This was completely inspired to the ideas I’d been absorbing from Jamie’s 15 Minute Meals. Keeping a few pans on the go, everything cooked separately and brought together, powerful spices to give the flavours a kick… It’s exactly in keeping with the way some of the Jamie recipes work.
I do have one ingredient in there I’m not convinced Jamie would approve of… frozen mince and onion. But I can’t ignore the time-saving this offers me.
If’ I’d have had coriander leaf to scatter on top, it would’ve been perfect. But I was happy enough.
Keema chana curry (serves 2):
250g frozen mince and onion
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
½ teaspoon turmeric
1 red onion
1 clove garlic
1 tin tomatoes
1 teaspoon nigella seeds
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 tin chickpeas, drained
2 sweetcorn cob halves
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
Get two frying pans and a saucepan on pretty hot. Get the kettle on to boil.
Add a dash of oil to one of the pans and add the cumin seeds and turmeric. After a minute add the mince and onion and stir often.
Get your blender ready, and whizz up the onion, garlic, tomatoes, nigella and garam masala with a pinch of salt until liquid. Add to the other pan and allow to bubble. After a couple of minutes add the chickpeas.
Fill the sauce pan with boiling water and add the sweetcorn. Simmer for 10 minutes until tender, then drain. Return to the pan and add a knob of butter, a pinch of smoked sea salt and paprika. Pop the lid on and toss well.
Serve the mince on top of the tomatoey chickpeas with the sweetcorn on the side.
Lasagne has to be one of my favourite dinners. If I’m stuck for what to cook, it always pleases a crowd and satisfies. I like a lasagne with gutsy tomato sauce, plenty of layers of pasta and a bubbling, cheesy topping. I’ve tried all sorts, with Marmite in, with marmalade in, with soy sauce in… this version is about as traditional as I make mine.
I used some CIRIO tomatoes in this one, a mix of thick passata, tomato puree and the amazing Pizzassimo sauce.
On a whim, I picked up a jar of pre-made white sauce. Before I knew how to make bechamel I would use Ragu white sauce. I don’t know why I went for this; I haven’t tried it in maybe 12 years. But I was really pleased with the taste of it, slightly peppery and perfectly creamy. I didn’t dare look at the ingredients list but if I was running short on time I’d definitely use it again.
Looking for other lasagne recipes? Try Summer veg lasagne or this more full-on lasagne recipe.
Lasagne al forno (serves 6 with a green salad):
1 onion, finely chopped
500g beef mince
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon tomato puree
1 jar tomato passata
½ tin Pizzassimo sauce
500ml beef stock
1 jar Ragu white sauce
About 10 lasagne pasta sheets
Big handful of grated cheese. Yes, cheddar will do
- Get a large saucepan on a low heat, add a splash of oil and fry the onion gently for about 10 minutes. When softened, crank up the heat and add the mince, stirring frequently to prevent sticking. Add the garlic, tomatoes and stock and simmer for 20 minutes. Check for seasoning and take off the heat to cool slightly.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C. Get an ovenproof dish and start with a layer of pasta. Add a thin layer of mince mixture, half the white sauce and top with pasta. Add more mince, more pasta and top with white sauce. Grate cheese over the top and bake for about 30 minutes until bubbling and golden. Leave out of the oven to set for a couple of minutes, it’ll be easier to cut.
This was another test for the slow cooker – a sturdy bolognese recipe. This one is lifted from this month’s Delicious magazine. It’s much more complicated than my personal favourite recipe but they both have merit. The results were very good – it was missing something, perhaps a little acidity – but very satisfying for something left alone for 7 hours.
I made enough for ten here, so I have two future dinners perfectly preserved :)
1kg beef mince
1 onion, finely diced
2 celery stalks, finely diced
3 garlic cloves, finely sliced
1 tin tomatoes
100ml whole milk
300ml beef stock
200ml red wine
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons tomato puree
- Brown the mince in a hot pan to develop a lovely brown crust.
- Put the mince along with all the other ingredients in a slow cooker on high for 6 – 7 hours.
- Check for seasoning and serve with the pasta of your choice – I’m a sucker for the wide, flat chewiness of tagliatelle. Top with parmesan.
I’ve two versions of a spaghetti bolognese; a workaday version or this, my I’ve-got-a-whole-day-to-spare version. It’s heartily lifted from Antonio Carluccio who claims it’s the way they do it in Bologna.
It’s simple to the point of absurd and a very short ingredient list. I start by browning mince; an equal combo of pork and beef. The pork lends wonderful fat to the dish, and the beef gutsy red meat. Once it’s browned I remove it and fry a chopped onion until translucent. Then the mince goes back in the pan and I add half a bottle of white wine and let it bubble away for a minute or two, then in with tomato puree and a jar of passata.
Ingredient-wise, that’s it. I’ll then raise it to a simmer and leave it on the lowest possible heat for as long as I can – perhaps 3, 4 or 5 hours. I need to taste it at some point – you can never tell how your tomatoes are, so I may add sugar – and season as required. The flavours will be intense, rich, tomatoey and the mince will have a loose, tender mouthfeel.
I then boil spaghetti til tender, then put some of the mince mix in a hot frying pan. The pasta is then added to this with a splash of cooking water. This helps the sauce cling to the spaghetti. Serve in massive piles with freshly-grated parmesan. Even better, pass round the microplane and the block of cheese and DIY.
A dreadfully-named dish this one; but it inverts a standard cooking cornerstone in a way that really baffled me. It came from a Weight Watchers book of all places, though it has dubious dietary heritage.
Rather than the time-honoured tradition of: sweat onions in oil, then add meat, the method for this is to dry-fry mince until it starts to leak oil and then chuck the onions in. I suppose this is marginally healthier. I add grated garlic to this, then some patented Gary Masala and turmeric, with seasoning. Allowing these flavours to develop for a few minutes I then add a good puddle of beef stock, frozen peas and a tablespoon of mango chutney. It sounds utterly perverse, but after just a couple of minutes simmering you get a spicy, fruity, meaty bowl of food that is immensely satisfying.