One reason for making this, is that Rachel Roddy said in her column in the Guardian’s Cook Supplement on 30 January 2016 (which provides the recipe on which this is based), “Italy is where … leftovers really do still rule, helping cooking feel like a continuum” – has she been reading my blog?
Anyway, I also needed to use most of a 260g bag of spinach leftover from a stir-fry. Enough for 3 people:
- 200g spinach
- 125g risotto rice
- small onion (finely chopped)
- 20g butter
- 1 large egg (beaten)
- 40g parmesan (grated)
- black pepper to taste
- oil (to brush the cake tin)
- 1 heaped tbsp bread crumbs
Quickly wilt the spinach in a hot pan. Remove it to a plate, allow to cool, and snip into smaller pieces with scissors.
Cook the rice in boiling water and drain.
Heat the butter in a pan and cook the onion very gently over a low heat for about 10 minutes.
Brush a cake tin (about 20cm in diameter) with a little oil and dust with the bread crumbs.
Heat the oven to 200C (Gas Mark 6).
Mix together the spinach, rice, onion and parmesan, and then mix in the beaten egg and add black pepper. Place the mixture in the cake tin, smoothing the top with a spoon.
Bake for about 25 minutes, or until the top starts to brown. Allow to stand for 5 minutes before serving.
I served mine with roasted baby plum tomatoes.
More comfort food – this time an Italian potato cake, based on a recipe in today’s Guardian, by Rachel Roddy. You get lovely warming, buttery, cheesy potato with a layer of melted, slightly chewy, cheese in between. I served mine with lightly cooked broccoli. Enough for four people.
- 750g mashed potato (I baked some largish potatoes, and removed most of the cooked potato, so I could use the skins as a separate snack)
- 60g grated parmesan
- 35g butter
- Black pepper
- 2 eggs
- 100ml milk (or a mixture of milk and cream)
- 80g provolone cheese (or mature gouda, or emmental)
- 125g mozzarella ball
- A little olive oil (to grease the baking dish)
- 1 tbsp finely ground breadcrumbs
Mash the potato together with the parmesan, 25g of butter, grated nutmeg and black pepper to taste. Lightly beat together the eggs and the milk, and mix into the potato mixture.
Cut the provolone and mozzarella into small (0.5cm) cubes.
Grease the inside of an oven proof dish (I used a square earthenware dish about 21cm square) with the olive oil. Place half the potato in the bottom of the dish, and sprinkle with the cubed provolone and mozzarella. Place the remaining potato on top and smooth the surface. Sprinkle with the breadcrumbs and dot with the remaining butter.
Cook in the oven for about 30 minutes, at 180C (Gas Mark 4), or until the top is brown and crispy. Leave to stand for about 10 minutes before serving.
This is an ‘all-in-one’ dish incorporating some green vegetables. I also decided to add more flavour by using bechamel sauce as the basis for the cheese sauce (although, on reflection, I’m not sure it made a great deal of difference). Enough for 2:
For the cheese sauce (infuse the milk by microwaving the milk and the next six ingredients (down to, and including, black pepper) for about 6 minutes at 750W, and leave to stand (for at least 30 minutes)):
- 600ml milk
- A large sprig of parsley
- 3 sprigs of thyme (or dried equivalent)
- A few slices of onion (I used some ‘past their best’ spring onions (chopped))
- 1 clove of garlic (halved)
- A small piece of nutmeg (crushed)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 50g butter
- 2 heaped tbsp plain flour
- 100g grated cheddar
For the rest:
- 1 tbsp oil
- 2 leeks (the white parts – thinly sliced (the rest could be used to make stock))
- 3 handfuls of macaroni (or another ‘tube’ pasta (eg penne, tubetti – I used amori) cooked according the instructions on the packet)
- A sprinkling of dried breadcrumbs
- A little grated parmesan
Gently cook the leeks in the oil in a saucepan for about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile cook the pasta and make the cheese sauce (see: Cauliflower Cheese).
Stir the leeks and the drained pasta into the cheese sauce. Pour into a shallow ovenproof dish. Sprinkle bread crumbs and grated parmesan over the top.
Cook in the oven at 180C (Gas Mark 4) for 30 minutes (longer if the have made the meal in advance).
Images from: Joonggul Ro’s PG02
This BBC article is based on food waste figures published by Tesco for the first six months of this year.
The figures include food wasted before it arrives at Tesco, and food bought by its customers which is never consumed. Tesco estimates that “families are wasting an estimated £700 a year and we want to help them keep that money in their pockets, rather than throwing it in the bin”.
£700 represents about 50% of the average annual dual-fuel bill (gas and electricity) of £1,315 per household, so wasting less food could help a lot.
Tesco claims that 1 in 10 bananas purchased is thrown away, and also high in the customer wastage stakes is packaged salad (most likely because the bags are too big) and bread.
There are many ways to use up (or to avoid creating these left-overs in the first place):
- overripe bananas can be made into muffins (or banana bread) and can be frozen so you don’t need to eat them all at once; also, if you have a robust liquidiser or food processor you can create some fruity ‘ice cream’ by combining ripe bananas, frozen fruit (use it straight from the freezer) and yogurt;
- left-over bread ccould be made into croutons, breadcrumbs (dried in the oven, bread pudding or bread and butter pudding;
- maybe bagged salad should be avoided – you can always shred a white cabbage (a section of white cabbage will last a long time in the fridge) and grate root vegetables. If you do want some green leaves then Lidl does small bags of (unwashed) wild rocket (I think it was 79p last week).
Of course, another way to reduce customer wastage is to stop doing multi-buy deals on perishable food (at Tesco these deals on large bags of salad have ceased) and to reduce the size of perishable food displays which Tesco is also doing.
I can’t help thinking there’s a conflict of interest here. If lowering customer food wastage leads to customers spending less at Tesco, and Tesco sales fall, this won’t be good (for Tesco).