Beans are the ultimate frugal food. High in protein and vitamins and versatile in use. You can either use two tins of bought beans (less frugal but still cheap) or soak dried ones overnight and then boil until cooked (can be over an hour for some beans) – good ones for this recipe: chick peas, aduki beans, black eye beans, green lentils, kidney beans (usually 11p for a value tin), borlotti and lima but any will do. Check out bulk prices with companies such as Goodness Direct and co-operatives. Clearance food specialists Approved Food sometimes have some bean bargains too.
2 leeks or 2 onions, sliced into thin round slices
A little olive oil
Mixed beans of your choice, cooked (how much is up to you – 500g+)
2 tins plum tomatoes – chop them up (about 3 cups/800g in all)
half a cup of water or vegetable stock
a handful of fresh herbs of your choice roughly chopped or 3 teaspoons of dried herbs (suggested herbs – mint, thyme, sage, winter savory)
salt to taste
Fry the leeks in the oil for a few moments then add the beans and stir until coated with the oil. Add the tomatoes, water/stock, salt and herbs and bring to the boil. Simmer gently for about 20 minutes until cooked – alternatively place in oven to cook – a good idea if you are already using it for baked potatoes or herb bread which go very well with this dish. Maybe you could fit a cake in there too? Sorry – off on a frugal tangent!
Variations are many with casseroles – they are great for using things up: Add the dumplings from our mince and dumplings recipe. Add any vegetables that need using up – tinned potatoes mixed through could make this a one pot meal. Add rehydrated soya chunks or chopped sausages Make it fruity with dried apricots. Pictured is a casserole made with tinned butter beans, aubergines and leeks served with mustard mash.