One pan band
Anna Jones makes easy suppers in a single vessel
Iread a restaurant review this weekend in which the writer talked about the head chef being “the rarest of creatures”: a chef without ego. The idea of ego in food has come up in conversation a lot recently. It’s often thought to be what distinguishes home cooking from restaurant cooking, though there are exceptions: you’ll certainly find ego-driven cooks in home kitchens and the most gentle, generous cooks in restaurants.
It’s had me thinking about what home cooking really means. What would be the most ego-less dish? A boiled egg? A bowl of cereal? Beans on toast? They all stem from a need to get food on the table for hungry people quickly, be that yourself or those you love. It’s an act of giving. And that’s the definition of home cooking that I’ve settled on.
These dinners both come together in a single pan, and are ready, from the moment you start chopping or grating, in under half an hour. They make use of easy-to-find ingredients and leave little washing up. Most of all, they both bring the kind of flavour hit that makes you think they took longer to make than they did. I’m not sure I’ve quite managed ego-less cooking with them yet though; I still want to hear the hungry clatter of forks and spoons, the oohs and ahhs, the compliments to the chef … It’s a work in progress.
Crispy butterbeans with kale, parmesan and lemon
A simple dinner. I eat this with a green salad and, if I am hungry, a slice of bread, toasted and rubbed with a little garlic and drizzled with olive oil. Vegans can easily leave out the parmesan.
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 x 400g tins butter beans, drained 400g vine or cherry tomatoes 200g kale, washed, stems removed, roughly torn
50g walnuts, lightly toasted 2 garlic cloves, finely sliced Nutmeg, freshly grated
The zest and juice of a lemon Salt
Parmesan (I use a vegetarian one), for grating on top, optional
1 Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over a high heat. Add the beans in a single layer. Stir to coat the beans in the oil, then let them sit long enough to brown on one side – about 3-4 minutes – before turning to brown the other side for about the same length of time. The beans should be golden and a bit crunchy on the outside.
2 Add the tomatoes and allow them to cook for a few minutes, or until they begin to break down.
3 Add a little more oil to the pan and allow it to heat a little. Add the kale and a pinch of salt to the pan, then cook for a couple of minutes, turning all the time until it is tender and the edges have crisped.
4 Stir in the walnuts and garlic, then wait 10 seconds and stir in a good grating of nutmeg. Wait another 10 seconds and stir in the lemon juice and zest. Remove from the heat. Serve with grated parmesan and some bread for a hearty meal.
One-pot orzo with beetroot, thyme and orange
You can use any colour of beetroot you like here – I adore the deep magenta or the red ones, but yellow and pink work well too. Vegans can leave out the feta.
Home cooking is an act of giving. That’s the definition I have settled on
4 large beetroots, peeled and grated (prepared weight around 500g)
300g orzo pasta A small bunch of thyme 1 tsp salt 2 tbsp olive oil, plus more for finishing Zest of 1 small orange or clementine 100g feta cheese
4 handfuls rocket or other peppery leaves
1 Put the grated beetroots, pasta and picked thyme into the pan with the salt, 2 tbsp oil and 850ml water. Put the pan on a high heat, cover with a lid and bring to the boil. Simmer for 10 minutes, or until the pasta has cooked and the water has been absorbed. Stir regularly to prevent the pasta from catching on the bottom of the pan.
2 Spoon on to warm plates and finish with some orange zest, peppery leaves, a crumbling of feta and a good drizzle of olive oil.