How to feel rich for a quid: marinated feta and mashed sardines

There aren’t many things that will tempt me into Lidl, despite the apparently jaw-dropping prices. The queues are so long, and the experience so abrasive, that I would rather pay more for things than brave it. However, they do have the cheapest tuna in brine in the world (the cats’ favourite, and mine at 62p a tin), the best walnuts (Californian, sweet and £1.99 for 200g) and feta that is all of 89p, at least £1 cheaper than anywhere else. Oh and I recently discovered their sardines which, though I can’t remember the price exactly, are definitely sub-40p. So every so often I venture in, taking a couple of paperbacks to help me survive the queue.

None of this, I grant you, sounds very glamorous but, as a freelancer, I am constantly on the lookout for affordable and simple lunches and snacks, things that will get me through the day at my desk without too much hassle and washing-up. And a packet of feta for under a quid and a tin of sardines can, it seems, be transformed and scrubbed up rather nicely to make perfect treats, either for midday or, if you prefer, to snack on pre-dinner.

If you marinade feta in oil and spices, you end up with something delicious that can be tossed with Puy lentils or a salad, spread on toast or just eaten off a cocktail stick before dinner. And sardines, mashed with the likes of capers, gherkins, butter and malt vinegar (yes, malt…), chilled then spread on hot toast is pure genius. The last idea, which is barely a recipe really, comes from this marvellous round-up of cooking basics by Henry Dimbleby and Jane Baxter which, even for those of us who spend all our days thinking about such things, will find enlightening. I have a real fondness for sardines on toast, in any form, because my Dad used to make them for me when I was revising for my A-levels and considered prepping or eating food as a waste of precious revision time (#girlyswot).

Obviously, you don’t have to go to Lidl to buy either the feta or the sardines but there is a certain thrill to buying relatively cheap ingredients and turning them into such riches.

Marinated feta (adapted from One by Florence Knight)

Cupboard (or things you may already have)
garlic clove
black peppercorns, a teaspoon or so
olive oil, to fill a small jar

Shopping list
dried chilli flakes, or 1 small red chilli
fresh thyme, a few sprigs
feta, 200g packet

How to
1. Peel and finely slice the garlic and, if using a fresh chilli, de-stalk and finely chop this too.
2. Put the garlic, peppercorns, chilli flakes or chilli and thyme into a small jar (I used a jam jar).
3. Drain the feta, if necessary, dice then add it to the jar, completely cover with olive oil and seal. Tip a few times to spread all the spices through the oil then leave to marinate for about an hour. This keeps well in the fridge for a few days or up to a week.

Mashed sardines on toast

Enough for a slice or two

Cupboard (or things you may already have)
½ red onion
butter, about 40-50g, softened
malt vinegar, a splash, to taste
sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Shopping list
gherkin, 1-2 (depending on size and taste)
capers, a dessertspoonful (or to taste)
tin of sardines

How to
1. Finely chop the red onion and gherkin. Drain and rinse the capers. Mash all three with the sardines and butter, sprinkle with some malt vinegar, season and then add more vinegar/sharpness/crunch to taste if necessary. Cover and chill for an hour or two.
2. Spread on hot toast…and enjoy, in my case knowing there is not a scrap of French homework in sight!

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This entry was posted in Cheese recipes, Fish recipes and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to How to feel rich for a quid: marinated feta and mashed sardines

  1. love this idea, will definitely try it! xx

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