When was the last time you looked at the back of your cupboard? We’re willing to bet it was a long, long time ago.
If we had a dollar for every time we said we had “nothing in” before ordering takeout, we could probably afford everything we ordered over the past six months.
But when we should only head out for essential items (and no, your fourth packet of biscuits in five days does not count), we should really start using the odd bits and bobs we bought and forgot about long ago.
With that in mind, Time Out has come up with some of our favourite store cupboard recipes using tins and dried goods you almost certainly have lying about.
Read on for our go-to dishes - but don’t judge us too harshly, we’re not professional chefs.
If you lined up every kidney, baked and black bean tin lingering in the back of a cupboard in the Middle East, they’d probably make it all the way around the world.
A bean goulash is the perfect way to use up the tins you inevitably accumulate, or even the dried beans you vowed to use to save money but never did. You’re guaranteed to be at home 12-24 hours after you start soaking them, after all.
• 2 400g cans of beans (baked beans and kidney work best), or soaked and cooked dried equivalent
• 1 400g can of chopped tomatoes
• 1 onion
• 1 tbsp of paprika
• Drain and rinse both cans of beans before putting them to one side.
• Chop up the onion and fry it until it turns golden.
• Add chopped tomatoes, half a can of water, and a tablespoon of paprika.
• Let it simmer until it thickens, around ten minutes.
• Add the beans and combine until warmed through.
You can also upgrade your recipe by adding minced garlic while frying the onions, or adding a stock cube while making the sauce.
Chickpeas are another legume that often get neglected, but they’re great if you’re looking for a quick and easy meal. There are dozens of curry recipes involving chickpeas, but this one (which uses a sauce from Recipe Tin Eats) doesn’t use too many spices.
• 1 400g can of coconut milk
• ½ cup passata
• 2 tbsp of curry powder (spicy as you please!)
• 1 tbsp garam masala
• 2 tsp cumin
• 1 tsp coriander powder
• ½ tsp turmeric
• 1 onion
• 1 400g can of chickpeas
• Whatever vegetables are going out of date in your fridge
• Fry the onion, then add whichever vegetables you’re using. Use a bit of common sense with this one - you’ll be simmering them in a sauce later on, which will cook them slightly. They don’t need to be fully done, but don’t leave them raw.
• Add all the spices, tossing the ingredients in them for a minute or two.
• Add the passata and coconut milk.
• Finally, add the chickpeas and let simmer for 10 minutes.
• Serve with rice.
If you’re feeling really lazy, use a premade curry paste instead of the spices. No judgement here.
Basically everyone in the world has a pack of red lentils lurking about in their cupboard, and from daal to soup, there’s plenty of recipes that call for them.
Here we’ve picked our favourite comforting chilli recipe.
• 1 cup red lentils
• 1 400g kidney beans
• 1 400g chopped tomatoes
• 1 cup vegetable stock
• 1 onion
• 1 red pepper
• 2 tsp chilli powder
• 2 tsp smoked paprika
• 1 tsp ground cumin
• Finely chop the onions and red pepper and fry them until soft.
• Add the spices, and continue to cook for a minute or so until coated.
• Add the chopped tomatoes, vegetable stocked, and rinsed red lentils and kidney beans.
• Reduce the heat and let it simmer for around 30 minutes.
• Pull up YouTube on your laptop, play some crackling fireplace videos and pretend you’re in a cold country.
Mike’s Magic Bean Salad
A great way to use up infinitely in-date dried kidney beans (beyond holding down your pie crust).
• 250g dried kidney beans
• 1 big juicy lemon
• 1 small red onion, finely diced
• 2 cloves of garlic (or 3, go wild – self-isolation has its benefits), minced
• Handful of parsley, roughly chopped
• Proper good extra virgin olive oil
• Plenty of salt and pepper
• Put your kidney beans in a steel pan and cover with cold water. Leave to soak for 6-7 hours. (Dried kidney beans are poisonous – so don’t skip this step.)
• Once your beans have soaked, drain your water, and cover your beans with fresh water.
• Bring to a swift boil for ten minutes.
• Reduce to a gentle simmer for 45 minutes, or until your beans are tender. (Prod intermittently with a fork.)
• Cooked? Drain them off, throw in your diced onion, minced garlic and roughly chopped parsley.
• Squeeze over all the juice from that juicy lemon.
• Pour in a generous few glugs of proper-good extra virgin olive oil.
• Season vigorously.
• Stir gently, yet comprehensively.
A store-cupboard riff on a Spanish tapas classic – with apologies to Spain, and Sanlucar de Barrameda’s fabulous Barbiana tapas bar in particular.
•1 small tin / jar of tuna in water or olive oil (this should be fillets or steak tuna, but needs must)
• 1 large potato (the starchier the better, but again, needs must)
• ½ red onion
• 1 clove of garlic
• Extra-virgin olive oil
• Red grape vinegar
• Salt and pepper
• Peel your potato, chop into large chunks and boil until tender (but not mushy).
• For your dressing, chop your onion, crush your garlic, and place in a small bowl with three tablespoons of EVOO and 1½ tablespoons of red grape vinegar – stir vigorously and season to taste.
• Drain your potatoes and plate.
• Top with drained tuna, broken up.
• Drizzle very, very liberally with your dressing.
• Put some flamenco music on.
• Serve with a grape-based Spanish mixed beverage.
• Pretend you’re staring out over the Guadalquivir.
Pepper (Jack-less) toast
Can’t cook, won’t cook? This one is for you. We’ll be the first ones to admit that this isn’t exactly a recipe per se, but it does require a toaster and one cupboard staple – black pepper.
Pick your bread of choice (white, brown, multi-seed – this is your chance to get creative), pop it in the toaster, slather it with lashings of salted butter and finish it off with a generous amount of black pepper – cracked if you feel like really going all out – and voila. Pepper (Jack-less) toast. Best enjoyed with a cuppa.
Remember those pickles hidden somewhere at the back of your fridge? The ones you bought last year, for reasons you can’t remember, and have been hiding there ever since. Yes, those ones.
Well, great ready to put them to good use with this weird (and wonderful) late-night snack, as we’re bringing you Doritos-covered pickle crisps. Get ready to bookmark this page because once you’ve tried this baked delicacies, you’ll be back for more.
• 1 cup of dill pickles, cut into thick and chunky rounds
• 1 ½ cups of crushed Doritos (preferably Cool Ranch)
• 2 tbsp of melted butter
• ½ cup of all-purpose flour
• 2 tbsp of finely chopped parsley
• 1 tsp of cayenne pepper
• Salt and pepper, to season
• 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
• A dip of your choice for serving (we’d suggest ranch)
• Preheat the oven to 230°C and line a large baking tray with baking paper
• Pat the pickles dry with paper towels
• Grab a bowl and mix together the crushed Doritos, butter, parsley and cayenne and season the mixture (to your liking) with salt and pepper
• Toss the pickle rounds in flour until they’re lightly coated, then in the eggs and then dip them in the Dorito mixture until fully coated
• Pop them on the baking paper and bake them until the coating is golden and crispy (which should take about 15 minutes), flipping them halfway
• Serve them with your sauce of choice and enjoy
Tuna sweetcorn pasta
This recipe is as simple as can be. All you need is one tin of tuna, tin of sweetcorn, a quarter cup of mayonnaise and a portion of pasta. Boil the pasta according to instructions before draining. In the meantime, mix the tuna, sweetcorn and mayo together. Serve.
Upgraded ramen noodles
It’s all too easy to put the kettle on and make instant ramen in a manner of minutes, but it isn’t always the most satisfying of meals.
Spend a bit of extra time making your ramen and you’ll forget it came from a packet and cost you next to nothing.
• Instant ramen of your choice
• Fried tofu cubes (most Asian supermarkets will sell them)
• Assortment of veg (peppers, mushrooms, carrots and spring onions work well)
• Chicken, beef or vegetable broth (the quantity depends on the ramen you’ve chosen)
• 1 tbsp soy sauce
• 2cm of ginger
• 2 cloves of garlic, minced
• Cut the vegetables into thin strips, and put to one side. This will be cooked with the ramen broth later on, so keep that in mind. Frozen vegetables also work
• Fry the minced garlic cloves and grated ginger in a pan until fragrant.
• Add broth and soy sauce before bringing to a boil and adding the vegetables until they are al dente.
• Add ramen and cook for the time on the packet.
• Add the tofu cubes until they’re warmed through.
The best part about this recipe is you can make it as simple or as complicated as you want. Can’t be bothered making your own broth? Use the packet, but add the vegetables. Or whatever you fancy. It’s your ramen.