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Healthy Recipes

Healthy dinners – 5 easy recipes from a tin


Stockpiled on a load of tinned food during lockdown and now you’re left with loads of tinned food but run out of ideas? Here are five quick healthy dinners from Tin Can Magic 

It’s fair to say that that virus which shall not be named has truly taken over our lives.

What’s worse is that many of us fell into a hysterical panic, hoarding food products left, right and centre from pasta, flour, toilet roll (bizarre one) as well as tinned foods.

So what can you make with tinned foods? Well, it’s time to experiment.

Tin Can Magic, by Jessica Elliott Dennison has conveniently created a cookbook dedicated to the mighty power of our beloved tinned food. She has unleashed her magic to create the latest delicious recipes to keep you ready and more prepared than ever to fight this apocalypse (I mean pandemic).

Here’s some of our favourite recipes for some delicious healthy dinners using the nations much loved canned tomatoes, lentils and coconut milk.

Aprons at the ready.

Using tinned lentils

Healthy dinners recipe #1 Garlic Mushroom Lentils and Fried Eggs with Parmesan and Rosemary

The key to frying mushrooms is allowing your pan to get smoking hot so that they catch at the edges and take on an almost meaty, charred flavour.

Keep an eye out for more unusual wild varieties to mix in with more common button and chestnut mushrooms – they’re increasingly available and offer a deeper flavour and more interesting textures.

Green-Lentils-Healthy dinners - 5 easy recipes from a tin

















Serves 2 
Time: 20 mins 

– 4 tablespoons rapeseed (canola), vegetable or light olive oil

– 3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced

– 200 g (7 oz) mushrooms, dirt brushed off, roughly torn (ideally a mix of wild, chestnut and button)

– 2 sprigs of rosemary, leaves only, roughly chopped

– 1 x 390 g (13 3/4 oz) tin of green lentils in water, drained and rinsed

– 1/2 lemon, zest and juice

– 1 teaspoon salt

– 100 g (3 1/2 oz) spinach, washed and drained

– 2 eggs

– 4 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan


–Rosemary – sage, tarragon, thyme

–Green lentils – cooked puy lentils, cooked pearl barley, cooked spelt, cooked brown rice

–Parmesan – pecorino, feta, goat’s cheese, mature Cheddar, halloumi

–Walnuts – almonds, hazelnuts, pecans

  • First, heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large non-stick frying pan (skillet) over a medium heat. Add the garlic and, stirring regularly, fry for 1–2 minutes until golden and fragrant. Take care not to burn the garlic or it will become overly bitter. Transfer the garlic to a small bowl and set aside.
  • Next, increase the heat to high and add 1 tablespoon more oil. Add the mushrooms and cook for 4 minutes, or until browning and catching at the edges. Stir in the rosemary, fry for 1–2 minutes until crisp and fragrant. Stir in the lentils, lemon juice, salt and spinach until wilted. Add a few splashes of water if the pan contents look a bit dry.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in another non-stick frying pan over a high heat. Crack in the eggs and fry for 1–2 minutes until crisp on the base but still with a runny yolk, or to your liking.
  • Divide the mushroomy-lentils between two plates. Top with a fried egg and the reserved crispy garlic. Sprinkle over the Parmesan and the zest of the remaining lemon half.

Using tinned tomatoes

Healthy dinners recipe #2 Tomato butter sugo with fettucine and feta

Tomato-butter-sugo-Healthy dinners - 5 easy recipes from a tin












Serves 2 
Time: 45 mins 

–3 tablespoons rapeseed (canola), vegetable or light olive oil

–3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced

–1 x 400 g (14 oz) tin of chopped tomatoes

–1/4 teaspoon chilli (hot pepper) flakes

–1/2 onion, peeled (not chopped)

–50 g (2 oz) butter (salted or unsalted)

–1 teaspoon sea salt flakes, plus extra to taste pinch of sugar (optional)

–150 g (5 oz) dried fettuccine

–50 g (2 oz) feta


–Onion – half a leek, banana shallot, red onion

–Fettuccine – whichever pasta you have to hand

–Feta – salted ricotta, Parmesan, halloumi, pecorino

–Chopped tomatoes – passata (sieved tomatoes), peeled fresh in-season tomatoes

  • First, heat the oil and garlic in a medium saucepan over a medium heat for 1–2 minutes until fragrant and beginning to golden (take care not to burn the garlic). Add the tomatoes, chilli flakes, onion half, butter and salt.
  • Bring to a simmer, then reduce over a low heat for 25–30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Splash in some water if it’s sticking or reducing too much. Remove and discard the onion, then taste the sugo for seasoning. You may want to add a pinch of sugar, depending on the acidity of the tomatoes.
  • After 15 minutes of the sugo simmering, bring a large saucepan of water up to the boil and cook the fettucine until al dente (around 9–10 minutes – check packet instructions for exact timing), reserving a mugful of the starchy cooking water.
  • Using tongs, transfer the fettuccine into the tomato sauce, stirring in spoonfuls of the reserved cooking water until coated in the sauce. Taste again for seasoning (bear in mind the feta will add saltiness).
  • Divide the pasta between two plates, then finely grate over the feta to finish.

Feast tip: Roasted or charred little gem lettuce (bibb lettuce) topped with finely grated (shredded) Parmesan and a squeeze of lemon makes a beautiful side dish to this fettucine (see page 69). Throw in some nice olives, a plate of burrata drizzled with the salsa verde from page 93 plus a good bottle of red and you’ve got a full-on Italian-style feast.

Healthy dinners recipe #3 Spiced lamb and tomato flatbreads with mint and cucumber yoghurt

These are a midweek staple in our house, as I tend to always have some sort of mince stashed away in the freezer. They’re inspired by the amazing Turkish eateries I used to go to after work in the Green Lanes area of North London; often family-run restaurants who greet you with plates of warm flatbread, hummus, tzatziki and roughly chopped salad before you’ve even thought about what you’ll order for main.

Here I’ve used lamb, but of course use minced beef, chicken or pork if that’s what is to hand.

Lamb-and-tomato-flatbreads-Healthy dinners - 5 easy recipes from a tin

Serves 2 
Time: 25 mins 

–2 teaspoons cumin seeds

–1 teaspoon fennel seeds (optional)

–1 tablespoon rapeseed (canola), vegetable or light olive oil

–250 g (9 oz) minced (ground) lamb

–1 teaspoon sea salt flakes

–1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

–1/2 teaspoon chilli (hot pepper) flakes

–1 x 400 g (14 oz) tin of chopped tomatoes

–2 khobez or pitta flatbreads

For the Mint and Cucumber yoghurt:

–1/2 cucumber, deseeded and finely diced

–1 teaspoon dried mint leaves

–1 teaspoon sea salt flakes

–1 small garlic clove, peeled and minced

–5 heaped tablespoons strained yoghurt (ideally full-fat)

To Serve:

–Handful of mint leaves

–1 teaspoon sumac

–1 lemon


–Minced lamb – minced (ground) beef, chicken or pork

–Cucumber – spring onions (scallions)

–Chilli flakes – cayenne pepper, paprika

  • First, add the cumin seeds (and fennel seeds if using) to a large non-stick frying pan (skillet) over a high heat then dry-fry for 1–2 minutes until fragrant. Transfer to a pestle and mortar or cutting board to roughly crush.
  • Return the pan to a high heat, then add the oil and the lamb; fry for 3–4 minutes until crispy and gaining some nice dark colour. Stir in the crushed spices, salt, cinnamon and chilli flakes until fragrant. Pour in the tomatoes, then simmer on high for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until reduced and sticky.
  • To make the yoghurt mixture, stir together the cucumber, mint, salt, garlic and yoghurt. Warm the flatbreads in a toaster – or carefully using tongs directly over the gas flame for 20 seconds each side until slightly charred.
  • Spoon the mince over a flatbread then add a dollop of the yoghurt. Tear over the mint, a pinch of the sumac, then zest over the lemon to finish.

Healthy dinners recipe #4 Chilled chilli tomato noodles with crispy garlic and sesame

These simple noodles are inspired by afternoons cooking Japanese dishes with food stylist Aya Nishimura. Along with lots of other delicious things, Aya introduced me to the magic of crispy garlic on cold noodles, so I am forever grateful!

If you can, try and get hold of thin soba or wholewheat noodles for this dish, as they’re better suited to the delicate, fresh flavours. Chunky egg noodles overpower the miso-tomato sauce slightly, but if that’s all you’ve got, don’t worry! You’ll still have a delicious meal in front of you.

Chilled-chili-tomato-noodles-Healthy dinners - 5 easy recipes from a tin

Serves 2 
Time: 25 mins 

–3 tablespoons rapeseed (canola), vegetable or light olive oil

–5 garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced

–1 x 400 g (14 oz) tin of chopped tomatoes

–3 teaspoons miso paste

–1 tablespoon cider vinegar

–½–1 teaspoon chilli (hot pepper) flakes (depending on how spicy you like things)

–4 teaspoons sesame oil

–150 g (7 oz) thin wholewheat noodles

–2 spring onions (scallions), finely shredded

–1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds


–Cider vinegar – any type of vinegar

–Wholewheat noodles – soba, ramen-style or buckwheat noodles

  • First, heat the oil in a frying pan (skillet) on medium, add the garlic and fry for 2-3 minutes until golden (take care not to burn the garlic or it will become overly bitter). Using a slotted spoon, remove the garlic from the pan and transfer to a plate, leaving most of the oil in the pan.
  • Next, pour in the tomatoes, miso, vinegar, chilli flakes and sesame oil. Increase the heat to high and simmer for 8-10 minutes until the sauce reduces to a thick concentrate. Using a fish slice or potato masher, mash down to a rough pulp.
  • Meanwhile, fill a medium saucepan with water then bring to the boil. Add the noodles then cook until al-dente (around 3-4 minutes- check packet instructions for exact timings). Drain, then rinse under plenty of cold water to chill.
  • Once the tomato has reduced, taste for seasoning. You want a nice balance of spicy umami from the miso and slightly acidic from the vinegar. Adjust to taste.
  • Stir the chilled noodles and tomato sauce in a mixing bowl. Divide between two plates then top with the crispy garlic, spring onions and sesame seeds.

Cook’s tips: For added meatiness, try frying good-quality bacon lardons until crisp then sprinkle over the noodles.

Using tinned coconut milk

Healthy dinners recipe #5 Squash and fenugreek curry with ginger and spinach

This recipe will always remind me of Karolina; one of my brilliant founding team members at 27 Elliott’s whose face will instantly light up at even the smallest mention of a squash or pumpkin.

Here I’ve used the spices I tend to have at the back of my cupboard, but I’m sure any Indian-style spices you have to hand will work equally well. Just to keep Karolina happy, this recipe is completely plant-based, making it a good one to have up your sleeve for times when vegan friends come over.

Pumpking-curry-Healthy dinners - 5 easy recipes from a tin

Serves 2 very generously (or 4 if eating with naan bread)
Time: 45 mins 

–1 small squash (ideally coquina or butternut)

–3 tablespoons rapeseed (canola), vegetable or light olive oil

–1 teaspoon salt, plus extra to taste

–2 onions, peeled and finely sliced

–4 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly crushed

–thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger root, roughly grated (shredded) on the large side of a box grater

–1 x 400 ml (14 fl oz) tin of coconut milk (ideally full-fat)

–2 teaspoons ground turmeric

–2 teaspoons ground cumin

–1½ teaspoons chilli (hot pepper) flakes

–1 teaspoon ground fenugreek

–grated zest of 1 lemon

–1 teaspoon lemon juice

–100 g (3½ oz) spinach, washed and drained

–4 small naan breads


–Squash – cauliflower, (bell) peppers, broccoli

–Spinach – chard, kale, shredded savoy cabbage

–Ground fenugreek – garam masala, crushed fenugreek seeds

  • First, preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F/Gas 5). Roughly chop the squash into large chunks (using a spoon, discard any pips, but don’t bother peeling), transfer to a roasting tin then toss in 1 tablespoon of oil and ½ teaspoon of salt. Roast for 25 minutes, tossing halfway through.
  • Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large, non-stick pan over a medium heat. Add the onion and fry for 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and ginger, then fry for another 8 minutes until fragrant. Reduce the heat if the garlic looks as though it’s going to burn.
  • Spoon 3 tablespoons of the white, firm coconut cream at the top of the tin into the onion, then stir in the turmeric, cumin, chilli flakes and fenugreek for 30–60 seconds until fragrant. Pour in the remaining coconut milk from the tin, ½ teaspoon of salt, half the lemon zest and the lemon juice.
  • Next, transfer the roasted pumpkin to the sauce, stir in the spinach until wilted then taste for seasoning. You may want to add more salt. Carefully using tongs, char the naan bread on a gas flame for a few seconds until warm and slightly charred (or warm in the oven).
  • Divide the curry and naan breads between plates, then zest over the remaining lemon.

Cook’s tips: If you’ve got any flaked coconut or almond flakes, gently toast in a dry frying pan (skillet) for 2–3 minutes then sprinkle over before eating.

Tin-Can-Magic-book-jacketFor more quick, simple mouthwatering recipes straight from the tin, why not purchase a copy of Tin Can Magic by Jessica Elliott Dennison here.

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