Being a busy mum I can certainly understand the need for some quick, go-to recipes that you can pull together with a toddler in the house (or, more accurately, hanging onto to your legs and pulling your trousers down or unpacking the contents of your cupboards). However, let’s not be exclusive, we are all busy these days. As someone who works from home, I can organize my time in such a way that I do have time to make dumplings on a regular basis, and I have actually found it to be quite a fun thing to allow a toddler some involvement in, if you don’t mind a bit of mess. Yet these recipes – from Polska cookbook – are for when you’re time and energy really are limited – for when you need a nutritionally balanced meal on the table in 20mins and you don’t have a whole lot of exotic ingredients that you can’t even pronounce the names of. This is Polish food at its easiest, most basic and beautifully rustic.
Spinach with fried egg
(Picture credit: Laura Edwards)
This was my mum’s go-to dish while we were growing up, and my mum is always very busy. My brother and myself still ask for this dish when we go home, because now it tastes of childhood to us – we never tire of it and I don’t think you will either!
250g spinach, washed
1 tablespoon plain flour
2 generous splashes of milk
1 garlic clove
Salt to taste
1 egg per person
Blanche the spinach in a pan of salted water, then drain and remove as much water as possible (save the juices!)
Chop the spinach to a paste or you can blitz it a few times in a food processor.
Melt most of the butter in a frying pan, add the flour and cook whilst stirring until golden (just a minute or two), before diluting with the milk. Keep stirring.
Add the spinach juices to the pan and stir into the paste, remove from heat.
Crush the garlic with some salt, add to the chopped spinach then tip the spinach into the pan. Cook this for 5min.
Meanwhile fry the egg in the remaining butter, then serve on top of the spinach,
You can serve this with leftover potatoes (my favourite) or some crusty bread.
Fasolka po Bretońsku
In Poland we would use Fasola Jaś for this recipe – white kidney beans I believe it’s called – yet as this is difficult to find outside of Poland, you can use butter/lima beans instead. When I cooked this meal recently for a vegetarian friend I also substituted the fried bacon bits for some leftover roasted carrots with sunflower seeds. It’s an adaptable dish so feel free to use whatever you have with the beans, tomato sauce, onion and herbs as the base. This recipe serves two hungry people, or two people and a child.
400 dried butter/lima beans, soaked overnight and cooked (or from a tin, drained)
6 rashers bacon, chopped
2 tablespoons mild oil
1 onion, chopped
1 tablespoon dried marjoram (or thyme if you don’t have marjoram)
1 teaspoon paprika/cayenne pepper
400g chopped tomatoes
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat the oil in a large pan and fry the onion and bacon bits for about 5min, stirring occasionally.
Add the herbs and spices and fry for a further minute or so.
Add the chopped tomatoes and cooked beans. Allow this to simmer altogether for about 20min.
Serve with crusty bread.
“Isabel opened the doors that led to my work being published. Throughout, she has offered honest opinions and patient coaching – all without ever losing the courtesy, gentility and decency that makes her a pleasure to know. I owe her deeply!”Nick Soulsby, Creative Authors Client.