Bolognese

Based on Jack Monroe’s Lentil Bolognese from the budget cookery book A Girl Called Jack (easily one of my favourite cookery books – you can tell from the well-thumbed pages of my copy!), this makes a very satisfying, healthy and wholesome meal. Serve with spaghetti (I use well-washed Konjac noodles or buckwheat noodles for health reasons) or bread (I use high protein, low carb bread) and grated cheese or a sprinkling of nutritional yeast.

Serves 6

1 tbsp olive oil

2 onions, finely chopped, or 200g frozen chopped onion

1 tsp garlic powder

5 carrots, grated

1 green pepper, grated (or finely chopped)

2 tins tomatoes

250g green lentils

1 tin reduced sugar baked beans

150g frozen kale or spinach

2 stock cubes

1 tsp asafoetida

2 tsp dried mixed herbs

2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

3 litres water

2 tsp smoked paprika

1 tbsp tomato purée or ketchup

 

  1. Heat the oil over a medium-low heat in a large saucepan or stockpot.
  2. Add the onion and leave to heat through until the onion is soft and waxy.
  3. Add the carrot and pepper, stir.
  4. Add the remaining ingredients.
  5. Stir well.
  6. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat.
  7. Simmer with the lid off until the mixture has reduced to a lovely, thick bolognese sauce, stirring occasionally to make sure it doesn’t catch on the bottom of the pan. I left it to simmer for several hours. You could transfer it to a slow cooker at this point and cook on low for 6 hours or high for 3 hours.
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Minestrone-ish Soup

I made this soup today for my family actually because I wanted to use up some ingredients and it turned out so well that everybody had seconds! So I thought I’d share it here, with you:

Serves 6+

You will need:

1 onion, chopped (I use frozen, chopped onion)

200g red lentils, rinsed

splash of vegetable oil

2 carrots, finely chopped (use a food processor with slice attachment to chop if you’re a spoonie like me, or buy frozen chopped carrots)

2 tins chopped tomatoes

1 tin reduced sugar baked beans

Generous handful of nutritional yeast

2 stock cubes

3 litres water

1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1 tbsp dried mixed herbs

1 tsp garlic powder

30g spaghetti, broken into 1-2cm pieces

 

  1. Heat the oil in a large stockpot and add the onion.
  2. Heat gently until onion is waxy.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and stir well.
  4. Bring to the boil and bubble vigorously for 10 minutes.
  5. Turn down the heat and simmer for 50 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Serve with grated cheese sprinkled on top.

 

TOP TIPS

Use a slow cooker to cook this soup. Heat the onions for half an hour and then add the remaining ingredients and cook on low for 6-8 hours. Get it going in the morning and by evening you will have a wonderful, tasty minestrone-type soup.

 

Simple Salad

Takes 10 minutes to prepare.

You will need:

1 cucumber, cubed

250g cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered (or salad tomatoes, diced)

1 large carrot, peeled and grated

3 tbsp rapeseed oil

1 tbsp rice wine vinegar (or cider vinegar)

1/4 tsp Dijon, whole grain or French mustard

 

  1. Combine the cucumber, tomatoes and carrot in a large bowl.
  2. Whisk together the oil, vinegar and mustard.
  3. Pour the dressing over the salad.
  4. Mix well.

 

Serve with rice, jacket potatoes, quiche, etc.

 

Venison and Bacon Casserole

This is not really a budget recipe, though it is still cheaper to make it than to buy it. This is more of a special occasion dish. We’re just about to move house so I was trying to use up what’s left in the freezer. I discovered bacon and some venison. I defrosted them in the morning, and in the evening prepared this dish. Who knew that using up what’s in the freezer could be so tasty?! I served it with instant mash (trying to use up what’s in the cupboard – I keep instant mash for ’emergencies’) and used up the last of the mixed vegetables that were lurking in the freezer.

 

You will need:

500g venison pieces

300g smoked bacon (I used oak smoked bacon from a local farm where the pigs are free range – the bacon is delicious)

1 onion, chopped

300ml red wine (any old red wine will do)

2 stock cubes (I used free range organic chicken stock cubes which I picked up for next to nothing as they were past their best before date)

2 heaped tablespoons potato flour/cornflour (wheat flour will work fine but will need more stirring to prevent lumps forming)

1 teaspoon garlic granules

Black pepper,  to taste

500ml water

1 bouquet garni sachet or 2 teaspoons Herbes de Provençe (dried mixed herbs will do if you don’t have these)

1 tablespoon oil

 

1. Using a clean pair of sharp scissors, cut the bacon into strips and then cut into small pieces about 1cm x 2cm each.

2. Heat the oil in a large saucepan and add the venison and bacon. Cook over a gentle heat until the meat has browned, stirring occasionally.

3. Add the onion and cook gently for a few more minutes until softened.

4. Add the garlic and the flour and stir to coat the meat mixture,

5. Add the red wine and stock cubes and stir gently until a smooth, thick liquid/paste has formed.

6. Add the remaining ingredients, stirring well, and top up with 500ml water (or more, if necessary).

7. Bring to the boil, stirring occasionally.

8. Transfer to a large casserole dish, cover* and place in the centre of a pre-heated oven at 180°C for one hour.

9. Serve with potatoes and mixed vegetables.

 

TOP TIPS

*If you have a large ceramic or glass dish but no lid, use aluminium cooking foil. Simply place it over the top and scrunch it up around the edges. It doesn’t need to be air tight, just secured enough to stay in place. Make sure the foil is not touching the heating elements.