Nothing in the fridge? Rustle up these delicious store cupboard dishes!
I don’t know about you, but with post-Covid(?) life getting back to normal(ish) I feel a bit like Sleeping Beauty waking up from 100 years of sleep. Suddenly every aspect of life – work, social, family, travel – is as busy as ever it was, but I’m constantly rubbing my eyes and trying to rouse myself out of the torpor of the past couple of years and jump back into the fast lane. Now that work is really busy again, I’m finding planning meals and keeping the fridge stocked can be a challenge, and on the days when I’ve failed to get to the shops I’m always glad to fall back on these two store cupboard staples which are easy, delicious and made from ingredients that I always have in the cupboard. I hope these two recipes come to your rescue as often as they do me!
TUNA SPAGHETTI ALLA PUTTANESCA
“Puttanesca” literally translates as “in the style of prostitutes,” supposedly because the pungent aromas of garlic, anchovies, capers, and olives tossed with pasta were how Neapolitan sex workers would lead customers to their doors. While this theory is probably apocryphal, what’s irrefutable is that puttanesca sauce is quick and easy to make and packs a serious punch! You can tone it down by using tinned tuna in place of the more traditional anchovies. To make this dish vegan, omit the fish and add extra capers. If you don’t have any basil, switch it for flat leaf parsley or even rocket leaves at a pinch.
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, crushed or sliced
- 1/2 – 1 tsp chilli flakes
- 400g tin chopped tomatoes
- 5 anchovies, chopped, or 160-200g tin of tuna in oil or water, drained
- 2 tbsp capers
- 120g pitted black olives
- 300g spaghetti
- Handful of basil leaves, roughly chopped
Heat the oil in a non-stick pan over a medium-low heat. Add the onion along with a generous pinch of salt and fry gently for 10 minutes or until soft but not coloured. Add the garlic and chilli, and cook for a further minute. Add the tomatoes, tuna (if using), olives and capers and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook, uncovered, for 15 mins. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper. Meanwhile, bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Cook the spaghetti until just “al dente”. Once the pasta is cooked, reserve a mugful of pasta water, then drain the pasta and toss with the sauce. Add a little of the reserved pasta water to loosen the sauce if needed, stir in the basil and serve with grated parmesan.
OVEN BAKED TOMATO & BASIL RISOTTO
Italians look away now! What this baked risotto lacks in authenticity it makes up for in speed and simplicity, offering a great alternative cooking method when warm and comforting rice is what you crave but you don’t have the time or inclination for all the stirring and attention a traditional risotto requires. We’ve given you a vegetarian tomato and basil dish using ingredients that you’re always likely to have to hand, but you can use this basic method to create your own masterpieces. Pea & bacon, Chicken & mushroom, Pumpkin, sage & blue cheese… the options are endless!
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 250g cherry tomatoes
- 250g risotto rice
- 400ml vegetable stock
- 400g tin chopped tomatoes
- 75g Parmesan (or cheddar), grated
- Handful of basil leaves (or parsley), roughly chopped
- Preheat the oven to 200C / 400F. Put the oil, onion, garlic and cherry tomatoes in roasting tin approx. 26x20cm (or use any suitably sized ovenproof dish). Place in the oven and cook for around 15 minutes until the tomatoes are roasted and beginning to burst.
- Meanwhile, add the tinned tomatoes to 400ml hot vegetable stock and give it all a good stir. Remove the onion & tomato mix from the oven and stir in the risotto rice and tomato/stock mixture. Stir to combine, season well, then return to the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, stirring twice. It’s done when the stock has been absorbed and the rice is cooked.
- Remove from the oven and add the grated cheese and basil – you can also add a knob of butter for extra richness. Check the seasoning and serve on its own, or with salad or steamed vegetables.