Store cupboard saviours: three recipes for forgotten ingredients

We’ve all done it – bought an ingredient for a recipe, used it once and then left it at the back of the shelf. HERE WE FIND OUT ABOUT three simple but imaginative ways to transform sultanas, almonds and desiccated coconut

BY: Rosie Reynolds

This article/content was originally published on as part of the ZENB and Guardian Labs Eat smarter campaign.

Sweet, sour and spicy spinach with sultanas

Who hasn’t got a half-used bag of sultanas lurking in the back of their kitchen cupboard? Traditionally they’re used in desserts, sprinkled over breakfast or snacked on when there’s nothing seemingly better to hand and you need a sweet fix, but this recipe makes the sultana the hero of the dish. Fried with onions and garlic they become plump and juicy and complement the sweet fried onions and savoury spinach perfectly. This dish would be great served with a fried egg and some garlic-rubbed toasts or as part of a meze.

The recipe would also work with any other half-eaten bags of dried fruit you have lying around, including dried apricots, chopped dates, raisins and dried cranberries.

Prep 5 min
Cook 10 min
Serves 4 as a side, or as part of a meze

Olive oil
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 onion, thinly sliced
100g sultanas
½ tsp chilli flakes
260g baby spinach

1 lemon, juice and zest

Heat about 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large frying pan set over a medium heat, add the garlic and onion with a generous pinch of salt and fry for 10 minutes, stirring frequently until softened and light golden. Stir in the sultanas and chilli flakes and fry for a further two minutes.

Add the spinach to the pan and gently fold, allowing the heat of the pan to wilt the bottom layer of spinach – you want some leaves to be fully wilted and others to remain quite crisp. Pour in the lemon juice and add plenty of seasoning. Finish with the lemon zest and a generous drizzle of olive oil.

Roasted cauliflower with flaked almonds, garlic yoghurt and quick pickled onions

Flaked almonds – another regular in my cupboards– are infinitely versatile. Their toasty flavour works brilliantly with theroasted cauliflower, offering a delicious nutty crunch against the softcauliflower centre. The pickled onions add a sweet and sour note – these can bemade and kept in the fridge for up to a week. And the whole thing is broughttogether with a creamy garlic yoghurt, creating a perfect summer recipe.

While I
ve used flaked almonds, you can use any nuts you happen to havehanging around in your cupboard; if theyre whole just chopthem a little so they are less challenging to eat in the mix of the salad.Serve with grilled meat or fish or with warm, soft flatbreads as part of ameze.


Prep 15 min
Cook 30min
Serves 4 as a side dish, or as part of a meze


1 large cauliflower, broken into florets, reserving the small leaves
Olive oil
1 tsp smoked paprika
75g flaked almonds
1 small red onion,
thinly sliced
½ tsp sugar
2 tbsp cider vinegar or white wine vinegar
100g Greek yoghurt
1 small garlic clove,

Preheat the oven to 220C (200C fan)/425F/gas 7. 

Toss the cauliflower withthree tablespoons of oil on a large baking tray, sprinkle over the smokedpaprika, plenty of salt and a grinding of black pepper. Cook for 20 minutes.Remove from the oven, add the flaked almonds and cauliflower leaves, return tothe oven and continue to cook for 10 mins, stirring halfway through.


Meanwhile put the sliced red onions into a bowl,cover with boiling water and leave to stand for five minutes. Drain and returnto the bowl, add the sugar, a pinch of salt and stir in the vinegar. Set asideuntil ready to serve.


Mix the yoghurt with the grated garlic, a pinchof salt and 1 tbsp of olive oil. Spoon most of the yoghurt on to the base of aserving platter, pile the roasted cauliflower and almonds on top, make sure youscrape all the tasty spiced bits off the base of the tray. Spoon over thereserved yoghurt. Drain the pickled onions and sprinkle over the top beforeserving.


Prawns with spicy coconut chutney and coconut rice

If I am honest I have more bags of desiccatedcoconut in my life than I care to admit. Recipes so often require a tablespoonor a quarter of a bag, which leaves a lot left over.


This coconut chutney is easy to make and iseverything you want from a chutney – it works brilliantly with a spicy main,but is equally delicious with a slice of cheese on toast. This is an easy mealto prepare but looks and tastes as if youve made plenty ofeffort in the kitchen.


Prep 20 min
Cook 15min
Serves 4

100g desiccated coconut
2 green finger chillies,
roughly chopped
3cm piece ginger,
roughly chopped
1½ tbsp fish sauce
1½ tsp caster sugar
Juice of 2 limes
30g coriander, 
roughly chopped
180ml water
400g raw king prawns

For the coconut rice


300g basmati rice
½ tsp caster sugar
400ml coconut milk
1 tbsp light flavoured oil,
such as sunflower oil



Put the desiccated coconut into a non-stickfrying pan set over a low heat and stir frequently until light golden incolour. Turn off the heat and leave to cool. Reserve about 1 tbsp of thetoasted coconut then tip the remainder into a food processor. Add the choppedchillies, ginger, fish sauce, caster sugar, lime juice, coriander and water,add some seasoning and then whizz until well combined. Set aside until ready touse.

Rinse the rice then pour into a medium-sized pan, add the coconut milk, halffill the can with water to rinse out then add this to the rice with 1 tsp saltand the sugar. Slowly bring to the boil, stirring every few minutes, reduce theheat and cook for another 5 minutes. Turn off the heat, cover with a cloth andput a lid on to trap the steam. Leave to stand undisturbed for 10 minutes.


Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large frying pan,add the prawns and cook for 3 minutes until pink and cooked through, turninghalfway.


To serve, spoon the coconut rice into bowls,divide the prawns between them and add generous spoonfuls of coconut chutney –finish with a sprinkle of the reserved toasted coconut.

ZENB aims to change the way we think about food, and to help put delicious plant-based foods at the centre of our everyday lives. It is passionate about helping to raise awareness around the issues of food waste and encouraging sustainable eating habits. Find out more about its new yellow pea pasta range here.