A London friend has grumped about my current decadent lifestyle and told me to “Sod off with all that ‘we’re in Greece…enjoying’ business. I want austerity recipes highlighting how to eat well in a bankrupt country with zero credit ratings.” So here’s what I cook when I’m skint –
1) Beans on toast. Yeah, I know, not original but I elevate the humble Heinz from giro-cheque to gourmet by adding half a teaspoon of rosemary. Seriously, it makes it taste totally speccy. If you’re really hard up, you don’t even need to buy the rosemary, just nick it from the neighbour’s hedge. Of course, your neighbour’s more likely to have it if you’re on a Greek island.
2) Everything in the fridge soup. I don’t want to glamourise this and call it minestrone because there’s no Italian obsession with fresh, seasonal or local here. This soup uses those last 3 potatoes going wrinkly and sprouting eyes, the 2 halves of dessicated onion in the crisper previously used for salad last week, the half a jar of passata in the fridge with a mohair blanket of mould and those bendy carrots you forgot were at the back of the vege box. If you have frozen peas (crucial remedy for sprained ankles) then you’ve got your 5 a day covered and it only cost about 75p.
3) Everything in the fridge Spanish omelette. Similar to the above, but in omelette form. Also works well to give you the impression of eating meat if you bastardise the purity of the Spanish original (potatoes, onion, egg) by adding a chopped up ham end that go cheap at the deli counter. Ask the nice lady at Waitrose and she’ll pull out the poor person’s bowl of ham odds and sods. Some of them are even off HR Duchy tractor man’s farm.
4) Sardines on toast. Again, a classic elevated to “cooking” by a) ensuring the toast is well buttered and, most of all, b) adding hot sauce to the squashed sardines. No hot sauce, it’s just not the same.
5) Dahl: lentils; onion; garlic; chilli; ginger; other spices as desired/ afforded. Yoghurt to eat. Cheap. Filling. Farty.
6) Aglio e olio. Pasta is the go-to carb for the credit crunched and this one is a real cheapie. All it is is spaghetti, oil, garlic and chilli. If you’re a gourmand fallen on hard times and still have a couple of anchovies hanging about, whack them in too. It’s best if you add finely chopped parsley. If you can’t afford it, snaffle a few sprigs from the neighbour’s window box or the local primary school’s kiddies’ veg patch. They won’t mind, really.
My mum used to make something me and my sister called Tuna Slab. She’s usually a good cook, but there were many tantrums about avoiding this! Rice layered with celery, tuna and maybe white sauce? Filling and cheap but not good. sorry Mum.