20 March 2011

Don't staple your food

Album in background ‘The Con by Tegan and Sara’
What’s your staple food? Are you adding variety to your meals? Or is it just pasta, potato and rice based?

Staple foods are the main bulk of what we eat and are normally accompanied by something else. In the UK they are pasta, rice and potatoes.
They can be very quick to cook and for most of us it provides substance in our meals making us feel full.

Time to read on and hopefully get you to mix things up in your kitchen.


Simple and versatile staple made from wheat flour, water and then into a pasta machine. These days I only buy whole wheat pasta; it takes a bit longer to cook and has a nuttier taste.

Pasta is very quick to cook and can be high in fat if combined with cheese and creamy sauces. It’s nice to eat before bed with a thin sauce because it produces sleep inducing hormones.

When you get in from work and fancy pasta....please don’t reach for the pesto jar.

Try this instead:

On your way back from work go into the supermarket and buy some peas, broccoli, cherry tomatoes, cucumber and mozzarella.

When you get in and start boiling the pasta you can prepare some of the veg.
So chuck in the broccoli and peas when pasta is nearly done.

Maybe make our own pesto or your own sauce

drizzle olive oil

Instead of cheddar use Parmesan, Gorgonzola or mozzarella. They can be a bit more expensive but better than having cheddar on top of everything all the time. Plus cheddar takes up too much space in a supermarket, it makes me angry.

Add spinach to pasta

Make it spicy by adding some curry figh paste and passata (check lamb and date curry recipe)

Incorporate bacon and chilli

Don’t put all the above in one meal! They are just ideas that I have tried in the past. I know some people cannot be bothered and love a standard pasta and pesto, because it’s quick and effortless. So maybe prepare some of the above the night before so the next day you can just add it in. Let me know what you have conjured up....

Rice and......
Now we are on the good stuff! This is a staple food for over half the worlds population.
It takes about 20 minutes to cook and in my case about 10 years to master. There are so many types, here are just a few, and we only have about 7 of these in our supermarkets.
Long grain
Red rice
Wild rice
Valencia (paella)
Vialone nano

My mum would have a pot ready of basmati with every meal. So at university I went bit pasta crazy for 3 years!
Now I cook a lot of risotto and paella because I don’t really like rice on the side.
It's a great staple if your cooking for a lot of people, it will fill them up so you don't have to worry about too many side dishes.

add some turmeric to make yellow rice

when rice is nearly done add lime wedge

in a pan fry 2 cloves, 3 cardamom pods and a cinnamon stick then add rice and water.
classic scrambled egg to rice

create a rice salad with rocket, spinach and watercress
put cooked rice in red pepper and roast
Got any other ideas that you have tried? Let me know.