When your fridge is empty and your kids are squawking, you'll be glad to have Joanne Gould on hand...
Even the slummiest of us mummies is likely to have a tin of tomatoes residing in the cupboard, so when your Ocado order’s gone rogue and the cupboards are practically bare the good news is that you should still be able to rustle up something tasty with just a couple of extra ingredients. Tinned tomatoes are low in calories but packed full with vitamins C, K and E and one of the best sources of lycopene (thought to be cancer fighting and also good for the eyes and heart) around – even better than fresh tomatoes. They’re also the basis for many a meal, so if you’ve got an egg or two, some herbs and perhaps the odd tin of anchovies then you’re good to go. Otherwise, there’s always tinned tomatoes on toast…
Read on for seven easy and delicious ways to put that tin of tomatoes to work...
The beauty of this is that it works for breakfast, lunch or dinner – or even a sneaky snack. You can go as crazy as you like with ingredients (try onions, peppers, chickpeas, merguez sausage, feta) but essentially if you’ve got a tin of tomatoes, an egg and a few spices you’re good to go. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan and add in a teaspoon of ground cumin and one of paprika. 30 seconds in, pour in the tomatoes and stir the spices through. Now, make a well in the tomatoes – one for each egg you’re using – and crack the egg in. Turn the heat right down and leave to simmer away until the eggs are cooked to your liking. Season and serve. Fancy it up with some chopped parsley, a dollop of labneh (or Greek yoghurt) and get dipping with some pitas.
Spaghetti all Puttanesca
This recipe is a lifesaver because it requires literally no fresh food; we’re making this all from tins and that’s how it’s genuinely supposed to be, hence the name ‘slut’s spaghetti’. Again, use or lose whatever you’ve got in the cupboard but the true recipe calls for anchovies, capers, olives and tinned tomatoes all cooked down in olive oil and served with spaghetti. That’s literally it. If you don’t have anchovies we’ve used tuna to great effect in the past too, but don’t tell the Italians. Again, a smattering of fresh parsley or basil over the top wouldn’t go amiss but don’t you dare go putting cheese on there if you want to be authentic.
Have you got an onion lurking in your veg drawer? Good. What about some chicken, lamb or fish? A little of anything will do really, and if not then just add in some more veg – celery, cauliflower, courgette or aubergine would all be nice – or some chickpeas. Start by cooking down chopped onion and garlic with a little raas el hanout (pre-made Moroccan spice blend) and then sauteeing whichever protein you’ve gone for in the same pan. Once it’s browned, add in the tomatoes and a 250ml of stock or water. Cover and leave to do its thing for about an hour in a medium oven. Serve with hot pitas or a pile of couscous or bulgar wheat.
If you can come up with a tin of white beans (cannellini or butter beans are ideal) an onion and a handful of herbs then you have a feast on your hands. Cook down the onion and some garlic if you have it with plenty of olive oil, then add the tomatoes, beans and plenty of dried or fresh oregano and thyme. If you have it, a splash of wine of either colour wouldn’t go amiss either. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes and serve with plenty of rustic bread and salad.
‘Jambalaya’ literally means mish-mash, so this is a great one to have up your sleeve when a fridge forage is required for dinner. You’ll need rice, you’ll need tinned tomatoes and you’ll need some kind of protein (prawns, sausage, chorizo, chicken, pork or fish will work) but really the rest is up to you. If you’ve got onions and or pepper, saute them off with garlic and some Cajun seasoning and perhaps some extra paprika. Now add the rice and protein, stirring to coat the grains with the seasoning and let it colour slightly before adding in the tomatoes and about 200ml chicken stock or water. Cover and simmer until the rice is tender.
In addition to the tinned tomatoes you’ll need to have some braising steak (around 500g) for this one, plus some paprika, beef stock, onions and peppers. Start by dredging the steak in flour and browning all over, then set aside. Next, fry off the onions and peppers and add in plenty of smoked or hot paprika. Add the steak back in to the mix, pour over the tomatoes and stock (about 200ml) and pop it in the oven for an hour and a half. Serve with a dollop of soured cream, a sprinkle of fresh parsley and rice or mash.
If you’ve got some chicken, a half empty bottle of red wine hanging about (who are you?!) and something salty like olives or anchovies, this recipe is calling your name. Brown the chicken (ideally thigh pieces but anything will do really) in a pan with some garlic, then add in whatever wine you’ve got to hand, plus the tinned tomatoes and olives or anchovies. Hopefully there’s some rosemary in the garden, so chuck a sprig or two in and if you’ve got some old bay leaves lurking in the spice drawer that would be great too. Cover and pop in the oven for an hour. Serve with crusty bread and salad.