This classy, brunch-style beans on toast recipe is one of those breakfast dishes that is lovely at any time of the day. The recipe makes a delicious home-cooked beans dish but you could substitute a can of baked beans for a very quick alternative.
This breakfast couldn’t be easier to make or more refreshing to eat. It doubles as a quick dessert too, maybe using a berry-flavoured yogurt. You could even layer it in a glass with muesli for an elegant fruit parfait. Greek yogurt is thicker and creamier than natural yogurt and contains up to twice as much protein and about half the carbohydrates. On the downside, it contains roughly one-third less calcium. It is also higher in fat, so take advantage of reduced fat and fat-free varieties.
This is a delicious way to eat your morning egg. The basic instructions given below for scrambled egg can easily be bulked up for more people and can be served on toast or alongside bacon and mushrooms.
These breakfast toasts are a special treat, yet are simple to make. You can prepare them the evening before you intend to eat them and leave them covered in the fridge, then all you have to do in the morning is cook them. The key to this recipe is to use soft white bread that rolls up easily and contains the filling without cracking.
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.
Shop-bought falafel make great sandwiches. Stuff them into pitta pockets with salad vegetables and you are in for a lunchtime treat. Ideally, use fresh mint to make the sauce but dried mint is acceptable, especially if you are not eating immediately, giving the dried mint time to rehydrate. Remember to drain any excess liquid from the salad ingredients to minimise the risk of soggy sandwich syndrome.
This salad is often served as a starter in Italian restaurants under the name ‘insalata caprese’ – it was originally served on the island of Capri as a tastebud-tingling light lunch. It looks particularly pretty with multi-coloured tomatoes. You can serve it with some chunky bread or mix it into leftover pasta if you need something more sturdy. The recipe is easy to bulk up for friends.
Quinoa is a grain native to South America that has a delicious nutty flavour and crunchy texture. In addition, it is rich in complete protein, making it an ideal food to eat on the go. Quinoa quadruples in size when cooked, so you will have some to spare for another meal – it is tricky to cook less than this quantity. This salad is suitable for vegans.
This is a great sharing dish, which will keep you and your friends going while you put the world to rights.
Beans and rice make a staple meal in cultures throughout the world. If funds are tight, this is a good dish to fall back on in its own right but it makes a tasty accompaniment too. Use whatever beans you have to hand and substitute brown rice, if you like, but remember it takes longer to cook and you will need a little extra liquid, too. In some countries, such as Cuba, hot pepper sauce, slices of mango and wedges of lime are served on the side.
Portabello mushrooms make a great vegetarian alternative to a meat burger. Select mushrooms roughly the same size as your bun (the really huge ones take longer to cook and will hang over the edge of the bun rather inelegantly).
This recipe is an inspired use of old bread, passed down from Italian peasants, for whom it was born out of necessity. It is best made with full-flavoured, slightly soft tomatoes. For the best visual effect, use different varieties and colours of tomatoes. If your bread isn’t very dry, put it into a warm oven for ten minutes.
This is like the deli sandwiches that get your taste buds tingling. It has plenty of meat and a lot of flavour. Using lean roast beef keeps this sandwich relatively low in fat, yet high in protein. Other meats – such as ham, salami and pastrami – are higher in fat and/or sodium. This sandwich is made with two slices of bread, but is equally good when made with a baguette, panini or any other substantial bread roll.
This is a clever variation on the classic. Instead of cooking the macaroni and making the cheese sauce, you cook the macaroni in the milk and the starches from the pasta thicken the milk into a smooth sauce. Add cheese and, hey presto!
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 recipe is called "penne al'arrabiata" in Italian. Serve with crusty bread and a side salad.
This is the classic, original recipe for the rich meaty sauce from the city of Bologna. It uses only a little tomato purée and several different kinds of finely chopped meat, which give the sauce a stew-like texture. Offer freshly grated Parmesan at the table.
There is always the temptation to buy bargain-basement burgers for reasons of both time and economy. However, if you want to impress, make your own – they are simplicity itself to prepare and the reward exceeds the effort. Do not buy very lean minced beef, as the fat is essential to bind the burger together and keep it whole.
A versatile side that goes well with any curry or vegetable dish and provides protein for a vegetarian meal. It is great, too, with rice or naan bread as an inexpensive supper. It freezes well, so bag up any leftovers for another meal. If you don’t have coconut milk, don’t worry, just substitute water.
Curry doesn’t come any easier or less expensive than this! Adjust the amount of curry powder to taste, and you could add a chilli or two as well, if you like your curries hot and spicy. It is a good dish to cook in advance and heat up when you are hungry. Serve with naan bread and some chopped cucumber mixed with yogurt.
These are really delicious and will have you licking your fingers (and the plate!) to get every last morsel of the sweet marinade.
This is an ingenious recipe, which offers a very simple - and delicious - way of cooking pizza. You can be as creative as you like with the toppings.
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.
This is one of those dishes that is always comforting to eat. It bulks up easily, too, so is a good one to make when someone calls by for a quick bite before a night out. The list of additions at the end of the ingredients is quite long – use any of them that you have to hand, in any combination.
The stir-fry has to be the best student meal ever – it’s made in minutes and is both filling and healthy. Tossing in some egg or rice noodles gives you a full and balanced meal, from shopping bag to mouth in ten minutes. The recipe calls for a pak choi, which is just the right size for one. However, you could use half a packet of stir-fry vegetables instead. Prepared vegetables tend to be more expensive but for a stir-fry they provide a great variety of ready-sliced ingredients.
This soup is almost as quick to make as packet soup but it is much more wholesome and satisfying and doesn’t have that synthetic flavour that you find with many commercial soups. You can enjoy this soup chunky or, if you have a stick blender, you can blend the soup until smooth.
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.
A korma is a mild and creamy curry containing coconut milk and ground almonds. Serve with rice and naan bread for a curry feast.
This is a quick version of the classic dessert Pears Belle Helene. The chocolate sauce is deliciously rich, thanks to the evaporated milk, and because the pears are from a can, this is a handy recipe to have up your sleeve when you need a store cupboard pudding.
This might not be the most fancy recipe in the world but if you are hungry and there is nothing else to hand, it’s perfect. Apparently, it was also much loved by Elvis.
Using frozen puff pastry makes this dessert simple to make and it looks very impressive, too. It is one of those recipes that, once tried, will be revisited many times over the years. Serve with lightly whipped cream or with vanilla ice cream.
This is a classic. The trick with brownies is not to over-bake them; you need to take them out of the oven as soon as they pull away from the sides of the pan, while the centre is still soft. Served warm, they are delicious as a dessert with a few strawberries and some ice cream, but they are equally tempting eaten cold with a glass of milk.
Serve this deliciously rich dessert in small teacups, glasses or espresso cups. If you like your mousse light and airy, you could, after adding the cream, fold in an egg white that has been beaten until lightly stiffened; remember the usual health advice for eating raw egg.
Okay, not quite the real thing, but still a decadent and impressive dessert! Serve with shortbread or fancy dessert biscuits
This is an easy store cupboard dessert that is utterly delicious with a scoop of ice cream or a little Greek yogurt. It works well for breakfast, too – without the ice cream!
This is a very popular stirfried dish in Singapore, particularly with the Chinese population. Served at Malay, Indian and Chinese hawker stalls, the dish is packed with ingredients and suffices as a meal on its own.
Creamy rice, salty pancetta and fragrant basil blend beautifully in this understated yet refined dish.
The rustic tastes and the rich colour of autumn are perfectly captured in this thick, spicy soup – one to warm the cockles of your heart.
Here bruschetta is made from big slices of crispy ciabatta, but if you make bruschetta from sliced baguette it becomes perfect finger food. Serve with drinks, especially because it is just as good eaten hot or cold.
Hummus is a popular and healthy appetiser, spread liberally on griddled pitta bread, and served with crudités.
This is a very thick and nourishing soup made with frozen sweetcorn. The addition of bacon and potatoes makes it a meal in itself – perfect on a cold winter day for lunch.
Fish is so quick and easy to cook and is wonderfully healthy, too. If you haven’t cooked it before, this is a great recipe to start with. The recipe provides both grilling and microwaving instructions. If you use a thicker piece of fish, such as halibut, you will need to add a couple of minutes to the cooking time. The classic accompaniment to this dish is wilted spinach and some boiled new potatoes.
This creamy vegetarian dish can be gently spicy or quite fierce, depending on your taste or mood. If it is your first time using a particular brand of Thai curry paste, add a little initially, then add more to taste, as they vary widely in strength! This dish goes well with a portion of sticky jasmine rice but is delicious with any type of rice or noodle.
Building s’more cupcakes is great fun for everyone. They require little fuss and effort, with a quick assembly and baking time.
This is a fabulous portable snack made with eggs and leftover potatoes. No potatoes? No problem! You can use whatever vegetables you have in the fridge. Peppers, mushrooms, chopped tomatoes and courgettes would all work well. The frittata can be eaten hot, warm or at room temperature. Allow it to cool completely, then cut it and wrap it in waxed paper and slip it into a plastic bag for transporting, or alternatively, put the frittata in a plastic container.
This hearty vegetarian soup is delicious and satisfying on a cold winter’s day. Serve with good-quality crusty bread and a lump of cheese for an inexpensive meal. Make sure that the pieces of vegetable are not too large or the soup will take longer to cook. If you have a stick blender, you could purée the finished soup.
A great vegetarian all-in-one sharing meal. Don’t be put off by the word ‘prune’ – after they have been slow-cooked they barely resemble their raw state and become soft, rich and incredibly sweet. If you are not convinced, use dried apricots, dates or pears instead.
Sharing boards are popular in many restaurants and provide a sociable, informal start to a meal or a casual evening in with friends. The deli counter is laden with goodies, so take the ones suggested here as a starting point. Look for foods with a range of colours and textures and take a few minutes to fold salami in half or arrange the ham in rolls to look good. Choose an attractive loaf of bread to serve on the side.
Broccoli is one of those vegetables that most people will eat, but there is a tendency to cook it to death so that it is far too soft and soggy, and tastes of cooking water. Here is a lovely way to cook it and retain its flavour. It goes well with almost everything – add a dash of soy sauce and it is good to go with an Asian dish, or a teaspoon of garam masala to turn it into a curry, or add some cooked chicken or fried tofu cubes and you have a main course. Note: If you are using frozen broccoli, omit the first step and toss it in the oil for a few minutes to cook.
Make this dish on cold winter nights when you're yearning for something hearty and comforting.
Quick and easy to make. Serve in bowls with crusty bread to mop up the yummy juices. Yee-haw!
Minestrone is a guaranteed winner – everyone enjoys this wonderful, classic soup. To get the best of the vegetable flavours, sauté them in oil in the order given, which makes them truly luscious. The recipe suggests simmering the soup for 20 minutes, but some classic Italian cooks suggest 2 hours; the choice is yours!
These are really easy to make, look impressive and are very delicious.
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.
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.