The Big Lunch takes place annually in June - but you can join in and host one whenever you like. This year's Big Lunch is on Sunday 12th June 2016. If you need some last minute tips or have any questions, call 0845 850 81 81 to speak to one of the team.
Here are some recipes from Jack Monroe to get you get started. Whether it’s a few neighbours coming together to share sandwiches in your front gardens, a traditional street party or big community bash, holding a Big Lunch is simple.
Makes approximately 10 pizzas (depending on the size of your cookie cutter)
250g plain flour, plus extra to knead the dough
a 7g sachet of fast-acting dried yeast
1 tablespoon oil, plus extra to oil the baking tray
200ml boiling water
3 tablespoons tomato purée
Topping ideas: Mozzarella cheese, any grated cheese, olives, chopped onion, leftover bolognese sauce or leftover chilli…The possibilities are endless!
- Measure the flour and yeast into a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the centre of the flour, add the oil and most of the water, and stir together with a spoon to make a soft, sticky dough. Add more water if required.
- Tip the dough on to a floured work surface, lightly knead for a few minutes and shape into a round. Pop it back into the mixing bowl, cover with cling film or a clean tea towel and leave for an hour to rise, or until doubled in size.
- When the dough has risen, tip out on to the floured work surface and roll out with a rolling pin. I make mine less than 0.5cm thick, as the cookie cutter I use is tiny, but it’s up to you. Bear in mind when rolling out the dough that the bases will double in thickness when cooked.
- Cut out dough circles or shapes using your choice of cutter until all the dough is used, transferring these mini pizza bases on to a lightly oiled baking tray as you go. (You may need to do them in batches!)
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4. Top each dough pizza base with a thin spread of tomato purée and your topping of choice.
- Pop the baking tray into the oven for 10 minutes, until the mini pizzas are slightly crisp around the edges. Larger pizzas may need longer cooking time.
- The penny pizzas will keep in the fridge, covered, for 2 to 3 days, making them ideal for little lunches.
- Allow to cool completely and freeze any leftovers. They will keep for three months in the freezer, and can be reheated in a low oven.
- For quicker pizzas, halve a pitta bread, spread with tomato purée and top with a topping of your choice. Cook for 10 minutes at 180°C/350°F/gas 4 for a speedy snack.
Peach and Chickpea Curry
100g dried chickpeas, left to soak for at least 8 hours
1 clove of garlic
a splash of oil
a shake of ground cumin
1 x 400g tin of peaches
1 x 400g carton or tin of chopped tomatoes
a handful of fresh coriander, finely chopped
1 vegetable stock cube
- Drain your soaked chickpeas and rinse them vigorously to get rid of the stagnant water that they’ll have been sitting in. Pop them in some fresh water in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Boil rapidly for a good 10 minutes to boil out any toxins.
- Meanwhile, peel and finely chop the onion and garlic, and chop the chilli. Put the oil into another saucepan and add the onion, garlic and chilli, then the cumin, and cook gently on a low heat. Allow the onions to sweat, not brown. If they burn, the burnt taste will permeate through your whole curry, whereas sweating them will add a delicious sweetness.
- Drain the peaches, reserving the juice, and chop into small chunks. Add to the onion mixture in the pan, along with any juice from the tin. By this time, the chickpeas should have finished vigorously boiling so reduce them down to a simmer.
- Pour the chopped tomatoes over the peaches and onion, add the coriander and crumble in the stock cube. Then stir everything together. Reduce the heat to a low setting, and allow to cook gently for at least 30 minutes. This thickens the sauce and melds the flavours together – if chopped finely enough, the onions will disappear as they make the sauce thicken with a sweet spiciness. You may need to add a cup of water to the sauce if it starts to get too thick.
- Drain and rinse the chickpeas and tip into the sauce. Stir together then serve.
This curry keeps in the fridge for 2 to 3 days and freezes well, if there’s any left! Leftovers can be served cold in a pitta bread the next day for a delicious, portable lunch.
White Chocolate and Pear Traybake
250g butter, plus extra to grease the cake tin
200g tinned pears (drained weight)
100g white chocolate
200g plain flour
1 heaped teaspoon bicarbonate of soda or baking powder
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4 and lightly grease a square cake tin or small roasting tin.
- Cream the butter and sugar together in a mixing bowl with a fork or wooden spoon until well combined. Break in the eggs and mix together, beating until smooth.
- Drain and chop the pears into chunks – fine chunks will ensure a subtle distribution of fruit throughout the traybake, but larger chunks give a delightful sweet, juicy bite. Add to the mixing bowl and stir through. Using a sharp knife, chop the chocolate into small chunks – or you can put it in a freezer bag and bash it into chunks with a rolling pin – and fold into the mixture. Add the flour and bicarbonate of soda or baking powder, and mix well to combine into a soft, sweet-smelling batter.
- Pour the batter into the tin and bake in the centre of the preheated oven for around 45 minutes – depending on the size of your tin. A shallow tin will cook faster, whereas a deeper tin will take its time. To check, insert a sharp knife into the centre of the cake. If the knife comes out clean, the traybake is ready.
- Allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out and chopping into squares.