Thursday, 25 November 2010

Tuna Avocado Pasta

I have never really had to cook with avocados, largely because I'm not too keen on them. I would happily eat guacamole, and would tolerate them in salads, but other than that, I would not go out of my way to have them. It is only because my flatmate had some Basics avocados that were near their Best Before date that I decided to have a play with them, so that you might be acquainted with them.

Usually coming in bags of four, each Basics avocado tends to be slightly smaller than the standard ones, and are not as ripe. Given that most recipes call for the avocados being peeled and chopped up though, this shouldn't make much difference. I would imagine that they would also keep for longer, although they are probably not best used immediately.

As I had a can of Basics tuna around and some cream cheese, I decided to make the pasta equivalent of a tuna and avocado salad. So, once you peel the avocado and remove the stone, dice it. Heat oil in a pan and fry the avocado together with about a can of Basics tuna. Include the tuna water, to prevent the avocado from burning.

Season generously with black pepper and Basics herb mix. Add Basics cheese spread and cooked Basics penne to the pan and turn off the heat, mixing thoroughly.


The mild fragrance of the avocado complimented the savoury tuna, contributing to an enjoyable meal that can serve well both in the colder months of winter as well as over the summer. The cheese spread however completely disappeared into the tuna, nowhere to be found. I suppose omitting the cheese and compensating by adding more pepper would allow for a lighter dish while still maintaining the overall flavour.

DescriptionPrice per UnitNo. of servingsTrade-up PremiumTrade-up Benefits
Avocados£1.394+£0.40 for 2Bigger size, riper avocados

Monday, 15 November 2010

Instant Bak Chor Mee

Over the weekend, I had to run a few tasks in addition to my regular routine, and so had less time than usual for meals. As a result, I had to resort to preparing something quick. Given that I had a fair bit of cooked turkey mince left over from the previous post, it wasn't long before I decided to resort to cooking instant noodles and microwaving the mince to go with it.

While I was at it though, a thought came to mind that I could prepare the instant noodles without the soup. I will still use the soup base to cook the noodles, but then I would remove them from the soup and add a few additional seasonings to it, namely Basics vinegar and some sesame oil. I would have added soya sauce as well, but figured that the noodles will already be slightly salty from the soup base.

The result is a weak analogue to the bak chor mee that I enjoy back home. If I had greater flexibility about the number of non-Basics ingredients I could add to a recipe, it would probably come quite close. Still, it's worth knowing that the Basics turkey mince can indeed be used in this way, and that the Basics instant noodles are just as good when they are served dry as when they are served in soup.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Turkey Zha Jiang Mian

Zha jiang mian, or fried sauce noodles, is commonly found in China, consisting of wheat noodles served with a pork sauce made by frying pork mince with fermented soya bean paste. Over here in the UK, my flatmates have made variations of stir-fried noodles by frying spaghetti with a variety of ingredients and condiments. I chanced upon Sainsbury's Basics turkey mince while shopping at my local, and thought that because it has been a while since I have managed to describe something my acquaintances or I cooked while at university that I have not covered yet, this would be suitable for review.

I still have not gotten round to taking a look at the Parmesan substitute they have put on the shelf, and yet it seems that Sainsbury's is introducing more products to the Basics range than I can keep up with. The number of turkey products - both in the Basics range and in general - seems to have a sudden increase, perhaps in line with the supermarket chain preparing for the Christmas season, since roast turkey is always served on that day. We now have Basics turkey mince, and although it is more expensive than the Basics beef mince, it is certainly a lot lower in fat. Probably suitable as a cheap alternative to lean steak mince.

So, in a wok, brown the turkey mince with one clove of garlic. Season with black pepper, Sainsbury's Basics herb mix, and if desired, some vinegar. Once browned, add half a can of Basics sweetcorn.

After adding the sweetcorn, add some black bean chilli sauce. You can find this at most grocery shops in Chinatown.

Cook Sainsbury's Basics spaghetti according to instructions. Drain and add to the wok, stirring until noodles are coated with the sauce. Serve.

The turkey mince, when cooked, has a significant but not strong taste reminiscent of pork, but still absorbs other flavours. The texture is rather fine and powdery, which would actually make it suitable for use in bak chor mee, or minced pork noodles; in fact, if not for the complexity involved in making the noodle sauce, I would have probably featured that recipe instead of this one.

DescriptionPrice per UnitNo. of servingsTrade-up PremiumTrade-up Benefits
Turkey Mince£2.00550g-£0.01 for 500gBetter tasting cheese spread. Skip both and go for cream cheese.
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