I used to love cooking, I'd quite happily spend a couple of hours prepping a hearty meal that would take about 5 minutes to eat. But then we became self-employed and time was very much money and I just stopped doing it. We became dependent on convenience and easy quick-fix meals, not only were we getting fatter, but we were eating very unhealthily. We watched a documentary one night that showed how much sugar was in different pasta sauces, and we just couldn't believe it. Have you actually looked at how much sugar is in the pasta sauce you buy? It's disgustingly high! So over the last few years I have found myself learning how to make delicious dishes whilst making something out of nothing. It is my favourite type of cooking, I hate recipes and instructions, I'd rather just go with the flow. Yes, I do have quite a few cookery books, but I use them for inspiration as to the type of dish I want to create. I thankfully doscovered passata. Looking at the sugar content of tin tomatoes in comparison to passata, there's still a difference so passata is the healthiest way to go, and it's nice and smooth which is brilliant for a sauce. So here's my go-to quick-fix healthy and most importantly tasty meal!
The dish I made tonight had:
250g of pasta
(Pasta of your choice (we go for brown wholewheat) and we chop and change in terms of type sometimes it's penne, sometimes fussili and we've enjoyed it with simple spaghetti chopped up too)
Splash of Olive Oil (Extra Virgin)
1 box of tomato passata 500g
A good half a tube of garlic puree
A good helping of basil and oregano
A big spoonfull of paprika
About 8 chunks of frozen spinach
2 red onions, chopped
Third of a jar of green olives
Third of a jar of black olives
1 Kallo organic beef stock cube
Boil pasta with a little garlic puree and a pinch of basil until cooked
Put olive oil in a different pan
Soften red onions
Add garlic, herbs and paprika
Wait until spinach and onions are cooked before adding the stock cube
Drain pasta and add to the sauce
Stir and serve
If serving young mouths, please be sure to chop up the olives and spinach first.
This would serve a family of four easily on it's own as a good hearty portion of pasta or keep half for tomorrow by bulking up the meal with some peas, garlic mushrooms, sweet potato jacket, greek salad, bread etc would probably go nice with chicken too!
The great thing about this recipe is that you can adapt it to your taste. If you want to add different veg, go for it, but if you add a lot, you might want to add another box of passata to ensure it's saucy enough. You can use fresh spinach if you prefer but I find frozen easier and quicker. And you can take the olives out if you don't like them. You can even add chunks of feta to it, adds a bit of an edge, or mushrooms, peppers, whatever you fancy. And you can always serve it with a fancy bit of olive oil on top and a grinding of black pepper.
I do not see myself as a chef or anything, I'm not even sure I could call myself a good cook, I am quite simply a Mother trying to use the little time I have to cook to make as tasty and as healthy a meal as I can for my family.
In my cooking journey of learning whilst making something out of nothing, I now have many go-to dishes that I love making time and time again to have a change from sandwiches which include:
Veggie stir fry
Garlic and mushroom cheesy sweet potato mash
Curried beans with sweet potato jackets
Greek pizza made with normal toast, baguettes, rolls
Obviously some of these are going to be healthier than others, but everything in moderation. I am not a vegetarian but most of my meals are veggie based.
I have to make sure I have garlic puree and frozen spinach in the house, and I like to keep my paprika, tumeric, basil and oregano topped up just incase. If you have flavour available, you really can make something out of the 'nothing'you have!
What's your favourite dish to make that's quick, healthy and tasty? Which ingredients do you keep topped up?
Next time you go for a jar, maybe have a think whether you'd rather give this a go instead ;-)
Thank you, Mrs F