THE BASICS OF BATCH COOKING
After a busy day at work, the last thing most of us want to do is stand around chopping, frying, dicing and slicing. There’s a simple solution to this common scenario, though: batch cooking.
Tips from the chefs
We spoke to our chefs at the Waitrose cookery school to get some insider knowledge on batch cooking.
What are your top tips for batch cooking?
The best thing you can do is to be organised. I recommend writing a shopping list so you can plan your meals for the week. It’s also a good idea to make a large batch of a versatile sauce or stock, like tomato, garlic and basil, which you can use as the base for multiple meals throughout the week.
Which meals work best for batch cooking?
Vegetable-based dishes work best. A vegetable Bolognese sauce, for instance, can be transformed into a variety of different meals, from lasagne to chilli con carne, just by adding a few extra ingredients. They also have a longer shelf life, and can be stored and refrigerated or frozen in an airtight container for longer without the worry of spoiling.
How do you make sure that batch-cooked food stays fresh?
Storing batch-cooked food in a sterilised, airtight container of Kilner jar helps it stay fresher for longer. If you’re not using it straight away, you can divide the batch between smaller containers that can be frozen individually, then defrosted accordingly.
Serves 2 | Prep Time: 5 min | Cook Time: 15 mins
3 tbsp rapeseed or sunflower oil
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely sliced
400g tin chopped tomatoes
6 large fresh basil leaves, torn
How to prepare
1. Heat the oil in a saucepan and fry the garlic over a medium heat for a couple of minutes until soft.
2. Add the tomatoes and basil, and season. Cook for 12-15 minutes or until thick and glossy. Stir in a pinch of sugar if desired.
Chef’s Notes - This sauce is also ideal for topping homemade pizzas and for dressing gnocchi. You can make this sauce in advance and store it in the fridge in a covered container for up to two days.
Serves 2 | Prep Time: 15 mins | Cook Time: 5 mins
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried chilli flakes
2 Large cloves of garlic, crushed
20g anchovies in oil
200g cherry tomatoes
35g Kalamata olives
Handful fresh basil leaves
200g dried pasta, cooked
How to prepare
1. Place a large frying pan over a medium heat and allow to preheat. Once the pan is hot, add the olive oil, oregano, chilli, garlic and anchovies. Stir fry the mixture for 30 seconds, making sure not to burn the garlic.
2. Add the cherry tomatoes and olives, and increase the heat to high. Cook the tomatoes until they begin to break down, then toss through the pasta and basil.
3. Serve immediately, garnishing with plenty of Parmesan.
Serves 4 | Prep Time: 1 hour | Cook Time: 30 mins
14g fresh yeast
1 tsp caster sugar
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
500g strong white bread flour
1 tsp fine sea salt
Tomato margherita sause
1 clove of garlic chopped
400g chopped tinned tomatoes
6 basil leaves torn
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
150g grated mozzerella
8 basil leaves torn
How to prepare
1. Preheat the oven 230 degrees. Place a flat baking tray into the oven to warm.
For the pizza dough:
1. In a large bowl, mix together the yeast, sugar, oil, flour and salt, and add 325ml of lukewarm water.
2. Using your hands, bring the mixture together into a ball of dough, tip out onto a lightly-floured surface and knead for five minutes until you have a smooth, elastic ball of dough.
3. Place in a large bowl and lightly cover with cling film. Leave to prove for 45 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.
To make the tomato sauce:
1. Gently fry the garlic in olive oil for a few minutes until soft then add the basil, tomatoes and season with salft and pepper. Cook on a medium heat for 20 minutes until thickend. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.
To assemble the pizza:
1. Turn the proved dough out onto a lightly-floured surface and gently knead for one minute to knock out the air. Divide the dough into four even-sized balls.
2. To assemble the pizza, roll out one ball of dough at a time to the thickness of a pound coin.
3. Carefully place each rolled out dough onto a thin baking tray dusted with semolina flour. Spoon and spread one tbsp of the cooled tomato sauce over the base, then scatter the grated mozzerella and two torn basil leaves on top.
4. Carefully transfer the assembled pizza onto the hot baking tray in the oven by sliding it in. Cook for five minutes or until golden. Carefully remove the tray from the oven and repeat the same process with the next three balls of dough.
Serves 2 | Prep Time: 10 min | Cook Time: 30 - 35 mins
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 small onion, sliced
1/2 red pepper, sliced
1/2 green pepper, sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 tsp Ras el hanout
1 tsp rose harissa or chipotle paste
225g cherry tomatoes
4 Burford brown eggs
10g coriander, chopped
1/2 tsp nigella seeds
How to prepare
1. Preheat a heavy-based pan on a medium heat before adding the oil and cumin seeds. Fry for a few seconds before adding the onions and garlic, and continue to gently cook for around five minutes until soft and translucent.
2. Add the peppers and cook for a further 7-8 minutes until soft. Add the ras el hanout and harissa paste and cook for one minute before adding the cherry tomatoes along with 100ml water. Cover with a lid and cook the tomatoes over a medium heat until they turn into a paste - this will take around 10 minutes. the mix should still be slightly wet as this will help steam the eggs; if it's too dry, add a splash of water.
3. Using a wooden spoon, carefully create four small wells in the sauce. Crack an egg into each well, then cover the pan with a lid. Leave to poach for around 8-10 minutes over a gentle heat or until the eggs are cooked.
4. To serve, sprinkle with the chopped coriander and nigella seeds. Serve alongside flatbread and tahini yogurt.