I frown when I hear people say ‘they can’t afford to cook’, or worse, ‘I can’t afford to buy healthy, fresh food’. There’s a difference between being genuinely skint, as opposed to not knowing how to cook from scratch. The lines between both statements often get blurred.
Pasta Arrabbiata from Pinch of Nom is a really easy and affordable vegetarian recipe to get even the most nervous and sceptical of cooks into the kitchen. It can be rustled up for about 50p per serving in 30 minutes. Arrabbiata sauce is a traditional Italian, spicy sauce made from garlic and dried chilli peppers. This recipe requires 1 tsp of chilli flakes, but heat freaks might want to up the ante by finely dicing a normal red chilli to give it more of a kick.
Lemon Chicken with Honey and Rosemary is the first Gino D’Acampo recipe that I’ve featured on this blog and it’s a cracker from the Italian chef turned celebrity. Lemon, honey and rosemary makes for such a delectable combination and they made the chicken drumsticks and potatoes taste delicious after being slowly baked in the oven.
This is such a simple, wonderfully tasting meal that you can make for less than £1 per head. Chicken drumsticks are fantastic value. The ones from supermarkets are ok, but you’ll get more meat for your buck from a butcher if you can afford it.
I’ve no idea why the Hairy Dieters named this recipe Tuscan Devil’s Chicken, presumably it originates from Italy, but it’s perfect hot or cold for lunchboxes or your BBQ when the weather turns nice again.
The only challenge is trying to find a suitable bag to marinate the 5 ingredients in. I initially tried a freezer bag but was a little too overzealous when shaking everything about and it split. Plan B was a carrier bag which was too big. I ended up placing the thighs in a plastic bowl and covering them in clingfilm, which sort of did the trick. A word of warning, do make sure you shake off any excess marinade before you cook them – the last thing you want is a mouthful of peppercorns in your gob. This meal is great with a side salad.
Although I don’t mind washing up (it keeps my hands soft!), I do get irritable when having to use lots of pots and pans at the same time in the kitchen, particularly when I’m unfamiliar with a recipe. So the concept of Justine Pattison’s ‘Without the Calories – easy one pot’ book was appealing.
Chicken and Ham Wok Lasagne caught my eye within it because I was intrigued as to how realistic it could be to create a ‘lasagne’ using one pan. It was refreshingly simple, even if there’s a few ingredients to prep and get out on the working top before you start cooking. But above all this recipe tastes great too and while it might not be conventional, it’s effective when you can’t be arsed to make a proper lasagne. Actually, I can never be arsed to make a proper lasagne.
Hot as a fever, rattle of bones. I could just taste it, taste it. Yooooouuuuu. Your Spaghetti is on FIRE. Ok, so I doubt Kings of Leon will be adapting the lyrics of ‘Sex on Fire’, but I did chuckle to myself while prepping Spaghetti on Fire from Justine Pattison.
This is a belter of a pasta dish, packed with good stuff (vege), and full of flavour from the smoked bacon and chilli flakes. Adding Parmesan and basil leaves is optional but I’d wholeheartedly recommend doing so toenhance the taste. This frugal recipe is right up there with my favourite pasta dishes, but numero uno for me remains Pasta Puttanesca. Which one is yours?
My son Will loves pasta but supermarket varieties with sauce can come in at over 500 calories for just half a pack. So, I embarked on a mission to find healthier, yummier alternatives and Pea and Prosciutto Pasta from Justine Pattison has become his favourite.
The calorie count for this recipe is 329 per serving, however the addition of the butter and a splash of single cream still makes it feel sufficiently naughty and Will regards this as a proper treat. If you’re a big pasta fan, Justine’s book Without the Calories – pasta and rice, will be right up your street. You can also find more pasta dishes on this blog here.Continue reading “Pea and Prosciutto Pasta – forget unhealthy supermarket versions”→
Rich and Meaty Bolognese, a low-cal take on ‘spag bol’ from the Hairy Dieters, is a brilliant dish which is only 200 calories per portion IF you swap pasta for cabbage. ‘Why would I want to do that?’ you may ask. Well, it depends how serious you are taking your diet and furthermore, in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, you might struggle to get your hands on some pasta right now!
Stuffed pasta on a diet? Absolutely, according to the Hairy Dieters, whose Home-madeButternut Squash Tortellini recipe offers an excellent healthy vegetarian option for under a £1 per portion. However, you will need to devote up to 3 hours in the kitchen and have a reasonable amount of skill to ensure the filling doesn’t escape from the tortellini shells! Lazy Sunday, anyone?
Disclaimer: My wife Ann-Marie made this recipe, so all I did was rock up and tuck in when it was ready! I have to say the buttery squash pasta filling, accompanied by the spinach tasted fantastic, and I wanted more. According to Annie, this wasn’t too tricky to pull together and it would be quicker to make next time now she’s got the knack of folding the pasta and sealing the filling. Off you go then, love ;-).
I’ve never been a huge fan of Italian food. I can take or leave pizza and I’ve never understood how some restaurants justify charging upwards of £15 for a bowl of pasta. It’s ironic then that going on a healthy eating plan has enabled me to fall in love with simple, tasty Italian pasta dishes that are quick and economical to cook.
Pasta with clams and bacon from the third instalment of the Hairy Dieters series has become one of my favourites. The photo above might not scream ‘eat me now!’, but don’t let that put you off, the flavour combinations in this recipe are divine and I’d urge you to try it.
Disclaimer: my local supermarkets aren’t posh enough to stock clams so I substituted them for cockles which worked a treat. Clams, cockles or even mussels – see what works for you. But whatever you use, don’t forget to save 50ml of the liquor when draining them as adding this back into the pan makes this sumptuous dish even more yummy.
The Hairy Dieters’ books contain some cracking pasta recipes but Pasta Puttanesca from their third book is arguably their best. It’s a great store-cupboard staple dish to rustle up on a week night and costs under £1 per portion!
There are lots of variations of this recipe but this one is sooooo scrummy and comes in at only 250 calories. If you’re short on time, chuck in 1 teaspoon of chilli flakes if you don’t want to faff about deseeding and finely chopping a chilli.
The only difficulty with eating pasta puttanesca is having sufficient resolve not to demolish any spare portions if you get peckish, which ‘greedy guts’, aka yours truly, has been known to do on occasion. Well, perhaps on every occasion wahahaha ;-).
Without boring you with the details, I’m currently living with my Mum and don’t have the patience (or inclination) to devote much time to prepping fresh food. Thank goodness then for the Hairy Dieters’ Tagliatelle Carbonara, a filling, tasty and calorie friendly twist on an Italian classic which can be on the table inside 20 minutes. My Mum loves it too – bonus!