This Red Dragon Pie was inspired by a recipe in the classic book Sarah Brown’s Vegetarian Kitchen (BBC cookery series). Topped with creamy mash, the base is a rich mix of aduki beans – traditionally said to give you the strength of the dragon – and brown rice in gravy.
Red Dragon Pie Ingredients (serves six)
Aduki beans, 200g dried and soaked overnight or two tins of cooked ones
200g of rice (brown is best)
4 sticks of celery, diced
4 carrots, diced
1 large onion, chopped
a teaspoon of dried mixed herbs (or fresh, lots of parsley is great)
Potatoes, mashed with margarine and milk of your choice, for topping
Red Dragon Pie Method
Soak beans overnight if using dried ones. Place in a large pan, cover well with water, bring to the boil and let simmer for a couple of hours until soft. Throw in the rice about half way through cooking. Add more water if needed. Once it’s all nearly cooked add the vegetables and boil a pan of potatoes for your mash topping, quantity up to you. We do like a nice thick layer of mash.
Frugal Potato Tip
Leave those skins on! It saves waste and money to not throw away a section of potato. Just give them a good scrub and cut any gnarly or bad bits off and you’re good to go (compost those gnarlies!). The skins are rich in both fibre and vitamins too. For mashing we cut them up quite small to save having large bits of skin in the mix; they also cook faster that way, saving cooking fuel.
As the beans and potatoes cook , add the herbs, puree and yeast extract to the bean mixture. Taste and add salt if needed. Stir well. Drain and mash the potatoes with marg and milk. Place the bean mix in an ovenproof dish, if not already using one, and top with the potatoes. Easier if using cookware that transfers from hob to oven such as a Cast Iron Casserole – and bake in a hot oven (200C/400F) until nicely browned. Running a fork round the top of your mash gives it lots of nice little crispy bits to brown.
Thompson and Morgan have a seed sale on for the next 48 hours (time of writing 22nd October 2021 but they usually have good deals on)! Stock up on seeds for next year for £1. See the selection here and use code TM_TN2468W for the cheap price.
THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR features the 1597 Aberdeen witchcraft panic while FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE was inspired by the kidnapped children of Aberdeen.
The blend of dark events and romance in these stories is perfect for Autumn!
Delicious and filling, this sausage and bean pie is a perfect winter dish, and can be made with a variety of ingredients which will affect the overall frugality of it. At the end of a shopping week we found Carlin Peas at the back of the cupboard and soaked them overnight but any beans would do. We combined these with a box of Linda McCartney sausages from the bottom of the freezer.
To make the pie: Pastry ingredients (for four people, adjust as required):
300g of flour (any type, self raising will puff up a little, plain won’t – we used wholemeal spelt obtained from Approved Food (also check Low Price Foods) in these pics, white would be lighter in colour).
150g of vegetable margarine
tiny amount of water (2 or 3 tablespoons)
Place flour in a bowl. Break the marg into small pieces and rub it in to the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add a very small amount of water and knead this into flour until you have firm dough (adding more water if too dry or more flour if too wet). Sprinkle flour on your working surface, divide the dough into two equal pieces and roll each one out to fit your pie or oven proof dish. Line the bottom and edges of the pie dish with one section of the pastry, ready for the filling.
Filling and Baking: Ingredients:
Beans of your choice (we used 200g dried beans). You could even used baked beans and skip the gravy part!
Sausages of your choice – we used six LM ones
a little oil
1 red onion chopped
gravy mix or flour to thicken
water as needed
salt to taste
Cook your beans and sausages as per packet instructions. Fry a red onion off in a little oil and add your pre-cooked beans along with their cooking water (or add water as needed if using tinned beans). Chop the cooked sausages into chunks and add these too. Make a thick gravy of the mixture (we used original Bisto) and add salt to taste. Place filling onto the pastry in the pie dish and then cover with the top pastry, sealing the edges with a little water. Make some cuts in the top to let out steam and bake in the oven at 200C/400F for at least half an hour or until the pastry is browned.
Simple to make, lovely to eat. Particularly frugal for us as we found these wraps reduced to 10p on Christmas Eve (freezer has quite a pile of them now) and the peanut butter at 4 jars for £1 at Approved Food, and it’s the nicest peanut butter we’ve tasted!
Ingredients for four people:
4 wraps or tortillas of your choice
a tablespoon of vegetable oil
3 or 4 small sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into thin sticks
1 onion, very thinly sliced
1 teaspoon each: dried coriander, ground cumin, dried fenugreek. Or you could just use some curry powder.
1 tablespoon desiccated coconut
1 tablespoon peanut butter
salt to taste
Heat the oil in a pan and fry up the onion and sweet potatoes for a few minutes before adding the spices and mixing well. Add the coconut, peanut butter and salt along with a small amount of water (a few tablespoons), cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are soft. It should only take a few minutes: sweet potatoes cook much faster than white ones.
Lay out your wraps and divide the sweet potato mixture between them. We lay it out in a line and then fold down the ends of the wrap before rolling the fajitas up for less messy eating!
This purple pasta is a delicious and thrifty dish, made all the more frugal in this instance by the aubergine and beetroot being obtained during Tesco’s 2p evening reduction time (may not be all stores and times vary, worth asking).
Most supermarkets have value pastas available such as spaghetti for 20p and penne for 29p for 500g. Also try clearance sellers like Low Price Foods and Approved Food.
Ingredients for sauce (amount serves four)
a little olive oil
1 leek, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed or finely chopped
a bunch of fresh beetroot, peeled and cut into chunks
2 small aubergines, cubed
a courgette, also cubed
1 pack of passata (we prefer Lidl’s cheap brand to Tesco value, much nicer)
1 can of red kidney beans
2 teaspoons of dried oregano (or other herbs, fresh are nice too)
salt and black pepper to taste
Cook the pasta according to pack instructions. Meanwhile, fry the vegetables in the oil until softened then add the passata. Bring to the boil, adding beans, herbs and seasoning as you go, water if too thick, tomato puree if too thin. Turn down to a simmer until all is cooked, probably for about 20 minutes; test for seasoning, adjust if needed, and pile the sauce on top of your pasta. Garnish with parsley and enjoy.
This gluten-free vegetarian lasagne was made with gluten free lasagne sheets found in Lidl, making it especially frugal, though many brands exist and the recipe will work with wheat based products too. It made enough for four huge portions or six medium.
1 250g pack of lasagne sheets
For the tomato sauce
a little olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, diced
an aubergine, cut into small chunks
4 sticks of celery, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 500g pack of passata
about 2 cups of water
1 tablespoon of dried oregano or other dried herbs
salt to taste
Method: fry the vegetables in the oil for a few minutes until softened. Add the passata, rinse out the pack/bottle with the water before adding it to the sauce. Bring to the boil, add your herbs and salt.
Method: melt the margarine and stir in the flour. Gradually add the milk over a medium heat, stirring all the time to avoid lumps (though don’t worry too much, in this dish they’re not very noticeable), until the sauce thickens. Add your seasoning and pour onto the top of the lasagne.
In a flat oven proof dish layer up the lasagne and the tomato sauce. It’s best to put a little sauce on the bottom to prevent sticking. The Lidl brand of lasagne did not need pre soaking (thank goodness! It always sticks together!) but check the instructions on your pack.
Make the top layer sauce and spread on top.
Bake in a pre-heated oven at 200C for at least forty minutes or until a knife slides easily into the middle of the lasagne.
This recipe used the most basic of vegetables, you can use whatever you have to hand: peppers, courgettes, peas, sweetcorn. We added sweetcorn to the white sauce pictured.
A layer of tinned spinach instead of the last layer of tomato sauce is very nice and juicy. Ditto mushrooms.
We topped with a small packet of sunflower and pumpkin seeds.
You can add tomato puree if the sauce seems overly runny, though remember it does need to have more liquid than plain pasta sauce as the lasagne will absorb some of it.
This aduki bean and amaranth pie is a protein dense and filling meal, the recipe is a variant of red dragon pie. We bought the dried beans very cheaply from Approved Food, they do seem to get them in quite often.
The quantities listed are for an enormous pie that feeds four people with lots of leftovers for the next day. Adjust as required.
500g of dried aduki beans, soaked in water overnight
a bag of potatoes (I used 750g), peeled if needed and chopped. The smaller you cut them, the less cooking time they require.
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped (optional, but they give a cheesy edge without being too rich)a dab of marge
splash of soya milk.
salt and pepper to taste.
Place your soaked beans in a large pan, cover well with water, bring to the boil and turn down to simmer. Different brands seem to need different times of cooking. Supermarket ones could need an hour, organic types need less. Once they are beginning to soften, add your amaranth, vegetables, herbs and bay leaves and cook until tender. The amaranth will swell quite a bit so top up with water if needed. Once it’s all cooked add the soy sauce, tomato puree and season to taste.
It’s a good idea to put your potatoes on to cook at the same time as the amaranth, or before, for simultaneous readiness. Mash the tatties up with marge, milk and seasoning and place on top of the bean mix. It’s great if you have hob to oven cookware and can plop everything in the same pan, but if not layer them up in a suitable casserole. Run a fork round the top of the mash for a nice finish. Bake in a hot oven for 10-20 minutes until nicely browned.
The leftovers are often comprised of mainly bean mix, so get used as a base for pasta sauce the next day.
Gluten-free if you’re careful with your brand of soy sauce, some have wheat.
A super simple and super tasty recipe for roast potatoes with peppers, made all the more frugal by knowing supermarket ultimate price down time. At two Tesco stores near us it’s around 7pm each day. Bread goes down to 10p and veg is available from 2p!
Ingredients (quantities are entirely adjustable): a bag of new potatoes (filled a medium saucepan), cut into chunks 1 bag of peppers (four peppers), roughly chopped 1 large onion, chopped salt and pepper to taste a little oil to coat in the oven Optional extras: herbs, spices, garlic, other veg such as carrots and parsnips, aubergine, courgettes, mushrooms…
Par boil the potatoes, leaving skins on, while you pre-heat the oven to 200C/400F. Once partially cooked, drain and place the potatoes in a large roasting tin along with the peppers, onion, salt and pepper and toss well in the oil until everything is well covered. Roast for at least half an hour, until the veg is browning up.
Good as a side dish or as a main with rice and salad.
We love this potato and onion pie! Well, what’s not to love? Pies are simple and filling and people gobble them up. Last night we made the pictured potato and onion pie with a block of cheap puff pastry from Lidl on the top.
Filling Ingredients (serves 5)
a little olive oil
1 bag of new potatoes washed and thinly sliced (skins left on)
4 onions, peeled and sliced up
3 tablespoons original Bisto powder (or other gravy mix)
salt to taste
water as needed (a cup or two)
In a large pan fry up the onion in the oil until softened and add the potatoes, mixing well. Add water (not actually to cover, it will form your gravy) and bring to the boil as you preheat your oven to 200C/400F. Cook the potato mix for a short time so that the potatoes are partly boiled and then add your gravy mix according to packet instructions, though you are going for thick not pouring. Combine well in the pan, adding salt as needed.
Transfer your filling to a large pie dish or casserole. Roll out your pastry to fit the pie and plonk it on top, tucking in the edges if needed.
Cook for at least half an hour, maybe up to 45 minutes, until the pastry is risen and browned and the potatoes are all soft.
Of course, all manner of ingredients can go into a pie! This one was originally intended to be a cheese, onion and potato pie, but all the cheese was gone at the end of the shopping week.
Extremely simple and cheap – even if you’ve never cooked before you should manage this one!
Ingredients: 6 or 7 medium sized potatoes, peeled 1 large can of baked beans in tomato sauce (approx 800g – you could use 2 standard size tins instead) 1 large onion, thinly sliced 2 or 3 sliced tomatoes 1 tablespoon of margarine for dotting over the top 1 tablespoon of sesame seeds for sprinkling on the top other optional layers: 1 or 2 cups of left-over rice mixed with some soya milk and herbs sliced mushrooms mixed with a little veg. oil and 2 cloves of crushed garlic 1 can of sweetcorn 1 can of spinach
Part-boil the potatoes for 5 or 6 minutes until starting to soften. Thinly slice them. In a large casserole or lasagne dish place a layer of potatoes then a layer of beans, then onion and repeat until all used up. That is the basic dish but you can add any other layers you like (experiment! Any tins lurking in the cupboard?), such as the garlic mushrooms, sweetcorn, spinach or rice ones above, making the last layer potatoes. Spread the sliced tomatoes over the top, dot with the marg. and sprinkle on the sesame seeds. Bake for about an hour or until the potatoes are soft at 190C/380F.
Pictured Potato Bake cooked in an energy saving Halogen Oven.
Ailish Sinclair‘s debut novel, THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR, set in a fictional castle in Aberdeenshire, and featuring the 1597 Aberdeen witchcraft panic, is out Autumn 2019. On Amazon and Waterstones or see Author website for more details.
These vegetarian Singapore noodles are good as either a side or a main.
Ingredients to serve four people
3 or 4 packs of value noodles (usually about 20p each – we have seen them at Approved Food and Low Price Foods for much less along with the more traditional rice noodles, pictured above)
2 tablespoons of sunflower oil
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 onion cut into inch/2cm long thin strips
a teaspoon of chilli powder
1 red pepper cut into same strips
1 yellow pepper cut in the same way
a courgette/zucchini cut into strips
(optional) about half a cupful of soya chunks, rehydrated (or you could use smoked tofu – a bit more expensive)
2 tablespoons of soy sauce
2 tablespoons of sesame oil (optional)
Cook the noodles according to the instructions on the packet leaving out the flavouring sachet which is usually very chemical based (if you don’t mind that it is a very cheap way of making soup for another time). Cook the onions and garlic in the sunflower oil for a few minutes then add the chilli and stir well. Add your vegetables and soy sauce and cook for a few moments until slightly softened and then mix in the soya or tofu and stir fry for another 10 minutes or so before adding the rice noodles and combining well (you may want to cut them up if they are very long). At the last minute sprinkle the sesame oil over the dish and serve at once. This goes very well with a fresh salad of lettuce and herbs.