Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Henry Dimbleby

The £1 store cupboard: Henry Dimbleby’s budget family recipes

Vegetaballs: Henry Dimbleby's meatless meatballs.
Vegetaballs: Henry Dimbleby’s meatless meatballs. Photograph: Ola O Smit/The Guardian. Food styling: Esther Clark. Prop styling: Anna Wilkins. Food assistant: Clare Cole.

In terms of sheer volume of DNA at least, farm animals could be seen as evolution’s biggest winners. There are currently about 80bn of them on this planet being reared for food, and their combined weight is more than twice that of the entire human race. But what a strange success this is: the lives of these animals are too often miserable and short, and the effects on the environment are disastrous. The single best thing each of us can do for the environment is to cut back on our meat consumption – and by at least 30%. If, like me, you have carnivorous children, you’ll need a few tricks up your sleeve. This week’s recipes have been tested thoroughly on meat-loving kids – they are cheap, popular and easy to make.

Meatless meatballs

Last time I made these, I mixed in a few “real” meatballs to see if my children would notice the difference. They did – but declared the meatless ones better.

Prep 10 min
Cook 1 hr 30 min
Serves 6

4 garlic cloves, peeled
1 x 400g tin
chopped tomatoes
4 tb
sp olive oil
1 onion,
Salt and black pepper
1 x 400g tin chickpeas, well drained
1 x 400g tin kidney beans, well drained
1 tsp paprika
2 tsp cumin
3 level tbsp gram flour
1 cup breadcrumbs (I used panko, but any will do)
Oil, for frying
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley or coriander

Crush two cloves of the garlic and put them into a small pan with the tomatoes. Level the top with a spoon and gently pour over three tablespoons olive oil so it forms a thin layer over the tomatoes.

Warm over a moderate heat until the first bubbles break the surface. Cook on a very gentle heat for an hour to an hour and a half (however long it takes you to make the balls) so that the occasional bubble breaks through the olive oil – you will need to turn down the heat gradually over the course of the hour. Do not stir.

While the sauce is cooking, finely chop the onion and fry with a pinch of salt in a tablespoon of olive oil until softened – at least 15 minutes.

Roughly chop the remaining two garlic cloves and put in a food processor with the chickpeas, beans, paprika, cumin, gram flour, and egg. Blend on pulse mode – it shouldn’t be too smooth: there should be little lumps of chickpea and kidney beans through it from about the size of pine nuts to peas. Transfer to a bowl and season, going heavy on the pepper. Add the fried onion, and stir.

Heat the oven to 140C (120C fan)/275F/gas 1. Roll the mixture into balls and coat with breadcrumbs, then fry in oil for about eight minutes, or until the breadcrumbs are golden.

Put the balls into a serving dish, then into the oven for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, blitz the sauce with a blender, pour on top of the balls and sprinkle with the chopped herbs.

Bolognese, our way

Henry Dimbleby’s reduced-meat bolognese 029
Henry Dimbleby’s reduced-meat bolognese. Photograph: Ola O Smit/The Guardian. Food styling: Esther Clark. Prop styling: Anna Wilkins. Food assistant: Clare Cole.

This is a Chefs in Schools staple. It still contains some meat for flavour, but that’s bulked out with masses of vegetables, which is healthier, as well as better for the planet. It is worth making a large batch and freezing some for future meals.

Prep 10 min
Cook 1 hr 25 min
Serves 12

3 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, peeled and sliced
2 leeks, finely sliced
2cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1kg lean lamb mince
1 x 400g tin green lentils, drained
3 carrots, grated
2 courgettes, grated
2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato puree
tsp sea salt

To serve
100g spaghetti per person
50g grated cheese
Chopped green herbs

Heat the oil in a large pan for which you have a lid and gently fry the onion, leek, ginger and garlic until very soft – around 15 minutes.

Scoop the cooked onion mixture out on to a plate and turn up the heat. Add the minced lamb and cook until the meat has browned, then turn down the heat and put the cooked onions back into the pan.

In a large jug, tip in the lentils, carrots and courgettes and, using a stick blender, blitz to a smooth paste. Tip this into the meat, along with the tinned tomatoes, tomato puree and salt, then cover and cook over a low heat for one hour.

When ready to serve, cook the pasta in boiling salted water for eight to nine minutes, then drain and combine with the sauce. Serve with grated cheese and, if you like, a sprinkle of chopped green herbs.

  • Ravenous: How To Get Ourselves and Our Planet Into Shape, by Henry Dimbleby with Jemima Lewis, is published by Profile books at £16.99. To order a copy for £14.95, go to

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.