Updated: Feb 27
Spring is beckoning us with soft greens, but in between the weight of winter and the lightness of the approaching season, the food on offer is tummy grumblingly lean. Here are a few recipes to bridge that gap.
Ode to the Cupboard
I look up, dark sky continues to bruise,
I look down, a lack of seasonal food to use.
They call this time the hungry gap,
As vegetables sustain their winter nap.
A whisper of spring, a hope of renewal,
but still a deficiency of fresh vegetables.
Days like this, it’s up to pots, jars and tins,
To satisfy the rumbling hunger within.
Winter has come, spring not far behind
but hold strong
keep those jumpers on.
Read some engaging prose
there is always a tin of plum tomatoes.
A perfect store cupboard meal. I always feel a little nervous giving my recipes the Italian titles of their origin. I fear the recriminations of an angry Nonna or a pedantic friend who visited Naples a couple of years ago. Anyway, this may be a simulacrum of the real thing, but it is delicious and the flat love it.
Ingredients: 1 Onion, 1 Stick of Celery, 3 Cloves of Garlic, 4 Anchovy Fillets, 2 Tablespoons of Capers, 100g of Olives, 400g Tinned Plum Tomatoes, 1 Sprig of Rosemary, A Handful of Parsley, 4 Servings of Spaghetti.
- Finely chop the onion, celery and garlic cloves. Add to a pan with a healthy glug of good olive oil. Cook until soft, stirring meditatively for 15 minutes.
- Add chopped rosemary and chopped anchovies after 10 minutes (dissolve the anchovies into the vegetables)
- Stir in the tomatoes, olives and capers and bring to a gentle simmer. Let your pot simmer for 20 minutes. When there is 8 minutes left on the clock, add the pasta to some boiling water which is as salty as the sea.
- When the spaghetti is al dente, add to the sauce along with a little cooking water. Mix together and toss with the chopped handful of parsley. Yummers.
Smoked Mackerel Pâte
Couldn't be simpler, but ridiculously moreish and an excellent lunch or late-night dinner. Make sure you get your mackerel from a sustainable source.
Ingredients: 500g Smoked Mackerel, 250g Cream Cheese, 2 Lemons, A Bunch of Fresh Parsley, Good Olive Oil, 6 Slices of Sourdough Bread.
- Take the skin off the mackerel like removing a tablecloth, then break up the fish and add to your food processor (shoosher).
- Add the cream cheese, the zest and juice of one lemon and some of the parsley. Mix up whilst adding the olive oil until you reach the creamy consistency, then season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Toast or griddle your bread, spread your pâte on top, then serve with a couple of wedges of lemon and a drizzle of olive oil.
A really quick, thrifty, versatile and delicious soup. Perfect for clearing out your fridge and cupboards. Make a mighty batch and feed yourself and others for days.
Ingredients: 1 Onion, 1 Carrot, 1 Stick of Celery, 2 Garlic Cloves, A Sprig of Rosemary, 250g Purple Sprouting Broccoli, 200g Kale or Cavolo Nero, 400g Tinned Plum Tomatoes, 400g Tinned Cannelleni Beans, A Parmesan Rind (keep hold of them), 500ml Good Vegetable Stock, A Handful of Fresh Basil.
- Finely chop the onion, carrot, celery and garlic cloves. Add to a pan with a healthy glug of good olive oil. Cook until soft, stirring meditatively for 15 minutes. Add chopped rosemary after 10 minutes.
- Pour and squeeze in the plum tomatoes, I like to do this with my hands, it is quicker and Jamie Oliver told me too. Then add 500ml of vegetable stock, and drained beans and allow to simmer for 5 minutes. Drop the Parmesan rind into the soup (an umami flavour bomb)
- Chop the purple sprouting broccoli into little chunks, wash the kale and then add both to the soup.
- Allow to simmer for 10 minutes, before removing the Parmesan rind and serving with some thick, rustic and tearable (not terrible) bread.
Roast Carrot Hummus (Inspired by a recipe of the one and only Nigel Slater)
Sometimes you just have to listen to Nige.
Ingredients: 300g Carrots, 3 Shallots, A Can of Organic Chickpeas, Balsamic Vinegar, Thyme, Olive Oil, 1 Lemon.
- Set oven to 200c. Roughly chop onions and carrots, add to a roasting tray. Top with a few sprigs of thyme, drizzle generously with olive oil and 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar. Season well.
- After 30 minutes of roasting, add the drained chickpeas, give it all a big shake and roast for another 15 minutes.
- When it is all lovely and caramelised add to the food processor. Whiz up the mixture, adding olive oil until you achieve a smooth paste. Squeeze over as much lemon as pleases you, I tend to go for lots, and serve as a dip.
Thank you @zoe-wardephotography for the photos.