We all have times when we need to rustle up an easy dinner using basic, store cupboard ingredients.
You’ve been up against it at work and haven’t had time to get to the shops. It’s the end of the month and money is tight. Whatever the reason, it’s useful to have a go-to dish or two up your sleeve.
My usual store cupboard recipes tend to feature cheap ingredients like pasta, beans, pulses and whatever I find in the freezer. I make sure I always have a few bags of vegetables in the freezer for times like these. Frozen veg is just as good as the fresh stuff in certain dishes, and cheap as chips too.
Rice makes a regular appearance too. I ate a lot of rice as a little girl. For a while my mother only worked part-time while she also studied for her MA, and there wasn’t a lot to spend on food. So rice became a staple, mainly due perhaps to my mum’s Chinese roots, quite often served with just soy sauce or, if we were lucky, some stir-fried vegetables on the side.
You’d think that might put me off rice but instead it is one of my favourite foods. When I am feeling low or poorly, there’s nothing I appreciate more than a simple bowl of rice with soy sauce or perhaps some chicken stock to make a very simple rice broth.
This baked rice recipe is ever so slightly more elaborate but a real winner when it comes to store cupboard cookery. The addition of eggs turns it into a proper comfort dish.Anything topped by an egg with a runny yolk gets my vote.
It’s a very versatile and forgiving dish too. That’s the whole point of store cupboard recipes. Instead of spinach, why not throw in a few handfuls of frozen peas or sweetcorn? Instead of cannellini beans, try kidney beans or maybe a tin of tuna.
Baked rice with spinach, cannellini beans and eggs
1 small onion, peeled and chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tbsp olive oil
200g basmati rice
1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
400ml vegetable stock
1 x 400g can cannellini beans
100g frozen spinach
salt and pepper
4 large free range eggs
Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas 4.
Heat the oil in a medium-sized heavy bottomed casserole and gently cook the onion until soft and translucent. Add the garlic and cook for a minute or two, before adding the rice. Stir it all together and cook gently for another minute.
Pour in the chopped tomatoes, stock, cannellini beans and a little salt and pepper. Give it all a good stir and then place chunks of frozen spinach, nestling it in amongst the rice and beans.
Cover the casserole with a lid and bake in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes until the rice is tender. Remove the lid and, using the back of spoon, make four slight dips in the rice. Break the eggs into these wells and return the oven for another five minutes or so, until the whites are cooked but the yolks are beautifully runny.
Serve at once.
This recipe was first published in my Eat the Season column in the Wells Journal on 6 March 2014.
As my baked rice is very easy to make and cooks in around half an hour, I’m entering it into this month’s Fab Fast Food challenge for Family Foodies, an event I run with Louisa at Eat Your Veg and it just happens to be my turn to host.
I am also sharing this dish with Speedy Suppers, a new blog event for 30 minute meals launched by Sarah at Dinner With Crayons and Katie at Feeding Boys. I’m really rather excited about this new challenge – I just know it’s going to prove such a useful resource.