Need to rustle up a delicious meal, fast? Try these recipes using just a few staple ingredients from your kitchen.
WORDS: Siân Lewis
Do you get home from work and despair thatyou’ve got nothing in the house to eat?Well-known food editor and bestsellingcookbook author Donna Hay helps you whipup an appetising meal from basic storecupboard and fridge ingredients in her new book SimpleDinners (Hardie Grant Books, £18.99).‘Whether it’s noodles or rice from the pantry, or veggiesfrom the fridge, I’ll show you how to take everyday staringredients and turn them into delicious weeknight dinners,says Hay. Famous for creating fresh and fuss-free recipes,Hay’s passion for cooking began when she was just eightand was let loose in the kitchen with a mixing bowl andspoon. Since then, she has gone on to work in magazinetest kitchens, where her beautifully simple and seasonalfood became her trademark.
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She is the author of 20cookbooks and has just completed production on a newtelevision series called Donna Hay – fast, fresh, simple. Thisseries of 13, half-hour programmes for The Lifestyle Channel in Australia is currently being shown on the GoodFood Channel in the UK.Simple Dinners is a collection of 143 recipes, takinginspiration from the Mediterranean, Vietnam and Moroccoto name a few places. ‘This book is proof the simplest thingsare often the best – such as classic flavour combinationsthat deliver big results with minimal effort, old standbysgiven a makeover or shortcuts to family favourites,’ says Hay‘Eggs, noodles, couscous, flatbreads, beans and lentils arejust some of the foods Hay keeps on hand to makeweeknight dinners a breeze. She offers healthy tricks,including using cannellini beans or lentils in place of rice orpotatoes – a great way to increase the fibre and vitamincontent of your meals, they also soak up flavours really well.Experimenting with slicing or peeling vegetables in differentways is another way to make everyday dishes more excitingSo, whether you’re looking for a fresh vegetable pasta dishor a twist on a basic omelette, there’s something inSimple Dinners for everyone.
Chickpea, feta and carrot fritters
Per serving: 598 calories, 31g protein, 30g fat (13g saturated fat), 46g carbohydrate, 9g sugar, 11g fibre, 4.3g salt
2 x 440g can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
4 carrots, peeled and grated
1 handful chopped coriander leaves
300g firm feta, chopped
100g rice flour
2 tsp baking powder
Sea salt and cracked black pepper
Vegetable oil, for shallow frying
Lemon wedges, minted yoghurt and baby spinach, to serve
1 Place the chickpeas in a bowl and roughly mash with a fork. Add the carrot, coriander and feta and mix to combine.
2 Add the eggs, rice flour, baking powder, salt and pepper and mix well.
3 Heat 1cm of oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add large spoonfuls of the mixture to the pan and cook, in batches, for two to three minutes on each side or until golden.
4 Drain on kitchen paper, then serve with lemon wedges, minted yoghurt and baby spinach leaves.
Vietnamese pork skewers with pickled carrot
Per serving: 414 calories, 56g protein, 10g fat (4g saturated fat), 22g carbohydrate, 22g sugar, 3g fibre, 4g salt
1kg pork shoulder, trimmed and thinly sliced
3 spring onions, finely chopped
1 stalk lemongrass, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
80ml fish sauce
55g brown sugar
Baguette slices, to serve
For the pickled carrot
125ml white vinegar
2 tbsp white sugar
4 carrots, peeled and shredded
1 cup coriander leaves
2 red chillies, sliced
1 Combine the pork, spring onion lemongrass, garlic, fish sauce brown sugar in a bowl and refrigerate for 20 minutes to marinate.
2 To make the pickled carrot, place the vinegar and white sugar in a saucepan over medium heat and
bring to a rapid simmer. Simmer until the sugar dissolves and refrigerate until chilled.
3 Toss the cooled syrup with the carrot, coriander and chilli.
4 Thread the pork onto skewers and cook on a preheated chargrill pan or barbecue over high heat for
two minutes each side or until just cooked through. Serve with the pickled carrot and sliced baguette.
DONNA’STIPS FOR SIMPLE SUPPERS
.To keep herbs fresh in the fridge, don’t leave themin a plastic bag. Wrap them in a damp, clean toweland store in the crisper.
.Cans of beans, chickpeas and lentils are lifesaversin the kitchen. They can become easy salads andsides, and add substance to soups.
.I’m of the school of thought that if you have anin the fridge, you have a meal on the table. They’regreat for easy frittatas, omelettes, salads and more.
.Frozen fruit is great to buy when berries are outseason. When using it in baking or for desserts, youdon’t need to thaw it first.
.Even liquid fruits can be stored for future use.Passionfruit pulp, lemon or lime juice can be frozen handy ice cubes.
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