Bacon and Broccoli Chilli Pasta – Budget Meals for Woolworths MasterChef SA Week 10
Budget isn’t the most exciting word. In fact it can be quite depressing and brings to mind all kinds of limits. And Angela Merkel. Yes, far from exciting. However, all of us have to reign in the spending and the world is experiencing one of the most severe economic crises of our time. I am currently in Europe and having just spoken to a range of people in Athens, it brings home more than ever, the severity of the situation felt by people all over.
When Woolworths gave me the challenge of preparing a meal for four for R150, a “budget” meal, I knew three things should into play so that the eater (and the cook) would not feel deprived in any way:
1. Flavour. For the main meal I used pasta which is usually a cupboard staple and bacon which affords lots of flavour even if you use a little of it. Onions are browned to add depth and chilli gives you a satisfying spice-injection. Broccoli isn’t just nutritious, it also adds some crunchy texture.
2. Easily available ingredients. Everything for this meal should be available at your local supermarket. The worst thing when considering the pennies is to have to go from shop to market to deli to find the ingredients for supper. The instinct then is to opt for cheap, non- nutritious take outs. Leave the leisurely food shopping for when the wallet and the clock allows. I assumed that the cook in this instance is preparing a meal on a busy week day, so I created a quick, easy but nutritious meal.
3. A treat. Even though you’ve had to carefully consider the spend, you can still serve a refreshing drink (home made iced tea in this case) as well as dessert. What’s not to love about that?
I have assumed that reader would have salt, sugar and vegetable stock liquid or cubes in the grocery cupboard as well as a lemon and an egg in the fridge.
If you prefer, substitute the bacon with a chicken breast or piece of steak pan fried and cut into very thin strips.
If you prefer a vegetarian option, use one large aubergine, cut into slices and pan griddled instead of the bacon.
On a day that you have more time, buy one pack of beef or ostrich mince instead of bacon (relatively same price as the dry cured bacon I purchased) and brown with the onions and slow cook with the tomato, adding water as needed for a bolognaise sauce. Leave out the broccoli or add a can of barlotti or red kidney beans towards the end of cooking to bulk the dish up.
Bacon and Broccoli Chilli Pasta
Preparation time: 5 min, Cooking time: 25 minutes
500 g penne pasta, prepared according to package instructions *
1 pack dry cured bacon
1 medium onion, finely diced
10 ml vegetable oil
300 g broccoli florets
200 ml vegetable stock
1 red chilli, finely chopped
2 x 400g cans chopped, peeled tomatoes
1/2 t sugar
salt, to taste
Chop the bacon into bite sized pieces, dab dry with kitchen paper towels and fry in an extra wide pan on high heat until it crisps. If you use a teflon coated pan you do not need to use oil. Remove and set aside.
Turn heat down to medium and add oil to same pan. Fry onion until it softens. Allow to brown very slightly – this will add to the flavour of the dish.
Add broccoli to the pan (this is where using a wide pan comes in handy – all cooking done in one vessel!). Add salt and fry for 5 minutes, turning.
Add stock to pan and cook for a further 5 minutes. Add chillis and stir.
Empty cans of tomato in and mix well. Add sugar and adjust seasoning. Cook for 3- 4 minutes. Add a little water of sauce is too thick.
Add crispy bacon to tomato sauce and serve over bowls of just cooked pasta.
* making your own pasta is inexpensive and the taste of fresh pasta is incomparable.
Refreshing Iced Tea
Makes 6 glasses
5 rooibos or tea bags of your choice
500 ml hot water
1 l apple juice
1 lemon, cut into slices
Steep tea bags in hot water in a tap pot or heat proof bowl. Allow water to cool. Remove bags.
Add tea to apple juice in a large jug and chill in the fridge.
Adjust sweetness if preferred.
Serve over ice with slices of lemon
Easy Fig Puff Pastry Squares
makes 8-10 mini pastries
1 egg yolk
1 x roll regular puff pastry
1 punnet figs, each sliced in three
Preheat oven to 200 ˚ C. Grease a baking tray.
Use a fork to mix egg yolk in a bowl.
Unroll the puff pastry on a smooth surface. Cut into squares or rectangles – size of your choice.
Reserve pastry some to cut into 1 cm strips to add borders to each square.
Place on tray and leave in fridge for 5 minutes to chill.
Remove and brush pastry with egg yolk.
Add slices of fig to each square. Bake for 10 minutes at 200 ˚C.
Lower heat to 180 ˚ C and bake for 15 minutes or until cooked through.
Cool on wire rack. I prefer to serve these warm with some whipped cream or vanilla ice cream if you have.
This post forms part of the series of recipes I am preparing for Woolworths, the food sponsor for MasterChef SA. It is a Food and the Fabulous Endorsed project and I will be remunerated for it