Ok so this is a bit of a fusion meal – not of cultures, but of traditional meals, waste-avoidance recipe work and general appreciation of amazing flavour. Taking something that’s a tired leftover (not that there’s truly any such thing), using up whoever was kicking their heels needing a purpose in the veg bowl, setting them up with a few storecupboard staples and turning it all into something unified for a filling (and really, really delicious) dinner.
(Also makes a great breakfast though, tbf. And who doesn’t love bacon and baked beans with their full English Breakfast?)
So a lot of my focus in writing this blog is about creating something from the leftovers, scraps and seasonal gluts. And this is one of the leftover ones.
Now, in this case It was a little bit of free range, high quality tenderloin pork. And really not that much of it (the initial roast had already fed two for a stir fry the night before, before you even count the lovely meal the day it was cooked). I also happened to have a lot of sweet peppers left over which were no longer the beauty queens they were when I first found them and really needed a use…
This is very much a recipe invented in the spirit of not only using what you have had to hand in a time when you might not want to venture out (so there will be some swaps later) but also about making good quality meat go a long way courtesy of vegetables and legumes, and making that bring costs down and value up both financially and in terms of health, but also invention. And a bit of abandon….you’ve got some of this, some of that, you don’t want to waste that other thing…ooh look at that…hang on how can I…?
(Unless it’s ice cream, yes you probably can)
And why should some dishes always be breakfast? Why can’t some great dinner leftovers BECOME a breakfast, or a brunch, or leftovers a gift for next door? Why can’t investing in a great big high-welfare joint of meat or one that’s on offer become not just one but several really special meals?
Pork tenderloin is a beautiful cut. Easy to get wrong just as a plain roast or main, stand out ingredient type meal, but as with many meats, when you have leftovers you can be a bit more brutal. It’s already past it’s totally perfect best. But – you can’t throw food like that out. You can’t leave it languishing in the fridge, forget about it and find it a week later and smack yourself on the head for being so stupid. You have to get creative, and quickly. Even better, make it go as far as you can. You really don’t need much meat in a dish to make it complete.
My little creative enterprise with very little leftovers quickly became a spin on a baked bean and bacon breakfast when a quick scout in the fridge and store cupboards shuffled up some smoked bacon lardons and a tin of cannellini beans. Suddenly it wasn’t about this tiny amount of leftover protein. It was about an indulgent, fun spin on a classic, whatever time of day you wanted to eat it at. I mean come on, it’s like this wanted to be cooked.
Also, it turned out to be utterly bloody delicious.
Let’s get into it. Something that’s a stew, yet reminiscent of baked beans and so versatile, so healthy, but so very store cupboard friendly. Again, we’ll go into swap-outs in a bit.
This is just what I had, and aims to serve 4 with sides. I was lucky enough to come across a beautiful free range tenderloin cut and had already roasted it and the starting point of this was what was left, specifically…
…Prize ingredient – leftover pork tenderloin – I only had 100 grams but that was more than enough with the other ingredients. Use more or less depending on your leftovers situation
90g smoked pork lardons – if not smoked swap out paprika below for smoked paprika if you like but not essential at all either way
1 small banana shallot, diced finely
2 garlic cloves, grated
3 sweet peppers (those cute small ones)
1 x tin cannellini beans, drained – keep back the tin before washing
1 x tin chopped tomatoes
1 x vegetable stock cube – I tend to use Kallo
Leaves of three small thyme sprigs (optional)
1 tsp paprika
1 tbsp Worcstershire sauce
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Natural yoghurt to serve (optional)
Finely chop the shallot, garlic cloves, and gather the lardons – place in a pan on a medium heat with some olive oil (rape seed or avocado oil would also do), season with thyme leaves from two or three small sprigs (half a tea spoon dried), paprika, Maldon Sea Salt and a generous cover of fresh cracked black pepper. Start to slowly soften the onions.
Add a tablespoon of tomato puree about ten minutes in and cook out with the rest of the ingredient already in the pan.
Carry on cooking gently until the aromatics are softened, stirring occasionally and keeping an eye on the heat. Don’t be afraid of a little caramelisation, encourage it if you can stay around to oversee, but don’t rush it.
Fill the cannellini bean tin with hot water, crumble in the stock cube and add to the sauce – this’ll take around half an hour but go with what you feel if you think it’s getting a little too dry add a little more water.
While that’s cooking, slice all the washed sweet peppers in .5cm round slices, and the bell pepper in strips about a centimetre thick. In with them!
Simmer for another five minutes or until the peppers are done to your liking – this one causes arguments between crunchy or soft!
Serve up over cous cous, or as it comes with a dash of sharp yoghurt, or however you like. Scatter some more thyme leaves on – so underrated.
So many options here – I was going for a spin-off of bacon and baked beans English Breakfast but equally it’s a foundation for so many meals – if you don’t have the pork just use the lardons or bacon, but if vegetarian sack off both and use smoked paprika for that BBQ breakfast feel.
Ramp up the chilli if you’re that way inclined (some really do like it hot and I’m definitely one of them but this is the family friendly version).
Swap in some avocado, serve with rice, cous cous, bulgar wheat, quinoa.
Gorgeous with yoghurt swept through it as per the recipe, but equally crack some fresh, free range eggs on a medium heat in for the last few minutes to poach gently.
Sweep in some spinach (frozen or fresh, just let the former get to room temp first to break up and give the latter time to blanch), swap out the cannellini beans if you have others to hand…have fun and invent a great dinner / brunch of your own.