Michelle’s ‘fridge gravel’ supper with lamb

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This recipe comes from a lovely lady who I met volunteering at Stroud District Foodbank. Michelle is a writer who is in love with her slow-cooker – a lady after my own heart!

Michelle and I bonded over conversations about frugal food and storecupboard cooking, and I have rather fallen for her phrase ‘fridge gravel’ which describes the ‘stuff’ that accumulates at the bottom of your fridge (unless you are a super-organised meal planner!). Here is a ‘fridge gravel’ meal which Michelle cooked last week, and kindly wrote up for me to share with you.

Ingredients
This dish comprised mainly from what was found lurking in the bottom of my fridge, the end of a bag of frozen vegetables, and some cheap diced fresh lamb that was marked down at the supermarket (300g for around £1.50 I think).

The vegetable mix consisted of:
1 small courgette, sliced
1 yellow pepper (that was crushed and discounted), sliced
1 red onion, peeled and quartered
1/2 red pepper, sliced (from the freezer)
About 4 cherry tomatoes, whole (leftovers from a larger tub)

Method
Throw all the prepared veg into a mixing bowl and pour over a generous glug of Olive oil. Sprinkle over some salt and ground black pepper and about a teaspoon of any dried herbs of your choosing that you may have hanging around in your kitchen cupboard.

For this dish I used dried Basil and Oregano, but I often change this according to whatever meat I am including with the dish. For example I have made similar mixes before using diced chicken pieces with Chinese five spice and a shake of soy sauce, or dried mixed herbs and parsley when using diced beef.

In a separate bowl mix the diced lamb with a little Olive oil, salt and ground black pepper, and again whatever herbs you fancy. I added a bit of dried tarragon to the meat to give it a slightly different flavour than the more Mediterranean style herbs used for the veg.

Line a baking tray with tin foil and spread out the vegetables evenly in one layer. Put the pieces of lamb on top of the veg – making sure to spread the meat out evenly and not letting it all clump together.

Bake for about 30 to 35 minutes at 200 Celsius or Gas mark 7 until all the vegetables are tender and the meat is cooked through.

Divide between two bowls and sprinkle over some grated Parmesan cheese (optional) and serve hot.

You can use whatever combination of vegetables you may find lurking in your fridge or freezer, even if they are looking a bit sad and old! I tend to do my ‘fridge gravel’ tray bake once or twice per month when cleaning out the fridge and using up any leftovers I find along the way.

Cheap, tasty and filling. Enjoy!

Leftovers Soup

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A family favourite  (apart from my sister who can’t stand the stuff) which is never the same twice. I always freeze leftover vegetables for this purpose and have recently made a habit of freezing meaty stock (often the extra liquid from my slow-cooker) in a silicone muffin tray, which can then be ‘popped’ out like icecubes.

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Tonight’s version used leftover roast potatoes from Christmas day, courgette, cauliflower and turkey stock.
The point of leftovers soup is that it uses up what you’ve got, so don’t worry if you don’t have all of the ingredients listed below. It is pretty important to have a base of onion and garlic but apart from that you can  experiment with different herbs and spices, I also rather  like to add bacon when I’m frying the onion if I have some. Note that if you use frozen stock it will probably be rather less salty than the bought stock which you are used to, so you may need to add more salt when you taste it.

Ingredients:
– an onion
– a clove of garlic
– a good pinch of mustard seeds
– a good pinch of cumin seeds
– stock
– paprika
– leftover veg, fully defrosted
– Almond milk (don’t worry if you don’t have this – any kind of milk will do)
– Creme fraiche

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Gently fry the onion, garlic, mustard seeds and cumin seeds. When the onion is becoming transparent turn off the heat and add the frozen stock (I used two ‘blocks’),  put a lid on the pan and leave the stock to melt in the residual heat.

Put your defrosted veg in the blender along with the onions and stock. Add Almond milk as you whizz it, continuing to blend until it is smooth and not far off the thickness that you would eat it. Return the whizzed soup to the pan, using some more milk to swill out the blender.

Slowly bring the the soup up to temperature,  trying not to let it boil. Add paprika,  salt and pepper to taste.
Serve with a spoonful of Creme fraiche and a sprinkle of paprika on top.

… and enjoy because you will never have another soup quite like it again!
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P.s. I made some rather yummy soda bread to accompany it, but that’s a recipe for another day 🙂