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Tim Anderson’s Microwave Pasta

Welcome to City Harvest Cooking with Tim Anderson

City Harvest Cooking is a series where guest chefs and cooks join City Harvest in its London food rescue warehouse to create amazing dishes from surplus food. It’s all about being resourceful and getting creative with whatever might be in City Harvest’s food redistribution depot on the day of cooking. The beauty of food redistribution is its unpredictability, although having a network of fresh produce suppliers means that we often see seasonal goods come through our depot doors.

The fifth chef in our first series of City Harvest Cooking is American-British cook, writer and winner of  2011’s MasterChef competition, Tim Anderson.

Tim’s cooking is primarily informed by his American heritage and his love for regional Japanese food, but it also draws on a personal history of worldwide culinary tourism and a keen interest in food science. A leading voice in the UK on Japanese gastronomy, Tim was the founder of the Japanese soul food restaurant Nanban in Brixton and is the author of five cookbooks on Japanese cuisine: Nanban: Japanese Soul Food, JapanEasy, Tokyo Stories, Vegan JapanEasy, and Your Home Izakaya.

This series of recipes for City Harvest Cooking, however, is inspired by his latest book: Microwave Meals. Tim shows us how microwave cooking is so much more than baked beans and reheating leftovers. Using the microwave is a quick and energy-efficient way to cook, saving time and money. Check out his top microwave tips here. 

Ingredients  (makes 2-3 portions)

Prep time: 10 mins, cooking time: 20 mins, total 30 mins.

  • 250 g dried pasta (Tim uses Garofalo fussiloni)
  • 150 ml milk (whole or semi skimmed dairy milk, or to make vegan used plant-based alternative)
  • approx. 200 ml room temperature water (enough to cover the pasta only just)
  • 1-2 tbsp butter (or plant-based butter)
  • 150 g button or chestnut mushrooms, washed, halved/quartered 
  • 1 small bunch wild garlic, finely chopped (stalks and leaves), if you can’t access wild garlic, use 2-3 fresh garlic cloves)
  • 1 handful spinach, roughly chopped 
  • 1 handful rainbow chard, roughly chopped
  • 100 – 200 g sliced or grated cheese (Tim uses mild cheese here but you can use any hard, nutty cheese like gruyere, comte, gouda, or for a stronger taste: parmesan or pecorino)
  • small bunch of fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • salt and black pepper to taste 

* Tim uses a variety of greens found in City Harvest’s surplus food depot in Acton that were available and in season. This recipe works with lots of leafy greens and fresh herbs, e.g. spinach, chard, spring onions, kale, broccoli, cavolo nero, basil, parsley and watercress. Feel free to replace the ingredients with alternatives that you have!


  • Handful fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • Handful Clearspring toasted nori snack, made into a crumb
  • Handful bacon flavoured ‘Frazzle’ crisps, made into a crumb


      • Standard microwave 
      • Microwaveable bowl (large enough for all the ingredients – here we use a large Pyrex mixing bowl)
      Author, food writer and cook, Melissa Thompson at City Harvest London food charity
      1. In a microwave-proof bowl, measure out your dried pasta and add the milk, water and butter until the pasta is almost entirely covered. (Don’t add too much water or the sauce will be too watery)
      2. Cover with a plate or microwave lid, and cook the pasta on full power (Tim uses a 700W microwave oven) for 8 minutes. 
      3. While the pasta is cooking in the liquid, prepare your veg: halve or quarter your mushrooms, roughly chop the leafy greens (chard, spinach), and finely chop the herbs and aromatics (wild garlic, parsley) 
      4. After 8 minutes, the pasta will be halfway cooked. 
      5. Carefully remove the bowl from the microwave using a teatowel and give it a stir. 
      6. Add the mushrooms, chard, wild garlic stems, a generous amount of black pepper and return to the microwave for another 5 minutes on full power. 
      7. During the 5 minutes, prepare your garnish by crumbling the Clearspring toasted nori and bacon Frazzles into a separate bowl.
      8. Carefully remove the bowl from the microwave with a tea towel, and add the spinach, cheese and wild garlic leaves
      9. Add about a teaspoon of sea salt (or to taste- the garnish is salty, too!)
      10. Stir everything together in the bowl with a spatula until the cheese has fully melted. The residual heat from the pasta should fully melt the cheese, and create a sauce from the pasta starch and milk, water and butter. You should be left with a creamy textured pasta dish! 
      11. Plate up your pasta into 2-3 bowls, depending on portion size, and garnish the pasta with the toasted nori, frazzles and extra parsley. 

      Check out Tim’s latest book, Microwave Meals, now.

      Enjoy this recipe?

      Our recipe page hosts a variety of recipes from chefs, food partners, supporters and our charity community. If you enjoyed making this recipe, check out some more.