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Cooking on a Budget: Chopped Tomatoes

You get in from uni at 6pm, kick back and forget to make food until your stomach starts growling. You sift through the freezer, your hands frozen and coming into contact with all manner of escaped frozen goods (sweetcorn, peas, bread-ends... is that a mushroom?). You discover that your only options are:

- A pathetic, freezer-burnt pitta bread

- Exactly 7 frozen fries

- One garlicless slice of garlic bread

We're all a little bored of oven-cooked chips and - dare I say it - Pot Noodles. It's time to be adventurous with cooking on a budget, and chopped tomatoes will teach you at least these 4 quick, delicious and adaptable bases for recipes that can also easily be turned into vegetarian dishes: 

Each of these dishes serve 2 people, so you can either share it, keep the rest of the sauce in the fridge for the next day, or freeze it for later on!

Arrabiata Pasta:

An Italian dish, and my personal favourite. This simple base is done in 20 minutes and you can add anything you like - meat, vegetables, falafel - you name it!

Ingredients: 

  • 1tsp Vegetable / Olive oil
  • 1 Onion (red or white, chopped or sliced - whatever you prefer)
  • 2 Garlic cloves (chopped, or crushed if you have a clove crusher)
  • 1 or 2 Red chillis, chopped (depending on how hot you like pasta)
  • 400g Tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 2tsp Oregeno (generally with herbs I just shake the jar a few times until it looks like enough - we're not looking for exactness here)
  • 2 tsp Balsamic vinegar OR Worchestershire sauce
  • Salt and Black pepper to taste
  • Pasta (spaghetti, penne, conchigli - doesn't matter) 

OPTIONAL: 

  • 1tsp Dry basil and/or thyme - add with the oregano
  • Grated parmesan (or just cheddar) cheese for topping
  • Handful of rocket or spinach - stir in at the end or put on the side
  • Garlic bread (cook to instructions) 
  • One chicken stock cube (dissolved in boiling water as instructed on box) - add after tomatoes - good if you're using a few bulky ingredients, such as: 
  •  Chicken (usually one sliced breast is enough for me) - pan fry slices, then add onions etc..
  •  Handful of sweetcorn and / or peas - add around 10 minutes into cooking
  • 2 Sliced mushrooms - add with the garlic and chilli
  • Falafel (bulks out the pasta really well) - cook as instructed and mix into sauce when done
  • One roasted Sweet potato (chop into squares, put in a bowl and mix with 2 tsp oil, and 1tsp each of salt, paprika, cayenne and black pepper and stick in the oven at 180 for 20-25 minutes whilst the sauce cooks) - mix into sauce when done
  • Sliced courgette - add with garlic and chilli
  • 1 Sliced red pepper - add with garlic and chilli

Instructions: 

  1. Heat a frying pan up for around 30 seconds, lower to mid-heat and add oil
  2. Add onion, fry for around 2 minutes, give them a stir every 30 seconds or so (or they'll burn)
  3. Add garlic and chillis - fry for 1 minute more, keep stirring every 30 seconds
  4. Add chopped tomatoes, stir
  5. Lower heat, leave for 5 minutes - BOIL PASTA WATER NOW
  6. Add oregano, balsamic vinegar (or Worchestershire sauce), salt and pepper
  7. Stir
  8. Leave for 5 minutes
  9. Put pasta in boiling water, lower heat
  10. Leave both for 10-12 minutes, stir every few minutes and add a little water (around 30ml each time until it looks right) or take the sauce off the heat if it gets too dry
  11. Drain pasta

DONE. Stir in the sauce or just put it on top of the pasta!

Curry:

This is a pretty vague curry, but a little less vague if you use a paste:

Ingredients: 

'MEAT':

  • Chicken (usually one sliced breast is enough for me) - pan fry the chunks, then add onions etc..
  • Falafel - cook as instructed and mix into sauce when done
  • One roasted Sweet potato (chop into squares, put in a bowl and mix with 2 tsp oil, and 1tsp each of salt, garam masala and black pepper and stick in the oven at 180 for 20-25 minutes whilst the sauce cooks) - mix into sauce when done

SAUCE: 

  • 400g Tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp Vegetable oil
  • 1 Heaped tpsp of your favourite curry paste, OR 1 tbsp of your favourite curry powder
  • 1 Onion
  • 2 Garlic cloves, chopped or crushed
  • 1 tbsp Tomato purée
  • 1 tsp Ground coriander
  • 100ml Water
  • Rice (cook as instructed on pack)

OPTIONAL: 

  • 2 Bay leaves - add after chopped tomatoes
  • 1 Chilli, chopped (for more of a kick) - add with the garlic
  • 2 Sliced mushrooms - add with the garlic
  • 1 Sliced red pepper - add with garlic
  • Handful of sweetcorn and / or peas - add around 10 minutes into cooking
  • 1 Na'an bread (cook as instructed)
  • Mango chutney, to put on the side

Instructions: 

  1. Boil rice as instructed 
  2. Heat a frying pan up for around 30 seconds, lower to mid-heat and add oil
  3. Add onion, fry for around 2 minutes, give them a stir every 30 seconds or so (or they'll burn)
  4. Add garlic - fry for 1 minute
  5. Add curry paste / powder, stir
  6. Add chopped tomatoes, stir
  7. Lower heat, leave for 5 minutes
  8. Add coriander, tomato purée and water. Stir.
  9. Leave for 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes. Add more water if needed.

DONE!

Spaghetti Bolognese:

Ingredients: 

  • 1tsp Vegetable / Olive oil
  • 500g Quorn or beef/lamb/pork mince
  • 1 White onion (chopped)
  • 2 Garlic cloves (chopped, or crushed if you have a clove crusher)
  • 400g Tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tsp Oregano and / or thyme
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt and Black pepper to taste
  • Spaghetti  (cook as instructed on pack)

OPTIONAL: 

  • Handful of sweetcorn - add around 10 minutes into cooking
  • 1 Sliced red pepper - add with garlic
  • Garlic bread - cook as instructed
  • 1 Beef stock - the jelly stuff is best, add after chopped tomatoes (gives a rich flavour) 

Instructions: 

  1. Heat a frying pan up for around 30 seconds, lower to mid-heat and add oil
  2. Add mince (NOT IF YOU'RE HAVING QUORN MINCE), fry until brown
  3. Add onion, fry for around 2 minutes, give them a stir every 30 seconds or so (or they'll burn)
  4. Add garlic - fry for 1 minute
  5. Add chopped tomatoes, stir
  6. Lower heat and leave for 5 minutes
  7. Boil pasta (as instructed)
  8. Add Worchestershire sauce, salt and pepper
  9. Add Quorn (if applicable)
  10. Leave for 15 minutes, stir every few minutes

DONE.

Chilli Con Carne:

Ingredients: 

  • 1tsp Vegetable / Olive oil
  • 500g Quorn or beef/lamb/pork mince
  • 1 Onion (red or white, chopped or sliced - whatever you prefer)
  • 2 Garlic cloves (chopped, or crushed if you have a clove crusher)
  • 1 Heaped tsp chilli powder (hot or mild) 
  • 1 tsp Cumin
  • 400g Tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Beef stock - the jelly stuff is best (gives a rich flavour - add 1 1/2 tbsp marmite/vegemite for vegetarian recipes) 
  • Salt and Black pepper to taste
  • Rice  (cook as instructed on pack)

OPTIONAL: 

  • 400g kidney beans - drain and add after chopped tomatoes 
  • 1 Chilli, chopped (for extra heat) - add with garlic
  • Handful of sweetcorn - add around 10 minutes into cooking
  • 1 Sliced red pepper - add with garlic
  • Tortilla chips for on the side  

Instructions: 

  1. Heat a frying pan up for around 30 seconds, lower to mid-heat and add oil
  2. Add mince (NOT IF YOU'RE HAVING QUORN MINCE), fry until brown
  3. Add onion, fry for around 2 minutes, give them a stir every 30 seconds or so (or they'll burn)
  4. Add garlic - fry for 1 minute
  5. Add chopped tomatoes, stir
  6. Add beef stock, cumin, chilli powder
  7. Lower heat and leave for 5 minutes
  8. Add Worchestershire sauce, salt and pepper
  9. Add Quorn (if applicable)
  10. Leave for 10-15 minutes, check/stir every 5 minutes or so

DONE.

 

 

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Emma Pocock

Exeter Cornwall

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