Although it can be tempting to fall back on microwave meals if you don’t feel like cooking for yourself, there’s a lot to be said for stepping up and putting in the effort to produce your own culinary creations.
If you’re not usually excited by the idea of cooking at home, these two tongue-tingling recipes could change all that. They’re tasty, simple and essentially wholesome; perfect for warming you up as the dark nights draw in.
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Steer clear of shop-bought pasta sauces and spice things up with your own super-speedy version of a classic Puttanesca.
For a meal that serves two, you’ll need to boil up 150g of dried pasta, and at the same time pack a frying pan with a healthy splash of olive oil and two or three finely chopped cloves of garlic. Add three or four anchovies and allow them to melt into nothingness alongside the garlic, then chuck in a pinch of dried chilli flakes, or half a fresh chilli if you want a bit more spice.
The most important ingredients are arguably the tomatoes and the olives. You can either go for 250g of fresh cherry tomatoes, chopped into quarters, or take the easy route and dump in a small pot of passata to save time. Opt for black deli counter olives and remove the stones, aiming to add around 50g to the pan. Take advantage of a Marks and Spencer promo code to save cash on classy ingredients like this. Round everything off with a handful of parsley and a teaspoon of capers.
Add the pasta directly into the frying pan to finish it off, remembering to drain off the water before you do so. Pop a tablespoon of the pasta’s cooking water in as well to enhance the flavour even further. Vegetarians can take the anchovies out and still enjoy this dish, and a touch of parmesan added as a final flourish is always welcome for cheese fiends, while parsley will add a herbal hit.
Unfussy Fish Dish
Fish is a great source of protein for anyone who wants to avoid red meat, but it can seem like a daunting ingredient to use if you’re not familiar with its ins and outs. This simple dish is a good option for amateur cooks, as all you need is one pot to handle everything.
Cook 300g of white rice with a little over half a litre of water, making sure to follow the instructions to get timings just right. While this is bubbling away, chop up 250-350g of cherry tomatoes; if you can buy them loose, go for the greater amount to get the most flavour and avoid plastic waste as well.
Combine the chopped tomatoes with a good slug of olive oil and a hit of red wine vinegar, mixing these ingredients in a bowl along with a smattering of black pepper and a pinch of salt. Use sea salt if you have it to hand, as this flavour works really well with the fish. Grab half a bunch of basil, equivalent to around 20g, and roughly tear it with your hands, mixing it in with the tomatoes and other seasonings.
For the fish, select around half a kilo of white fish fillets of your choice, making sure to pick out any bones and remove the skin. When the rice has around 10 minutes left to cook, pop the fillets in the water and add the tomato mix along with it. Keep the pan covered until the final two minutes, then put the lid to one side and continue simmering to get rid of the last of the water. Finish off with a few spoonfuls of green olive tapenade, another handful of torn basil leaves and a splash of olive oil.