Cooking with processed foods – recipe number 1

Rice and Peas  – with extra veg

In my last post I defended processed food.  I highlighted lots of processed foods that are not really much different from fresh with regard to their nutritional value and that there are lots of quick meals to cook using them.  I know, I know – part of the reason we want to use convenience foods is we feel that we don’t have time to cook. The meal ready to pop in the oven or microwave or the prepared sauce to mix with pasta is hard to beat.  I hope to convince you that it doesn’t take too long, with the help of a few processed ingredients, to put together meals that are tasty, have healthy ingredients and are quick.  So recipe number 1:

Rice and Peas

I have to start with Rice and Peas.  My 11 year old would eat it every night if I let him at the moment, he loves it so much.  I can make it from  scratch (using fresh veg that I need to chop) in about 30-40 minutes and some of that time I am helping with homework or emptying the dishwasher……

This recipe is adapted from Simon Rimmer’s Men Love Pies, Women like Hummus (which is fantastic name for a cookery book).

The four main ingredients are rice, onions (use frozen) and canned kidney beans (not peas despite the name of the dish) and a can of coconut milk.  All of which are store cupboard items with a long shelf like.  You can also use coconut cream or creamed coconut diluted appropriately and this can be useful if you are making a smaller amount.  A block of creamed coconut lasts well in the fridge and you can cut off the amount you want.  Add whatever other veg you have to hand.  I used a small can of sweetcorn and some diced peppers (frozen is fine).

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In a saucepan with a tight fitting lid heat some oil and fry the equivalent of 1 onion (about 2-3 generous handfuls) for about 5 minutes so they are soft but not coloured.  Add a handful of frozen diced red pepper to the onions while they are cooking.

Add 300g of rice –  I use basmati which I have rinsed in a sieve. Stir the rice with the onions and peppers well.  Add 400mls of stock and 400mls of coconut milk.  Let this come to the boil and add a 400g can of kidney beans and a small can of sweetcorn that have been drained and rinsed.  Add some dried herbs – thyme or marjoram or whatever you like.

Turn down the heat to low, put a lid on the pot and leave it to simmer gently for about 15 – 20 mins.  Check the moisture – the liquid should be absorbed nicely into the rice just as the rice is cooked through.  I sometimes find I need to add more water.

With the veg added in it is a perfect one pot meal which is really satisfying.   This rice works as an accompaniment to Jerk chicken or fish, left over roast chicken, oven baked salmon or other fish, pan fried spicy prawns or stir fried veg.  I like it with sauteed mushrooms and aubergine (with a generous amount of garlic – the frozen variety is fine). A bit of hot sauce works a treat.  And if it passes the 11 year old test, that can’t be bad – my 8 year old isn’t complaining either.

The recipe makes a generous pot for 4 hungry people (especially if you add more veggies to the pot as I do).  However it is easily scaled down by using small cans of beans and coconut milk and reducing the other ingredients accordingly.  Making too much is no hardship as the leftovers are really good heated up the next day or two.  I have also stretched out leftovers by filling wraps with rice and some stir fired veggies burrito style.  We just added some traditional Mexican garnishes on the side – bit of salad and tomatoes, some creme fraiche, grated cheese and knowing we were having a Mexican inspired meal I found time to buy an avocado!!  I am rather fond of avocado.

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