Cost of Living: Eat Well for Less with Mike Van de Elzen’s Simple, Smart and Cheap Recipes

We’ve all been to the supermarket lately and been horrified at the receipt with its TOO MANY NUMBERS at the bottom because cost of living, amirite? We’re looking for any ways to shop a little smarter at the moment, so we thought we’d go straight to the expert – Eat Well for Less host and celebrated chef Mike Van de Elzen – for some tips, tricks and cheap recipes to get that bill looking a little friendlier.

Mike Van de Elzen of Eat Well for Less
Eat Well for Less host Mike Van de Elzen

“The biggest tip I can give is not to be confined to a recipe,”Mike tells Capsule.

“Make substitutions based on what you have in the fridge that needs using, is on special or in season. That’s where something like the chickpea salad comes in really handy – you have a solid, flavourful base but you can use whatever veggies you hand, you don’t have to strictly follow the recipe. 

“Vegetarian dishes are great to make in bulk for lunch or dinner throughout the week, and if you want you could add shredded chicken or grilled salmon just before eating. Dishes like the soup are good to make in bulk and freeze in portions, especially if you are cooking by yourself or for two. 

“Dishes like the broccoli tart are great to eat cold, making it a perfect recipe to whip up on a Sunday and pack for lunch throughout the week. 

“And my final tip – write a list before you hit the supermarket, and don’t go hungry!”

So here are his top recipes to actually Eat Well For Less, make the most of what you’ve got in the cupboard and what’s in season – a delicious broccoli tart, a nourishing split pea and ham soup with gouda toasts, and a healthy veggie and chickpea salad that uses anything that’s in your fridge.

Broccoli Tart with Onion Jam, Almond Chilli Pesto

(Serves 4)

Prep time: 20 mins

Cooking time: 25 minutes

1 sheet puff pastry

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 head broccoli, long stalks intact, cut into small florets

2 tbsp oil

½ cup onion jam

100g soft cheese

pinch salt

freshly ground black pepper

8 basil leaves (optional for garnish)

Preheat oven to 190*C. Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Blanch broccoli and refresh in iced water to halt cooking. Drain well then toss in oil and salt. Chargrill in a pan or on BBQ until coloured.

Line a baking tray with baking paper. Lay the sheet of pastry on baking tray. Leaving a 3cm square border, lightly cut an inner square into the pastry sheet, without cutting all the way through. Prick inside square with a fork.

Spread the onion jam inside square, then layer chargrilled broccoli on top with dollops of cheese over top. Brush outside border with egg, sprinkle salt and pepper over and bake in oven for 25 minutes or until golden.

Garnish with Almond Chilli Pesto and basil leaves.

Red Onion Jam

(Makes 2 cups)

Prep time: 5 mins

Cooking time: 12 mins

3 red onions, finely sliced

1/3 cup balsamic vinegar

2 tbsp brown sugar

pinch salt

Place all ingredients in a heavy-based saucepan. Cook on a medium heat for about 12 minutes or until thick and syrupy.

Almond Chilli Pesto

Prep time: 10 mins

70g almonds

1 chilli, deseeded and finely diced

30g finely grated parmesan cheese

8 large basil leaves, finely chopped

pinch salt

3 tbsp oil

Juice and zest of ½ lemon

Toast almonds in a hot frying pan until warm, transfer to a mortar and pestle, and roughly crush. Add chilli, parmesan, basil and salt and mix. Stir in oil and lemon.

Split Pea and Ham Soup with Smoked Gouda Toasts

(Serves 6)

1 smoked pork hock

1 carrot, peeled and quartered

2 onions, peeled and quartered

2 bay leaves

2 ltr vegetable stock

2 cups green split lentils  

Place all the ingredients in a large pot with a lid. Bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer (covered) for 1 hour. Remove bay leaves and discard. Remove pork hock and set aside, blitz the rest of the soup until smooth. Pick the meat from pork hock and add into the soup. Serve soup hot with smoked cheese toasts.

Smoked Gouda Toasts

8 slices ciabatta or sour dough

4 tbsp Dijon mustard

1 cup smoked gouda cheese, grated

Spread Dijon mustard over ciabatta slices then top with grated smoked cheese. Place under a hot grill until cheese is golden and bubbling.

Throw-out Spiced Roasted Veggie and Chickpea Salad

(Serves 4)

6 parsnips, carrots, beetroot, pumpkin or buttercup & cut into long wedges
2 tbsp cooking oil

Spiced salt
1⁄2 tsp smoked paprika powder
1 tsp sea salt

Warm chickpea salsa
2 x 330 ml can chickpeas, drained well
1⁄2 cup coriander and mint, roughly chopped (reserve some for garnish)
3 cloves garlic, crushed
6 tbsp grapeseed oil
1⁄2 tsp smoked paprika
1 lemon, juiced & zested salt & pepper

Heat oven to 180 degrees. Place the vegetables into a large bowl and toss through oil and spiced salt. Then into a roasting tray ensuring all the veggies are single layer. Bake for 20 minutes before tossing and cooking for a further 5 minutes while you make the chickpea salsa.

Once the veggies are cooked and whilst they are still hot, toss through the chickpea salsa, garnish with the mint and coriander leaves and serve while its still hot.

For the chickpea salad, place the chickpeas into a bowl and combine all the rest of the ingredients and mix well.

Eat Well for Less, Tuesday 7.30pm, TVNZ1

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