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Easiest Meals to Cook from Scratch at Home

The festive season is approaching, and while delicious food is a key part of the festivities, relaxing and enjoying the company of friends and family is just as important. To make sure you get to enjoy both the food and the festivities, we’ve put together a list of some quick, easy meals to make – any time of the year!

These recipes are beginner-friendly but promise not to compromise on flavour. Most of them take 20 minutes or less to prepare, leaving you just enough time to enjoy your favourite movie, television show, or online slot games if you so wish! We’ve included four scrumptious recipes, as well as some general inspiration for how to break your next hungry spell.

Buddha bowls

Not only are they nutritional powerhouses, but salads and buddha bowls are also quick and easy to make, light and refreshing, and will leave you feeling full of energy. The options are endless – all you need is some leafy greens; one to two fresh vegetables such as cucumber, tomato, shredded cabbage, bell peppers, or julienned carrots; a (pre-cooked) grain or root veggie of choice; a ready-to-eat protein element such as tofu, beans, chicken pieces or salmon; and a delicious sauce to bring everything together. Add some tortillas to the mix, and you have the perfect filling for a delicious wrap!

While buddha bowls are great for mix-and-matching in a hotchpotch of flavours, sometimes a more structured salad is more desirable:

Tofu salad recipe

Time: 20 minutes

Yields: 2 servings

Ingredients

Tofu marinade:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 400g tofu
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • • 2 cloves garlic, minced

Dressing:

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tbsp fresh herbs of choice, finely diced
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 1 tsp maple syrup or honey

Salad:

  • 1 large head of romaine (about 8 loosely packed cups of lettuce), chopped
  •  cup diced cucumber
  • cup cherry tomatoes halved
  • 1 avocado, diced or thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup sliced almonds
  •  cup cherry tomatoes halved

Method

  • Make the marinade for the tofu by mixing the olive oil, balsamic, maple syrup, garlic, and salt in a shallow dish. Place the tofu into the dish and gently shake to coat the tofu in marinade. Allow the marinade to sit for 5 to 10 minutes while you assemble the salad and make the dressing.
  • Pan-fry the tofu in a large skillet over medium heat (you won’t need any oil because there’s some in the marinade). Turnover every few minutes and cook until it’s lightly browned on both sides.
  • Whisk or blend the dressing ingredients in a medium bowl, and set aside until ready to use.
  • Combine all the salad ingredients in a bowl, drizzle over the dressing and toss gently. Top with the tofu and serve – hey presto!

Pasta

Pasta is the ultimate comfort food, and with the right recipe, it can be easy to make, no matter how inexperienced you are in the kitchen. It’s a wholesome meal that can be enjoyed any day of the week, and (especially when made from scratch) offers delicious flavours that satisfy every time. The trick is to avoid overcooking it (use a timer) – if you can catch it at the “al dente” stage, it’s so much tastier. But of course, first, you’ll need to make a sauce to go on top…

Pomodoro fresco recipe

Time: 20 minutes

Yields: 2 servings

Ingredients

  • 500g cherry tomatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 500g cherry tomatoes
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 180g penne or rigatoni
  • 2 tsp grated parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp fresh basil, chopped

Method

  • Begin by placing the tomatoes in a food processor, then purée. (If you’re fussy about the texture, you can first remove their skins by putting them into a bowl of very hot water for a minute.)
  • Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic once the oil is hot, and sauté for 1 minute before pouring in the tomato purée. Bring to a simmer, and let it reduce while you prepare the pasta.
  • Boil a pot of salted water. Then add the pasta, stir to bring it back up to a rolling boil, and set your timer. Cook until al dente – you’ll need to heat the pasta later with the sauce, so if anything, it needs to be slightly undercooked. Reserve a ¼ cup of the pasta water when you drain the pasta.
  • Stir the drained pasta, the reserved pasta water, and the basil into the tomato sauce. Let it cook for 1 minute and then it’s ready to serve.
  • Feel free to get creative with this dish by adding fried bacon bits, chopped olives, and sundried tomatoes, or even some lovely fresh baby spinach.
  • Top with the parmesan and serve immediately.

Soups and stews

Soups and stews are an ideal meal for the colder days and months. They’re a great way to use up any “tired” vegetables you might have. These hearty dishes can be made in bulk and require little more than some chopping. Having chopped your ingredients, you simply add them to a pot or slow cooker, add some stock, and leave them to simmer away while you continue with your day or even play a few casino games at your favourite casino online while you wait for the meal to cook! Return an hour or so later (perhaps after a couple of spins on a foodie-related slot, like Baking Bonanza), give the soup a good blending with a handheld blender, toast some bread, and voila!

 

Roasted butternut soup recipe

Time: 10-minute prep/50 minutes cooking time

Yields: 3 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 large butternut squash, halved vertically, seeds removed
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ cup shallot, chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 to 2 tbsp butter
  • 3 or 4 cups vegetable broth or you could use stock
  • Black pepper, to taste

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 200? and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the butternut squash on the paper and drizzle each half with enough olive oil to lightly coat (about ½ tsp each). Rub the oil on the inside of the squash and then use the salt and pepper.
  • Turn the squash halves face down and roast until tender, about 40 to 50 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside for 10 minutes until cool enough to handle.
  • Meanwhile, in a large soup pan, heat 1 tbsp olive oil over medium heat, then add the chopped shallot and salt. Cook, stirring often until the shallot turns golden – about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and for 1 minute, stirring frequently.
  • Use a spoon to scoop the butternut squash flesh into the pan and discard the skin. Add the maple syrup, nutmeg, butter, and ground black pepper, and transfer to a blender. Pour the vegetable broth, then pulse until smooth (a stick blender works well too – just be careful not to splash yourself, because you’re dealing with hot liquid, and take off the heat when blending!).
  • Serve with a side of sourdough bread.

One-pot meals

Simple, one-pot meals yield maximum flavour from minimal effort – and you save on the washing-up, too! From curries to pasta, rice, and beans, there are dozens of one-pot recipes that are as easy to make as they are enjoyable to consume.

Spanish beans and rice recipe

Time: 20 minutes

Yields: 3 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1.5 cups brown rice
  • 3 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 red bell peppers, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 400g can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 tbsp honey or brown sugar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Juice ½ lemon

Method

  • Heat the olive oil in a skillet and lightly brown – or “sweat” – the onions on medium to low heat (about 10 minutes).
  • Add the rice, tomatoes, bell peppers, garlic, and spices, and stir-fry for 3 minutes.
  • Add 1.5 cups water (a bit more if necessary), bring to a boil, and simmer on low heat for 15 minutes (the rice should be almost al dente).
  • Stir in the black beans, lemon juice, and honey. Remove from the heat and steam for 5 to 10 minutes until rice is cooked through and water has evaporated.
  • Garnish with some freshly chopped coriander, and serve hot or cold.

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/ 14 January 2022