It’s always wonderful to have meals made from scratch, with freshly bought ingredients, a meticulously curated menu, execution with much care and deliberation. But most of the times, we just need quick, safe and recipes that take no more than 30 minutes. So to help you all out there (especially the ones that keep slyly suggesting that I train their cooks or counterparts), here are 10 seriously simple recipes that even the most clumsy, non-fussy and lazy cook can make, to kick off your week on an inspiring note. And still, taste seriously amazing. I call them, Cuisine Quickies.
I’ve curated 7 fantastic savoury quickies, that rely on simple pantry basics and bread, nothing that takes you out of the ordinary. And 3 amazingly simple yet scrumptious desert quickies, one centred on chocolate, and the others on fruit, bearing the summer in mind! Here we go:
One of my favourites is this one pot pasta. Less dishes and a 20 minute meal with 5 minutes of prep = genius! It involves plopping in vegetables of choice, a can of plum or cherry tomatoes (or fresh, of you prefer), seasonings, herbs and spaghetti. This version is very basic – just a simple pomodoro-esque result using a bit of garlic and onion. But there are of course, other variations that work really wonderfully, to suit your taste and pantry!
This open face caprsese sandwich look like its been made at a cafe in the Italian Rivera, and sure tastes like it too! The simplicity of the ingredients (tomato, basil, bread and mozzarella/boccocini) are perfectly balanced by simple seasonings and some balsamic glaze. Perfect summer lunch, weekend brunch or mid-day snack. How can you not salivate!? Time? Under 30 minutes, for 2-3 sandwiches. Crack open a peroni in the balance time, you know, just because! 🙂
This recipe for Hoisin Glazed Tofu in Miso Broth with Soba Noodles sounds a lot more complicated than it is. In fact, I would compare it to the one pot pasta above, because the vegetables and noodles cook in the broth itself, and the prep is similar in nature- just chopping up some vegetables of choice for the broth. An added element here is the tofu, which takes about 7-8 minutes to sear, and can be done simultaneous to the broth deepening in flavour. Or swap it for any other protein of your choice. But in all its avatars, this is a heart warming bowl of goodness, and will always be quick comfort food, at its best!
For a summery lunch or even as a smaller version to double up as an appetiser, my umami chickpea sandwiches are amazing not only because the food processor does all the dirty work, but also because you can totally make a larger batch a few days in advance and serve/eat it as and when you please, without worry or plan, perfect for surprise visitors and midnight cravings. All you gotta do is pull out that food chopper/processor, throw in a can of chickpeas, mustard, celery and green onion (plus mayonnaise, if you like). I like to add a citrusy note with a splash of yuzu, but thats completely optional and can be swapped with lime juice.
My new favourite is this vegetable packed gluten free pasta, which is coloured using natural course of beetroot and spinach! I added mushrooms, cherry tomatoes and asparagus this time around, but obviously any combination of vegetables and protein that you fancy can be used. Instead of a ‘sauce’ which invariably increases cooking time, just a dash of some vegetable stock and some juicy cherry tomatoes form a lovely coating on the pasta ridges, satisfying the palate just perfectly. A big helping of chilli flakes and parmesan on top is always mandatory, in my kitchen!
SS’s new summer saviour salad combines fresh juicy tomatoes, avocado, onion slices and spinach. The dressing is my favourite part, not because of the lovely honey mustard and citrus— but predominantly because its shockingly easy! With zero chopping and literally no prep (squeezing out 1/2 an orange and some lime), just shaking it all up! At times when I’m low on spinach, I’ve traded in half the quantity for rocket, and iceburg lettuce. Also added some croutons, at one time. Let me tell you, they all work! Try it for yourself!
For the non-whole-tomato lovers (yeah, such people do exist, a living example being my brother), this Tagliatelle with Zucchini Ribbons, Basil and Mushrooms is perfect, as the mis en place can be done while the tagliatelle is cooking in the salty olive oil spiked water, and just sautéed while the pasta is still moist and slightly watery, again skimping the need for a ‘sauce’. More or less zucchini is always optional, threads or spirals or chunks, all work! But one thing is key – tons and tons (like a cup and a half) of fresh basil leaves!
Now for the sweeter side of life. Yes, sweet homemade treats are possible in under 30 minutes, but in this next one, I’ve cheated ever-s-slightly as the the setting time hasn’t been taken into account. But in my defence, its all about the cooking and prep time that is really relevant, no?
This amarula spiked chocolate pudding is a dense mousse, and takes literally 15-20 minutes to make, and then leave to set for about 3 hours. All you need to do is stir cream and chocolate together on a very low flame for about 10 minutes, till completely combined, thick and glossy. Then stir in the amarula (or not) and pour into ramekins. Done!
My favourite breakfast during south african safaris was a bowl of muesli over greek yoghurt and strawberry compote. But this recipe for homemade strawberry compote can be used generically for desert toppings (ice cream, waffles, etc.) as well as for breakfast, and uses up ripe and super ripe strawberries efficiently, with little fuss! No need for speciality ingredients, pectin or citric powder. Just regular ingredients found at home, stewed on the stove for 20 minutes and then enjoyed repeatedly for a whole week!
And the last one for today, is a simple yet effective and oh-so-pretty little pieces from heaven.These involve a little cheat — buying tart shells and storing them in your pantry for a rainy or lazy or gluttonous day! All you gotta do is whip some cream (5-7mins), slice fresh fruit (5mins) and pile into the shells, top with fruit and dust with icing sugar. Instantly glamorous desert, with zero skill or effort! They taste perfect too, btw.