Fill up on the cheap
Here are a few trial-and-error recipes I’ve knocked together out of leftovers, inspired by restaurants past, or to save time when entertaining. Remember, if you can, always prepare ahead.
New potato and chorizo bake
The best thing about fresh produce is to cook it quickly and simply. This Spanish-flavoured recipe is a one-dish wonder – bake it in the oven and alter quantities and ingredients to suit what you have.
- One pack chorizo
- Waxy salad potatoes (I used Jazzy)
- Cherry tomatoes (I used Black Opal, Orange Paruche, Gardener’s Delight and Pink Charmer)
- Red sweet peppers (the pointy type)
- Sprinkling of thyme
- Cayenne pepper, to taste
- Low-fat cooking spray
Spray a large roasting tin with low-fat cooking spray and add ingredients as you go. Preheat oven to 200 degrees C, gas mark 6.
Peel chorizo if it has a tough skin and cut into 0.5cm slices.
Wash and scrub potatoes. Cut them (if needed) into similar bite-sized pieces.
De-seed red peppers and cut into medium strips, add tomatoes whole.
Add a sprinkling of thyme and cayenne pepper, a final spray of cooking oil and mix together with your hands thoroughly.
Place the tray on the upper shelf of the oven and time 30 minutes, then turn the ingredients with a spatula and bake for a further 20 minutes, or when the potatoes are cooked. The peppers should be slightly blackened at the edges.
Serve with salad and fresh bread.
Neeps and tatties haystacks
This is another one of those ‘don’t dare throw out any food after Christmas’ recipes, made with leftover mash and turnip (swede).
They make a change to the usual neeps and tatties you get with haggis on Burns’ Night.
- Leftover mashed potato and swede
- Fresh nutmeg
- Fresh parsley
- A little butter
Combine all ingredients and beat well. Only add extra salt and pepper if you must, as you’ll already have seasoned the veg. (If cooking potato and swede from scratch, add milk or cream, and butter while mashing.)
Put in fridge for an hour or so to make shaping easier.
Make palm-sized ‘haystack’ shapes and rough up the surfaces with a fork. Dot haystacks with butter.
Bake in a medium oven, 200C, 400F, Gas Mark 6, or until golden.
Peach cloud (whizzed turnip)
This recipe is inspired by a lovely restaurant called The Stile, in Willington, County Durham, alas no longer open.
The proprietors paid as much attention to the taste and presentation of vegetables as to the meat – a rare thing in the late 1980s.
This turnip dish (swede) was like eating a peach cloud – hence the name.
- 1 turnip (or swede if you’re from the south)
- Double or single cream
- Freshly-grated nutmeg
- Salt and pepper
Cut a turnip into small pieces and steam until tender.
Tip the cooked turnip into a bowl, add fresh cream to taste, salt, black pepper, and freshly-grated nutmeg.
Blitz together with a hand mixer until light and fluffy. Add more nutmeg and seasoning to taste. Transfer to a serving dish with a lid.
This can be prepared on Christmas Eve and happily reheated in the microwave or oven. When piping hot, garnish with some fresh parsley.
It’s delicious with turkey and the peach colour provides a lovely contrast in colour and texture with traditional sprouts.
Keep all your veg cooking liquid to make stock – waste not, want not.
Roasted veg for Christmas
The festive season is about socialising and enjoying yourself, not slaving over a hot stove.
Here’s an all-in-one roasting method (apart from sprouts) which leaves you free to enjoy a glass of bubbly with your guests.
As there are no set amounts, if you’ve had a glass too many, things should turn out fine.
- Olive oil, or meat extract/duck fat
- Fresh rosemary
- Salt and pepper
- Take a combination of carrots, turnip or swede, parsnips, and onions.
Cut them into similar-sized large chunks (the turnip a little smaller) and place in a large freezer bag.
Add enough olive oil to coat (or meat extract/melted duck fat for extra flavour) and season with fresh rosemary, sea salt, and pepper. Shake together.
Leave to marinate for several hours or overnight.
Pour into a roasting tin one layer deep and roast for about 45 minutes in a moderately hot oven.
Cheese and tomato hotpot
- Big bag of potatoes, washed and unpeeled
- Large block extra-strong Cheddar cheese
- Massive amount of frozen chives (or chopped fresh onions)
- Tiny red and gold cherry tomatoes
- Dried mixed herbs
- Creamy garlic sauce (I found one of those pots of sauce you get with a pizza at the back of the fridge); Caesar salad dressing would work
- Black pepper
Preheat oven to 200 degrees C, Gas Mark 6.Thinly slice potatoes and cheese, cut tomatoes in half.
In a large lasagne-type dish, put an overlapping layer of potato in the bottom, then cheese, then chives and tomatoes. Season with black pepper.
Continue doing this until you’ve used up all your ingredients, but finish with potatoes, dab the garlic sauce over the top and add the last of the cheese.
Sprinkle with mixed herbs and cover the top of dish loosely with foil, so the cheese doesn’t burn.
Place in the centre of the oven for 2 hours or so, or until the potatoes are soft (test with a skewer). It will be much longer if you’ve sliced them thickly! Remove the foil and let the cheese brown a little for 10 minutes.