In these strange times, with queues outside shops and not quite knowing what food will be around, batch cooking some large quantities of simple essentials can help. Cooking is also a great way to avoid boredom and general meal planning and feeding larger numbers of people can be made easier if you opt for batch cooking. Simply having meals ready in the freezer and when you need them is a huge help in stressful situations, recipes which could be easily taken round to those in need is also a huge bonus of batch cooking! Here are some of my tried and tests favourites from traditional family pass downs to more innovative and funky ideas.
Heart warming tomato and lentil Dahl (serves 6): My family have been making this for quite a while now. It is both vegetarian and vegan and can be frozen for a good 2 weeks in freezer bags and 3 weeks in containers. It is great comfort food with a flavour kick for some chillier April days but also great to put with some veg or salad for a more summery alternative. Lentils are also a useful source of low-fat protein giving slow release energy and contain lots of B vitamins, zinc and iron. There are also many ways to use this as a base for lentil shepherd’s pie with mash on top and then oven baked.
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 large onion
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 carrot, diced
2 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp yellow mustard seeds
1 inch fresh root/ground ginger
2 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp mild chilli powder
1 tsp garam masala
225g split red lentils
750ml water (with some veg stock)
1 can tomatoes
Flaked almonds to serve
It is worth noting that we hardly ever have all the spices in, the mustard seeds and ginger are not essential but do add flavour.
- Heat the oil in a heavy based pan, cook the onions for 5 minutes until soft, stir occasionally. Add garlic, carrot, cumin, mustard seeds and ginger. Cook for a further 5 minutes, stirring until the carrot softens and the seeds start popping.
- Stir in the turmeric, chilli powder, garam masala and cook for 1 minute whilst stirring to prevent the spices from burning.
- Add the lentils, water and tomatoes and season well with pepper. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer, covered whilst stirring occasionally for 20 minutes.
- Stir in the lemon juice and coriander.
- Cook for another 15 minutes until the lentils are tender and serve with flake almonds on top.
A classic Bolognese: For this recipe I have combined the Jamie Oliver Bolognese recipe with my gran’s family one for traditional thicker mince. This can be frozen in containers for 2 weeks and is great with rice, pasta and mash. The frozen portions can then also be easily made into cottage pie or lasagne if needed. Lots of iron and very filling.
2 garlic cloves
1 carrot finely chopped
1 celery stick finely chopped
2 heaped tsp dried oregano
500g minced beef
Baked beans half a tin
Red wine small bottle
2x 400g chopped tomatoes
Salt and pepper
- Peel and finely chop the onions, garlic and celery
- Place a LARGE casserole pan on medium-high heat with 2 lugs of oil.
- Add the veg, stirring for 7 minutes until softened and light.
- Stir in the minced meat, tomatoes and beans.
- Fill an empty tomato can with water and add to pan with some of the wine.
- Add salt and pepper and stir, then bring to the boil.
- Turn the heat down and simmer with a lid on for an hour
- Stir every now and then to stop it from catching and sticking to the pan
- Remove the sauce from the heat, cool then freeze or eat straight away!
Scrumptious Salmon fishcakes: A lighter yummy meal to go with mash or pasta or just a big portion of fresh greens. These can be frozen for about 2 weeks but must be defrosted thoroughly in the fridge before frying them up. With these homemade fishcakes you know exactly what goes into them and the flavour really makes it worth the effort – much better than shop bought!
Salt and pepper
500g salmon fillets, skin on, scales and bones removed
A bunch of fresh parsley
1 tbsp flour plus more for dusting
1 large egg
2 lemon worth of zest
- Bring a large pan of water to the boil
- Peel and chop the potatoes into even sized chunks
- Rub the salmon fillets with olive oil, salt and pepper
- Add the potatoes to the pan of water and bring to the boil
- Put the fish covered in foil, into a colander and place it over the potato pan
- Turn the heat down and cook for 12 minutes until both the potatoes and fish are cooked
- Remove the fish from the colander and put to one side
- Drain the potatoes in the colander then return them to the pan to steam dry
- Pick the parsley leaves and finely chop, discard the stalks
- Mash the potatoes, spreading the mash around the pan sides to help it cool
- Remove any skin from the fish
- When the potato is cool, put it into a bowl and flake the fish into it with 1 tbsp flour to thicken the recipe
- Add the egg and parsley with salt and pepper, then grate over the lemon zest and mash/mix up well.
- Next, dust the work surface with flour and divide the mixture into 8. Lightly shape and pat into circles 2cm thick, dusting them with flour. Dust a plate or tray with flour and then place the fishcakes on it. TO FREEZE- wrap in clingfilm and place in the freezer OR- put them in the fridge for an hour before cooking through
- If cooking from frozen: once defrosted, add oil to a frying pan on medium-high heat and cook each cake for 3-4 minutes on each side before serving straight away with lemon squeezed over them.
Gorgeous Gin and Tonic ice lollies
6 slices of cucumber
6 mint leaves
75ml of gin
250 ml of tonic
50g caster sugar
- Get a six-hole lolly mould
- Push a cucumber slice and a mint leaf into each one.
- In a jug, stir the gin, tonic and sugar until the sugar dissolves and the tonic loses its initial fizz.
- Divide between the moulds, push in the lolly sticks and freeze for at least 4 hrs, or preferably overnight.
And… so there you have it enough food to make some superior frozen meals and the perfect refreshing dessert. These should keep you going through isolation and also add some fun to your day. Enjoy!
Image Credit: PxFuel