This soup is bright and cheerful in appearance and taste. It makes a good starter or light meal and is super healthy served with some chunky granary bread.
This may not be an authentic recipe, but it closely resembles its Thai cousin without all the hard-to-find ingredients.
This soup is full of the vibrant tastes associated with Mexican food. As in many traditional soups, bread — in the form of tortilla — is used to soak up the flavours and give extra body to the soup. Since the stock is exposed in this dish, choose the best available.
Such a classic! Serve as a starter for six or a family meal for four. If you like your pecans sweetened, add a couple of pinches of brown sugar just before the nuts have finished toasting.
Use low-fat mayonnaise and non-fat yoghurt to keep this salad healthy. It is great accompanied by a rice or couscous salad and is delicious over a baked potato or sweet potato. It only improves by being left to marinate, so it’s a great salad to prepare ahead or take to a party.
Quinoa is not just for salads; it makes a good accompaniment, too. This hot quinoa is great with a simple meat dish, such as lamb or pork chops.
An elegant bruschetta that is full of classic Italian flavours. You can also make in bulk as a canapé.
Plain green beans are given a lift with the addition of tomatoes, onions and herbs. Do not be afraid of the olive oil; it’s authentically Greek and makes the beans tender and delicious. Leftovers are good as a cold salad.
The ultimate comfort food: creamy mashed potatoes with garlic. You can stir in four tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese for a richer version, too. Fry it up for breakfast with bacon and egg or serve with a steak.
This sandwich is inspired by insalata Caprese, the colourful Italian salad consisting of mozzarella, ripe tomatoes and fresh basil. You might need an adult to help slice the mozzarella and avocado. If you're not confident using a frying pan, cook the sandwich in a sandwich toaster.
This is a vegetarian staple and for good reason: it’s healthy, filling and very economical to make — and oh yes, very tasty, too! For a hotter chilli, break open the chillies to release the seeds.
A classic quick curry — the vegetables, coconut milk and spices are well blended, but not fiery hot. Use the optional chilli if you like your curry spicy. Serve with naan or flatbread, if you want a change from rice.
When making a frittata, the ratio of vegetable to egg varies enormously, depending upon the vegetable you are using. The basic rule of thumb is that there has to be enough egg to hold the whole thing together, but there must be enough vegetable to form the main part of the finished frittata. It’s best to use about 2⁄3 vegetable and 1⁄3 eggs. Be very careful not to add too much cheese, as it will make the frittata stick and thus make it impossible to turn successfully. The amount of time it takes to cook the frittata will depend on how thick it is and what kind and size of pan you choose.
Here’s a rich, creamy, substantial supper dish that’s wonderful to come home to on a winter’s evening. To reduce the fat, make it with soy-based cream or reduced-fat cream — it’s perfectly delicious. This is great on its own or served with grilled tomatoes or a tomato salad.
What a delicious chicken dish — and so simple! If making for company, you could prepare to the point where the chicken is cooked in the sauce and set aside. Reheat while cooking pasta, rice or polenta, then add the soured cream and finish. Fusilli pasta is used in the recipe below.
The wonderful produce available in supermarkets has made the preparation of fresh vegetables easy in this “spring pasta”. So if pressed for time, buy your vegetables ready prepared and your spinach washed. Sometimes these items come packaged together, so feel free to mix and match. This is lovely served with crumbled goat's cheese.
This dish looks so pretty and is ideal for a quick family meal. Look for fresh farfalle instead of dried for an authentic touch.
The lovely, creamy richness is offset by the salty bacon in this classic Italian recipe. As the egg is barely cooked, this dish is best avoided by pregnant women and anyone who is immune-suppressed.
Gnocchi is fine and filling and great for a near-instant supper. As it comes vacuum packed, it has a long shelf life and is a handy standby; it also freezes well.
The chicken breasts can be stuffed in advance and you might want to ask an adult to help you stuff the cheese under the skin. Serve with potatoes and some green beans or salad.
Grilled chicken makes a perfect supper and is loved by almost everyone. The directions here work for an outside barbeque as well as under a grill; either way, with a bit of basting with an aromatic oil or butter, it’ll be delicious. This dish can be prepared partly in advance; the chicken and marinade can be kept in a resealable plastic bag in the fridge for up to 24 hours.
This fragrant and creamy Thai-style curry is stunning served with sticky jasmine rice. When cooked, mould the rice into a pasta bowl using a small cup as a scoop and serve surrounded by the curry.
This is a wonderful dish, perfect for a party as you can prepare the salmon in advance and pop it into the oven when needed; for simplicity, serve with a green salad instead of spinach. The recipe works well with other fish such as halibut, tilapia and cod.
This is a fantastic way to cook fish. Wrapping in packets means that, in effect, the food is steamed in its own moisture, retaining all its flavour and goodness. If you are cooking in your oven rather than on an barbeque, you can use greaseproof paper in place of foil, but be sure to wrap the edges tightly together.
Sole is a very delicate flat fish that cooks in no time at all. It is classically served in this butter sauce with new potatoes and a steamed green vegetable or a courgette ratatouille.
Chinese-style cooking is terrific when time is short. For best results, slice the steak in half along the grain, then into thin strips across the grain. Freezing the steak for about 15 minutes also makes it easier to cut. Serve with plain or egg fried rice or egg noodles.
Beef and horseradish are a classic combination; both work well with beetroot, so serve with a beetroot salad or a potato salad. The flavoured butter can be made in advance and kept in the fridge or can be made in bulk and kept in the freezer until needed.
Scrambled eggs with tomatoes and chilli make a great anytime meal. Serve on a corn tortilla, as a burrito or in a taco shell, maybe with a side of refried beans and some chilli sauce. If you are really pushed for time, replace the fresh vegetables in the recipe with warmed purchased salsa.
Known as chorizo con huevos y papas, this breakfast dish is a favourite at many basic eateries. Made with shredded or finely chopped pork seasoned with smoked, dried chillies, chorizo has a reddish colour and a spicy flavour. The sultanas add a touch of sweetness to counter the spicy chorizo.
Using filo pastry means you can whip up apple tarts in no time. For an even quicker variation, replace the apples with apple sauce.
This sweet treat is calories on a plate, but as an occasional treat, it is a winner.
Okay, not quite the real thing, but still a decadent and impressive dessert! Serve with shortbread or fancy dessert biscuits
This elegant, healthy dessert is very beautiful to look at, with a sensational taste that matches. Pomegranate seeds can be frozen and kept for several months in the freezer; they can be used from frozen in this dessert.
Use good-quality cherries for this recipe — those in a jar are best and for special occasions, use cherries in liquor and serve accompanied by amoretti, tuiles or mini meringues.
Don’t reserve pancakes for breakfast — they make a fabulous quick dessert or an after-school snack. Serve with vanilla ice cream for an indulgence.
Everyone loves chocolate mousse and chocolate muffins; in this dessert, they are decadently combined. This dish contains uncooked eggs, so it should not be given to pregnant women or to the immune-suppressed.
Having a ready-to-use pie crust in the pantry is to know that an impressive dessert is always at hand. This filling is quick and easy and a surefire favourite.
A healthy dessert that is full of tropical flavours — great after a heavy meal or wonderfully refreshing on a hot day. As a timesaver, look for prepared fruit in the produce section; otherwise, buy fresh, but add in extra prep time.
A super-easy and delicious snack. If you're using a sharp knife, ask an adult to you slice the bagels.
The ultimate quick-fix starter designed to impress. For the best results, be sure that figs are in season, when they are ripe and tasty.
Quinoa is a super food — a grain native to South America that has become popular not only for its nutty flavour and crisp texture, but because it is rich in complete protein. This salad is terrific for a buffet family meal or you can bulk up the recipe and take it to a potluck supper.
Pork medallions will cook through in the time taken to brown them on the outside, so it’s worth the extra time spent banging them with a rolling pin or mallet — or even the back of a frying pan. Serve with simple mashed potatoes and steamed green beans.
This soup sings out with the flavours of summer, but since it is made with frozen peas, it can be enjoyed year round. It will become a family favourite — and one that you can make when you think you have nothing to eat.
This recipe uses tinned lentils to make it an almost-instant fine and filling salad. Nutritionally, it’s a star. Simply serve with warm, crusty wholemeal bread.
This salad hails from Cyprus, the home of halloumi cheese and is a good salad for an outdoor party, particularly for vegetarians. Make the salad ahead of time, then grill or barbeque the halloumi when you’re ready to eat. Serve with flatbread or pitta.
These are healthy and full of flavour. Allowing everyone to construct their own wrap makes this an easy meal option. Buying a package of stir-fry vegetables makes the shopping simple and cuts down on prep time. Cooking with jars or tubes of fresh ginger and garlic is a handy prep shortcut, too.
Meaty mushrooms make a great base for a vegetarian sandwich that’s equally good hot or cold.
Mealtimes couldn’t be easier or quicker. Play around with the toppings to suit your family’s favourite combinations. The oven can get quite hot, so ask an adult to help you when using it.
These sandwiches are great for Sunday brunch. The hob can get quite hot, so ask an adult to help you when using it.
A classic, American comfort food from the south eastern states. The mixture keeps in the fridge for several days, so make a large batch if you have friends coming; that way, you’ve got an instant sandwich filler or cracker topping on hand when hunger strikes.
These delicate sandwiches are perfect for a light meal or a picnic. If you don’t have trout, the sandwiches are just as delicious with smoked salmon.
The corn and spices give a novel twist to the chicken burger. Serve on a bun with lettuce and cucumber and a tomato or Thai chilli sauce. The burgers can be cooked from frozen, so double up the recipe and keep some as a standby.
This will soon become the quick dish that you serve to impress. Poaching the chicken in vermouth makes it moist, rich and slightly scented; you could substitute a good-flavoured white wine such as chardonnay and the resulting dish will still be delicious. All you need are some new potatoes and a steamed green vegetable, such as broccoli or spinach, on the side.
Sometimes a cupboard meal is a godsend. Simply serve in a bowl with bread or crackers.
These meatballs are quick to prepare and cook and you have the benefit of knowing they’re not made with low-grade meat. Do not buy extra lean beef or the meatballs will crumble. Serve these meatballs over spaghetti or with mashed potatoes.
Sausages are great for quick meals and these are cooked with a barbeque sauce for added piquancy. Serve with oven chips or mashed potatoes or in a roll.
This recipe is great for cheats. By cooking the puff pastry separately, you get pie in no time and you can use tinned mushrooms if you haven’t any fresh ones.
Using a dry spice rub is the easiest way to impart full flavour to a piece of meat. Here a Middle Eastern spice mix is used with lamb, but it would work well with other meats or poultry, too. Serve with a couscous salad and a plate of sliced tomatoes drenched in olive oil and vinegar.
Halibut is a delicious firm, meaty fish, but it is endangered in the Atlantic, so look for North Pacific or line-caught halibut or a choose an alternative firm textured, mildly flavoured fish. If overcooked, halibut dries out, so be sure to serve as soon as it is ready.
Nothing could be simpler or easier than cooking couscous. Harissa is the bright red, fiery chilli paste that is used in North African cooking and it gives this recipe some heat. Omit if that is not to your taste. Serve hot with a tagine or stew or cold as a salad — in which case, add the spring onions, tomatoes and herbs once the couscous has cooled.
Tinned beans and a jar of piquillo peppers combine to give spark to this quick supper dish. Piquillo peppers come from northern Spain and are roasted over fire to sweeten them — if you can't find them, use a jar of pimientoes. Serve on a bed of rice pilaf or couscous for a sensational supper.
These tasty scallops make a lovely light meal accompanied by a mango salsa, or an avocado salad. They are every bit as good as their deep-fried cousins, but much lower in fat.
A dish full of sun-drenched Sicilian flavour. To get the best out of the dish, the aubergine must be a deep golden colour and silky smooth inside. Fresh basil is essential.
Comfort food at its most homely and a winner with kids and hungry adults alike. Substituting reduced-fat milk and cheese keeps the fat and calorie count lower. A small tomato and red onion salad on the side would be a perfect match.
This piquant dish is a perfect, quick after-work meal and a good way to use up any blue cheese lurking in the fridge. Serve with a green salad and chilled white wine.
This quick and easy Moroccan-style stew is sophisticated enough to serve to discerning vegetarians and simple enough for a family meal. Serve with couscous.
How easy is this? A lovely accompaniment to a simple fish or meat dish. Allow it to cool and you’ve got a wonderful salad dish, too.
Fresh or frozen pastry cases are fantastic if you’re pressed for time. Make sure yours is sugar-free!
For the perfect brunch, serve with some leftover potatoes, fried to a crisp with a little finely sliced onion and a rocket salad. Serve as soon as the omelettes are cooked or they will lose some of their fluffiness.
Ready in less than 5 minutes, this is a great vegetable side dish. Although it is Indian-inspired, it works well with simple meat and fish dishes from most cuisines.
These go well with grilled chicken, steak or sausages. Once you've done all the mixing, ask an adult to help you fry the fritters in the hot butter.
A soul-warming soup for a winter day. Using tinned lentils cuts down the cooking time. Dried green lentils can be substituted, but they take 30 to 40 minutes to cook. Use well-flavoured stock for this recipe.
This classic is a substantial soup that is a meal in itself. Clam juice is used in this version for a deliciously rich, fishy taste; if you prefer something milder, use vegetable stock instead.
This old-fashioned appetiser is always welcome and works well as a starter, with cocktails or at a buffet. It has limitless variations, so use those suggested here as a springboard for your own ideas. The flavoured yolk can simply be spooned back into the egg white or if you want to impress, use a piping bag and form the yolk into rosettes.
A simple yet yummy starter. Be sure to get the freshest and best prawns possible for this dish. Serve with elegant triangles of lightly buttered wholemeal bread.
These delicious starters can be made in minutes using ready-made blinis.
A spicy appetiser that is perfect for an informal start to the evening. Packed into a jar, these nuts make great gifts too.
The French way of serving this homely vegetable makes it into something quite special, although simple enough for an everyday meal. The stalks are separated from the leaves and cooked for a few minutes longer to ensure that both parts are cooked to perfection.
This is a rich, smooth soup based on the classic French recipe. It is perfect served with warm French bread and a glass of chilled Chablis.
This is a leftovers special: cooked potatoes, a few fresh herbs and some eggs are all you need to make a fine and filling meal. Use whatever vegetables are in the fridge to add to this wonderful egg dish. It can be served hot, warm or at room temperature and is great for picnics.
The beetroot is an overlooked vegetable, but so tasty with meat or fish. What’s more, the supermarkets have done the work for us, so we can purchase beetroots peeled and cooked — ready to use.
With a hint of ginger and chilli, this is a satisfying Chinese-influenced main course stir-fry. Serve with rice or noodles.
The sweet taste of the peppers is perfect with the chicken in this simple dish called 'pollo ai peperoni'. All it needs to finish it off are some boiled or steamed potatoes and a simple green vegetable such as haricots verts.
This is one of those dishes that tastes incredibly sophisticated, but has minimal ingredients — it couldn’t be simpler. Serve with a side of plain rice and some black beans. It is a great recipe to make when there are some past-their-best tangerines in the fruit bowl.
Tapenade is a delicious black olive paste that hails from southern France. All this zingy fish dish needs as an accompaniment is a dish of new potatoes and a bowl of lightly dressed salad leaves. The recipe works well with any firm, mild-flavoured white fish.