The art of a good fridge raid

Sometimes supper is a last minute affair. I think everyone finds themselves in this situation, suddenly you realise that you have bugger all planned for supper and nothing really in the fridge except for odds and ends and really can't be arsed to go to the supermarket or even the local shop.

These fridge and cupboard raiding suppers, where random ingredients are collated together on the table and picked through until an idea springs to mind, are often some of my favourites. I am pushed to make something yummy from what I have, rather than a pre decided feast - a brilliant way to use up half open packs and wilting, slightly sorry looking veg and to test my creative cooking skills.

Building blocks

Pasta, rice or beans is often a good starting point I find - always lurking in the cupboard they just need a few other ingredients to turn them into a feast. I have all three in mind as potential building blocks for my supper as I pull out the contents of my fridge (sadly having to ignore the tantalising ingredients that are not on offer as they are for my shoot the next day...). Today I find that I have the following to work with...

Half a bag of kale, half a bag of watercress, some wilty herbs (parsley, tarragon and sage), the scrapings of a tub of crème fraiche, a heel end of Parmesan, 3 rashers of bacon, a stumpy piece of red cabbage, a cucumber that when I pick it up turns to liquid so goes straight in the bin and then I hit the jackpot... a pack of forgotten hot smoked salmon!! Ok... so it’s quite a bit past its sell by date but I'm not a great one for putting faith in those anyway - it’s smoked, and vac packed so I'm hoping its going to be ok!

Believe in your senses....

The trusty sniff test tells me that it's still good - really truly, trust your eyes and nose when you are on a fridge raid. So often something says it’s past its date and actually its completely fine! I once had an unopened tub of Greek yoghurt nearly 2 months past its date and it was 100% perfect. If it looks fine and smells fine then it really probably is!

A plan is forming

Now I know what I have to work with, a plan is forming... for the hot smoked salmon I'm thinking either chickpeas or pasta... I love chickpeas and haven't eaten them for ages and I'm working along the lines of tossing watercress and salmon through warmed chickpeas with a lemony mustardy dressing, but really the watercress is only enough for a garnish and the bag of kale is nudging its way into the running. I really want to use up as much as I can (one of the aims of any good fridge raid) and my thoughts turn to pesto... a great way to use up all kinds of greenery from herbs and spicy leaves to denser brassicas like kale.

kale, tarragon and almond pesto

kale, tarragon and almond pesto

I finally settle on the idea of pasta with a kale and herb pesto and the hot smoked salmon and the rest of the bits go back in the fridge for another day's fridge raid.

The resulting dish is (even if I say so myself) pretty darn delicious! This is one of those recipes that could be adapted so easily for what you have languishing in your fridge, I will give you some ideas for what could be swapped in and out in the recipe so you can give it a go for yourself! 





Pasta, pesto and hot smoked salmon

Pasta with kale pesto and hot smoked salmon

Pasta with kale pesto and hot smoked salmon

Serves 4

100g kale (try rocket, watercress, spinach, Brussels sprouts)

handful flat leaf parsley (try curly parsley, basil, oregano, mint)

few sprigs tarragon (try dill, chives, rosemary)

30g blanched almonds (try pinenuts, hazelnuts, walnuts, macadamia)

dollop of crème fraiche (cream, soured cream, cream cheese)

good squeeze lemon juice

1 clove garlic, peeled

rapeseed oil to blend (olive oil, groundnut, vegetable)

150g hot smoked salmon (try smoked salmon, hot smoked mackerel, smoked trout, crab)

350g dried long pasta (spag, linguini, tagliatelle etc)

a little olive oil

handful of fresh breadcrumbs (white, brown, sourdough)

Blanch the kale in boiling water for 30 seconds to slightly soften and bring out the colour. refresh under cold water then pop into a blender with the herbs and whiz together. Add the almonds, crème fraiche, lemon juice and garlic and then whiz as you trickle in the rapeseed oil. You want to add just enough to bring it all together to a soft and dollop-able pesto. Season with sea salt and lots of black pepper.

Cook the pasta in boiling salted water according to pack instructions and when just cooked, drain and return to the pan with a splash of the cooking water to stop it sticking.

Heat some oil in a pan and fry your crumbs until golden, season with sea salt.

Flake the hot smoked salmon and add to the drained pasta with the pesto and toss all together. Divide between bowls and sprinkle with the crumbs and serve.