A thrifty one-pot recipe that makes great use of frozen vegetables

A thrifty one-pot recipe that makes great use of frozen vegetables

A thrifty one-pot recipe that makes great use of frozen vegetables from the CANNY COOK

At this time of year I give my freezer a refresh. Out with the dregs of ice cream tubs and in with batch cooked meals (expect plenty of Canny Cook recipes to come) and a neatly organised drawer of frozen vegetables. I have to admit I haven’t always been a big fan of frozen veg, naively thinking fresh is best, but I am now a fully fledged convert.

Frozen veg is cheap – frozen spinach can cost up to three times less than fresh – so it’s a great option for reducing food bills. Then factor in that you don’t have to go to the supermarket as often and that the vegetables are usually already prepared for you and they feel like even better value for money: broccoli and cauliflower come in bite-sized florets, butternut squash is diced, cabbage is shredded and spinach doesn’t require any faffy washing.

200g frozen peas, 52p

150g frozen spinach, £1.50

They’re good for you, too. In most cases the vegetables are quick-frozen within hours of picking to preserve nutrients, and studies have shown that they have similar, if not in some cases higher, vitamin and antioxidant levels than their fresh counterparts.

You can use them in soups, stews, throw a handful into pasta while it’s boiling or try this week’s recipe which was sent in by reader Jan Miller and is a sublimely simple example of how to cook with frozen veg. She recommends peas and spinach but you could give frozen squash or green beans a whirl, too.

Preheat the oven to 180C/ 160C fan/gas 4.

In a medium casserole dish or ovenproof saucepan for which you have a lid, heat 2 tsp rapeseed or vegetable oil over a medium heat. Fry 1 chopped onion with a large pinch of salt for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add 3 chopped garlic cloves, ¼ tsp dried thyme leaves (if you have them) and a grind of black pepper and fry for another minute.

1 litre vegetable stock, 65p

350g risotto rice, £1

Add 75ml white wine or cider vinegar, allow to bubble for a minute, then stir in the rice and stir to coat. Add the frozen peas and spinach, 1 litre hot vegetable stock and bring to the simmer.

Cover tightly with a lid and bake for 25-30 minutes.

Remove from the oven, uncover and stir the risotto for 2-3 minutes (it will become more creamy as you stir it; you can add a splash more stock or water to loosen if needed). Stir in 4 tbsp grated parmesan (or nutritional yeast if vegan) and serve. 

Do you have a great recipe for eating well and cutting food bills? Email [email protected] If we print it here, we’ll send you a bottle of champagne 

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