It is a truth universally acknowledged that store cupboards are not the same in every home. One man’s necessity is another woman’s luxury, and vice versa (and hasn’t this been brought into sharp focus in the current coronavirus crisis?). I consider butterscotch angel delight to be one of the main food groups and therefore a ‘must have’, but I know that my diabetes specialist doesn’t agree with me and others will mock while pointing to their tins of chickpeas or spaghetti hoops with a superior smile. One old friend of mine could bear a bare fridge as long as there was a bottle of Champagne in the door! So, coming up with recipes that don’t have somebody flinging their hands in the air in incredulous disdain when you suggest something that might be a staple is a tricky business.
However, there are one or two things that a quick canvass of a few friends revealed to be popular cupboard fillers so I’ve run with a couple of them here in the hope that they will enable you to knock something up that is darned tasty, nutritious and, let’s not forget another important component, enjoyable, especially if you are able to have a glass or two of wine or beer.
The first is filched from DJ Emerald Lewis’ Kitchen Starter Pack, a BBC programme aimed at students. I tried the recipe and really enjoyed it, making a few tweaks of my own. You may wish to make changes too, depending on the contents of your spice rack.
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 1 red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 red pepper, deseeded and thinly sliced
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- ½ tsp ground coriander (optional)
- 1 tsp smoked paprika (optional)
- Good pinch dried chilli flakes (you can use fresh red chilli, diced, instead if you like)
- 400g tin chopped tomatoes or plum toms you've chopped
- 415g tin baked beans
- 1 tbsp wine vinegar (I prefer red but any will do, and it is optional)
- 2 free-range eggs
- 30g/1oz Cheddar, grated, or feta cheese, crumbled
- Handful of chopped coriander or parsley (optional)
- Salt and pepper
- A large frying or sauté pan with a lid
- Heat the oil in the pan over a low heat. Add the onion and red pepper and fry gently until the onion is soft. It doesn’t matter if they brown a little.
- Add the cumin, smoked paprika and ground coriander if using, and chilli flakes and cook for a minute or so, still over a gentle heat, stirring all the time. Add the tinned tomatoes and raise the heat just a little, stir now and again, until the liquid reduces a bit and the mixture thickens.
- Add the baked beans, stir to mix well and cook for five minutes or so. Add the vinegar if using.
- Taste the mixture and season to your liking. Make two dips in the tomato and bean mixture with the back of a serving spoon and break an egg into each one.
- Reduce the heat back to low, cover with the pan lid and cook for a few more minutes until the egg whites are set but the yolks are still runny. This may take five minutes or longer depending on the size and freshness of the eggs. You might have to keep an eye on them. And don’t stir while the eggs are cooking!
- Sprinkle with the cheese or feta and scatter with the chopped coriander or parsley and serve with crusty bread or flat breads.
- Note: You can leave out the spices and add chopped mushrooms and crisped bacon lardons if you would prefer or if it suits what you have to hand. Sausages go deliciously with it too. Add any herbs you particularly like. This is very adaptable, filling and pretty good for you, particularly if you use low sugar baked beans. Alternatively, omit baked beans and use a tin of cannellini, haricot, borlotti or kidney beans, or chickpeas and add a little stock to the mixture to replace the liquid for the beans, and cook until thickened a little before adding the eggs.
I know that baked beans do not appear in many food and wine columns, and thanks to their inherent sweetness they can be tricky. That is why I include a spoonful of vinegar to the recipe to add a sweet and sour note to proceedings; vinegar also has its challenges. Fortunately, the tang of the tomatoes, the creamy, salty cheese and the spices bring a savoury note to this that marries well with fruity, and not too tannic, reds and fruity or aromatic whites. We recognise that wine stocks might be getting low too, so here are some personal suggestions but you may have to see what is lurking at the back of the winerack too!
Soft, not too tannic reds like:
Painted Wolf ‘Peloton' Rouge, Coastal 2018, Château d'Emeringes, Beaujolais-Villages Vieilles Vigne, Stift Klosterneuburg Zweigelt, The Society's Southern Spanish Red, Esporão Monte Velho Tinto, Alentejan, Saint-Chinian, Domaine Raynier
Fruity, aromatic whites like:
The Society’s Vin d’Alsace, Les Pierres Bordes, Marsanne-Viognier, Pays d'Oc, Three Terraces Marlborough Pinot Gris, d'Arenberg McLaren Vale The Stump Jump