My kitchen is generally well-stocked, but when the time for my weekly or bi-monthly ‘big’ shopping spree is due, I find myself with a weird mixture of ingredients. I pride myself in having a particular talent of making a meal out of almost anything. Over the years I’ve learned to buy some extra staples for these desperate times. Even though I’ve often read lists of pantry staples to always have on hand, I think that many people will prefer to develop their own. Not everyone needs to have an extra jar of peanut butter, for example.

This recipe came about at such a time. Luckily, aside from chickpeas and lentils (which I always tend to have on hand) I also had a packet of pearl couscous. By the time the pearl barley was ready to serve, I had the whole meal ready. That’s how quick it was. However, I did trick my man into thinking I had been cooking for a whole hour…

For around 4 portions, you will need:

  • 1 can chickpeas, drained
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 medium white onion, roughly sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 150-200g yellow lentils
  • 500ml water or stock (if using 2 tablespoons of curry, water is enough)
  • 1-2 tablespoons yellow or red curry, according to taste
  • coconut oil or oil of choice, to cook
  • optional spinach, rinsed and roughly chopped

Method:

Boil some slightly salted water to cook the barley / rice / couscous according to the instructions. You may also choose to serve this dish with a side salad or naan bread.
Cook the onions, garlic and curry paste until the onion is translucent, taking care not to burn the garlic.

Add the lentils and water/stock. Cook for around 12-15 minutes, or until the lentils are soft. Stir occasionally and if the mixture starts to dry up, add some more water, a little at a time. Add the chickpeas and coconut milk in the last few minutes, lowering the heat and cooking until the whole mixture is hot. If you’re using spinach, add it now also. Try not to let the coconut milk boil.

Serve hot. The dahl reheats well and can keep for a few days in the fridge.


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When cooking with frozen prawns, my usual go-to dish is a curry – as you can see in my recipes here and here. This time, I combined one of my favourite pasta sauces with prawns and ham, and used coconut milk instead of regular cream or white sauce.

You will need (for 2 portions):

1 cup prawns, shells removed

2 slices of ham, cut into bite-size strips

2 cups spinach (more, if using fresh)

400ml can coconut milk

2 tablespoons Stilton (or Danish blue cheese)

1 medium onion

2 cloves of garlic

salt and pepper to taste

Rice / Pasta / Noodles / Quinoa to serve

*Make a vegetarian version by omitting the prawns and ham and replacing with mushrooms

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How to make:

Use a deep pan to heat up some coconut oil (or olive oil). Cook the onions until they start to turn translucent, stirring every few seconds to avoid browning. Add the garlic and prawns and continue stirring.

If you are using frozen spinach, defrost in the microwave before, then remove excess liquid before adding to the pan. Add the spinach and ham, and continue to stir, blending the ingredients together.

Now add the coconut milk and blue cheese, mashing the cheese to help it melt. Let the sauce come to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Add some freshly ground pepper, and taste it to check if it needs some salt added too.

In the meantime, cook the noodles according to the instructions on the packet. Drain and add to your pan to mix everything together. Serve hot.

You might also enjoy: Prawn Risotto and Brussels Sprout, Spinach and Prawn Salad


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This is a great appetizer or light meal (it is also vegan, gluten-free and lactose free) that can be made even by kitchen newbies. Serve it hot or cold.

To prepare the aubergine slices:
Heat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius
Cut very thin and even slices of aubergine and spread them on a baking dish
Brush both sides with a good quality extra virgin olive oil
Sprinkle some freshly ground sea salt and pepper on one side
Let them cook for about 10 minutes on each side, or until they just start to brown and become crispy

The rice:
Cook according to instructions and add turmeric, cumin and other spices to the water while it cooks. If preferred add half a cube or some stock. Drain and fluff up with a fork.

Assemble:
Lay a couple of aubergine slices in each plate.
Spoon your rice into the middle, do not overcrowd.
Garnish with cherry tomatoes.
You may also add more freshly ground pepper, balsamic glaze and coriander leaves at the end.