Frozen food doesn’t have to mean fish fingers and waffles.
Former MasterChef champ Shelina Permalloo shot to fame with her Mauritian influenced cooking on the reality TV show and since then has been busy with two cookbooks, restaurant work and foodie roadshows since her MasterChef triumph.
Her latest project is the Love Your Freezer campaign with Sainsbury’s, which aims to inspire families to get the most from their freezers.
She said: “Frozen food doesn’t have to be the breadcrumbed, heavy things that people typically think of. It can be light, fresh, and perfect for winter as well.
“I think freezers have had a bad rep for a long time, and the most important thing about using your freezer is making the most of it – making things colourful, fresh and full of flavour.”
Shelina even admits to having found a few random ingredients in the “abyss of the freezer” from time to time – including an exploded bag of frozen thyme.
“It happens to the best of us!” she said, adding: “Organising your freezer’s really important, labelling it properly and cycling it the way you would with your fridge.”
Here are Shelina’s 3 top recipes to take you from freezer to fork:
1. MEXICAN STYLE CORN CHOWDER
(Serves 6 as a starter or 4 as a main)
2tbsp olive oil
4 spring onions, finely chopped
15g frozen garlic
100g mixed frozen peppers
1tsp cumin seeds
1tbsp crushed coriander seeds
1 chipotle chilli (pre-soaked in hot water for 15 minutes, drained and finely chopped)
A dash of Worcester sauce (1-2tbsp)
2 medium potatoes cut into 1-inch cubes
800g frozen sweetcorn
A couple of bay leaves
400ml chicken stock (or vegetarian stock)
Salt and black pepper to taste
200ml semi-skimmed milk
Soured cream, fresh coriander and jalapenos for serving (optional)
Place a large saucepan over a medium heat and add the olive oil, spring onions, garlic, peppers, spices, chilli, and bay leaves and cook for five minutes, until they have softened.
Stir in the potatoes, half of the sweetcorn, the stock, salt and pepper and Worcester sauce.
Bring the mixture to a boil before reducing the heat to allow it to simmer for around 15 minutes.
While this is simmering, puree the remaining sweetcorn with the milk in a blender until smooth. If the mixture is too thick, add a little water to help loosen it.
Stir the sweetcorn puree into the soup along with some black pepper and simmer for five to 10 minutes, or until the soup thickens.
Serve with soured cream, fresh coriander, jalapenos or a garnish of your choice.
2. BEJEWELLED RICE WITH PRAWNS
6tbsp olive oil
6 cardamom pods
2 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick
200g basmati rice, rinsed and drained
400ml chicken stock or vegetable stock
4tbsp pomegranate seeds
225g frozen prawns (thoroughly defrosted)
Small pinch of saffron
2tsp cumin seeds
100g toasted flaked almonds
150g frozen chopped onions
Pinch of salt
Green salad, to serve
On a medium heat, fry off all of the spices (cardamom pods, bay leaves, cinnamon stick) in one tablespoon of oil for approximately two minutes, and then add the rice and toast (cook in the frying pan) for a further two minutes.
Add the stock and bring the mixture to a boil before covering it with a tight fitting lid, and then turn the heat down to a low simmer to cook for 10 minutes.
Stir in the pomegranate seeds and the defrosted prawns and cook for a further five minutes.
Add the saffron to a small splash of boiling water and scatter it on top of the cooking mixture. Cover the pot again, turn off the heat and let it sit for five minutes.
Meanwhile, over a medium heat, fry the cumin seeds with the frozen onions and a pinch of salt in the remaining oil until they turn golden. Add the almonds to this mixture then turn off the heat.
To serve, carefully toss the onion mixture into the rice and serve alongside a green salad.
3. LONG AND LAZY ONE-POT CHILLI
For the chilli:
1tbsp olive oil
500g beef mince (thoroughly defrosted)
50g frozen chopped onions
1 large carrot, finely chopped
20g frozen garlic
1tsp frozen chopped chilli
1tsp hot chilli powder (add more if you like it really hot)
2tsp (heaped) paprika
1tsp unrefined golden caster sugar
100g mixed frozen peppers
400g tin chopped tomatoes
400ml beef stock
400g tin cooked kidney beans, washed and drained
20g (or to taste) frozen coriander
Salt and pepper to taste
For the nachos:
4 flour tortillas
1-2tbsp olive oil
1tbsp dried ground cumin
1tbsp smoked paprika
For the garnish:
Pickled red onions (slice red onions and leave to sit in lime juice for 3-5 minutes)
Low fat creme fraiche
In a large casserole dish, add the mince, onions, carrots and garlic and cook over a high heat until the mince begins to brown and the carrots begin to soften (approximately 10-15 minutes).
Add all of the other ingredients except the kidney beans and coriander and cook over a low to medium flame with the lid on for one hour, stirring occasionally. Once the hour is up, add the kidney beans and cook for a further 15 minutes.
During this time, brush the tortillas with oil and sprinkle over the spices. Cut each tortilla into eight triangles and bake in the oven for 10 minutes until the tortillas are brown and crispy.
By this time, the chilli should be ready. Simply stir in the frozen coriander and the amount of seasoning you prefer, according to taste.
Serve the chilli with the garnish and the baked nachos straight from the oven.
Want to love your freezer? For more inspiration and ideas, log onto www.sainsburys.co.uk/shop/gb/groceries/get-ideas/features/love-your-freezer