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Lentil Bolognese (61p)

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Continuing my exploration of A Girl Called Jack budget recipe book. Today, lentil Bolognese. This is actually a sauce which can be used as part of a pizza topping, pitta filling, or – my choice today – pasta topping.

2017-02-12-artusiDid a little reading on Bolognese sauce first. What is it?

Learned that it is a kind of ragù, an Italian sauce with meat as a main ingredient and served with pasta. The first published example was in 1891 by Italian businessman and author Pellegrino Artusi, and included minced beef, various vegetables, herbs, spices and pancetta bacon – an Italian speciality of seasoned, cured, unsmoked belly pork.

Artusi was able to take an early retirement from his business dealings thanks to a generous inheritance, and his 1891 book is seen as a national treasure as it had recipes from all over the then only recently united country of Italy. His Ragù alla Bolognese was one of these, inspired by dishes he seen when visiting the city of Bologna.

Lacking meat, technically the following recipe is not a ragù at all …

  • 1 onion.
  • 1 carrot.
  • 1 clove of garlic.
  • tablespoon of oil.
  • flat teaspoon each of thyme and parsley.
  • 1 vegetable stock cube.
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes.
  • 100g lentils.
  • tomato sauce.
  • 50g grated cheese.
  • 100g pasta.

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Fine chop the onion. Crush and chop up the garlic clove. Grate the carrot.

Rinse the lentils. Bit of a debate on the internet, to rinse or not to rinse, but it seems a good idea to get any husk remnants or factory dust off.

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Fry the onion, carrot and garlic together until the onion is soft. Add the herbs, stock cube, chopped tomatoes (including the juice), lentils and a generous squeeze of ketchup and simmer for 25 minutes. Put the pasta on the boil while you’re doing this.

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Serve mixed in with the pasta and the grated cheese on top.

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It was a filling meal. Not hugely tasty, but good enough, filling and nutritious. I omitted the red wine of Jack’s recipe (allergic to the sulphite in wine and an unnecessary cost anyway). It was enough for three meals. With electricity, washing-up costs and a cup of tea, 61p a meal.

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NOTE: Unlike to previous recipe, which, although initially very tasty, lost flavour in a few hours, this dish had gained flavour after standing. I had a bowl of it the next day for lunch. 13 Feb.

Courgette Crisis Pasta (77p)

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Based on a recipe from Jack Monroe’s cookingonabootstrap.com.

Back to Jack. Had a go at Jack’s Creamy Greek cheese and courgette pasta. One problem, not a single courgette in the shops due to floods and bad weather in southern Europe.

Interesting going shopping. Some people were staring at the vegetable section in Tesco, grumbling about how they were going to cope without courgettes or iceberg lettuces. The shop is bursting at the seams with all kinds of foods, but they could only talk about what wasn’t there. Made me think how much of the world’s population struggles to find even the basics, not to mention how many Mediterranean farmers will be in dire straits. There were plenty of carrots, however, so … Creamy Greek cheese and carrot pasta.

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The ingredients:

  • 1 large carrot (biggest you can find).
  • 100g string beans.
  • flat teaspoon each of dried mint and parsley (or fresh, of course, if you happen to have it).
  • 1 tablespoon oil.
  • Juice and zest of 1/2 a lemon (or a tablespoon of bottled lemon juice).
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped fine.
  • 50g feta (a crumbly Greek cheese).
  • 150g natural yoghurt.
  • 200g pasta of any sort.

Put the carrot, chopped up a bit, and beans with the ends chopped off in a pot of cold water, bring to the boil then simmer. Remove when the carrot’s just soft enough to mash (about 35 minutes from cold). Don’t throw the water away – use it to cook the pasta.

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While the above is simmering, mix the mint, parsley, oil, juice, zest and garlic. Crumble the feta in a saucepan, add the mixture just made and simmer gently for a few minutes, mixing in the yoghurt towards the end.

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I don’t have a ‘zester’, so with a sharp knife I pared the skin off the lemon and chopped it up fine. Do wash the lemon beforehand to get any oils/contaminants off the surface.

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Mash the carrot in the bottom of a dish and put the beans on top, followed by the pasta.

ccbake7Reheat the sauce to make it runny – add more yoghurt or milk if it goes too sticky – and pour it over the top. And there it is! Delightfully colourful. Tasty, tangy and very lemony – could leave out the zest if you think the lemon flavour is going to be too overpowering for you.

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I found this delicious when freshly made, but after a couple of hours, perhaps because the pasta absorbs the moisture, the flavours had diminished and it was less special.

With a cup of tea or coffee, including electricity and washing-up costs, three means for 77p each. No where near Jack’s 28p, so not one for the ultra-budget bracket (< 50p a meal).