4 portions. Maximum cost: £5, 

Skill level: Easy, 

Total cooking time: 40 minutes, 

  • Prep time: 10 minutes, 
  • Cooking time:  30 minutes, 

Equipment used: 2 frying pans, 

Original recipe: The Silver Spoon’s “Mackerel with french beans”


Another dish with very few ingredients; I wouldn’t have necessarily picked this myself but it came recommended by the lovely Alison Tapply who is also a proud owner of the The Silver Spoon cookbook. 

I don’t think the book’s title of “french beans” does this justice as this is actually a ragout type mixture of green beans, carrot, tomato, parsley and capers which is seriously tasty.

Dusting the fish with flour creates really crispy skin – the only amend I would make to the original recipe is to season the flour first. 

The original recipe recommends to use a whole fish, and I usually follow this but have also used fish fillets, simply reduce the cooking time. Mackerel can also be substituted for trout. 


To prep: 

1: Slice 1 onion and chop 1 carrot and add to a bowl.  (I usually slice the carrot into circles and roughly chop the rings).  Add to this a handful of roughly chopped parsley, and the leaves from 1 thyme sprig. 

2: Trim your green beans (I cut off the knobbly end and leave the stringy end) 

3: Chop your tomato in small chunks, add to a separate bowl. Measure out your capers and add to the bowl with the tomato.



To cook:

(Original recipe in bold text)

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a pan, add the onion, carrot, parsley and thyme and cook over a low heat, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes. 

Add the beans and cook, stirring frequently, for 15 minutes (You may find that the carrot and onion mixture starts to catch and if you want to avoid this burning, you can always separate out the green beans to one side of the pan and leave the onion mixture off the direct heat before mixing back together.)

Add the tomato, and capers, season with salt and pepper and cook for a further 5 minutes. 

At this point, turn your attention to the fish.

Dust the mackerel with flour, shaking off the excess. (The easiest way to do this is to add a small amount to a plate, spread this out with your fingers and place each fillet into the flour, brushing excess off). 

Heat the remaining olive oil in a frying pan, add the mackerel and cook until golden brown and the flesh flakes easily with a fork. (Roughly 5 minutes on each side. If cooking fillets, cook for 2 to 3 minutes skin side down, flip and cook for a further 30 seconds flesh side down.)

At this point I serve up, but the original recipe states to add the fish to the pan of vegetables and cook for a further 5 minutes.

Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary then serve. 

Serve with roasted new potatoes. 



  • 4 whole mackerel (£5)
  • green beans (£1 for a 220g bag)
  • 1 carrot (10p)
  • 1 white onion (10p)
  • 2 tomatoes (20p)
  • 2 tablespoons capers