30 minute meals: Recipe for Monday dinner

Steak with peppercorn sauce

  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Takes: 5mins to prepare and 10mins to cook
  • Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 4 x 200g steaks
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1½ tbsp peppercorns
  • 60ml brandy
  • 200ml chicken stock
  • 60ml double cream

Each serving contains 438 calories, 5.2g sugar, 22.8g fat, 11.1g saturates and 1.2g salt.

Method

Serve up a deliciously tender steak with a creamy peppercorn sauce for a midweek treat.

  1. Season the steaks with a decent amount of fresh cracked pepper and salt. In a large frying pan, heat the butter and oil until piping hot. Add the steaks and cook for 2 minutes each side. Remove the pan from the heat and transfer the steaks to a plate, reserving the meat juices. Cover the steaks with foil and leave to rest while you make the sauce.
  2. Add the peppercorns and brandy to the pan and bring to the boil. Cook for 1 minute over a high heat, or until the sauce reduces by half. Add the reserved meat juices and chicken stock, then reduce by half again. Add the cream and simmer for another 2 minutes. Remove from the heat.
  3. Serve the steaks with the sauce and a leafy green salad on the side.

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30 minute meals: Recipe for Tuesday dinner

Parmesan gnocchi

  • Rating: 4 stars
  • Takes: 1 hr 50 mins
  • Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • rock or table salt, for baking
  • 1kg (2lb) Desirée potatoes
  • 275g (9oz) 00 flour (see expert tip)
  • pinch nutmeg
  • 30g Parmesan or vegetarian hard cheese, finely grated, plus extra to serve
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • For the tomato sauce
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 red chilli, deseeded, finely chopped (optional)
  • 2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
  • pinch caster sugar
  • small handful fresh basil, chopped, plus extra leaves to serve

Each serving contains 587 calories, 10.9g sugar, 12.7g fat, 3.4g saturates and 0.5g salt.

Method

Easy to make and delicious to eat, this Italian dish is comfort food at its best - serve with a robust classic tomato sauce.

  1. Preheat the oven to gas 4, 180°C, fan 160°C. Line a roasting tin with a 1/2cm (1/4in) layer of salt. Prick the potatoes all over with a fork and arrange on the salt. Bake for 1 hour 30 minutes or until soft inside. Remove the potatoes from the oven and set aside. Discard the salt.
  2. While the potatoes are baking, make the sauce. In a pan, cook the onion in the oil until softened. Add the garlic and chilli, cook for 1 minute, then add the tomatoes, half a tin of just-boiled water and the sugar. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 20 minutes, then stir in the basil.
  3. Scoop out the potato flesh and discard the skins. Mash or pass through a sieve (or potato ricer) into a mixing bowl, until smooth. Add the flour, nutmeg, cheese and egg, then season well. Gently mix to form a soft dough, adding a little more flour if it feels too sticky.
  4. Tip out the ball of dough onto a lightly floured surface and cut into quarters. Roll each piece into a sausage shape 1cm (1/2in) in diameter. Using a sharp knife, cut each sausage at an angle into 2·5cm (1in) lengths, to make approximately 68 gnocchi in total.
  5. Using the back of a fork, gently press on each gnocchi to create decorative grooves on one side. Arrange the finished gnocchi on a large, flour-dusted tray, then cover with clingfilm and chill in the fridge for at least 10 minutes (or for up to 2 days) to firm up.
  6. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Drop in half the gnocchi, wait for them to rise to the surface, then cook for 1 minute. Remove with a slotted spoon; repeat with the remaining gnocchi. Reheat the sauce and stir in the gnocchi. Serve with a little more cheese and some basil.

Flavour spins

Spinach and goat's cheese

For a great veggie gnocchi, replace the Parmesan with crumbled goat's cheese and stir in 200g (7oz) chopped, blanched and drained baby spinach to the potato mixture (step 3).

Creamy mushroom and broccoli

Swap the tomato sauce for a creamy one. Pan-fry sliced mushrooms and broccoli florets in butter and olive oil, until golden. Add chopped garlic, fry for 1 minute more, then add a splash of white wine. Cook for 2-3 minutes, then stir in some crème fraîche; season.

Red pepper and chorizo

Add diced chorizo, a pinch of paprika and chopped roasted peppers (from the deli counter or a jar) to the tomato sauce mixture. Put the cooked gnocchi in a heatproof dish and scatter with torn mozzarella and some breadcrumbs. Grill until melted and golden.

Expert tips

Traditionally used for making pasta, finely milled 00 four helps to give the gnocchi a wonderfully light texture. If you can't track any down, plain four is the next best thing.

Use waxy potatoes, such as Desirée, in your dough. This red tips variety is less wet than other spuds, which makes it ideal for gnocchi.

The secret to light, fluffy gnocchi is dry mash. Salting the roasting tin (step 1) draws out moisture from the spuds while they bake. The potato skins are then discarded, leaving the flesh salt-free.

Try not to overwork the dough – this can cause the gluten in the four to stretch, which can give chewy results.

Creating grooves in the gnocchi (step 5) gives the sauce something to cling to.

For a great standby dish, open freeze the gnocchi from step 5, then transfer to a freezer bag for up to 1 month. Cook from frozen until they float to the surface (step 6).

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30 minute meals: Recipe for Wednesday dinner

Thai steak with spiced Asian slaw

  • Rating: 4 stars
  • Takes: 15 mins to prepare and 10 mins to cook
  • Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 395g pack thin cut beef steaks
  • 4 tbsp Thai massaman curry paste
  • ½ head of Chinese leaf, shredded
  • 100g mangetout, finely shredded
  • 125g radishes, thinly sliced
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 30g pack coriander, chopped
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped
  • 250g pack Thai inspired grains or wholegrain rice

Each serving contains 292 calories, 6.5g sugar, 9g fat, 4.3g saturates and 1.4g salt.

Method

Marinated in massaman curry paste and served with a chilli-spiked slaw of Chinese leaf, mangetout and radishes, these Thai-inspired steaks make for one flavour-packed supper. Not only are they high in protein and a great source of vitamin B12, but they can be on the table in just 25 minutes - who said healthy eating wasn't easy? 

  1. Put the beef in a shallow bowl and rub all over with the curry paste. Leave to marinate for 10 mins.
  2. Meanwhile, put the Chinese leaf, mangetout and radishes in a bowl, toss with the lime juice, coriander and chilli, then season and set aside. Cook the grains or rice following the pack instructions.
  3. Heat a nonstick frying pan until hot and cook the steaks in 2 batches for 1 min on each side, or until cooked to your liking. Cover with foil and rest for a few minutes, then cut into thin strips.
  4. Serve the grains alongside the slaw, with the steak on top. 

See more Steak recipes

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30 minute meals: Recipe for Thursday dinner

Slow cooker Bolognese

  • Rating: 4 stars
  • Takes: 15 mins to prepare and 8 hrs to cook
  • Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 8 pancetta rashers, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 celery stick, finely chopped
  • 100g mushrooms, diced
  • 500g pack Aberdeen Angus steak mince
  • 200ml red wine
  • 1 beef stock cube
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • 3 tbsp tomato purée
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 500g carton Italian passata with basil
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • To serve
  • 500g dry spaghetti
  • 40g Parmesan, grated

Each serving contains 912 calories, 19.8g sugar, 29.2g fat, 12.4g saturates and 3.4g salt.

Method

Slow-cooked for 8 hours, this rich Bolognese recipe is the perfect meal to chuck into your slow cooker in the morning and enjoy after work. All you have to do is cook some pasta and grate a little Parmesan cheese and you have a feast.

  1. Put all the main ingredients into your slow cooker and stir well. Put the lid on, set your slow cooker to low and cook for 8 hrs.
  2. Bring a pan of water to the boil about 20 mins before the 8 hrs is up. Add a good pinch of salt and cook the spaghetti until al dente. Drain the spaghetti.
  3. Lift the lid of the slow cooker and give the bolognese a good stir. Add the spaghetti to the slow cooker and stir well. Serve in bowls and sprinkle with Parmesan.

Freezing and defrosting guidelines

Freeze Bolognese only – once the dish has cooled completely, transfer it to an airtight, freezer-safe container, seal and freeze for up to 1-3 months. To serve, defrost thoroughly in the fridge overnight before reheating. To re-heat: Loosely cover with foil and bake until dish is thoroughly heated through. Re-heat until piping hot.

See more Slow cooker recipes

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30 minute meals: Recipe for Friday dinner

Smoky Mexican chicken traybake

  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Takes: 5-10 mins to prepare and 40-45 mins to cook
  • Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 1kg pack chicken thighs and drumsticks
  • olive oil, for greasing
  • 1 red pepper, deseeded and roughly chopped
  • 2 yellow peppers, deseeded and roughly chopped
  • 2 red onions, peeled and cut into wedges
  • 90g jar Mexican tinga paste (see tip)
  • 100g barbecue sauce
  • 750g sweet potatoes, scrubbed and cut into wedges
  • 100ml soured cream
  • coriander leaves, to garnish
  • guacamole, to serve

Each serving contains 725 calories, 32g sugar, 38.5g fat, 14.1g saturates and 1.4g salt.

Method

Loaded with mouthwatering Mexican flavours, this smoky traybake is perfect for spicing up your midweek meals. Serve with a dollop of soured cream, fragrant coriander and creamy guacamole for a dish that will have people fighting for seconds.   

  1. Preheat the oven to gas 6, 200°C, fan 180°C. Slash the skin of each thigh and drumstick 2-3 times. Place in a large greased roasting tray with the peppers and red onion.
  2. Mix together the tinga paste and barbecue sauce. Spoon over the chicken and vegetables and toss well to ensure everything is coated. Roast for 15 mins, then add the sweet potato. Carefully turn and baste everything in the juices and cook for a further 25-30 mins until the chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are tender and starting to char. Remove from the oven and gently turn the vegetables again in the juices.
  3. Serve straight from the roasting tray, with spoonfuls of soured cream, coriander leaves to garnish, and guacamole on the side.

Tip: Using a whole jar of tinga paste makes for quite a fiery dish. If you prefer a milder flavour use half a jar – it will keep in the fridge for up to 28 days.

See more Mexican recipes

For top tips on protecting you and your family when preparing raw meat and poultry, visit Food Safety in the Home.

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30 minute meals: Recipe for Saturday dinner

Chicken Caesar burger

  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Takes: 22 mins to prepare and 8 mins to cook
  • Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 romaine lettuce, leaves torn
  • 4 ciabatta rolls
  • 30g Parmesan, grated into thin shavings
  • For the Caesar mayonnaise
  • 4 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, very finely chopped
  • 4 anchovy fillets, very finely chopped
  • 50g Parmesan, finely grated

Each serving contains 647 calories, 3.9g sugar, 28g fat, 7.3g saturates and 1.8g salt.

Method

This chicken Caesar salad-inspired burger gets its swagger from a creamy, Parmesan-laced mayonnaise. Rather than fiddling around with mince, we simply pound chicken breasts to resemble burger patties, and then pan-fry. Anchovies can be divisive so if you’re not a fan, skip this ingredient.

  1. Put the chicken breasts between two pieces of clingfilm or baking paper. Flatten by bashing with a rolling pin until 1.5cm thick. Marinate the chicken in 2 tbsp olive oil, the lemon zest, garlic and some seasoning.
  2. Heat a griddle pan or a large frying pan over a medium-high heat. Cook the chicken for 6-8 mins, turning halfway through, or until cooked through with no pink meat showing.
  3. Meanwhile, mix the Caesar mayonnaise ingredients together in a bowl.
  4. Slice the ciabatta rolls in half and toast in a toaster or under a grill. Spread each side of the ciabatta with the Caesar mayonnaise, top with the grilled chicken, romaine lettuce and Parmesan shavings.

Tip: Try not to break the chicken up when flattening, spend most time bashing the thicker end.

You could cook the chicken breasts on a hot barbecue if dining outdoors. For best results, cook the chicken breasts in the oven, then place on the barbecue for 1-2 mins to char and pick up that delicious smoky flavour.

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30 minute meals: Recipe for Sunday dinner

Beef and chorizo burritos with avocado salsa

  • Rating: 4 stars
  • Takes: 35 mins to prepare and 2 hrs 15 mins to cook
  • Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 50g (2oz) chorizo, diced
  • 400g (13oz) diced beef
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded and chopped
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 200g (7oz) waxy potatoes, diced
  • 1 x 400g tinned black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 4 large tortillas
  • 4 tbsp half-fat soured cream
  • For the salsa
  • 1 ripe avocado, diced
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • handful fresh coriander leaves, roughly chopped

Each serving contains 551 calories, 6.9g sugar, 21.7g fat, 7.5g saturates and 1.3g salt.

Method

Burritos are a great sharing dish, allowing everyone to tuck right in. The beef is slow cooked in a rich tomato sauce for irresistibly tender results and served with a creamy avocado salsa to balance the chorizo heat.

  1. Dry-fry the chorizo in a pan over a medium heat, until crisp and golden. Drain on kitchen paper, discarding all but 2 tsp of fat in the pan.
  2. Return the pan to a high heat, add the beef and stir-fry, until browned all over. Tip the beef onto a plate and set aside.
  3. Return the pan to a medium heat, add the onion and cook until golden. Add the garlic and chilli and cook for 1 minute. Return the beef and chorizo to the pan with the tomatoes and 175ml (6fl oz) water. Cover the pan, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 1 hour.
  4. Stir in the potatoes and beans, and cook for a further hour, adding a splash of water if it looks a little dry. Remove the lid, turn up the heat and cook, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes until the mixture thickens. Season to taste.
  5. For the salsa, combine the avocado, lime juice and coriander in a bowl, then season to taste.
  6. To serve, spread each tortilla with 1 tbsp of soured cream, a spoonful of the beef mixture and some salsa. Fold in the sides and roll up.

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