What to cook from a fiver in the market


EVERY WEEK I take £5 to spend in Ridley Road market in Dalston, London, on seasonal food, then tell you what I have chosen and on Friday I publish a seasonal recipe and perhaps a few suggestions. Some of the recipes will be frugal. They will all be tasty. Some meals will need additional ingredients. All will be vegetarian.  

This week’s basket cost:

12 peppers £1

3 butternut squashes £1

4 beetroots 80p

12 tomatoes 50p

6 onions 50p

5 mangoes £1

Total £4.80

Recipe: roasted butternut squash soup and beetroot salad.

Serves 2

Equipment: litre lidded saucepan, shallow roasting tray slightly greased, paring knife for peeling,

grater, grill tray, wooden spoon, tongs, plastic bag, blender or purée maker. Bowl for the salad.

The quantities in my recipes are for two because it will be easy to adjust if there are more or fewer diners.

Oven 200c, grill hot


450g butternut squash (which is just 1 from the basket)

2 red peppers

1 onion

Oil of choice

Herbs of choice. I used fresh rosemary

700ml water

Seasoning to taste

Wash all vegetables. Peel butternut squash, cut into quarters and scoop out seeds. Dice into egg-size pieces and place on greased roasting tray. Chop a teaspoon full of herbs and sprinkle over squash,  together with a little salt. Drizzle over some oil and place in the oven. After 10 minutes turn squash over. If slightly burning, turn heat down to 180C and cook for another 10 or 15 minutes.

Remove the cores of the peppers and slice into four sections. Remove any remaining seeds and white membrane. Place cut side down and put under hot grill to burn and blister for 10 or 15 minutes. When black and blistered, remove, using tongs to prevent burning fingers. Place in the plastic bag and seal. Leave to sweat.

Peel and thinly slice onion and put into the saucepan to sweat over a low heat, but stir every 5 mins to prevent from sticking until soft. About 12 minutes.

Meanwhile remove the peppers and peel away the burnt skins. Cut the peppers into finger size lengths. Add to the soft onions. The squash is ready when a knife slides through easily.

Place the squash, oil and herbs in the saucepan with the water and a twist of pepper. Warm through and stir.

Put everything into the blender and whiz until smooth. Return to the saucepan and heat through until hot, not boiling. A boiled soup is a spoiled soup.

Season to taste. I do not use much salt because I like to taste the freshness of the vegetables.

This is a filling soup but for those of you who want a little more, a crusty slice of bread is perfect.

Recipe: beeetroot salad

Serves 2

200g beetroot

2 tomatoes

1 onion

10/15g ginger

1 lemon



Wash all vegetables. Peel and grate the beetroot. Peel and grate the ginger and mix with the beetroot.

Quarter the tomatoes and cut the quarters in half add to the salad. Peel and finely chop the onion adding to the salad. Squeeze all the juice from the lemon and pour over the salad and season to taste. Leave to marinate for 10 minutes or until needed. The amount of ginger can be increased if you like a kick in your salad, I like a hint of spice.

TIPS: Beetroot leaves can be used in green salads: half a shredded beetroot leaf to one lettuce leaf. The stalks can be cut into 2cm lengths and added to stir fries, soups, salads and grain dishes. Ginger can be frozen. If I have bought a bowlful in the market I grate some to freeze and use in cakes and other savoury dishes. I buy organic or wax-free lemons if using the skin and often have too much skin. This too can be frozen for later used in cakes and puddings.


There are still vegetables left in the basket. So other meals this week could be stuffed peppers with quinoa or millet; roasted onions, peppers and butternut squash with a tomato sauce and couscous. Mangoes for desert or breakfast. Pasta with grilled peppers, fried onions and tomatoes; beetroot soup. Roasted beetroots as a side dish. Risotto with pepper, onion, tomato and what ever else is in the cupboard. Make a totally red salad — have some fun with colour.

This is seasonal food: enjoy it, while it is fresh. The market this week is full of reds, those vegetables in the basket, and in Ridley Road there were also cherries, strawberries and nectarines. When there is a glut, for example when mangoes are 8 for £1, it will be time to make chutney so, that when winter comes and we are enjoying a curry out comes a jar of home-made chutney or pickle made when the food was fresh.

There is enough in the basket to feed several people. All for £4.80.

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2 thoughts on “What to cook from a fiver in the market

  1. Fabulous. This promises to be a great feature article on Loving Dalston. Can’t wait for more recipes.

  2. Ridley Road market is the greatest. Where else could you get all of that fruit and veg for a fiver?
    We are so lucky to have this market. My favourite stalls are the egg lady, and the fruit stall on the left corner as you walk into the market from the high street.

    The egg lady told me her great grandfather started the stall. She was asked to help out one day and has now been there 30-plus years.

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