I love a challenge, of any sort, so when CannedFoodUK approached and challenged us to cook using canned goods, rather than fresh, I, of course, had to say yes!
We do use canned food in this home already, don’t get me wrong but it is only for a few recipes. Our famous spaghetti bolognese is most of the time made with canned tomatoes and we have also been known to resort to a can of rice pudding, when in need for a sweet treat but other than that, we are limited in our consumption of canned goods.
I do think that this streams mainly from the recent food scares and theories that fresh is best and we are certainly victims of the latest health trends here.
But are those trends always accurate and is canned food to be demonised?
I embarked on a virtual search to find out what the real truth(!!) might be and I did discover some stunning facts:
- Canned fruits, vegetables and beans are considered minimally processed. After being picked at peak ripeness and quality, fruits and vegetables travel to a local cannery to be cleaned, chopped, peeled and or/ stemmed (if necessary). After the food is sealed, the cans are quickly heated to preserve the contents and to create an airtight seal to keep food fresh and safe until eaten.
- Canned foods do not require preservatives. Just as when canned at home, foods sold in cans are already cooked, so they do not need preservatives to prevent spoilage. In fact, most canned foods are preservative-free.
- Canned blackcurrants, mangoes, pineapples and strawberries all contain Vitamin C which help strengthen bones and acts as an antioxidant, protecting against infection. All canned berries also provide other antioxidants and phytochemicals.
- Canned vegetables, beans and pulses are good sources of fibre, which help promote good digestion as well as lowering blood cholesterol levels and stabilising blood sugar.
- Canned tuna is a low carb, high protein food that contains a powerful antioxidant helping to protect your body from free radicals, which are important for a healthy heart and good for your skin ( can find sustainable canned fish at all big UK supermarkets and in some of the health stores).
I also remembered the fact that when we were children most fruit and vegetables consumed during winter months were in canned form. Every self-respecting (and budget savvy!) mummy and granny in Romania would have embarked on the canning process at the beginning of the summer and all sorts of wonderful preserves and brined produce would have donned our tables and made the winter months much more colourful and less culinary dreary.
So here is the recipe I came up with, using canned food and as a response to the challenge. It is not my own recipe, I did use the BBC recipe for Greek gigantes plaki as inspiration but I used canned food instead of fresh.
As you can see, my humble yet so versatile ingredients were two cans of canned beans, one can of baby carrots and one can of Italian plum tomatoes:
I did use also two of my pantry ingredients, olive oil, for that authentic Greek flavour and bouillon(posh word for veggie stock, really), for enhancing the taste:
First, I chopped the onion and the carrot and added them to a pan with oil. I needed the onion to soften a bit and the carrot to blend in as a flavour. Salt and pepper went in at the same time and for the same purpose, to season our base, before the beans went in:
Once the onion softened, it was simply a matter of adding the chopped tomato and loads of olive oil and let it simmer for about half an hour:
The two cans of beans went in last, once the sauce was ready for them. More olive oil and two laurel leaves went in before putting the whole lot in the oven for about two hours, while I worked on my blog:
If you had a peek at the initial BBC recipe, you would have realised that the canned food saved me the soaking overnight and the boiling of the beans, an average of 14 hours, in the making of the dish.
The beans tasted fantastic, even my Greek hubby said so, and I was very pleased that we had a nutritious meal on the table which didn’t take me a whole 24 hours to have ready!
We are planning on a whole meal plan based on canned food this coming winter. Do you have any suggestions or recipes for us to try?
There is plenty of inspiration on the CannedFoodUK website as well. Do pop and say hello to them on Facebook and Twitter.
Disclaimer: we were sent an incentive to put this post together. All opinions expressed are truthful and entirely our own.
I use tins and tins of canned tomatoes! I’ve always found it handy to have a few cans of beans in the cupboard as well because they make such a good filler for soups and casseroles.
I keep quite a few cans in the house: tomatoes, various beans and fruit (as you say really useful for impromptu puddings).
I use canned tomatoes all the time and baked beans, this week at Weight watchers my leader did a massive chat on sugar and how much tinned tomatoes actually have! Its nice to know this is not the case as they are a base to lots of meals!
It is amazing what you can do out of a can and this sounds like a delicious idea. x
I use quite a lot of canned fruit and vegetables. It is an inexpensive and healthy way of adding fruit and veggies to the kids diet
I used tinned tomatoes, sweetcorn, chickpeas and tuna but not much else. Your recipe looks great.
We use tinned butter beans. I think they are nicer than the dried ones by a country mile!
I think I fall into the same category as you did, thinking that fresh food was better and actually avoiding canned food. This has really made me think, and I love your recipe idea.
We always have tinned beans, tomatoes and peas in that is all, but this is definitely something to think about.
tinned tomatoes and tinned pulses/beans have always been a staple in my larder along with peaches and fruit cocktail. Lovely recipe find
That looks really good. I’m not sure how well I’d be able to cook using entirely tinned foods. I might have to challenge myself!