What's not to like about this recipe?
It's cheap, it's easy, it's fast.
It's made in one pot, it has loads of veg in it and it's made out of storecupboard ingredients.
It's an excellent way of using up leftover meat and veg.
Best of all it is infinitely adaptable. It can be vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, meaty or fishy.
This dish started life as corn creole from Lindsey Bareham's book A Wolf in the Kitchen. It has evolved somewhat but I still follow her suggestion to serve it with grated cheese and slabs of fresh, white bread thickly buttered.
1) Heat a couple of tablespoons of oil or butter in your pan. I used olive oil. Chop a medium onion (I used some of my veg hash) and add it to the pan and let it soften for a few minutes.
2) Now you can add some spices. Or not, as you like. I added a couple of teaspoons of a creole blend. Smoked paprika is really good, or cayenne, curry spices, curry paste- really it's up to you, whatever you like. I also chucked in a crushed garlic clove at this point. Stir the spices around with the onion for about 5 minutes allowing them to lose their harshness. Don't let them burn though -add a bit more oil if necessary or even a splash of water.
3) Throw in 2 cans of tomatoes. I used chopped, but whole tomatoes are fine, just break them up with a wooden spoon. You could also use an equivalent amount of fresh tomatoes -skin them first.
Stir the spicy onions into the tomatoes and simmer for about 5 minutes.
4) Now you can really start to customise this dish. I used frozen sweetcorn and just poured it into the tomatoes until it looked enough. Then I let it simmer for 5-10 minutes until heated through.
You don't have to use sweetcorn.
Other options either on their own or in combination are;
~ beans -either tinned or ones you have soaked and cooked. Chickpeas, black beans and red kidney beans are my favourites.
~ vegetables such as courgettes, mushrooms, aubergines*, peppers**, frozen peas or diced cooked squash.
~ white fish fillets, prawns, tuna, leftover roast chicken or pork, cooked sausages, smoked sausage, chorizo, ham, cooked bacon
~ chunks of mozzarella, goat's cheese, halloumi or feta -add cheese just before serving so that it is just beginning to melt.
~ olives are a nice addition with tuna or feta.
Best to soften these with the onion first.
I love it with buttered white bread because that's one less thing to cook (flatbreads, chunks of French bread would be perfect too) but you don't have to serve it with bread. Baked potatoes or rice are great too. You could also serve it over pasta or stir cooked pasta into it. And if you aren't a teenage boy you will probably find it filling enough on its own.
I usually put a bowl of grated cheese on the table too, though not if there is already cheese in the dish.
We eat this dish in one form or another every week. It takes about 20 minutes from start to finish. Now if only I could come up with a good name for it..... any suggestions?