Chickpea curry

Aromatics: chop onion, garlic, ginger, and fry in oil.
Spices: add curry powder (or paste), paprika, cumin, and tomato paste to the pan.
Cans: add a can of chopped tomatoes, a can of coconut milk (or less if you want it less fatty; can also substitute with cream), and a drained can of chickpeas to the pan.
Finish: with salt and pepper, a bunch of chopped fresh coriander, and lime juice and zest.

Based on this recipe.


Cuban-style canned black beans and rice

Based on this recipe. Pros: delicious and rich-tasting, very little prep time and prep-related mess, one-pan if using pre-cooked rice; cons: long simmering time, pan needs soaking, everything smells fragrant for hours later including yourself.

Ingredients: 2 cans of black beans in their canning liquid, cooked rice, an onion, fresh garlic, green bell pepper, jalapeno pepper, fresh cilantro, spices (cumin, paprika, oregano, salt and pepper).  (Makes 2-3 servings.)

Heat olive oil in a large pan with high sides. Quarter the onion and fry on low heat. Smash and peel 6-8 fat cloves of garlic and add to the pan. Seed and cut the bell pepper into quarters or thick slices and add to the pan. Finally, break the stems off a large bunch of cilantro, wash thoroughly, dry, and add to the pan. Add cumin, paprika, and dried oregano and fry until fragrant.

Open the cans of beans and add the canning liquid to the pan. If necessary, add enough water to cover the vegetables, or until the mixture is fairly thin (more like a soup than a thick stew). Simmer gently for about 15mins. Then, when the liquid has begun to reduce, add the beans. Simmer further until you reach the desired consistency, about 15mins. In the last several minutes of cooking, season with salt and pepper to taste, and add the seeded jalapeno pepper, tasting every few minutes or so, and removing when you reach the desired spice level.

When the beans are done, remove the cilantro stems and discard. You may also discard the onion, pepper, and garlic, though I prefer to leave them in, with the tender garlic cloves mashed and mixed into the beans. Serve over cooked rice. (The original recipe recommends serving with half an avocado, but I find the beans rich enough that surprisingly the dish really doesn’t need it. In fact, I prefer to serve this with something fresh, like chopped cilantro leaves, a wedge of lime, or fresh tomatoes.)

Perfect ham and pea pasta

Cook a handful of farfalle or any short pasta in quite generously salted water, according to package directions (you don’t need too much pasta in the recipe, as the peas will make up the bulk). When finished, drain more or less and set aside (don’t drain too completely dry, as the remaining pasta water will help thin the sauce).

Dry the pan and warm up some olive oil. Add sliced scallions and minced garlic. Then slice two pieces of ham into strips, and fry until caramelised. When the ham and garlic are browned, add frozen peas and cook until defrosted. Finally, add a tablespoonful of jarred alfredo sauce, add the pasta, and stir. Season generously with pepper, and with fresh or dry herbs to taste (mint, parsley, Italian seasoning, etc).