Tips on how to transform a humble tin can of food

Add some fresh herbs, colour and texture and you've got an exciting dish

Thursday 02 April 2020 14:49
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Choose from peas or sweetcorn to take centre stage
Choose from peas or sweetcorn to take centre stage

The brilliant thing about having a few staple tins in your cupboard is that you’re never far away from rustling up a quick, simple meal.

In developing the recipes in my book, Tin Can Magic, I’ve tried to consider how you can easily add contrasting textures, colours and flavours to make your own everyday cooking more interesting.

When you’re cooking, these are some things to in keep in mind:

Pick your hero tin

Which tin has been sitting in the back of your cupboard for a while that needs using up?

How can you cook it to make it the centrepiece of a simple feast? Perhaps it’s a pulse that can be rinsed in fresh water to become the basis of a salad?

Or could it be charred in a hot pan to become a smoky taco filling? Perhaps it suits being slowly braised with lots of woody herbs and wine to become a warm, comforting supper?

Have a think about which direction you’d like the meal to go in.

Add 2-3 fresh ingredients

Consider how a few fresh ingredients could enhance and contrast with your chosen tin.

If you’re working with corn that’s naturally sweet for example, think about teaming it with fragrant herbs or something more zingy and punchy like lemon rather than another sweet ingredient.

Some interesting contrast

This is where everyday salted cheeses like feta and halloumi come in, or even just a cooling spoonful of strained yoghurt if it’s a spicy curry or dal you’re making. Try to think how you can balance your hero tin; earthy beetroots contrast nicely with sweet tinned cherries in a salad, for example.

Crunch and added texture

A handful of toasted nuts, seeds or whole spice can really help lift softer tinned ingredients such as lentils, chickpeas and beans.

Have a look round your cupboard and see what you can use up to give your meals another layer of texture.

Extracted from ‘Tin Can Magic’ by Jessica Elliott Dennison (Hardie Grant, RRP £15 & ebook £6.47). Photography © Matt Russell

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