When it comes to winter comfort food, it’s hard to beat the aromatic scent and tantalising flavours that you get from slow-cooked casseroles and soups. Check out these recipes that transform everyday vegetables and cuts of meat into into nutritious and delicious meals.
In winter, everything seems like more of an effort. Even the simplest activities like getting out of bed or the shower suddenly seem like the biggest chore. One thing that certainly becomes an increasing hassle is cooking. For starters, the thought of standing up and doing something instead of huddling by the heater is enough to make you reach for the takeout menus. What’s more, any food that will provide you comfort is either high in fat or high in effort. Then it happens. The dreaded winter weight. As much as I sometimes wish humans hibernated, those extra winter kilos are not what’s going to get you through the winter. However, the best food vacuum sealers from Munro Direct will.
So why vacuum seal these delicious meals? Simple. It save you time, money and best of all, saves your waistline from expanding. While the whole process of creating soups and casseroles is relatively simple, there are a few tips and tricks that can help you turn an ordinary dish into the extraordinary. By following this easy guide, you’ll discover the art of making great winter food, which vegetables and cuts of meats to use, and how to prepare them in advance to make them taste even better.
Remember: due to the liquid content, you’ll need to freeze your a soup or casserole before vacuum sealing it. The best way to do this is dividing the mixture into portion sized takeaway containers and freezing it overnight. This decreases wastage and in the morning, it is rock solid and ready vacuum pack. Alternatively you can put the food in a bag and fold over the end and secure it (I often use pegs) then lie it flat in the freezer. This is particularly great for caravanners and campers who really need the space.
Top Tips for Casseroles
- Casseroles are one recipe that will be enhanced from using cheap cuts of meat. Those marked chuck or blade steaks or chicken thigh fillets will finally go to good use! However, meat or chicken on special needs to be frozen as soon as possible as it not have the same shelve life as fresh cuts.
- Cut your ingredients, into similar-sized pieces to ensure they cook evenly (I often cut them into cubes). Then add any ingredients that cook quickly towards the end of cooking
- To save time (and washing up) use an ovenproof casserole dish. This way you can use the same dish for cooking on the stovetop and in the oven.
- Avoid adding flour after cooking or the raw flour taste will remain. Instead, dip the meat or vegetables in flour before cooking to thicken the liquid.
- Use a tight fitting casserole dish lid to ensure it doesn’t lose moisture during the long cooking process.
- Size matters. If your dish is too small, the liquid can overflow. If it’s too large, the liquid can reduce too quickly and dry out the food. As a general rule, choose a casserole dish that will be about three-quarters full at the start of the cooking process,.
Eager to make a casserole but don’t know what to make? Check out these recipes to warm up your winter.
Top Tips for Soup Preparation
- Sweat the vegetables: Build flavours as you go with aromatics such as onion, garlic, celery and carrots. Be sure they’re cooked long enough to soften and release their flavour before moving on.
- When chopping vegetables, think about how big you want them to be on the spoon. Even hearty soups need reasonably sized vegetables to ensure they’re easy to eat.
- Use salt sparingly as many stocks, canned beans, vegetables and tomato paste already have high levels of sodium. Therefore, save most of your seasoning until the end
- Cream isn’t always the best option. It tends to be high in calories and if not warmed first, it often ends up curdling. Try substituting it for healthier alternatives such as greek yoghurt, sour cream or coconut cream.
Ready to make your own soup sensation? Give this recipe a try!
Vegetable and Risoni Soup
- 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
- 1 Brown Onion, finely chopped
- 125g Bacon, chopped
- 2 Cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 2 Carrots, peeled and chopped
- 1 Parsnip, peeled and chopped
- 2 Small zucchini , chopped
- 1 Celery stick, chopped
- 6 cups Beef stock
- 400g Diced Roma tomatoes (canned)
- 1/3 cup Risoni pasta (dry)
- Flat leaf parsley to garnish
- Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat.
- Add onion, bacon and garlic and cook, stirring for 5 minutes or until bacon browns.
- Add carrot, parsnip, celery and zucchini and cook , stirring for 5 minutes.
- Add stock and tomatoes.
- Stir to combine, bring to the boil then reduce heat to low and cover
- Simmer, stirring occasionally for 45 minutes
- Stir in risoni and cook for 12 minutes
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Stir through parsley
- Serve with crusty bread and shaved parmesan.
Once vacuum packed, it is a good idea to write what the meal is and the date above the sealing line. (All the beef dishes tend to look the same!) You can rewash the bags once you open the contents a so it virtually becomes a new bag anyway.
Once you vacuum seal and freeze one of these delicious meals they’ll be no freezer burn. That way your meal will taste as fresh and tasty as the day you cooked it! These tips and tricks are particularly great for camping or hosting events, as you can start preparing meals ages in advance.
How did you go with these tips and recipes? Let us know.