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According to recipe writer Megan Davies, ‘kitchen foraging’ is the ultimate way to save money and reduce food waste. Want to learn how? This new cookbook contains everything you need to know…
No matter how regularly you plan your meals or how diligently you procure ingredients, eventually, a fridge stalemate is reached and you find yourself hungrily digging through leftovers to piece together a weeknight dinner. Feeling seen?
Whatever the situation, food stylist and writer Megan Davies is the recipe oracle you want on your side. Regularly developing dishes for Pret a Manger, HelloFresh and Linda McCartney, she’s an expert at concocting meals with an array of disparate ingredients, producing sublimely tasty results.
If you want to know how she does it, Davies’ new cookbook Fridge Raid: Flexible, Kitchen-Foraged Recipes For Low-Waste Meals, is a rolodex of versatile dishes that won’t require a Big Shop. From hearty roasting tin combinations to speedy stews, each one is designed to be customised, with helpful substitutes included alongside each ingredient. The result? Less waste, more creativity and tasty home-cooked meals galore. Currently got a fridge full of leftovers you don’t know what to do with? Below, you’ll find four easy recipes that will help you tackle them…
If you constantly have half-opened packets of herbs lurking in your fridge, you’ll want to put them to use in Davies’ vermicelli salad. She combines a selection of soft herbs with peanut butter for a brilliantly flavoursome mixture to drizzle over slippery noodles.
Meanwhile, Davies’ aubergine ragù is ideal if chilly weather has got you craving something slow-cooked. Roast cubes of salted aubergine until they’re tender, then stir into a richly spiced tomato sauce. Similarly, if you’ve forgotten how to make wintry lunches, let this be a reminder – according to Davies, minestrone is the ultimate warming meal. She adds tinned beans, leafy greens and pasta to make a hearty combination.
Finally, if you are ever lucky enough to be blessed with leftover roast potatoes, you’ll want to refer back to this: Davies pairs re-roasted potatoes with crunchy dressed carrots, giant couscous and a generous ball of burrata. We might now prefer our meals second time around…
Herby peanut vermicelli salad
Megan says: “This recipe is a great one for using up almost any herbs you’ve got in the fridge, teamed with a handful of store-cupboard items. It is also a great dish for adding leftover rare beef too as well, or chicken for that matter, so maybe a summery Monday evening, post-roast or barbecue, is a good time for this creation.”
Cook and prep: 15 mins
- 200g vermicelli noodles, or any pre-made noodles
- 20g fresh soft herbs, such as mint, Thai basil, chives, coriander, parsley, basil
- 2 tsp chilli oil (olive oil and some chilli flakes is fine)
- 2 tbsp sesame oil (walnut oil will do, or rapeseed oil)
- 2 limes/lemon juice (or an extra 1 tsp rice vinegar)
- 2 tbsp fish sauce (can be omitted)
- 3 tbsp peanut butter (or any nut butter)
- 2 tsp rice vinegar (or white wine vinegar or black rice vinegar)
- 60g salted peanuts (or any salted nut, but salted cashews probably best)
Cook the vermicelli noodles according to packet instructions (I usually boil them for 3–4 minutes), then drain and rinse under cold water.
Tear up or roughly chop all the fresh soft herbs, including the stalks if they’re not too hardy.
Add the oils, juice from both limes, fish sauce, peanut butter and rice vinegar to the base of a salad bowl and whisk vigorously to combine. Add in the vermicelli noodles, herbs and peanuts and toss to combine and coat. Serve immediately.
Leftovers: Get some summer roll wrappers and use the noodles as filling along with some freshly chopped veg and cooked prawns.
Megan says: “Whilst aubergines are summer veg, this recipe sits in the autumn chapter because when the weather starts to turn, lots of us crave these richer, slow-cooked dishes. This one is a veggie-style ragù, it has depth but still has a light edge from the ripe tomatoes which I love. It’s great for pasta but also fab to use in a lasagne, as a sandwich filling or, even better, with eggs as a shakshuka, or just on toast. It freezes really well, so make a double batch and save some for stress-free suppers when the weather is even colder.”
Cook and prep time: 16 hours
- 3 aubergines
- 2 red onions (or more carrots or celery)
- 2 carrots (or more red onions or celery)
- 2 celery sticks/stalks (or more red onions or carrots)
- 4 garlic cloves (purée is fine, or use 2 tsp garlic powder)
- 750g fresh mixed tomatoes (or use 2 x 400g cans of good-quality chopped tomatoes)
- 400ml water (if using canned tomatoes, only use 200ml water)
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tbsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp fennel seeds (any of the three spices can be substituted – try paprika, cayenne pepper, curry powder (will make it curried aubergine ragù though, but yum!), caraway, harissa paste)
- 1 tbsp tomato purée (can easily be omitted)
- 130ml red/white wine (or ½ quantity of red wine vinegar)
- olive oil
- sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Preheat the oven to 210°C fan/200°C/Gas 6.
Chop the aubergines into 4–5cm pieces and place on a large baking sheet. Drizzle some olive oil over, season well, then toss to coat. Place on the middle/top shelf of the preheated oven and roast for 1 hour, until golden brown and tender (this can be done in advance, by the way).
Meanwhile, halve, peel and thinly slice the onions and chop the carrots (no need to peel) and celery into 1–2cm pieces. Heat a glug of olive oil in a large saucepan or casserole dish, and once hot, add the soffritto (the prepared onions, carrots and celery). Fry gently for 20 minutes, stirring often.
Peel and thinly slice the garlic, roughly chop the tomatoes and measure the water. Once the soffritto is supple and glistening, add the garlic and spices, letting them fry for a couple of minutes until fragrant. Next, add the tomato purée/paste and mix well to combine. Let this ‘cook out’ (cooking off that rawness) for a couple of minutes, then pour in the wine and let it bubble away for a couple of minutes until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Pile in the tomatoes and pour in the water.
Bring the ragù mix up to the boil, then immediately reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and leave to gently cook for 50 minutes, stirring occasionally.
When the aubergines have had their time in the oven, add them to the sauce. Don’t worry at what point this happens – just get them into the sauce as soon as they’re roasted. Taste to check for seasoning, then serve.
Goes well with: So many options here, but I like it served with pasta as a ragù, with rice, or just on toast with a fried egg on top.
Leftovers: This recipe freezes really well, but if you’ve only got a small portion left, try it stuffed flatbreads or with baked eggs.
Minestrone with pecorino and parsley
Megan says: “Minestrone is my favourite soup – it’s chunky, uses up what’s in the fridge, there is pasta and a showering of cheese involved. It’s also wonderful as leftovers, loaded up with more stock and any extras you want to throw in. You can add pancetta or bacon at the start if you wish.”
Cook and prep: 1 hour
- 1 large brown onion (or any onion, or use fennel, or top up on the other veg)
- 2 garlic cloves (or purée or powder is fine, or omit)
- 2 carrots (or more onion, celery and leek)
- 2 celery sticks/stalks (or more onion, carrot and leek)
- 1 leek (or more onion, carrot and celery)
- 200g potato (can be omitted)
- 2 vine tomatoes (or any fresh tomato, or add 1 tsp tomato purée with the garlic)
- 400g can of cannellini beans (or any cooked beans)
- 80g cavolo nero (or any leafy green, such as spinach, cabbage, kale)
- 1l chicken stock (or any stock, but chicken is best in my opinion)
- 150g dried pasta (or any shape of dried pasta; fresh pasta is also fine, but add only 2 minutes before end of cooking)
- 10g parsley (or any fresh herb, or lemon zest and a squeeze of juice)
- 40g pecorino (or any hard cheese, or a dollop of mascarpone butter, for frying)
- extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
- sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Halve, peel and thinly slice the onion. Heat a generous knob of butter in a large casserole dish on the hob over a medium heat. Once the butter is gently sizzling, add the onion and fry gently for 10 minutes, until softening.
Peel and grate the garlic. Trim and finely slice the carrots, celery and leek. Chop the potato and tomatoes into 2cm chunks. Drain and rinse the beans and finely shred the cavolo nero.
When the onions have had their time, add the garlic, carrot, celery, leek and potato. Mix to coat in the butter, then let them fry together for another 10 minutes, stirring often. Next, add the tomatoes, stock, beans and pasta. Bring to the boil and simmer for 8–10 minutes, until all the veg is tender, the pasta is al dente and it’s smelling lovely.
When the soup only has 5 minutes left, add the cavolo nero and stir through, so it lightly cooks. Taste the soup – it’ll probably need generous seasoning. Roughly chop the parsley and shave the pecorino into crumbly shards. Transfer the soup to bowls and top with the cheese and parsley, finishing with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
Goes well with: Garlic-rubbed toast is my favourite.
Leftovers: Tear up the leftover garlicky bread suggested above, add it to the leftover minestrone and turn the soup into a ribollita.
Roasties take two
Megan says: “Roast potatoes are a household favourite in so many homes, and I make them in vast quantities. Leftover roasties, or any crispy, crunchy potato for that matter, are brilliant re-heated and re-crisped. So, get going with this winter salad and see what you think!”
Cook and prep time: 20 minutes
- 300g leftover roast potatoes (or any cooked, previously crunchy potato, or wedges or chips)
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper (or smoked paprika or small pinch of chilli powder)
- 80g giant wholewheat couscous (or any grain – bulgur wheat or buckwheat work well)
- 1 carrot (or segment an orange or tangerine)
- 100g radicchio (medium head) (or endive, chicory or rocket)
- 2 tangerines (or clementine, orange, pomelo or even grapefruit)
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (ideally use extra virgin olive oil, but normal is fine)
- 200g burrata (mozzarella is the best alternative, or mild, soft goat’s cheese)
- olive oil, for roasting
- sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Preheat the oven to 220°C fan/240°C/Gas 9.
Place the roast potatoes on a baking sheet and using a fork, squish each one to flatten it slightly and create some more edges for crisping up. Sprinkle with the cayenne pepper, drizzle with a little oil and season. Re-roast on the top shelf of the preheated oven for 15 minutes, until golden-brown and very crispy.
Meanwhile, boil the giant couscous according to the packet instructions, then drain well, rinse under cold water and set aside.
Peel the carrot into ribbons, separate the radicchio leaves and add them all to a large salad bowl. Once the couscous and potatoes are ready, add them to the bowl too. Finally, juice the tangerines over the salad, followed by the extra virgin olive oil and a good pinch of seasoning.
Toss all the ingredients together, then loosely tear the burrata over the top. Serve immediately.
Goes well with: I think this salad is the perfect accompaniment to a steak. Or have it with some tahini and yoghurt dressing, if you want a punchier sauce.
Leftovers: This salad is best consumed when fresh, but if you have leftovers, maybe just replace any very soggy radicchio leaves and top up with some fresh leaves. It’s lovely livened up and served as an open sandwich on some warm ciabatta or focaccia.
Fridge Raid: Flexible, Kitchen-Foraged Recipes For Low-Waste Meals by Megan Davies (£18.99, Ryland Peters & Small) is out now
Photography: Rita Platts