Vegetarian baked sweet potato jackets and ketchup chilli

The Ketchup Lover’s Cookbook: 3 tangy recipes for people who can’t get enough of ketchup

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Ketchup is much more than just a condiment – and these delicious recipes from The Ketchup Lover’s Cookbook will help you see the red sauce in the new light.  

Sweet, tangy and utterly moreish, there’s no denying that when it comes to condiments, ketchup reigns supreme. A staple in kitchen cupboards and restaurant tables around the world, the red stuff plays an intrinsic role in our global food culture – and let’s face it, we all know someone that can’t resist smothering their food in the red stuff.

What ketchup lovers might not know, however, is that this ubiquitous sauce has far more potential than its place at the side of the plate might suggest. As Heather Thomas explains in her new book The Ketchup Lover’s Cookbook, the condiment can have a transformative effect on a wide variety of dishes, as well as give a tasty spin on family favourites. And if you’re all about low-maintenance cooking, it’s also a great way to imbue flavour with faffing around without complex seasoning. 

The Ketchup Lover's Cookbook
The Ketchup Lover's Cookbook by Heather Thomas

Whether you’re a condiment lover or simply fancy switching up your weekday meals, we’ve three delicious recipes, courtesy of Thomas, that make use of the bottled sauce in equally brilliant ways.

First up, vegetarian ketchup mac and cheese, a comfort food classic which uses tomatoes and sauce as a counterpoint to the rich, silky cheese – keep on standby for grey days.

The Greek baked fish, meanwhile, is a nourishing, ketchup-bolstered dish which requires nothing more than for you to throw all the ingredients in one pan and leave it to do its own thing.

Lastly, the vegetarian baked sweet potato jackets and ketchup chilli is a hearty dish with layers of sweet and sour complexity, which we thoroughly suggest amping up with lashings of the homemade pico de gallo. Trust us, everything will be asking for your secret ingredient.

  • Vegetarian ketchup mac and cheese

    Vegetarian ketchup mac and cheese
    Ketchup recipes: vegetarian ketchup mac and cheese

    Heather says: “This is comfort food at its best. Adding tomatoes and cauliflower to macaroni cheese transforms it into a filling supper dish. We’ve used a sharp cheddar cheese but you could substitute grated parmesan for a delicious Italian flavour.”

    Serves 4

    Prep: 15 minutes

    Cook: 25-30 minutes

    Ingredients

    • 225g macaroni (dried weight)
    • 1 medium cauliflower, trimmed and separated into florets
    • 75g butter
    • 50g plain flour
    • 500ml milk
    • 3 tbsp ketchup
    • 200g grated cheddar cheese
    • 150g cherry tomatoes, halved
    • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
    • cayenne pepper, for dusting

    Method

    Preheat the oven to 190°C (170°C fan)/gas 5.

    Cook the macaroni according to the instructions on the packet. Drain and set aside.

    Add the cauliflower to a large saucepan of water and cook for 6–8 minutes, or until just tender but not mushy – the florets should keep their shape. Drain well and pat with kitchen paper (paper towels) to absorb the moisture.

    Meanwhile, melt the butter in a saucepan set over a low heat. Stir in the flour with a wooden spoon and cook for 2–3 minutes, stirring, until you have a smooth paste.

    Gradually whisk in the milk, a little at a time, beating until it’s all added and free of lumps. Bring to the boil, stirring all the time, until it thickens and you have a smooth, glossy sauce. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 2–3 minutes.

    Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the ketchup and most of the cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

    Put the macaroni, cauliflower and tomatoes into a large ovenproof dish and pour the sauce over the top. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese and bake in the preheated oven for 15–20 minutes until piping hot and crisp and golden brown on top. Dust with cayenne pepper and serve immediately.

    Variations

    • Add some shredded spinach or kale.
    • Use broccoli instead of cauliflower.
    • Add some chopped parsley to the sauce.
    • Add tinned chopped tomatoes to the sauce.
  • Greek baked fish

    Greek baked fish
    Ketchup recipes: Greek baked fish

    Heather says: “This is a delicious and healthy way to cook fish, and because it is baked in the oven there are no fishy smells to linger in the kitchen. Nothing could be easier: you just put everything in one dish and then relax with your feet up until dinner is served.”

    Serves 4

    Prep: 10 minutes

    Cook: 40-45 minutes

    Ingredients

    • 450g potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
    • 900g thick white fish fillets, e.g. cod, haddock, bream, monkfish 
    • juice of 1 lemon
    • 3 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
    • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
    • 300g cherry tomatoes
    • 1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
    • 2–3 tbsp ketchup
    • 1 tsp dried oregano
    • 1 tsp sugar
    • 12 juicy black olives
    • a handful of flat-leaf parsley, chopped, plus extra for sprinkling
    • 120ml white wine
    • salt and freshly ground black pepper

    Method

    Preheat the oven to 190°C (170°C fan)/gas 5.

    Put the sliced potatoes into a large ovenproof dish. Place the fish fillets on top and drizzle with the lemon juice and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

    Mix together the garlic, cherry tomatoes, tinned tomatoes, ketchup, oregano, sugar, olives, parsley and white wine.

    Pour this over the fish.

    Cover with foil and bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for a further 20–25 minutes, or until the fish is cooked and flakes easily and the sauce has reduced and thickened.

    Check the seasoning and then divide between 4 serving plates. Serve, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with more parsley.

    Tip

    This tastes good served lukewarm or even cold.

    Variations

    • Substitute red wine for white.
    • Add some thinly sliced onion or celery.
  • Vegetarian baked sweet potato jackets and ketchup chilli

    Vegetarian baked sweet potato jackets and ketchup chilli
    Ketchup recipes: vegetarian baked sweet potato jackets and ketchup chilli

    Heather says: “Adding ketchup to vegetarian chilli makes it really tasty and livens it up. It’s easy to make and will cook away while the sweet potatoes are baking in the oven.”

    Serves 4

    Prep: 15 minutes

    Cook: 45 minutes

    Ingredients

    • 2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for rubbing
    • 4 medium sweet potatoes, washed and scrubbed
    • 1 large red onion, diced
    • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
    • 1 red pepper, deseeded and diced
    • 1–2 tsp chilli powder
    • 1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
    • 60ml ketchup
    • 1 x 400g tin red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
    • a few sprigs of coriander, chopped
    • 100g grated cheddar cheese
    • salt and freshly ground black pepper
    • soured cream and ketchup pico de gallo (see below), to serve (optional)

    For the vegan ketchup pico de gallo

    • 6 ripe tomatoes, diced
    • ½ red onion, diced
    • 1 garlic clove, crushed
    • 2 hot chillies, e.g. jalapeños (fresh or bottled), diced
    • a handful of coriander, chopped
    • 2 tbsp ketchup
    • juice of 1 lime
    • 1 small, ripe avocado, peeled, stoned (pitted) and diced
    • a pinch of fine sea salt

    Method

    Preheat the oven to 190°C (170°C fan)/gas 5.

    Rub a little olive oil over the sweet potatoes and place on a baking tray (cookie sheet). Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until tender when you press them gently.

    Meanwhile, heat the oil in a saucepan set over a low to medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and red pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, for 6–8 minutes until tender but not browned.

    Stir in the chilli powder and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, ketchup and kidney beans and simmer gently for 10–15 minutes, or until reduced and thickened. Stir in the coriander and season to taste with salt and pepper.

    Cut a cross in the top of each sweet potato and press gently on the sides to open it up. Place one on each serving plate and spoon the chili over the top. Sprinkle with grated cheddar and serve with soured cream and ketchup pico de gallo (if wished).

    Tip

    Vegans can use non-dairy shredded vegan cheese.

    Variations

    • Use black beans instead of red kidney beans.
    • Top the baked sweet potatoes with minced beef chilli.

    Vegan ketchup pico de gallo

    Heather says: “This makes a delicious dip for tortilla chips or raw vegetable sticks, or you can smear it over sandwiches and wraps, use as a topping for nachos, fajitas, burritos and tacos, or serve with kebabs, steaks, chicken, chops, sausages, grilled halloumi and tofu – it’s so versatile. Adding ketchup gives it a real kick and extra piquancy.”

    Serves 4-6

    Prep: 10 minutes; stand 15 minutes

    Method

    Mix the tomatoes, red onion, garlic, chillies and coriander in a bowl. Stir in the ketchup and lime juice and leave for 15 minutes for the avours to mingle.

    Stir in the avocado and season to taste with salt. Transfer to a serving bowl.

    Tip

    If you’re making this ahead, don’t add the avocado until you’re ready to serve. It will keep well in a sealed container in the fridge for 2–3 days without the avocado.

    Variations

    • Use spring onions instead of red onion.
    • Use garlic powder to taste instead of a fresh clove.
    • Use chopped cherry or baby plum tomatoes.
    • Add some diced mango or papaya.
    • Add some hot sauce, e.g. sriracha.

    Extracted from The Ketchup Lover’s Cookbook: Over 60 Spectacularly Saucy Recipes by Heather Thomas (£9.99, HarperNonFiction), out now

Photography: Sam Folan.

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Christobel Hastings

Christobel Hastings is a London-based journalist covering pop culture, feminism, LGBTQ and lore.