Saturday, 27 October 2012

You say tomayto, I say tomato

There are various things in this life I would struggle without - my husband, my kids and wine all spring straight to mind. In terms of food, a good storecupboard is absolutely key in planning and preparing good quality, nutritious meals. I include the fridge freezer there too -after all, it's just a really cold cupboard, isn't it? I have kept almost all my fruit and veg in the fridge for a while (extending their lives significantly once taken out of those silly packets) and some dairy items have a really excellent shelf life. Fat free yoghurt and fromage frais both keep really well - ideal for keeping on standby to whip up a sauce or pudding - and bacon is another fridge must have.

It's a good idea to have a stash of basics at all times so you can always rustle something up. Wise at any time but especially when watching the scales. Not being a fan of packets of any kind really, my storecupboard largely consists of tins (tomatoes, pulses), dried goods (varieties of pasta and rice, couscous) and seasonings (soy, Worcestershire sauce, spices and herbs). I get a little nervous if I run low on pasta or rice and above all, tinned tomatoes. A tin of good quality chopped or plum tomatoes can go a long way, is a cheap and nutritious bulker and is versatile to boot. They can have so much added to them that some of through tomatoey-ness (yes that's a word) can almost be edited out for the non-tomato lover.

I buy them in 8s or 12s usually and that never lasts the month. As you know, I batch cook, so its not unusual for me to open a couple of tins at a time. Last week 2 went into chilli. Today 2 went into a sweet tomato and balsamic vinegar sauce for dinner (parpadelle in sweet tomato sauce with crumbled baked ricotta - thanks to Jamie Oliver's Dinners). I know loads of people who buy the cheapest tinned tomatoes out there, but I am actually really fussy about them. In my experience the cheap cans are full of tops and water and not much rich tomato. At the same time though, budget is important too. Feeding a family of four well in this economic climate can be tricky. I keep an eye out for offers in the supermarkets on the high end brands to get good deals or look in the likes of B&M/Home Bargains too. My latest bargain find was in the reduced section in my local co-op. Even before I was doing Slimming World my kitchen felt off colour without tinned tomatoes or passata in it, the fact that they are now free on Slimming World is an added bonus. Really, as well as being budget friendly and versatile, tomatoes are so so good for you, full of vitamins and goodness What's not to like?

Everyone will have their own ideas of what to do with tinned tomatoes obviously but I use them for chilli con Jamie (made with brisket), batches of tomato sauce, tomato and orzo soup, ragu, pretty much every curry I make and (thanks to a friend) I have a recipe on standby for Spezzatino con Salsicce (beef braising steak stew with sausages) which also contains a tin of tomatoes. Tinned cherry tomatoes are a bit pricier but make a luxurious tomato and mozzarella lasagne, or add some garlic and chilli to the cherry tomatoes with capers and stir through pasta. You really can't go wrong.

Trust me.

1 comment:

  1. I'm like you, very fussy about tinned tomatoes, but I was pleasantly surprised by the Aldi ones, same with their baked beans x