Here’s a list of what gets cupboard / fridge space at our house:

  • Artichokes / Aubergines / Courgettes – in jars of olive oil – great on pizzas or to throw in past sauces.
  • Avocado – it can be really hard to get these right, as they seem to be rock hard in the fruit bowl and then suddenly over-ripe. My tip is to keep giving them a gentle squeeze and then put them in the fridge when they are coming up to being ready, as this slows down the ripening process. The flesh goes really brown when you leave it in the open air but you can stop this by tossing the pieces in a little lemon juice. I prefer to cut them open just before serving as it’s less faff and then the lemon won’t be interfering with the other flavours in your dish. Great sliced on bacon sandwiches and in salads.
  • Baked Beans – in tins – I actually prefer the budget versions as they tend to not have as much sugar in as the leading brands. A must with sausage and mash.
  • Beetroot – I use the pre-cooked version in my Red Velvet Soup, because it’s really tasty and doesn’t leave everything pink!
  • Mixed Beans – in tins- add them to a tin of tuna with some lemon dressing for a taste of summer at any time of year.
  • Capers – great with fish and on pizzas for a lovely flavour.
  • Cornichons and gherkins – Peter’s favourite accompaniment to a roast beef and English mustard sandwich.
  • Cucumber – not just for salads, but also makes great baby teething sticks, cool relief straight from the fridge.
  • Mushrooms – baby button for pan frying and eating; Portabello for filling and roasting in the oven and on my Creamy Mushroom Bruschetta; porcini in my version of fish pieand as a great storecupboard standby and frozen sliced for throwing into impromptu curries.

    Portobello mushrooms

    Portobello mushrooms

  • Olives – great on pizzas, in my Paella  and for generally nibbling. I have to say that I wasn’t keen on olives until I had the really soft ones (soft both in flavour and texture). My favourites by a mile are ASDA Extra Special Pitted Kalamata Olives – in a jar rather than in the chiller cabinet. Perfect to stick at the back of the cupboard to bring out when a dish needs livening up.
  • Onions – white (where stronger flavour is needed), red (for brightening dishes up and in mild enough to go raw in salads) and spring (for salads and colcannon) . Used in many main dish favourites in our house. You can also buy jars of ready caramelised onions. As well as being a time saver for main meals, they’re great for perking up pizzas and toasties.
  • Peas / Petits Pois – I love the fresh summer peas when they arrive in the shops. They remind me of eating them from the pods in our garden as kids. Frozen peas are one of the few vegetables that are just as good as the fresh variety. Use them in stews (but do not refreeze) pilau rice and my Spring Frittata- recipe coming soon.
  • Red Peppers – in brine – roasted and really sweet. Superb in pasta sauces and vibrant salads. Karyatis are excellent and I often think that I should buy shares in them!
  • Potatoes – see separate entry.
  • Salad leaves – my favourites are rocket and watercress, for their peppery flavour and lambs’ lettuce, because it looks so pretty!
  • Stewpack vegetables – either fresh in the cupboard or pre-prepared in the freezer. See my Red Velvet Soup for a quick soup using the frozen variety.
  • Sweetcorn – We love supersweet frozen varieties. Good for throwing in pasta and Mediterranean flavours.
  • Tomatoes – Strictly a fruit, but they feel more at home with the veg. My daughter loves the mini varieties which are just so sweet!
  • Chopped Tomatoes – another kitchen essential for so many dishes. Again, supermarket budget ranges are often just as good as the leading brands, so try different ones until you find one you really like. Passata for making tikka masala dishes and tomato, basil and mozzarella risotto.
  • Sunblush tomatoes – in the chiller cabinet and so much sweeter than many sundried versions. They are stored in a herby oil, which you can use instead of vegetable oil when frying onions for pasta sauces (take care to keep to the use-by date). Great on buffets, chopped up in pasta sauces or even livening up cheese sandwiches. Sainsbury’s ‘Taste the Difference’, Morrisons’ ‘The Best’ and ASDA ‘Extra Special’ all do really good ones.

Remember, if you are freezing vegetables yourself, it’s worth taking the time to blanch them first. This will mean that they will invariably last longer than the month (if you didn’t blanch them). The best way to do this is to boil them in water for a couple of minutes, then plunge them into a bowl of iced water, then dry them off, package them up and put them straight in the freezer. This method will  help you retain as much of the colour, flavour and vitamins as possible.





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