In the Can
Better Nutrition|November 2021
In a culinary world dominated by farm-to-table eating and fresh ingredients, MasterChef semifinalist and author Theo A. Michaels celebrates the joys of cooking with canned food.
By Chris Mann

He was a semifinalist on the BBC’s MasterChef and is renowned for cooking Mediterranean-inspired “elegant village food” teeming with fresh ingredients. But Theo A. Michaels, author of the cookbooks Orexi!, Share, and Rustica, reached for his well-stocked cupboard and a can-do attitude during last year’s quarantine to create one of his newest all-time culinary favorites, Tray-Baked Spaghetti Puttanesca.

“Everything goes into the tray raw, including the spaghetti, and 30 minutes later dinner is done!” says Michaels. Among the dish’s ingredients: canned cherry tomatoes, canned pilchards in tomato sauce, and canned pitted/stoned black olives. “I invented a version of this during the first lockdown in the UK in March 2020,” he says, “when my kids and I hosted 36 live cookalongs and I was coined as the ‘UK’s home economist’ in national and international press.”

His new book, Canned: Quick and Easy Recipes that Get the Most Out of Tinned Food, serves up this time-saving and budget-friendly recipe along with 64 other simple-but-savory dishes that put canned and jarred ingredients front and center—just in time for the kitchen-labor-intensive holidays. In about 30 minutes, readers can pull together everything from curries and stews to skillets and stir fries, including can-topan oven bakes and sweet treats.

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