Steak and ratatouille (serves two plus left over stew for lunch)

This has been adapted from Jamie Oliver’s steak and ratatouille with saffron rice recipe. You can find his recipe on his website here. I’ve changed and reduced it slightly to include some more vegetables and dropped the rice. There is enough ratatouille to heat up at work the next day, lovely with a soft roll or on its own.

This recipe packs in loads of vegetables, but also has a nice indulgent hit topped with blushing steak. For such a chunky stew, it actually tastes fresh and light with the passata spiked with the unmistakable fragrance of basil.

The below is just a guide – if you’ve got extra veg, feel free to chuck it in.

Ingredients

  • One small courgette
  • One small aubergine
  • One red onion
  • 1 teaspoon harissa
  • Two mixed peppers
  • Olive oil
  • Two cloves of garlic
  • 700g passata
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Half a bunch of basil
  • One handful of spinach
  • 100g frozen peas
  • One sirloin steak

Method

  • Allow the steak to come to room temperature for half an hour, or at least while you prepare the vegetables and get the pots out!
  • Trim the courgette and aubergine; slice the courgette in half long ways and the courgette into centimetre rounds. Place them all into a frying pan on a medium heat and brown on each side. Meanwhile, peel and roughly slice the onion into wedges. Deseed and chop the peppers into chunks. Pop into a medium casserole pan (or a large saucepan) with a tablespoon oil olive oil. Next, gun in the crushed garlic and the harissa and give a stir up – add more oil if it; catching. By now, your courgette and aubergine should be cooked, hack it up into large bitesize chunks and add to the onion/pepper pan. At this point, in goes the balsamic and passata – give everything a stir up.
  • At this point, you can pause. How thick or runny do you want your stew? If runny, get the steaks on soon, alternatively, turn the heat down and let to blip away until you’re happy.
  • When you know this, season up the steak with salt, pepper and olive oil, and cook to your taste on the frying pan you used for the aubergine.
  • Let the steak rest.
  • While resting, stir in any additions like half of the basil, the frozen peas and the spinach to the stew. Once rested, pour in the resting juices to the ratatouille.
  • Spoon neatly into bowls, top with perfectly blushing steak and garnish with an extra leaf or two of basil.
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Chicken and Chorizo Paella (BBC Good Food)

This is a really tasty and simple to follow recipe. I know that paella has regional variations, and that perhaps this is not a purist’s recipe, but as a starting point this was fantastic. Visit BBC Good Food for the recipe.

Jamie Oliver’s chicken Milanese with spaghetti

I’ll start by apologising for taking the cooking of the chicken a bit too far in patches, and for the dreadful plating of the spaghetti.

This is a brilliant meal for two. It’s breaded, crispy chicken, with th tang of parmesan, alongside spaghetti with a tomato sauce which on it’s own or with a garlic bread would be fantastic.

The recipe says it takes 45 minutes, and unlike many recipes, that is true!

One thing (this is for Novice chefs like me!) is that it is vital to bash the chicken properly. Flattening the chicken means that you can cook it through without burning the outside. I just about got away with mine, any fatter and I’d perhaps have been in trouble.

Genuinely this is a delicious dinner, and the recipe can be found on Jamie Oliver’s website.

Antonio Carluccio’s spaghetti carbonara

I used to wonder how best I could get my carbonara not to scramble; then I stumbled across Antonio Carluccio’s guide on YouTube. Follow his simple (and engaging) recipe and you will never cook your carbonara like this for the rest of your life! The residual heat from the saucepan is the key, plus, it means you retain some pasta water in case you want to loosen it all up slightly. Thanks, Antonio…

Smokey chorizo salmon

Another one from Jamie Oliver’s ‘5’, and another one in which the name says pretty much all you need to know.

Chorizo (in my opinion) makes everything better, it’s just wonderful, and the flavours of the sausage work well with the salmon (which can handle it.) Tomato and basil is a tried and tested combo, and this is just another ‘why didn’t I think of that’ simple dish.

Beautiful.

Jamie Oliver’s quiche leekraine

Jamie’s ‘quiche leekraine’ is a great recipe for a lunch or dinner, which can then be taken to work for lunches the next day – brilliant!

It’s really simple, tastes good, and can even be frozen (well I did).

I suspect quiche purists may suggest it isn’t the traditionally correct recipe, but if you’re after a relatively healthy quiche will all the elements, this is a great place to start!

Jamie Oliver’s quick crispy chicken with tomatoes and asparagus

If you were to compare the image alongside Jamie’s recipe to mine, you would not think they were the same dish. I did plate it differently, as well as far less elegantly, but the flavours were there!

I have to say that the standout thing on the plate is the basil, olive, butter, tomato and wine sauce. It is absolutely delicious. I will use it again with other chicken dishes.

This is a really good recipe, and actually works well adapted for lunches on top of some couscous, as it soaks up all the buttery/winey sauce.

Oh, and I added a poached egg to the asparagus because they needed using up!

You can access Jamie’s recipe, here.