Back to school ingredients
So the time has come for me to go back to school and like everyone else I get a stash of back to school essentials. Where my shop differs though is that it usually consists of a visit to the market, supermarket or Asian superstore across the road.
Now we all have a group of go to items that we use for every occasion right, whether it's a go to outfit that you know looks immense and works or somewhere you go for lunch or dare I mention.... your go to takeaway options. What I want to talk about today is my store cupboard essentials and how they make up my go to quick and easy meals.
As you know I started meal prepping a few months ago and aside from being a time saver it also means I don't go reaching for that bag of pick 'n' mix or crisps as soon as I get in because I'm starving.
I fully prep breakfast, snacks and lunches but only partially prep evening meals because it still lets me feel like I have a choice of meals in the evening. The way I partially prep is to pre marinade any protein so I can whack it in the oven or on the George Foreman as soon as I get in.
But what is a marinade? A marinade is a spiced liquid, often acidic that adds flavour but also makes your meat, fish or other protein more tender before cooking.
Most of my go to favourites are simple and easy to do. You can leave out the chilli if you don't like it hot. I always have the ingredients shown in the house because they are so versatile and I use them in a lot of dishes. If you are leaving the marinade on for a while make sure you leave the lemon juice until just before you bake or grill otherwise it'll start to cook any meat you use.
Dried herbs keep for longer so I feel it is well worth getting a bag in to add to dishes to balance the flavour. This marinade works just as well on chicken or fish, I use a pestle and mortar to smash up your chilli, garlic, mixed herbs and lemon zest then season before adding the juice of the lemon and a little olive oil to prevent it sticking.
I diced some chicken thighs and left in the marinade for 20mins before threading on skewers and baking. Serve it with sweet potato wedges, vegetable rice or a fresh green salad and you've got a quick and easy post work meal.
This next one uses some ingredients from my Chinese staples. Whenever I cook Chinese inspired dishes I usually start with my aromats, ginger, chilli and garlic. They work so well together and the flavour is immense, so why not use them as a marinade too?
I usually buy fresh ginger root and chop it into inch size pieces and freeze to preserve it but when I'm all out I use ground ginger. It works just as well but I find you need to use it sparingly or it can overpower everything.
This again is another simple marinade and as I use it for larger pieces of chicken or beef I smash or roughly chop the ingredients. Again I use oil to prevent sticking but this one doesn't use lemon juice. That means it's the perfect overnighter or freezer marinade.
Coat your meat of choice whack it in a food bag and freeze, when you defrost it the flavour just intensifies and you can whack it in the oven and go.
This time round I used it when we had friends round to dinner and simply used some butterflied chicken breasts. Roast at 200oc in a pre-heated oven and you are good to go.
To contrast the heat from the chilli I served it with some roasted beetroot that I'd seasoned with salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice. Definitely a sharing dish That is easy to do and goes down a treat!
Last but not least, my take on a peri peri. Depending on how hot you like it, you can change the quantities of chilli. Now this may look like a lot of ingredients but again, I haven't had to go out and buy anything new.
If you are a fan of peri peri then this is definitely the marinade for you! It's hot and sweet due to the mixture of chilli I use and has bags of flavour because of the aromats. There are so many ways to combine this marinade but my favourite and the easiest is to blitz it.
Whack everything into a blender or food processor and blend until it is completely smooth, pour over your chosen ingredients and leave covered in the fridge.
I made a quick and easy stir fry with my marinated turkey steaks. I find turkey can be quite dry sometimes so the use of a marinade in this case improves the texture massively!
Any food I eat usually has to look good so I make sure I use a wide variety of vegetables to add colour as well as making sure some of them are cooked al dente to give a variety of textures.
This marinade also works well with a whole spatchcokked chicken or king prawns. Serve it with roasted veg, courgette fries or a chunky guac for an immense meal.
What I don't want is for people to go out any specifically by things for my recipes that they'll only use once. HUGE waste of time and money if you ask me! What I really wanted to uncover is those ingredients that I know you can use regularly without breaking the bank or wasting food. 700 million tonnes of food and drink* are wasted each year and we don't want to add to that right.
Give them a bash and let me know : )