In these unprecedented times, The Prime Minister has asked everyone to stay at home to curb the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. As a church, we welcome the opportunity to show love to our communities by doing our part in protecting everyone. However, it doesn’t come without its challenges.
Staying at home while trying to make your ventures to the shops as infrequent as possible means that having a couple of recipes you can cook in bulk would save you time, trips, and even your sanity. When hunger strikes and you haven’t managed to think far enough ahead to work out what’s for dinner, it’s great to have something you can pull out of the freezer.
We’ve put together three recipes below to start you off – a soup, a meat ragu, and a homemade pesto you can freeze for fast dinners. You can also download the PDFs and print them off to add to your recipe book.
But please remember, purchase food responsibly. We have seen the devastating effects of people panic buying and hoarding food. It leaves others without – particularly those who aren’t able to shop at standard hours – like our emergency services staff and logistics personnel. Take note of what is running low so you can leave some for others and only take what you need.
Moroccan Style Chicken Soup
This hearty soup is perfect for filling lunches and is packed with vegetables and legumes to give you a healthy meal full of nutrients in a bowl.
2x tinned chopped tomatoes
300g bean/lentil/split pea mix (“Broth Mix”)
3 chicken breasts
2x tinned chickpeas
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp Harrisa paste or dried harissa spices
2 ltr chicken stock
100g dried apricots
Prep time 15-20 Mins. Cooking time 30-35 mins.
- Cut up all the vegetables into small diced pieces (approx. ½ cm)
- Over a medium heat, with a tablespoon of oil, sauté onion, leek and carrots for 5-10 minutes.
- Add the peppers and chopped tomatoes stir well then add the broth mix stock and chickpeas.
- Bring to the boil then reduce the heat and gently simmer for 25-30 minutes.
- Whilst the soup is simmering, shred the cooked chicken by pulling it apart with 2 forks. Chop up the apricots into small pieces.
- Add the chicken and apricots to the pan for the last 5 mins.
This hearty soup will freeze for 3 months. Defrost in the fridge before reheating.
NOTE: I find the pour and store bags really helpful for storing soup and stocks. They hold up to a litre of liquid and you can wash and reuse them too.
You can either make just the ragu or continue through the recipe to make chili too for a meaty ragu sauce. A ragu is perfect for pouring over pasta or serving with rice or potatoes. There are already vegetables added in the ragu too, so you get a variety of vegetables included.
NOTE: This will yield 8-10 servings if just making the ragu or up to 12 portions if chili. The recipe below allows for 6 portions of each.
For the ragu
2 Medium Onions
4 Medium Carrots
2 Medium Courgettes
½ small swede
2x tinned Chopped Tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp Mixed dried herbs
750g Mince Beef
1x beef stockpot (or 100ml concentrated beef stock)
For the chili
2x tinned red kidney beans
2 peppers roughly chopped
½ tsp cayenne
1 tsp smoked paprika
Cooking time: 60-85 mins
Using your largest pan, add to 2 tbsp oil and heat over a medium heat.
If you have one, chop the onions in a food processor (so it’s the same texture as the mince). If not, finely chop and add to the pan and sauté for 4-5 mins (until it’s translucent).
- Repeat with the swede and carrots and add to the pan. Continue to sauté for another 2-3 minutes then add the stockpot.
- Add the mince, mix thoroughly, cover, and allow to cook gently for 10 mins. (Keeping the lid on allows the moisture from the vegetables/meat to create additional cooking juices keeping everything tender).
- Chop the mushrooms and courgette. You can use the processor or, if you want a bit more texture, small dice them by hand and add to the pan.
- Add the herbs and tomato paste, chopped tomatoes and one tins worth of water mix well and season lightly. Allow to cook for 45 mins.
Dish out two thirds of the mixture, ready for freezing. I find that using the plastic dishes from take-aways is ideal for this and would expect to get 6 portions of Bolognese.
- Now add the cayenne and paprika to the pan and stir well.
- Drain and wash the kidney beans and add to the pan.
- Chop the peppers into 1cm sized pieces, add to the pan and mix well. Simmer for a final 15-20 mins.
Now you can dish out the remaining chili mix in the same way. You should get another 4-6 portions.
Once cooled, you can cover the tubs and freeze. Cooked sauces can be kept in the fridge for 4 days but I’d recommend freezing on the day you make it. Use within 3 months of freezing making sure that you defrost thoroughly before you reheat.
On the hob: in a saucepan over a medium heat for 10-15mins
In the oven: in a lidded dish for 20-25 minutes at about 200°C
(or in the microwave, following your device’s instructions)
This versatile sauce packs a punch in any dish. Did you know you can freeze it in ice cube trays or in a roll of parchment and use it from frozen whenever you need it? Ideal for last-minute meals. Add it to pasta, swirl it into cream cheese, or add it inside butterflied chicken. There are even more ideas at the bottom of the recipe!
200g Parmesan or Hard Italian style cheese
120g Fresh Basil Leaves
100ml Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 or 3 Garlic Cloves
Zest & Juice of a lemon
100g pine nuts
Prep time 15 mins
- Break up the cheese into a food processor. Rip in the basil leaves (discarding any particularly tough stalks). Peel the garlic and tip in the pine nuts and almonds.
- Start to blitz. After 30 seconds or so, add in the zest and juice. Continue to blitz, drizzling in the oil until you get a putty-like consistency, (it should only take a minute or two).
Pesto will keep 3 to 4 days in the fridge or freeze brilliantly. A couple of freezer storage tips: grease ice cube trays with a little oil and spoon the mixture into the tray. Presto! You can now have little blocks of pesto whenever you need them. If you don’t have a tray available, take a large sheet of greaseproof paper and tip out all the pesto into a sausage shape. Roll the paper up to make a log, scrunch up the ends and frees for a couple of hours. Before it gets too hard, remove it from the freezer, slice into 1cm discs, and then roll back up. It will last 3 months in the freezer.
You can use it from frozen – just let it melt in the pan and mix with pasta, or alternatively defrost in the fridge overnight.
- Mix with soft cheese for a creamy pasta sauce with chicken and mushrooms or salmon and asparagus.
- Toss courgettes, aubergine, peppers and onion in pesto before roasting.
- Place a teaspoon of pesto on top of a salmon piece and then wrap a 2inch wide strip of puff pastry round the middle for a crafty Salmon en croute
- Butterfly a chicken breast, by cutting it lengthwise in half, making sure you don’t cut right the way through the breast. Spoon the pesto onto one side then cover so that the pesto is sandwiched between the breast halves. Wrap the chicken breast in bacon. (these can also be frozen and will last for 3-5 months).
We hope you find these recipes helpful as you feed a houseful of hungry kids, are trying to stay on top of working from home and housework, or you’re simply trying to plan ahead to ease the annoyance of having to think of something new every evening.