If you only have a few minutes and limited patience to make dinner each night but youre a food lover, you need an arsenal of dishes in your repertoire that are quick to make but dont compromise on taste.
Speed neednt mean cutting corners on quality – if you choose good quality ingredients and treat them well, the end result will be just as satisfying as if youd slaved over a hot stove and a chopping board all day.
Here are 4 super quick meals with just 4 ingredients (plus seasoning!) you can make this evening that have all the flavour you want with none of the faff.
Real food, real quick.
1) ASIAN TUNA STEAK WITH COURGETTI
Sugar snap peas (or any other green vegetable)
Seasoning: Ginger, garlic, chilli, sesame oil, sesame seeds, coriander (if required)
Fry red chilli, ginger and garlic in a generous glug of sesame oil until the garlic is softened.
Add 2 x spiralised courgettes, or, get a bag of courgetti spaghetti from the supermarket to shave 10 mins from your prep time.
Add cherry tomatoes and sugar snap peas (or mange tout, pak choi, long stemmed purple sprouting broccoli – any greens at all you can lay your hands on).
Toss the vegetables in the infused oil and let that cook for a couple of minutes, keeping the vegetables moving until the tomatoes are starting to soften.
Meanwhile, heat up a griddle pan and sear your tuna steaks on both sides, seasoned with salt and rubbed with sesame oil.
Take the tuna off once its lightly cooked and still pink in the middle.
The entire meal should take no more than 3-5 minutes to cook – in fact, if you like your tuna rare, it will take no more than 30 seconds to a minute each side – so youll need to be prepared to juggle.
Toasted sesame seeds and micro herb coriander (regular coriander is fine too) sprinkled on top to serve elevate this dish into a new realm – but if thats an ingredient too far, its perfectly lovely without.
2) QUICK CRISPY BACON CARBONARA
Linguine, fresh or dry
Eggs (one per person)
Seasoning: olive oil, salt, pepper.
Boil up a big pan of salted water and throw in your pasta.
In the 10-12 minutes you have until its done, 3-4 minutes if you use fresh pasta, fry the lardons in a pan until they crisp up. Crack your eggs and separate the yolks from the white, keeping the yolks to one side. Grate a few tablespoons of Parmesan (approx one tbsp per person).
When the pasta is done, drain it and return to the warm pan. Add a good glug of extra virgin olive oil and toss the pasta to coat it. Throw in the crispy lardons along with the tasty oil left in the pan. Add the egg yolks and a handful of Parmesan. Season well with salt and pepper.
Give the whole thing a good mix so the linguine is coated.
If youre feeling fancy, garnish with a healthy handful of torn flat leaf parsley.
Serve with the crucial fifth ingredient: a glass of cold white wine.
3) SPEEDY SUMMER ROAST CHICKEN
Seasoning: oil, salt and pepper. Fresh basil optional.
Even in warmer weather we crave a roast – but no one wants to stand in a hot kitchen for an hour and a half while it cooks.
This summery roast is lighter than a traditional roast and takes just 30-40 minutes.
You see, fast food can be good food!
If you have a gas barbecue with a lid, it comes with almost no washing up too.
If your supermarket doesnt sell spatchcock, the meat counter will usually prepare it for you. Otherwise, a local butcher will happily oblige.
All it means is that the chicken has been cut down the middle and butterflied, so it can be cooked quicker, particularly on the barbecue.
If you dont have a barbecue, this works just as well in a hot oven.
Rub the chicken skin with oil and salt.
Heat the barbecue and put the chicken on, breast down, for 10-15 minutes on an indirect heat. Close the lid to roast the chicken. Turn and cook for the remainder of the time – it should be done in 35-40 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook the new potatoes in a little water in the microwave until they are almost done. Drain and coat in oil, season, then put into a small roasting tin and add that to your barbecue, lid down. Give them a shake and turn them after 15 minutes – they will need around 30 minutes in total to turn golden brown and crisp up.
While thats cooking, thinly slice the tomato and onion and layer in a dish. Dress with olive oil and vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Add torn basil if you have.
In 30-35 minutes the chicken will be done. Use a thermometer to check the breast of the chicken is up to 165c.
Take everything off together and serve your chargrilled chicken with the speedy roasties and lovely fresh tomato and onion salad.
4) COD WITH CHORIZO AND CHILLI SWEET POTATO MASH
Chorizo – either raw cooking chorizo or regular cured chorizo in sausage form (not pre-sliced)
Sweet potato – allow for half each
Purple sprouting broccoli
Seasoning: Olive oil, butter, salt and pepper, red chilli flakes.
With cod taking about 7-10 minutes to cook, depending on the thickness of the fillet, this meal should take around 15 minutes to prepare and cook, all in. The cod, broccoli and potato needs no preparation before cooking, other then seasoning. The only thing to chop is the chorizo and the only elements to balance timing-wise are the chorizo and making sure the sweet potato is sufficiently cooked.
Put a sweet potato into the microwave to cook for around 6-9 minutes, depending on size.
Slice the chorizo into rings then half them and get it frying in a pan. It should take a few minutes to start to cook and crisp up at the edges. When its done, remove the chorizo and place on kitchen paper to soak up the excess oil. Put the cod, skin down, seasoned with salt into the sizzling chorizo oil and cook until the skin is crisping up and the fish has started to cook through to the middle.
Turn and cook the other side.
Meanwhile, brush the broccoli with oil, season with salt and cook in a hot griddle pan until it begins to soften and colour at the edges.
When the potato is done, cut it in half, scoop out the flesh and mash it with olive oil, a knob of butter, red chilli flakes and salt and pepper.
Serve the cod on the sweet potato, dish up the broccoli and sprinkle the whole affair with the crisped up chorizo halves.
A tasty Mediterranean feast in 15 minutes.
SPEED NEEDN'T MEAN COMPROMISING ON QUALITY – Costa Express means made with real milk, real beans and ready in seconds
As a nation we are completely accustomed to expecting convenience. Express food, express trains, express manicures – and express coffee.
But just because we get something fast, it doesnt mean we expect it to be lesser quality.
With Costa Express can guarentee that your, morning cup will be made with fresh milk and beans of the highest quality and ready in seconds.
In fact no less than 112 variations of Arabica and Robusta coffee beans were blind tested to create their Mocha Italia, the signature blend youll find in Costa Express machines.
The beans that make their way into the coffee are truly the very best; only 1% of the worlds beans make the grade.