Frugal Smoky Bean Stew with Feta

I haven’t blogged ALL YEAR. I don’t think that’s too bad to say it’s February though. Anyway let’s get into it, I hate those posts that just complain about how long it’s been etc etc.

What have I been up to so far this year? Well me and Gary have been settling into our new house, making it ours and it’s finally starting to feel a bit more normal and like it’s our home. I’m typing this out sat in front of the fire, it’s such a treat to have a log burner though we are still getting the hang of keeping it lit. It’s a bit of an art!

I’ve also been keeping to my two new years resolutions really well which were:

  1. Drink more water
  2. Stop buying meat in our weekly shops

I’ve not been missing the meat at all, and our weekly shops are a heck of a lot cheaper. I’m still eating it if we go out, but largely trying to be as veg-based as possible to do our bit for the planet.

The water drinking is going great, I’m drinking a pint before I leave the house every day, and then at least three 500ml bottles while I’m at work. I never realised the effect staying fully hydrated can have! I feel more awake, alert and not as groggy in the mornings.

Anyway onto the recipe! I made this up one evening based on what we had in the cupboards. It’s really easy and quick and the leftovers make a delicious lunch. Recipe after the jump!

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Lentils Vertes And Heck! Sausage Casserole

To be perfectly honest I thought lentils vertes were the same thing as green lentils. Who knew they’re actually not? Turns out, me. When I got them home and compared them to my other green lentils. Quel dommage. No harm done though as I’d bought them to go in a sausage stew, after some rapid googling I’ve discovered they’re actually a more PREMIUM lentil ooooh (explains why they were twice the price of the others) and are exceptional in stews so no skin off my nez.

I’ll stop with the French puns now, sorry. Lots of other lentil and sausage casserole / stew (is there a difference?) recipes place the sausages lovingly on top of the lentils but this felt a bit dull to me, so I took the sausages from their casing and rolled them into effectively meatballs, so they could become more part of the stew.

This wasn’t exactly summer food, I should note. But I’m a bit sick of halloumi salads or griddled meats and fancied something a bit more comforting that wasn’t a curry. It’s a bit of a nightmare knowing what to eat in this heatwave, let’s be honest. Depending on your timing you don’t need to put this in the oven if you can’t bear having it on in this heat, you can just bubble it away on the hob for 30-40 mins until the lentils are done.

Recipe after the jump!

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Butternut Squash, Kale Bean and Chorizo Stew

Feeing hot hot hot! I’ve really enjoyed the heatwave so far but now my birthday is done I’m starting to crave jumpers, drizzle and Christmas. Anyone else?

I made this stew as a bit of an antidote to the many pieces of BBQed meat we’ve had recently. Not that I’m complaining, but sometimes you just want something vegetabley. If you’re a long time reader (cough, stalker) of my blog you’ll realise I’m obsessed with butternut squash and love thinking of new ways to cook with it, so this was my go-to base for this yummy stew.

Chop your squash up BIG for best results and make sure you use a decent chorizo with a bit of character, not those bland ones. Beans wise I went for a tin of mixed taco beans from Tesco which come in a spiced sauce, but you can use any you like and just add more chopped tomatoes if needed. And obviously if you’re veggie, leave out the chorizo!

Recipe after the jump!

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Spicy Chicken and Bean Stew

Slow cooking has to be my cooking method of choice at the moment. I love cooking something for hours on a weekend, without having to turn on the oven! Plus the volume of food you can make is excellent for stocking up the fridge for a good week.

This chicken and bean number came about completely from cupboard ingredients (and a couple of chicken breasts). I’d had the tin of mixed spiced beans in the cupboard for ages and had been planning to fajita or taco them originally but never got around to it. Fast forward a few weeks later and they cried out to me when I started perusing the cupboards for things to cook the chicken with. I think beans are so underloved – they’re cheap, delicious, and if you buy them tinned, very easy to cook. Perfect for bulking out a stew.

Spicy-chicken-bean-stew

I added some chorizo in at the end too for extra spice, I’ve found it’s better not to slow cook chorizo as you lose the flavours and the texture can go a bit weird. Better to add in right before serving, and throw in all that lovely red oil too. Yum.

Recipe after the jump!

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Pressure Cooker Spicy Chickpea and Chorizo Stew

This is such an easy, cupboard essential meal. You don’t necessarily need a pressure cooker to make it either but it does cut down the cooking time and makes the chickpeas nice and soft. You could easily whack this in the oven for an hour or two or do it in a slow cooker.

I absolutely love chickpeas at the moment, they’re so cheap and bulk out any recipe, as well as being all good for you and stuff. I keep trying to find new ways to cook them and this is a brilliant way as they’re almost star of the show.

You can make a big batch of this and freeze it too, imagine coming home to a big steaming bowl of spicy, tomatoey goodness on a cold autumn night. And it will be autumn soon so that dream isn’t very far away!

Note I put kale in this which just kind of turned to green mulch in the pressure cooker. Spinach might be better, or if you really want kale, leave it out until five minutes before the end.

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Smoky and Spicy Aubergine, Chickpea and Chorizo Stew

In Leeds this weekend we’ve had every weather under the sun – snow, sleet, rain, hail, wind. It’s been freezing!

Unfortunately today I actually had to leave the house to go into town to do some errands and have my contact lense check up. When I got back I was soaked through, freezing, and still had a list as long as my arm of things to get done (who doesn’t love a productive Sunday)?

Anyway, food obviously came first. I was inspired by a meal my friend Laura cooked for me a few weeks ago – I think it was a Joe Wicks recipe she had followed or adapted. I’m personally not a huge fan of his recipes (they always sound so bland???) but this got me thinking about aubergines. In a stew. Maybe with some chickpeas.

This is very much a ‘chop it up, throw it in a pan, several hours later will be delicious’ dish. Great for a chilly, busy Sunday afternoon. If you don’t have a slow cooker it would be just as nice in the oven for a couple of hours.

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Slow Cooker Hungarian Goulash

When you’re scraping ice off your car and wearing a fur coat, you know it’s winter. Which means slow cooker EVERYTHING.

One of my favourite meats to cook in the slow cooker is beef, mostly because you can get stewing steak so cheaply, and because the long slow cooking turns it into a wonderful melt in your mouth texture.

Goulash has a bit of more fruitiness than brown stews (probably because of the tomatoes, no surprise there), it’s a bit less rich and lends itself to a bit of spice, if you’re that way inclined. I love it with some mash on the side and some sour cream or yoghurt.

Be warned, you will need lots of paprika for this recipe, and lots of peppers!





Slow Cooker Hungarian Goulash

  • 3 large red peppers
  • 500g stewing steak
  • 1 medium white onion
  • 1 large jar passata or 2 cans chopped tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp paprika
  • 2 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 glass red wine
  • Beef stock cube
  • Bay leaf
  • Rapeseed or vegetable oil for frying
  • Salt and pepper to taste

To skin the peppers, slice into chunks and remove seeds. Grill under a hot grill until the skins blister and burn, and then place in cold water to soak off the skin. Once skinned, slice into fine ribbons about 1cm thick.

Meanwhile, chop the garlic and onion and soften gently in a pan with some oil until the onions are translucent. Set to one side. In a large pan (or in your slowcooker base if you have a searing one like me), sear the beef all over until around 75% of the meat has changed colour.

Place meat, onions, garlic and peppers into slow cooker and add the tomatoes, paprika, cumin, bay leaf, splash of wine, beef stock cube and stir. At this point you could add a little chilli powder if you wanted a bit of a kick. Check for consistency, you don’t want it to be too wet as it is tricky to reduce down in the slow cooker.

Season with salt and pepper to taste and set it cooking for around 6 hours on low heat. Serve and enjoy!

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Slow cooker Hungarian goulash

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Chicken Chorizo Stew Bowl

Sweet and Smoky Spanish Chicken Stew

I love spending my Sundays with my slow cooker. I know most people will use theirs while they’re at work – lobbing in ingredients and rushing out of the door. Not me, I like to enjoy the smell and remove the lid (ill-advised, I know) and poke around inside. I can’t help myself.

The one thing I haven’t managed to grasp is the amount of liquid needed for stews, since the liquid doesn’t reduce in the same way as in a normal oven when you remove the lid. If anyone has any advice on this it would be greatly appreciated!

Anyway, the recipe. Why sweet and smoky? The red peppers and butternut squash make it sweet, and the chorizo and smoked paprika make it ~smoky~.

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Chicken thighs are my new meaty hero, at less than £2 for a pack of 6 in Lidl, bone in. They’re great for slow cooking and stews as the darker meat doesn’t dry out as much as the breast, and the bones make a lovely stock. I add my chorizo half an hour or so towards the end to stop it from over cooking too, I find slow-cooked chorizo can loose its flavour and get a weird texture.

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Wintery chicken, macaroni and leek casserole

What is the actual difference between stew and casserole? I would love to know. Answers on a postcard please.

This is actually my dads recipe, handed down and reinvented for my partner who can’t digest celery. If you can digest celery, please do put it in because it’s wonderful.

The lovely thing about this casserole is that it tastes different every time. Depending on your stock; your chicken; the wine, no two versions are the same which I love.

You can use any part of chicken on the bone or off the bone, obviously on the bone takes longer but yields a tastier broth. I like to use a mix of chicken breast and thigh, usually three of each to produce enough for about 4 meals from one pot. It’s hard to make a small amount!

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