cooking!