Saturday, 6 October 2012

Autumn lunches

So it’s officially autumn.  It’s getting colder. Salads no longer cut the mustard when it comes to lunch (or dinner, really).  So this morning I put the old thinking cap  on – what can I make for lunch that’s hearty and warming but won’t cost a lot (there are no particular reasons for the last criterion – other than…I get an enormous sense of self-satisfaction when I make something lovely for almost nothing).

As it happens this week has been crazy at work, so I haven’t had much of an opportunity to do much proper cooking.  Consequently, I have quite a few things that need to be used or they will have to be thrown away (refer to comment above: this option is something I fine REALLY difficult to stomach).  I have celery, carrot, peppers, onions, corn in the cob – all need using up.  A quick root through the cupboards reveals tins of mixed beans and tomatoes.

Ladies and gentlemen, we have landed.  See below.

NUMBER 1: Mixed bean chilli

2 x tbsp. vegetable oil
1 x green pepper (plus I added an extra half left over from in the week)
1 x corn on the cob
2 x medium sized onions
2 x sticks of celery
2 x 400g tins of mixed beans
2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
2 x cloves garlic
1 x tsp ground cumin
1 x tsp chilli flakes
½ tsp ground cayenne pepper
1 x tsp sugar
Salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper

Finely slice the green pepper, onions and celery.  Put to one side.

Using a sharp knife, place the corn on the cob on its end and slice the kernels off (watch your fingers – danger of slicage). Put to one side.

Heat the oil over a medium heat in a large saucepan and add the green pepper, onions and celery.  You want to sweat the ingredients, so make sure it’s not too hot and browns.  This should take a good ten minutes or so.

Stir in the corn kernels, followed by the tins of tomato, garlic, cumin, chilli flakes, cayenne pepper, sugar and seasoning. (It might sound a bit odd adding sugar, but the tinned tomatoes can be quite harsh and acidic – this takes the edge off).

Place the lid on the saucepan, and simmer for a good half an hour.  Then add the mixed beans, put the lid back on and simmer for a further half an hour – longer if necessary.  You don’t want the beans to start falling apart, but equally you want the sauce to be nicely combined and a little ‘jammy’.

Check for seasoning – and you’re away!  Either eat straight away or place in containers in the freezer.  I managed to get 4 individual portions out of this – ready to be taken out of the freezer the night and reheated at work.  Serve with whatever takes your fancy – rice, couscous, thickly cut white bread and butter.  However, in contrast to what the advert suggests, Rivita is a massive no no here!

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