Photo by Susan Bell, for A Girl Called Jack.

Ham, Pea & Mint Casserole, 30p.

Photo by Susan Bell, for A Girl Called Jack.

Photo by Susan Bell, for A Girl Called Jack.

This delicious ham casserole is adapted from a favourite old recipe of mine – where I would boil the ham joint whole to make a stock, before shredding it into the casserole. This faster version is no compromise, making a delicious hearty dinner in less than half the time. For an extra special twist, serve with crusty bread topped with melted cheese and green vegetables.
Serves 4-6 depending on age and appetites, at 30p each
500g cooking bacon, 85p (or ham joint or streaky bacon)
2 small onions or 1 whopping one (about 250g all in), 15p 1 tablespoon cooking oil, 2p 400ml chicken stock, 3p 100ml apple juice, 7p (or white wine if you prefer)
a handful of fresh parsley, 4p a handful of fresh mint, 4p 350g tinned potatoes (drained weight), 20p or other small white potatoes
160g tinned carrots (drained weight), 20p or 2 small fresh ones
150g frozen peas, 18p
Dice the ham or bacon and peel and chop the onions. Put into a frying pan with the oil and fry on a medium heat, turning to seal the meat on all sides. Leave to cook through for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, pour the stock and wine into a saucepan and put on to a simmer. Finely chop the parsley and mint, including the stalks, and add to the pan. Wash and dice the potatoes and carrots, leaving the skins on, (or drain if using tinned ones) and put into the saucepan. Cook until the vegetables are tender – around 15 minutes for small pieces of fresh veg or barely 5 minutes for tinned.
Once they’re done, remove about half the potatoes from the saucepan and place in a blender. Add just enough of the stock to cover, and blend until smooth. Tip back into the pan and stir through.
When the ham or bacon is cooked, toss everything in the frying pan into the saucepan along with the frozen peas. Stir and cook through for a few final minutes until the peas are tender, then serve.

Basics cooking bacon £1.15/670g. Basics onions 90p/1.5kg. Sunflower oil £4/3l. Basics chicken stock cubes 25p/10. Basics apple juice 70p/1l. Fresh parsley 80p/28g. Fresh mint 80p/28g. Basics tinned potatoes 20p/345g drained weight. Basics tinned carrots 20p/160g drained weight. Basics frozen peas £1.40/1.2kg.

Jack Monroe. You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram at @MsJackMonroe and find me on Facebook at

This recipe first appeared in my first cookbook, A Girl Called Jack, which is available to buy from many places but my favourite is Hive Stores, supporting your local independent book shops and delivering to your home. Check it out here:

This week’s Guardian recipe: Black pudding hangover hash…

There’s a thing that happens when your better half runs a pork restaurant – you start to incorporate all things piggy into all meals of the day in the same way that you used to use onions, or garlic, with gay abandon and without question. It starts with lardo on toast, bacon sandwiches for lunch, porchetta for dinner, bacon in ice cream (you’ll have to pop down to Blackfoot for it if you’re curious), and emergency sausages in the meat drawer for the kids, the pasta, the ribollita, the essential top-up of the ‘Vitamin P’. The meat drawer that might as well be called the pork drawer, because it sees nary a sniff of anything else. And then – once you have a reputation as a pig obsessive – people shower you with porcine presents: where they might have once bought flowers, or a card, you get a packet of sausages or a fennel rub instead. A particularly memorable piggy gift recently was from my German friend Lea, who left London a few weeks ago with a trail of Blutwurst in her wake. Soft, dense, meaty and delicious, Blutwurst is black pudding for black pudding obsessives – and so the morning after her boozy leaving lunch-into-dinner the night before, this happened. Hangover food at its finest, with no more foggy-headed incompetency required than to grate some stuff, blearily mash it together, and dollop it into a frying pan. Bliss. And oink.

Makes around 10 fritters.

400g carrots
200g potatoes
1 large onion of any colour
a fistful of parsley
1 large free range egg
4 tbsp flour
400g black pudding

Line a colander with kitchen paper or a clean non-fluffy tea towel, and grate in the potatoes and carrots – potatoes first, as they tend to be wetter, so the weight of the carrots will bear down on them and squish the excess water out.

Finely dice your onion and tip into a large mixing bowl with the carrots and potatoes. Roughly chop the parsley and toss it in. Stir in the flour and egg, and the black pudding, then cover and chill for at least half an hour – this helps the mixture bind together and stops it all falling into a mush in the pan.

When it’s chilled and firmed up a bit, heat a little oil in a frying pan, dollop a few tablespoons of the mixture in, flatten it slightly and fry on a medium-high heat for a few minutes on each side. I served mine with a couple of soft-boiled eggs and some lightly fried bread…

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe Facebook:

First published in The Guardian, October 2014.




This is my take on Greek dolmades. I first had stuffed vine leaves at my grandad’s guesthouse in Southend, and deeply regret not pilfering his recipe before he passed away. I wrap mine in cabbage leaves, which will no doubt have him swearing at me from beyond the grave, but these go down well in my house.

(Makes 20) at 30p each
1 large savoy cabbage, 80p
100g rice, 4p
1 tbsp oil, 3p
1 onion, very finely chopped, 9p
2 cloves garlic, very finely chopped, 6p
400g minced meat (pork or lamb is best but turkey is good too), £4.50
1 tbsp parsley, chopped, 8p
1 tbsp mint, chopped, 8p
Pinch of cinnamon, 1p
140g tomato puree, 34p

Remove the leaves from the stalk of the cabbage and simmer them in a saucepan of boiling water for a few minutes.

When they’ve softened, remove with a slotted spoon and leave to dry on a clean tea towel or kitchen roll.

Bring the water back to the boil, add the rice and cook for 15 minutes, or until soft and fluffy.

In a separate pan, heat the oil on medium and add the onion, garlic and mince, until the onion has softened and mince has browned. Mix in the rice, parsley, mint, cinnamon and tomato puree and cook for another minute or two.

To make the stuffed leaves, place two teaspoons of the rice and mince mixture into the centre of a leaf, fold in the sides and roll up tightly. Eat them hot with yoghurt, mint and cucumber dip, or cold with a squeeze of lemon.

Jack’s tip
For a more substantial main dish, put the stuffed leaves seam-side down into a roasting tin or casserole dish, pour over a tin of chopped tomatoes or 400ml chicken stock with a few tablespoons of tomato puree stirred in, and bake in the oven at 180C/350F/gas mark four for half an hour.

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe

First published in The Guardian, Weds 26th Feb. Photography by Graeme Robertson for The Guardian.



Faced with a leftover hunk of beef last night to stretch between two grown women with fairly healthy appetites, I started making bolognese, changed my mind and wanted bourgignon, and changed it back again halfway through. This is my first dinner cooked for Someone Very Special (who doesn’t like white chocolate, so Headrush Spaghetti was out, and who cooked for me the evening before, hence the leftover beef!)
Cue one mild flap about what to do and subsequent messing about with it at every stage. The result, however, is a chunky, obscenely rich, heady, bloody delicious big butch dinner that I’ve christened Bolognon, in honour of its roots. And god, it’s good. And she thought so too…😉


Ingredients (served two adults, with a big bowl of leftovers):

2 onions (told you, I’m stretching this one out)
2 fat cloves of garlic, or three or four inferior ones
1 carrot
2 tbsp oil or a knob of butter
250g beef
150g bacon – smoked and streaky is good!
100ml milk
400g chopped tomatoes
200ml red wine,
4 tbsp tomato purée dissolved in 400ml chicken, beef or vegetable stock
2 tsp chopped woody herbs – I used a mix of thyme and rosemary
Huge handful of chopped parsley
2 tbsp double cream (or 1 rounded tbsp natural yoghurt with 2 tsp sugar)

Finely slice the onions and chop the garlic, and grate the carrot, and toss into a large sauté pan or heavy bottomed casserole dish with the oil or butter. Sauté on a low heat for a few minutes to soften.

Meanwhile, finely slice the beef and chop the bacon, and add to the pan. Turn up the heat to seal the meat, stirring to ensure it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.

Pour in the milk and stir well – it will turn brown from the meat juices and softened onions – don’t panic! Pour over the tomatoes, purée, wine and stock, toss in the chopped herbs, and stir well. Crank the heat right up to bring to the boil.

Transfer either to a slow cooker on a low heat, a lidded casserole dish in the oven at 140C, or cover the sauté pan with foil/a plate/a lid on a very low heat. Cook for one hour for ‘soft enough’ beef – as I’m going all out to impress, I cooked mine for four, for meltingly soft beef and thick, rich sauce. (For a cheaper version, bring it to a furious boil, cover tightly, and remove from the heat. Leave to stand for an hour, bring to the boil again, and repeat. The covering will retain heat and continue to cook it, without needing a constant supply of gas or electricity.)

Stir through the cream or yoghurt-and-sugar before serving, and serve atop a heap of spaghetti for an attempt at an elegant dining experience, or with a chunky fat pasta to complement the big tender beef and thick, rich sauce…

Cheese optional. As we’re going for full on punchy knock-your-socks-off delicious here, I tossed chunks of it on by the handful, and a good grind of pepper to finish up.

Jack. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe



It’s just a matter of days until my book launch on the 27th, so I’ve decided to blog one of my favourites from the book, featured in last weekend’s edition of the Observer Food Monthly magazine…

First up, Chocolate, Chilli And Black Bean Soup.

Photography by Susan Bell.

I knocked up this soup last winter. It combines onions and garlic for detoxifying goodness with chillies to fire you up, tomatoes and carrots for essential vitamin C, beans for protein and chocolate because it’s a solution to almost everything.

(Serves 2)
100g dried black beans
1 onion
1 clove of garlic
small red chilli 1 or a pinch of chilli flakes
A shake of paprika
A generous shake of ground cumin
A splash of oil
1 carrot
30ml red wine
400g chopped tomatoes
1 vegetable stock cube
dark chocolate (3 squares, approx 20g)
fresh parsley to garnish

Put your beans in to soak the night before, or early in the morning if you’re going to be cooking that evening. Place them in a bowl, cover with fresh cold water and then some, and cover the bowl with clingfilm. Leave for a minimum of 8 hours to soak.

When soaked, drain and thoroughly rinse your beans. Put them into a saucepan with fresh water and bring to the boil for approximately 10 minutes, then turn down to a simmer.

Meanwhile, peel and slice the onion and garlic, and chop the chilli (reserving a couple of slices for a garnish), then put them all into a saucepan along with the paprika and cumin. Add the oil and cook over a low heat until the onions and garlic soften.

Wash and chop the carrot, and add to the saucepan. Pour the red wine and tomatoes in, and stir through. Crumble in the stock cube, then add the dark chocolate and 400ml boiling water. Drain the beans and tip into the pan. Stir and leave to simmer for 20 minutes, or until the carrot is tender.

If you like, pulse the soup in a blender until smooth. Serve hot, garnished with a sprig of fresh parsley and a slice of red chilli in each bowl.

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe

A Girl Called Jack is available to order from The Hive, a website that finds your local independent book store. Also available on The Hive as an e-book!



So, I have a MASS of parsnips left over from cooking for The One Show last week (or the week before), and they’re starting to go a bit wrinkly in the way that vegetables do when you buy them in bulk for cheapness and end up despairing at what on earth to do with all of them… So, I picked up my copy of Sarah Raven’s Garden Cookbook, one of my bibles for inspiration for miscellaneous fridge remnants. Under ‘P’ for those pesky Parsnips was a smoked haddock and parsnip fish cake… Quick root around the fridge yielded half a packet of kippers (dated the 20th of December, quick sniff, seem fine)… But sorry Sarah – I didn’t really want fish cakes. I wanted to shove everything in a pot and not have to think too hard about it. So, risotto. This risotto. This heavenly, lightly spiced, smoky sweet risotto, inspired by a fish cake. Bliss.

Serves 2:

1 onion
1 tbsp oil
150g long grain rice
1 vegetable stock cube
2 large parsnips,
100g kipper fillets (or more if you have them),
100g green beans
1tsp of cumin
1/2tsp turmeric (not absolutely essential)
1tbsp of lemon juice
Parsley or coriander to serve

I wanted my parsnips almost roasted, so cut them into fine chips and threw them in the pan with the oil on a high heat to cook for 10 minutes.

When the edges of the parsnips are golden, reduce the heat to medium. Dice the onion and add to the pan and stir to soften for 5 minutes.

Add the rice and toast for half a minute, then pour over most of the stock. I’m feeling lazy, i’m not going with the pour-a-bit-stir-a-bit method tonight. All in. Slosh. Stir.

Add the kipper fillets, turmeric and cumin and stir in. Stir occasionally to disturb the rice and stop it from sticking.

When the rice is al dente and the liquid thick and soupy, add the green beans. Stir through to cook, and flake the kipper fillet with your wooden spoon.

Serve with a shake of lemon and a handful of parsley or coriander.


Jack. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe

Banana, chickpea and tea curry (trust me on this one, it’s amazing.)


This is my take on a banana curry I had in the Isle of Wight after the literary festival. It’s not a traditional Kashmir curry, as I used what I had in the cupboard, but it is utterly delicious. The tea is the twist, but trust me, it works, lending a slightly smoky, sweet flavour. I love tea, I must use it in more recipes…

(I’ll cost this up tomorrow – I’m knackered!)

Ingredients (serves 4, if served with rice):

1 tbsp oil
1 onion, finely sliced
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 red or green chilli, finely chopped, or generous pinch of dried
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cinnamon
400g canned chickpeas
200g canned mandarins (peaches or apricots would work too)
300ml strong tea
2 bananas
200ml natural yoghurt
Handful of coriander, or mint, or parsley, chopped

First, add the onion, chilli and garlic to a sauté pan or frying pan. Drizzle the oil over, add the cinnamon and cumin, and sauté gently on a medium heat to soften the onions for 5-7 minutes.

Meanwhile, boil the kettle and brew the cuppa! (And make one for yourself while you’re there!)

When the onions are softened, drain and thoroughly rinse the chickpeas, and tip into the pan. Slice the bananas and add to the pan. Pour the mandarins over, add the tea (without the teabag) and most of the herbs, and turn the heat up high. Boil vigorously for a few minutes, then reduce to a medium simmer. Simmer for around 20 minutes, until the chickpeas have slightly thickened the sauce. ***To save energy, you can turn the heat off completely here, cover the dish with foil or a lid, and leave it to cool. The retained heat will continue to cook it gently, amalgamating the flavours beautifully.***

Stir the natural yoghurt through before serving, and top with the remaining herbs.

I had mine with rice and a basic pitta bread, with extra natural yoghurt on top.

And I loved the dimension the tea gave this so much, I’m going to try it in other curries in place of the stock. At 27p for 80 Teabags, versus 20p for 10 stock cubes, it’s a saving!

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe. Facebook:

Slow cooker barley risotto with feta, spinach and lemon, 34p.


Day three of the slow cooker experiment (£8 from Wilkinsons!) and I decide to try a risotto in it. Only I’m not using rice and this doesn’t have the characteristic standing-and-stirring of a risotto, so I’m not really sure what to call it, apart from bloody yummy – as I’m tucking in as I type this! I haven’t overloaded this with too many flavours, as the chewy nuttiness of pearl barley speaks for itself, but if you have the inclination, this would be delicious as a side dish with juicy cooked chicken, or padded out as a cold salad with sliced black olives and tomatoes – a sort of tabbouleh, if you will.

Ingredients (serves 2) – in a 1.5l stock pot.

160g pearl barley
100g frozen spinach
I cup of chicken stock
3 cups of water
50g Greek style cheese (feta or equivalent)
1 tbsp Lemon juice
Few sprigs of Parsley

Pour the water, lemon juice and stock into the slow cooker and add the pearl barley. Cook on High for an hour, then reduce to Low.

Cook for a further 2 hours on a low heat – check after 2 hours, mine was swollen and sticky, just how I like it. Defrost the spinach and add it to the dish, stirring through.

To serve, crumble over the cheese, garnish with chopped parsley and a splash of lemon juice.

Delicious hot or cold. Would also benefit from a drizzle of oil when served – like the Spanish do with Paella – but it only occurred to me as I was eating it!


Those of you without a slow cooker can make this in a saucepan by bringing a saucepan of the water and stock to the boil, and adding the pearl barley. Boil vigorously for 10 minutes then reduce to a simmer for a further 20, adding the frozen spinach to the pan. You may need to add more water, as the slow cooker retains moisture where a saucepan does not so well. When the pearl barley is swollen and tender, drain any excess water and serve with crumbled cheese, chopped parsley and a splash of lemon juice – and oil, if you wish.

Ingredient cost breakdown, the orange supermarket, correct at time of going to blog:
500g pearl barley 55p (160g/18p)
10 chicken stock cubes 20p (1 stock cube/2p)
1kg frozen spinach £1.49 (100g/15p)
200g Greek style cheese 80p (50g/20p)
250ml lemon juice 60p (1tbsp/4p)
27g parsley -approx 20 sprigs – 80p (2 sprigs/8p)

Tip – Chop the remaining parsley and leave it on a side plate or in a mug to dry out for a few days, or hang it from something (I use an elastic band and a bit of string to hang it from a cupboard handle – high up, not near the floor for vague hygiene reasons) or chop it and press it into ice cube trays with a little water for instant portions of ‘fresh’ chopped parsley.

Mine was cheaper than stated as I used home made chicken stock (another slow cooker triumph – to be blogged soon!) and home grown parsley from my window ledge, but I appreciate not everyone has those lying about, so I’ve costed them in for arguments sake.

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe.

Roasted beetroot, red wine and Brie risotto,

As featured on Great British Chefs: Jack Monroe’s budget friendly Beetroot, Brie and Red Wine Risotto.


In some supermarkets, ready cooked and prepared beetroot is cheaper than buying it in bunches, not to mention quicker to cook! I’ve used the pre-packed variety in my recipe, but feel free to use fresh beetroot if you prefer, but it will need at least an extra 10 minutes in the oven. This recipe uses some of my staple ingredients that I always have to hand: chicken stock, garlic, and long grain rice – yes, long grain rice in risotto. It’s how my mother makes it!

Ingredients (serves four):

2 cloves of garlic
2 tbsp oil
300g rice
500ml chicken stock
250g beetroot
3 tbsp red wine
2 tsp mixed herbs
50g Brie

First, preheat your oven to 200C, and pop the kettle on to boil.

Next, prepare the beetroot. If you are using fresh beetroot, peel it, rinse it, and dice into 1cm chunks. If you are using pre-packed cooked beetroot, simply rinse it and dice it. Place it in a roasting dish, toss in 1tbsp oil and the mixed herbs, and roast for 15-20 minutes, or until the edges start to slightly char.

While the beetroot is roasting, prepare the risotto. Finely chop the garlic, and add to a large frying or sauté pan with the other tablespoon of oil. Sauté on a very low heat, until the garlic starts to soften.

Tip in the rice and stir to lightly coat in oil. Turn the heat up to medium and cook for 4-5 minutes, until the ends of the rice are translucent. Add the wine and stir well.

While the wine is absorbing, make up the stock. Crumble the stock cube into 500ml of boiling water, and stir well to dissolve. Add a generous splash of stock to the pan, and stir well to disturb the rice and prevent it from sticking. When the stock is absorbed, add another splash. Continue until there is around a quarter of the stock left.

Remove the beetroot from the oven and mash well with a fork or masher. Tip the mashed beetroot and any oil, juices and herbs from the pan into the risotto and stir well.

Continue to add the stock until the rice is al dente and the risotto is slightly soupy. Crumble the Brie on top and fold in before serving to melt slightly.

Serve with green salad as a light lunch, or crusty bread and green vegetables for a hearty warming dinner.

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe

Ingredient costs: all Sainsburys, correct at date of publication. 2 cloves of garlic, 5p (50p/2 bulbs, avg 10 cloves each). 2 tbsp oil, 5p (£4.50/3l). 300g rice, 12p (40p/1kg). 1 chicken stock cube, 2p (20p/10). 250g cooked beetroot, 80p (80p/250g). 2 tsp mixed Italian herbs, 6p (30p/42g). 45ml red wine, 21p (£3.50/75cl). 50g French mild Brie, 27p (£1.09/200g). Total: £1.58/4 servings.

Easy peasy garlic bread.

I’m so addicted to airy fairy easy peasy soda bread, I thought I would see how it translates into a quick and easy garlic bread to accompany the mountain of pasta-and-tomatoes I eat….. I’m pleased to say it works beautifully, with a quick spread of butter. Wrap well after cooling though, as it will stale quickly – but if it does, never fear, I’ll put a recipe up for that!


Ingredients, Serves 4

200g self raising flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
200ml semi skimmed milk
Juice of half a lemon
2 garlic cloves
Handful of parsley


Squeeze the juice of half a lemon, or 2 teaspoons bottled lemon juice, into the milk. Crush or finely chop the garlic and add to the milk and lemon. Stand to one side to allow it to sour for approximately five minutes.

Meanwhile, weigh the flour and add the bicarbonate of soda, chop the parsley and toss in, and mix through.

Make a well in the centre of the flour mix, and pour most of the milk-and-lemon in. Mix well with a wooden spoon to form a sticky dough. Use your judgement, if it looks dry, add the remaining liquid – but it *should* be more like a thick batter than a dough. This is normal!

The trick to amazingly light soda bread is not to fiddle with it too much.

Pour it into a loaf tin, score it across the top in three places, and place in a 180C oven for 40 minutes. It should sound hollow on the bottom when tapped, and feel ridiculously light.

Break into chunks and serve warm with butter, or allow to cool completely and wrap in clingfilm to keep fresh.

Jack Monroe. Follow me on Twitter @MsJackMonroe. Find me on Facebook at

A Girl Called Jack is available to order at Waterstones: or on Amazon:

Spiced chicken and mandarin tagine, 68p.


This spiced chicken and mandarin tagine will serve us for two nights in a row – the chicken legs were a rare treat in this week’s shopping but I’ll get two nights dinner from them, plus a stock base for a soup or risotto on Wednesday. I still rifled through the bottom shelf to find the cheapest pack, and thought I had it at £1.92, but then found one for £1.88 instead! (I’ll do something with the half a can of mandarins tomorrow too…)

Ingredients (Serves four):

4 chicken legs, £1.88 (Sainsburys Basics)
1 large onion, 11p (loose, Sainsburys)
2 fat cloves of garlic, 5p (£1.90/10 bulbs avg 8 cloves each, Sainsburys)
400g chopped tomatoes, 35p (Happy Shopper)
1/2 can broken mandarin segments, 12p (23p/312g, Sainsburys Basics)
15ml white wine vinegar, 3p (£1.15/500ml, Sainsburys)
15ml lemon juice, 4p (60p/250ml, Sainsburys)
1 vegetable or chicken stock cube, 2p (20p for 10, Sainsburys Basics)
1 tsp cumin, 5p approx (£1/jar, Sainsburys)
1 tsp turmeric, 5p approx (£1/jar, Sainburys)
1 tsp paprika, 5p approx (£1/jar, Sainsburys)
1 small red chilli – herb garden
Handful of fresh parsley – herb garden
Handful of fresh mint – herb garden

First, place the chicken legs skin side down in a large non stick pan (I used my ‘everything’ sauté pan that I’ve had for an age and literally do most of my dinners in…)

Bring the pan to a very gentle heat to seep some of the fat from the chicken, or add a splash of oil to speed things up.

Brown the chicken on both sides on a medium heat.

Peel and slice the onion and garlic, and finely slice the chilli, and toss into the pan with a teaspoon each of paprika, turmeric and cumin. Crumble in the stock cube.

Add the wet ingredients: chopped tomatoes, mandarins and juice, the white wine vinegar and lemon juice, and stir well to combine.

Throw in the herbs, and bring the pan to the boil, then reduce to a medium simmer for around 20 minutes to cook the chicken through. Top up with half a cup of water if it starts to dry out.

Meanwhile, boil some plain rice to accompany.

When the chicken is cooked through, remove the pan from the heat and serve with the rice.

To make it much cheaper, replace the chicken with chick peas and start from the ‘onion and garlic’ stage…

Jack Monroe. Follow me on Twitter @MsJackMonroe. Find me on Facebook at

A Girl Called Jack is available to order here:

Baked trout in best tomato sauce, with lemon and herb rice. 33p.


People often ask me why I don’t buy items from the Reduced chiller at the supermarket: well I do, I just don’t tend to blog about them, on the basis that they aren’t dependable, and price reductions vary from supermarket chain to supermarket chain, and even store to store. However, on finding a packet of trout in my local supermarket for 70 pence this evening, it was too good not to share.

You can substitute the trout in this recipe for white fish fillets: Sainsburys do a frozen bag of white fish for £1.75, for 520g, which would make the fish in this recipe 81p for a 240g portion, so only 2-3p more expensive per head than my bargain trout.

Ingredients: (Served 4 at 33p each)

240g trout, (normal price £2.41, reduced 70p) or 240g white fish fillets (£1.75/520g)

1 tablespoon sunflower oil, 3p (£4.50/3l)

400g chopped tomatoes, 31p (31p/400g)

1 onion, 11p (each)

1 chilli, free

200g white rice, 8p (40p/1kg)

Fistful of parsley and basil, free

Juice and zest of half a lemon, 8p (84p, bag of 5 fruits)


Firstly, prepare the tomato sauce. Peel and dice the onion and add to a saucepan with the chopped tomatoes. Place on a low heat and allow to simmer.

Pop the herbs into a tea cup (my preferred method of chopping them!) and chop into them with kitchen scissors until they are finely chopped. Grate the lemon zest in, half the lemon and squeeze the juice from one half in. Tip most of the herbs and lemon mixture into the tomatoes and onions, and reserve some for the rice.

While the onions are gently softening in the tomatoes, and the herbs infusing the sauce with their own special wonderfulness, now would be a good time to pop the rice on to boil. Bring a saucepan of cold water to the boil, add the rice, and reduce to a simmer.

Set the oven to 150C, pop the trout on a baking tray skin side down with a smudge of oil to prevent it from sticking, and bake for 10-12 minutes until opaque and pinkish. By this time, all being well, the rice should be nice and fluffy…

Drain any excess water from the rice, and tip in the remaining lemon and herb mixture. Spoon onto plates or into bowls. Break up the trout into large chunks with a fork, (tip any excess juice or oil into the tomato sauce and give it a quick stir). Serve the trout next to or on top of the rice, and top generously with the tomato sauce. Garnish with extra herbs if available, and enjoy the melty goodness…

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe

Roasted courgette and feta potato salad

Like many of my recipes, this was a toss-together of some ’fridge stuff’ – some rogue Greek cheese and a courgette that was kicking about. harking back to my Cypriot roots for what was initially going to be a tzatziki, this ended up as something else entirely. The sauce or dip, or whatever it should be called, is immensely versatile, but my favourite thing to do with it is toss it with pre-boiled tinned potatoes as in the recipe here. These quantities are easily halved for smaller households, or doubled for parties and potato fiends.

Serves 4 as a snack or 2 as a main meal

1 courgette
a fistful of fresh mint
a fistful of fresh parsley
1 fat clove of garlic or 1⁄2 an onion
1 tablespoon oil
zest and juice of 1 lemon or 2 tablespoons bottled lemon juice
50g Greek cheese (feta-style or goat’s cheese)
120ml natural yoghurt
500g tinned potatoes (drained weight)

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4. Chop the stalk and the bottom from the courgette. Dice and tip into a shallow roasting dish.

Pop the mint and parsley into a tea cup and chop finely with kitchen scissors. Peel the garlic or onion. Pour the oil over the herbs, add the grated lemon zest, squeeze the lemon juice in and press the garlic in. If you don’t have any garlic, then very finely chop the onion and add it to the dressing. Stir well and pour over the courgette pieces, shaking to coat them in the dressing. Pop into the preheated oven for 20 to 30 minutes to roast.

When the courgette is cooked, tip into a bowl, pouring in all of the juices from the roasting dish. Crumble over the cheese and mash roughly with a fork. Add the yoghurt and mix well.

Drain the potatoes and toss through the sauce until coated, then serve.

Tips: If you are short of time or don’t want to use the energy heating the oven, simply grate the courgette and mix with the rest of the dressing ingredients. The flavour will be less intense but still utterly delicious. This dish is very similar to the Creamy Greek Cheese and Courgette Pasta, so why not roast your courgettes at the same time and make both.

‘Roasted Courgette And Feta Potato Salad’ from A Girl Called Jack by Jack Monroe.

Twitter: @MsJackMonroe Facebook:

Brie and bacon risotto, 26p


While testing recipes for my book this week, it was inevitable that I would start to put leftover ingredients together to come up with accidental dishes. This speedy and satisfying late lunch was born of some scraps of cooking bacon left over from Spring Piggy, and some sad looking Brie from the Courgette and Brie gratin.

I have been criticised in the past by online commenters for using ‘posh cheese’ on a limited budget, but at £1.09 for 200g, a rich flavour, and creamy versatility, I find a hunk of Brie far more satisfying for my stomach and my wallet than plain old cheddar any day. Besides – I can’t get £1.09 of cheddar from my local supermarket anyway…

(Serves 2 at 26p/portion. Prices Sainsburys Basics, July 2013)

100g cooking bacon, 16p (£1.09/670g)
1/2 an onion, red or white, 6p (11p each approx)
40g Brie, 22p (£1.09/200g)
140g rice, 6p (40p/1kg)
1 chicken stock cube, 2p (15p for 10)
500ml boiling water
Fistful of parsley , free (grows in the garden)

Optional: cranberry sauce to serve


Chop the cooking bacon into small pieces – 1cm approx. Place into a colander and rinse under cold water for five minutes to remove some of the salty taste.

Put into a shallow frying or sauté pan. Peel and finely chop the onion, and add to the pan with the bacon. Bring to a low heat. No additional fat is required: the fat will ‘leak’ from the bacon as it heats slowly, so make the most of it!

Soften the onions in the bacon fat. When they are almost translucent, add the rice and stir in well to toast the edges.

Make up 500ml of chicken stock. When the ends of the grains of rice have started to turn clear, add half of the stock and stir in. Keep adding the stock gradually as it is absorbed by the rice. (You may find that you do not need all of it – a good risotto should have a soupy texture, but be slightly al dente).

Just before serving, chop the Brie and stir through until it is mostly melted, and scatter chopped parsley through to lift the flavour.

Enjoy! If you have any apple or cranberry sauce kicking around in the cupboard, a teaspoon on top would be divine.

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe

Feisty Soup

I make this for myself whenever I feel as though I am coming down with a cold. you know – when you’ve got that shaky, exhausted feeling and general self-pity. Instead of spending a fortune on various over-the-counter paracetamol and lemon drinks, I drag myself into the kitchen and cook myself a cure. This is called feisty soup for a reason: it’s a bit like hot and sour Chinese soup in a way, and if this doesn’t help shift whatever is wrong with you, I’m not sure what will. I’ve combined lots of natural goodies that have antioxidant and other nutritional qualities – garlic for goodness, chillies to fire up your system, tomatoes for vitamin C and lemon and ginger to cleanse and revitalize.

Serves 2

1 onion
1 fat clove of garlic
a thick slice of ginger
1 red chilli
a splash of oil
1 x 400g carton or tin of chopped tomatoes
1 vegetable stock cube, dissolved in 200ml boiling water
juice of 1⁄2 a lemon or 2 teaspoons bottled lemon juice
a handful of parsley

Peel and chop the onion, garlic and ginger, chop the chilli, and put them all into a medium-sized saucepan with the oil. Cook on a low heat until the onion is softened. Tip in the chopped tomatoes, pour in the stock and add the lemon juice.
Chop the parsley and add to the saucepan as well.

Simmer away for about 20 minutes, until the onion and ginger have softened.

Blitz in a blender to achieve your desired consistency, I leave mine a bit chunky but it can be blended smooth.

Eat, and feel better soon!

Tips: If making this soup for little mouths, do not chop the chilli or use the seeds inside. Instead, halve the chilli down the middle and rinse it under a cold tap to remove the seeds, then add to the soup whole during cooking. Remove before blending.

Any remaining soup will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for 2 days, or in the freezer for 3 months.

The soup can be left whole and chunky as a fiery sauce to form part of a more substantial meal. Omit the stock, stir through a few handfuls of cooked prawns and some green beans, and serve with spaghetti or noodles.

‘Feisty Soup’ recipe from A Girl Called Jack by Jack Monroe.

Twitter: @MsJackMonroe Facebook:

Photography by Susan Bell.

Gigantes Plaki

Gigantes Plaki literally means ‘Really Big Beans’! I’m heading back to my Mediterranean roots with this simple but delicious dish. I can have it for dinner, then lunch the next day and pulse any leftovers into a soup. It makes me chuckle to see these spicy butterbeans retailing for almost £5 per pot in certain supermarkets, when they’re really just bigger, better baked beans. you can either soak dried beans overnight in cold water – which means they will need to be drained, rinsed and boiled vigorously for 10 minutes separately to the sauce in order to get rid of any toxins – or use a tin of ready-prepared butter beans, which is more expensive but more convenient. If cooking with dried butter beans, use only 150g. I like to serve this dish with rice and green beans as a vegetarian meal, or it is great with baked chicken or fish.

Serves 2

1 onion
1 fat clove of garlic
a splash of oil
a pinch of ground cinnamon
1 x 400g carton or tin of chopped tomatoes
a splash of lemon juice
1⁄2 a bunch of fresh basil, plus extra to garnish
1 x 400g tin of butter beans, drained and rinsed
1 vegetable stock cube
75g Greek cheese (such as feta), crumbled

Finely chop the onion and garlic and put into a large saucepan along with the oil and cinnamon. Cook on a low heat until the onion is softened, then add the chopped tomatoes and continue to simmer on a low heat for a few more minutes.

Chop all the basil stalks. Add the lemon juice, chopped basil stalks and half the basil leaves (leaving the other half aside for a garnish) and stir in, continuing to simmer.

Stir in the butter beans and crumble in the vegetable stock cube, with a little water if necessary. Stir well to dissolve.

Simmer all together on a low heat for approximately 20 minutes.
Ladle into bowls and serve garnished with the crumbled cheese and remaining basil leaves.

Tips: Gigantes Plaki can also be eaten cold as a mezze or snack, or mixed with leftover rice and stuffed into a pitta bread for next day’s lunch – it’s delicious cold and perfectly portable.

If you don’t have any basil, this is also very good made with parsley or mint…

You can make fab burgers from this mixture. Just strain off the tomato sauce, crush and add an extra clove of garlic and a pinch of dried chilli flakes, then gently mash the beans and shape into burgers with floured hands. Fry for a few minutes on each side.

Photography by Susan Bell.

Photography by Susan Bell.

Photography by Susan Bell.

Chickpea, Carrot & Coriander Falafels

This recipe uses tinned chickpeas, but can also use dried chickpeas if you have them available. Dried chickpeas work out cheaper but will need to be soaked in cold water for at least 8 hours before starting the recipe, and then need to be cooked (put in a pan, cover with water and boil vigorously for at least 10 minutes before draining and using). If you have dried chickpeas, use half the quantity of tinned, i.e. 200g. I like to serve the falafels accompanied by couscous made up with vegetable or chicken stock, lemon juice and coriander, and with green beans or another green vegetable.

Makes 12ish falafels (4–6 per person)

1 onion
1 carrot
a generous shake of ground cumin
1 tablespoon oil, plus 2 tablespoons to fry the falafel
1 x 400g tin of chickpeas, drained and rinsed thoroughly
a handful of chopped parsley
a handful of chopped coriander
1 tablespoon flour, plus extra to shape the falafel

Peel and finely chop the onion and wash and grate the carrot.

Put in a frying pan, add the cumin and fry together in the 1 tablespoon of oil over a low heat for a few minutes until softened.

Tip the cooked onion and carrot into a large mixing bowl along with the chickpeas, add the chopped parsley and coriander and stir in the flour. Mash it all together with a potato masher or fork until the chickpeas have broken down into a mush. The oil from the carrots and onion will help combine the chickpeas together, but you may need to add up to 2 tablespoons of water so the mixture can be shaped.

Flour your hands and mould the mixture into about 12 golf ball shapes. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in the sauté pan and fry the balls until golden brown and slightly crispy on the outside – this will take about 10 minutes.

Tip: Instead of making falafels, shape the mixture into 4 burger patties and fry on each side. These are delicious with mango chutney or ketchup.

Photography by Susan Bell.

Photography by Susan Bell.

‘Chickpea, Carrot And Coriander Falafels’ recipe from A Girl Called Jack by Jack Monroe.

Twitter: @MsJackMonroe Facebook:

Vegetable Masala Curry, 30p.


Proper Vegetable Masala Curry, 89p, serves 3-4 at less than 30p each.

This isn’t vegan. I tried but my pre-first-work-pay-packet budget just couldn’t stretch to £1.99 coconut milk versus 32p of natural yoghurt. I’ve failed my Lent experiment but I’m happy to hold my hands up and say ‘have a fabulous curry recipe’ while I feel a bit guilty about succumbing to yogurt. It was that or miss a couple of meals, and I’m sure nobody will hold it against me. Much.


1 onion, 5p (part of a 20pc veg pack, £1)
1 carrot, 5p (part of a 20pc veg pack, £1)
1 potato, 5p (part of a 20pc veg pack, £1)
1 garlic clove, 3p (46p for 2 bulbs, avg 8 cloves per bulb)
1 carton chopped tomatoes, 35p
1/2 pot natural yoghurt, 32p (65p/500g)
1 vegetable stock cube, 1p (10p for 10)
Fistful of parsley and coriander, free
Shake of garam masala, 3p approx (£1.19/42g)

How To:

1. Peel and chop the onion, and peel and finely slice the garlic, and place in a large sauté pan on a low heat with a splash of oil.

2. Chop the potato, carrot and onion (I dice mine into half inch cubes) and add to the pot, stirring. Halve the chilli and rinse the seeds out (quicker than faffing about with a knife) and add in, so it can be lifted out whole at the end to prevent little mouths getting a hot surprise. You can slice it extremely finely if you want, but life’s too short.

3. Chop the herbs and throw in, with a liberal sprinkle of garam masala.

4. Add 200ml vegetable stock, the carton of chopped tomatoes and 250g of natural yoghurt, stir through, and leave to simmer on a low heat.

5. The trick with curry – good curry – is to allow it to cook slowly and gently in order that the flavours infuse and meld together in an amalgamation of spicy goodness. I let mine simmer gently for about forty minutes, checking and adding stock or water if it starts to dry out.

Serve with plain boiled rice at around 3p per person for 75g Sainsburys Basics.

Make it posh and variations:

1. You can substitute the yoghurt for coconut milk if your budget allows for it, for a sweeter, creamier taste, or if you’re a vegan.

2. Add fennel seeds and crushed cardamom pods for sweetness – I normally would but I don’t have any to hand and this weeks budget wouldn’t allow for an extra ‘spice’ in the spice rack. I try to buy one a week to build the collection up.

3. When cooking the boiled rice, add a shake of turmeric, half a vegetable stock cube, a star anise, some scraped-out cardamom pods and a handful of sultanas for a seriously special accompaniment. Again, I’m surveying my spice rack sadly, and might put one of them on next weeks shopping list!

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe

*(Prices calculated at Sainsburys, using the Basics range where available. Costs checked on date of publication against ASDA SmartPrice, Tesco Value, Morrisons Value and Waitrose Essentials. Some variation between major supermarkets but most items widely available at similar price.)

Posh Mushroom, Spinach & Walnut Pasta, 34p

Mushroom, Spinach & Walnut Pasta, 67p for 2 at 34p each.

This came about as most of my recipes do, by a head in the fridge and a ‘hmm, what am I going to do with that?’ I’d bought the spinach in a fit of expense, as I start my new job and will be up earlier and to bed later, I wanted something to snack on straight from the fridge when I get home, and I can eat spinach by the handful. Some of it ended up in here, and as they say the rest is history. This doesn’t sound fancy, but it’s one of my favourites so far…



80g Spaghetti, 6p (39p/500g)
100g mushrooms, 24p (97p/400g)
1 onion, 5p (part of a 20pc vegetable pack, £1)
Garlic clove, 3p (46p for 2 bulbs avg 8 cloves each)
Splash of lemon juice, 2p (60p/250ml)
Handful spinach, 10p (£1.50/200g)
Splash of oil, 2p (£4.50/3l)
2 walnut halves, 15p (£2.84/100g – which in my packet was 36 halves)
Fresh thyme and parsley, free (window ledge)

How To:

1. Break the pasta in half and put into a saucepan of water. Bring to the boil.

2. Finely peel and chop the onion and garlic. Add to a separate saucepan or small sauté pan with the oil and lemon juice, and cook gently over a low heat until translucent. Break the mushrooms by hand and add to the pan with the chopped parsley and thyme.

3. Check the spaghetti – if it comes to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer.

4. Finely chop the herbs and spinach together – I put mine in a bowl and go at it all with scissors to save my poor worktop and also because it’s therapeutic at the end of a working day. I like my cooking physical and de-stressing, as well as cheap and simple and nutritious.

5. Drain the pasta and toss through the spinach, herbs, mushrooms, onion and garlic with any juices from the mushroom pan. Serve in two bowls and scatter the walnuts on top, and enjoy.


My non vegan friends would love this with either shavings of Parmesan on top, or crumbled goats cheese, or chunks of Brie, and on all three counts I would be highly jealous of my non vegan friends!

For the carnivores among you, add bacon for a seriously sensational dinner – can you tell I’m missing my meat a bit on this vegan-for-Lent stretch?

You can also experiment with different mushrooms, add a splash of white wine to the onions and garlic as they cook if you have any lying about, and serve this with chunks of home made garlic bread.

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe

*(Prices calculated at Sainsburys, using the Basics range where available. Costs checked on date of publication against ASDA SmartPrice, Tesco Value, Morrisons Value and Waitrose Essentials. Some variation between major supermarkets but most items widely available at similar price.)

Carrot And Coriander Soup

Carrot and coriander soup is a classic fresh soup that crops up everywhere – from inside cardboard cartons in the supermarket to on smart restaurant menus. here’s my simple recipe for making your own. I often substitute the fresh potato and carrot for their tinned sisters, for an even easier version.

Serves 2

1 onion
4 carrots
1 potato
1 vegetable stock cube
a fistful of fresh coriander, chopped
a fistful of fresh parsley, chopped

Peel and chop the onion and place into a medium-sized sauce- pan. Wash and chop the carrot and potato (without peeling), and add to the pan. Pour in cold water to cover (approximately 500ml), crumble in the stock cube and bring to the boil.

Add the parsley and coriander. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes until the carrots and potatoes are tender and yield easily when prodded with a fork.

Remove from the heat and blend in a food processor until smooth. Serve hot.

Tips: Add a scant 1⁄2 a teaspoon of ground cumin or turmeric for a spicy soup. use less water (only 300ml) to make a lovely carroty pasta sauce instead of a soup.

‘Carrot & Coriander Soup’ from A Girl Called Jack by Jack Monroe.

Twitter: @MsJackMonroe Facebook:

Earthy Mushroom Risotto, 27p

Earthy Mushroom Risotto, 54p for 2 portions at 27p each.

Risotto purists will be horrified at my use of bog standard rice while daring to still term this a risotto, but at 40p per kilo compared to £1.12 for 500g of arborio rice, I say I’d rather have six times as much of the stuff than be a snob about it. Plus I have a Small Boy in bed and a bag of Basics rice in the cupboard. So I’ll call this a risotto, and you guys can call me what you like.



100g mushrooms, 24p (97p/400g)
1 garlic clove, 3p (46p for 2 bulbs, avg 8 cloves each)
1 onion, 5p (part of a 20pc veg pack, £1)
30ml white wine, 14p (£3.48/750ml, Table Wine)
Oil, 2 tbsp, 4p (£4.15/3l)
Fistful each thyme and parsley, free(window ledge)
100g rice, 4p (40p/1kg)
400ml vegetable stock, 1p (10p for 10 cubes)

How To:

1. Peel and chop the onion and finely slice the garlic. Add to a sauté pan with oil over a low heat.

2. Add the rice and stir for a couple of minutes until the edges start to turn translucent.

3. Pour over the wine and a little stock, and stir in.

4. Chop the mushrooms into small pieces (I do mine a few millimetres thick, but half an inch wide, if that makes any sense!) Add to the pan and stir in.

5. Keep adding the stock a little at a time, stirring stirring stirring. People pretend that making risotto is hard, but as long as you keep it on a low heat, add stock when it starts to dry out, and stir it a lot, you’ll be fine!

6. Finely chop the herbs (I pop mine in a teacup and go at it with kitchen scissors) and add most of them to the pan. Keep some to one side to garnish.

7. When the rice is al dente (slightly crunchy but edible) or softer depending on personal preference, remove from the heat and spoon into bowls.

If you want a more substantial meal, serve with a big pile of green veg. Would also go really well with chunks of roasted root veg, eg sweet potato, parsnip, butternut squash.

Make It Posh variations:

If you aren’t a vegan, this would be delicious with a tablespoon of mascarpone stirred in before serving, or cream. Also could be lovely topped with Brie, if I wasn’t giving all that up.. Or goats cheese…

Feel free to make with arborio rice, add rosemary instead of thyme, grate some lemon rind in, use red onions or shallots instead of white onions – this is a base, play with it!

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe

*(Prices calculated at Sainsburys, using the Basics range where available. Costs checked on date of publication against ASDA SmartPrice, Tesco Value, Morrisons Value and Waitrose Essentials. Some variation between major supermarkets but most items widely available at similar price.)

Photography by Susan Bell.


Photography by Susan Bell.

Photography by Susan Bell.

There are many different recipes entitled Love Soup – I’ve seen some rich chicken soup recipes, some with heady garlic and some deep red tomato ones. By chance, the ingredients for this were what I had kicking around in the fridge last Valentines Day, so this warming carrot, ginger and onion soup is mine. Nothing says ‘I love you’ quite like sweet roasted vegetables, blended into a home-made soft silky soup. Not in my book, anyway.

Serves 2 – of course!

3 tablespoons oil
zest and juice of half a lemon, or 2 tablespoons bottled lemon juice
1 fat clove of garlic
1 small piece of fresh ginger (approximately 1cm) or 1 tsp ground ginger
a fistful of fresh coriander
a fistful of fresh parsley, plus extra to garnish
1 large onion
2 large carrots
1 potato
1 vegetable or chicken stock cube, dissolved in 500ml water

Preheat the oven to 180C.

First make the marinade for the vegetables. Measure the oil into a tea cup, jug or other small receptacle. Finely grate the lemon zest into the oil, peel and crush the garlic and grate the ginger, then add them too. Finely chop the herbs and add to the mixture. Squeeze the lemon juice in – as much of it as you can squish out – then stir together and set aside.

Peel the onion, chop into quarters and place in a roasting dish. Wash then chop the carrots into thick rounds and add to the roasting dish. Peel and dice the potato and add it too. Pour the marinade over the top and shake to coat the vegetables. Pop the roasting dish into the preheated oven for 40 minutes or so, shaking occasionally to loosen the vegetables an re-coat in the marinade.

When the carrots and potatoes are tender, remove the vegetables from the oven and tip into a blender. Dissolve the stock cube in 500ml boiling water and pour into the blender to cover the veg. Blend until smooth, and serve with a flourish of parsley and a smile.

Love soup recipe from A Girl Called Jack by Jack Monroe. Available to buy at The Hive, supporting your local independent book shops. Also available from major retailers and supermarkets.

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe. Facebook:

Red Lentil Bolognese

This meat-free Bolognese sauce is perfect over a bowl of pasta and topped with a handful of grated cheese. Allow 70 to 100g of dried pasta per person. I like to eat mine with some garlic bread as well, to mop up any leftover sauce.

Serves 2

1 onion
1 clove of garlic
1 carrot
1 tablespoon oil
a fistful of fresh thyme
a fistful of fresh parsley
1 vegetable stock cube
50ml red wine
1 x 400g carton or tin of c hopped tomatoes
100g dried brown or red lentils, rinsed
optional: 2 tablespoons tomato purée or tomato ketchup, to thicken the sauce
grated strong hard cheese, to serve

Peel and slice the onion, peel and crush the garlic, and put both into a large sauté or non-stick frying pan. Wash the carrot then grate into the pan and add the oil. Put on a low heat and fry gently, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking and burning.

Chop the herbs – I place mine in a tea cup and cut into them with kitchen scissors – then add to the carrot, onion and garlic in the pan.

When the onions are softened, crumble in the stock cube and add the wine, chopped tomatoes, tomato purée or ketchup, if using, and lentils. Stir in and simmer over a low heat for 20 minutes, or until the lentils are al dente (I like them to have a bit of a bite). You may need to add a small teacup of water if the sauce looks too dry, but use your judgement.

Once the lentils are done, it’s ready to serve. As with any Bolognese, this is delicious topped with a grating of strong hard cheese.

Tips: You can use up any spare Bolognese mixture as a topping for Penny Pizzas. This is also good cold or reheated, stuffed in a pitta or wrap with some grated cheese for next day’s lunch.

‘Lentil Bolognese’ recipe from A Girl Called Jack by Jack Monroe.

Twitter: @MsJackMonroe Facebook:

Spring Piggy, 33p

Spring Piggy, serves 4 for £1.34, or 34p each.

This is an adaptation of a Nigella Lawson recipe for spring chicken, which was adapted in turn from a traditional rabbit recipe. That’s the thing about food, we all fiddle with it and tweak and make it posher or make it cheaper and add our own twists as we see fit. I didn’t have any chicken, but I did still have a generous hunk of that £1.09/670g bacon going begging, and a slightly pathetic half a savoy cabbage, so here’s what I did…



300g bacon, 48p (£1.09/670g)
1 garlic clove, 3p (46p for 2 bulbs, avg 8 cloves each)
1 onion, 5p (part of a 20pc mixed vegetable pack, £1)
1 carrot, 5p (part of a 20pc mixed vegetable pack, £1)
100ml white wine, 46p (Table Wine, £3.48/750ml)
1 chicken stock cube, 1p (10p for 10)
2 tbsp natural yoghurt, 7p (65p/500ml)
1 tsp English mustard, 2p (46p per jar)
Fistful each of thyme and parsley, growing on my window ledge
1/8 savoy cabbage, 10p (80p each)
50g green beans, 7p (£1.40/kg, frozen)

How To:

1. Dice the bacon, and peel and chop the onion and finely slice the garlic. Add all to a large sauté pan with an optional splash of oil (I dry cook mine on a low heat, as enough fat usually comes out of the bacon, but you need to keep an eye on it and stir it frequently to disturb the onions and garlic and stop them from sticking).

2. Add the wine and chopped thyme and parsley, stir through and leave simmering on a low heat.

3. Chop the carrot (again, I don’t peel my veg, a quick but vociferous rinse usually does the trick, there’s so much goodness just under the skins of vegetables that it’s a shame to waste them). Add the chopped carrot to the pot.

4. Add 500ml of hot chicken stock, and stir in the mustard. Cover and leave to simmer on a low heat for 20 mins, checking and stirring as you see fit.

5. Finely chop the savoy cabbage, and five mins before serving, add to the pot with the green beans. Stir the yoghurt through to make the sauce slightly creamy, this is optional but delicious.

6. Serve with mash or rice or bread. Also delicious tossed through spaghetti – in fact this works with most carbs!

Make It Posh variations:

It’s hard to improve on this, but use any baby root veg you have to hand. Sweet potato, baby turnips, swede, black salsify and parsnips all work well along with or instead of the carrot.

Add extra yoghurt or if you’re feeling flush, creme fraiche or cream work beautifully too. (I use yoghurt as its one of my food shop staples, instead of buying an alternative)

Add diced chicken the same time as the bacon, or chicken thighs on the bone a la Nigella – remember to seal on both sides before adding the wine and stock!

Will keep in the fridge for a few days, or freezer for about three months. If freezing, add a little extra stock or water to the sauce to allow it to coat the bacon and veg – this helps it to freeze better.

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe

*(Prices calculated at Sainsburys, using the Basics range where available. Costs checked on date of publication against ASDA SmartPrice, Tesco Value, Morrisons Value and Waitrose Essentials. Some variation between major supermarkets but most items widely available at similar price.)


Garlic, Herb & Lemon Bread

If you want to be really traditional and a little bit messy, you can get stuck in and use your hands to mix together the ingredients and form the dough. you need a good swirling motion, but I’ve made a lot of bread and never quite got this right. It’s good for the homespun warm feeling, not so great for trying to get out the little remnants of dough from under your fingernails and in the creases of your knuckles afterwards!

Makes 1 small loaf

250g plain white flour, plus extra to knead the dough
a 7g sachet of fast-acting dried yeast
2 fat cloves of garlic
2 handfuls of fresh parsley
zest and juice of 1 lemon or 2 tablespoons bottled lemon juice
1 tablespoon vegetable oil, plus extra to grease the bowl and loaf tin

Put the flour and yeast into a large mixing bowl. Peel the garlic cloves and finely chop or crush. Finely chop the parsley into a small bowl or tea cup using kitchen scissors. grate the lemon zest. Add the garlic, parsley and lemon zest to the flour and yeast with a flourish and stir to mix.

Measure the lemon juice into a measuring cup and add the oil. Pour in lukewarm water to make up to 180ml. Make a well in the centre of the flour/yeast/herb mixture and add the liquid gradually, working the mixture in with a wooden or silicone spoon, or your hands.

Lightly flour your work surface and tip the dough on to it. knead and stretch the dough for about 10 minutes. Lightly oil the inside of the bowl, put the dough back into it, cover with a clean tea towel and leave to rise until doubled in size. This takes about half an hour, but varies depending on the temperature of the room.

When the dough is risen, knock the air out of it by tipping back on to a lightly floured work surface. Gently shape into a round and pop into a lightly oiled or silicone 1lb loaf tin (approximately 17 x 7 x 6cm). Cover with cling film or a clean plastic bag over the top like a tent and leave for 30 minutes to prove. A little before the end of the proving time, put on the oven to 220°C/425°F/gas 7 to preheat.

Score the top of the loaf with a sharp knife and pop it into the preheated oven for 30 minutes to bake.

The loaf should sound hollow on the bottom when tapped. Remove from the oven, tip out of the tin and allow to cool on a wire rack. Then slice the loaf and eat!

Tips: If doubling the quantities to make a 2lb loaf, the timing will be slightly different. After the first 15 minutes turn the oven down to 170°C/325°F/gas 3 and allow to cook for another 30 minutes.

Will keep for 3 days in an airtight container, or 1 month if frozen.

‘Garlic, Herb & Lemon Bread’ recipe from A Girl Called Jack by Jack Monroe.

Twitter: @MsJackMonroe Facebook:

Spiced Lentil Soup

This spiced lentil soup is comforting winter food – I keep tinned carrots, tomatoes and a bag of lentils on standby for those evenings when the Small Boy is already tucked up in bed and snoozing and there’s not much else in the fridge or kitchen cupboard. I’ve used red lentils here, but brown lentils or green ones are just as delicious. Take this recipe as a guide to start experimenting with.

Serves 4

1 onion
2 fat cloves of garlic
1 small red chilli or a pinch of the dried stuff
2 carrots or 300g tinned carrots (drained weight)
1 tablespoon oil (vegetable, sunflower or groundnut)
1 teaspoon ground cumin or cumin seeds
a handful of fresh coriander or parsley
1 x 400g carton or tin of chopped tomatoes
200g dried red lentils, rinsed

Peel and slice the onion, peel and finely chop the garlic, finely slice the chilli and wash and slice the carrots. Put the oil into a medium heavy-based saucepan, add the vegetables plus the chilli and cumin, and cook on a low heat, stirring to soften. Chop the coriander or parsley and add to the pan.

When the onions have started to soften, pour over the chopped tomatoes and add the lentils. Add 1 litre of water (that’s four cups of water for every cup of lentils). Stir and turn the heat up to bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 20 minutes or until the lentils have swollen.

Serve chunky or pulse in a blender until smooth.

Tips: Thicken leftover soup with extra cooked lentils to make a pasta sauce, or simply use less water in the first place. Toss with pasta and grate some cheese on top for added deliciousness.

For a richer-flavoured soup, add a glass of red or white wine and reduce the amount of water slightly.

‘Spiced Lentil Soup’ from A Girl Called Jack by Jack Monroe.

Twitter: @MsJackMonroe Facebook: