When budgets are tight, planning and utilising leftovers is an important way to stretch what you have. Before delving into the easy and economical recipes we've sourced from the Vibes Cuisine archives, it is important to stress the helping role a kitchen garden can play in supplementing your market shop.
We've had great results with 'reusing' pumpkin, pepper and watermelon seeds, kale, callaloo and pak choi. What is great about most of these foods is that all you have to do is put the seeds in the garden (instead of the trash) and water them.
The kale was great as it grows from a leaf cutting that you just stick in the earth. Pak choi is even cooler. When preparing pak choi, chop off the bottoms and place them in a container with an inch of water, put it where they will get a lot of sun and continue to water until roots sprout. Plant and continue to care for it and it will regenerate itself. This can be a fun project for children to experience the wonder of nature.
Don't despair if you don't have the yard space. Pots and recycled tyres can all be used - just remember you need good drainage. Do a little reading online and you will find a lot more penny-pinching tips. Find a way to catch the rinse water from your sink and recycle even more.
Reworking leftovers can be a fulfilling expression of culinary artistry. Cooking is truly a creative process, and once you know what flavours and seasonings you enjoy, there are no limits to what you can concoct. When planning, be sure you prepare extra protein you can use for other quick meals.
Lent is here and many of us want to consume more fish during this time. The odds and ends in your crisper, with a piece or two of fish, makes a satisfying sip that's a nice change from a traditional fish tea.
Plain rice or even Sunday's rice and peas work well as part of the stuffing for either sweet peppers or chocho. Add leftover protein of your choice, grated cheese, seasonings and bake.
To avoid leftover rice going sour, pack your excess food in the freezer as soon as it cools - leftovers in the fridge tend to be forgotten. Don't have rice - layer your items in a casserole with potato slices for a one-pot wonder and dinner is served.
2 tbs olive oil, more for drizzling
1/2 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 carrots, sliced in rounds
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 sweet pepper, sliced
1/2 Scotch bonnet pepper, deseeded, finely minced
1/2 cup dry white wine (or vinegar)
1 (24 ounce) can whole tomatoes
12 ounces cooked white fish
1/4 cup chopped parsley
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Heat a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add olive oil, then onion, and slowly sauté onion until softened but not browned, about 15 minutes.
2. Add garlic and Scotch bonnet, celery, carrot and sweet pepper. Sauté for 5 minutes.
3. Turn heat to medium. Add white wine and simmer for 5 minutes.
4. Crush tomatoes by hand into the soup, adding the remaining juices. Turn heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes.
5. Stir in fish and parsley and simmer gently for 5-10 minutes.
6. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.
Tip: Enjoy over-toasted bread, and drizzled with a little olive oil.
Stuffed Sweet Peppers
2 cups cooked rice
3 green bell peppers (halved and seeded)
2 cups shredded cooked protein (leftover mince, chicken, pork, fish fillet or tinned tuna or salmon)
1 diced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 Scotch bonnet, minced fine
1 scallion, chopped
1 sprig thyme
salt and pepper
15 oz tomato sauce
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2. Place green bell peppers in a medium saucepan with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil and cook for 10 minutes. Remove peppers from water and set aside in a 9x13 inch baking dish.
4. In a large saucepan over medium heat, sauté onion, cooked rice, garlic, Scotch bonnet, scallion, thyme, salt and pepper. Add cooked leftover protein of choice. Pour in tomato sauce and mix thoroughly. Let simmer for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat.
5. Spoon the rice mixture on to each half of the green peppers. Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes or until mixture begins to turn golden brown.
6. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese over the top of each stuffed pepper. Return to the oven and bake until cheese is lightly browned, about 5 to 10 minutes.
Tip: Go veggie by using crushed tofu for the protein.
2 -3 large chocho
2 tbs butter, plus additional for topping
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3-4 large tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/2 Scotch bonnet pepper, seeded and chopped
salt & freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
1. Preheat the oven to 350.
2. Boil the whole chochos in salted water until tender, about 30 minutes. Drain and cool enough to handle. Halve lengthways and scoop out the interior, including the edible seed, and mash with a fork. Set the shells aside.
3. Heat the butter in a skillet over moderate heat and sauté the onion and garlic until tender but not brown, about 5 minutes. Add the mashed chocho, tomatoes, Scotch bonnet pepper, salt & pepper and cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes.
4. Spoon the mixture into the reserved shells and sprinkle with bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese. Dot with butter and bake until lightly browned, about 15 minutes.
Tip: Toast stale bread slices and crush in blender for breadcrumbs.
Potato & Veg Casserole
4 cups cooked potatoes, cubed
4 cups cooked chicken breast, cut in strips
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 tbs butter, softened
1 cup sliced sweet peppers
1/4 cup shredded carrot
1 onion sliced
2 cloves garlic minced
1/2 Scotch bonnet, deseeded, finely minced
1. Divide chicken between two greased 8-in square baking dishes.
2. Sauté onion, garlic, Scotch bonnet & sweet peppers in butter.
3. Layer potatoes over chicken then layer with sautéed seasonings.
4. Sprinkle cheese on top.
5. Bake one casserole, uncovered, at 350 for 30 mins until cheese is golden.
6. Cover and freeze the remaining casserole for up to 3 months.
Tip: Substitute leftover fish fillet for Lent.