Here at Vala we're fanatical about food.
For my part, it was hard not to develop a passion for delicious home cooked meals growing up as I did in an Italian household with a mum who cooked for the family and a nonna who was always rustling up gnocchi, polpette, spaghetti alle vongole or just plates and plates of grilled vegetables. Today I am still inspired by my early experiences sitting on the kitchen countertop rolling gnocchi or making sugo. However, now with a young family of my own and balancing that with trying to manage a career and maintaining some semblance of a social life I have found that it’s a constant challenge to find the time and resources to eat meals that are affordable and healthy while also being quick to prepare and, crucially, delicious.
The problem, as I see it, is that there are lots of recipes that make lots of promises but, in my experience, fail to deliver. They are either way off in their preparation time, are not quite as healthy as they promise to be or are unsustainably expensive.
So, my challenge, to is to develop and share with you recipes for meals that are:
Delicious – After all, when the other option is a delicious take-away the food must taste great.
Quick to prepare (ie less than 15 minutes) – That means from start to finish, not after a sous chef has chopped the veg!
Affordable – I am aiming to spend less than £5 per meal per person.
Healthy – My objective is to prepare meals that are, whole food and plant based as much as possible.
We’ll be sharing what we eat every week and would love to hear your feedback and see any pictures of your creations.
First up this week we're eating:
Superfood grilled vegetable, avocado, bean and lentil salad with a shallot dressing
Method - Feeds 2 adults easily
Take the frozen mixed grilled vegetables and add half of the pack to a frying pan with a dash of water. Place over a high heat, stirring the veg every minute. The veg should take no more than five minutes to thaw and warm up. If they start to stick to the pan add a dash more water.
While the veg is heating up finely dice the shallot and garlic and add to a small bowl with the olive oil, vinegars and season to your take with salt and pepper. Give the dressing a very thorough mix. Once that’s done, chop the avocado into 2cm cubes (or as you like it), slice the cucumber, drain and rinse the kidney beans, wash the tomatoes and add, along with the florette salad to a large salad bowl.
Once the grilled vegetables have heated through take them off the heat and let them rest for 30 seconds. Meanwhile, add the puy lentils to the salad bowl. Finally, add the vegetables to the salad bowl and pour the dressing over the top. Mix the salad well and serve immediately.
Delicious, healthy, quick. All of the ingredients can be bought from Ocado (and likely, although I haven’t checked, any supermarket)
1. Florette Superfoods salad 1 pack cost - £1.50 – 34 kcal
This includes mixed salad leaves and vegetables in variable proportions: Beetroot, Wild Rocket, Spinach, Baby Kale, Peppercress®, Baby Chard
2. Essential Waitrose Frozen Mixed Grilled Vegetables - 0.5 Packs £1.25 – 152 kcal
This includes a mix of red peppers, yellow peppers, courgettes, aubergine, green peppers and onion in sunflower oil
3. Avocado - £1.67 (100g or c.1 medium avocado) – 204 kcal
4. Cherry Tomatoes (100g or a large handful) – £0.6 – 20 kcal
5. Cucumber (1/3 of a large cucumber)- £0.2 – 8 kcal
6. Red Kidney beans (one can, drained and rinsed) - £0.59 – 88 kcal
7. Merchant Gourmet ready to eat puy lentils - £1.50 – 358 kcal
1 shallot - £0.05 – 2 kcal
1 clove of garlic – 5 kcal
2 tbsp olive oil - £0.25 – 247 kcal
2 tbsp white wine vinegar - £0.15 – 6 kcal
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar - £0.20 – 30 kcal
Salt and pepper to taste
Total - £7.96 - Less than £5 per person
Total - 1154 kcal
578 kcal per person