Are you dreading the thought of staring down into another bowl of spaghetti Bolognese? Have you eaten all the two-minute noodles in the cupboard? Are you craving a bit of variety but have little to work with? Try some of these simple but effective recipes, guaranteed to impress family and housemates.
Gourmet toasted sandwich
The humble toasted sandwich doesn’t get enough credit, let’s change that.
What you’ll need: a sandwich press, bread, spinach, tomato, ham or shredded chicken, cheese, butter, your sauce of choice.
Start by buttering both sides of your bread. This is key, a good slathering of butter (or vegan-friendly spread) on the outsides of the sandwich will crisp it to a nice golden brown and give you that essential crunch. Next lay down your ham or shredded chicken. If you want a vegetarian option you can use avocado instead. Slice your tomato and add it on there. You want the sandwich to be as flat as possible when it goes in the press, so keep everything nice and tight. At this point, you want to give the sandwich a generous salt and peppering. I like to add chilli flakes here as well. Spinach goes on next, it’s amazing and healthy so use a lot. If you’re not big on spinach you can use rocket for an extra tang. Squeeze your sauce on, I like Dijon mustard, but don’t go overboard. Next, you’ll want to slice some cheese. It’s important to stay thin with your slices, too thick and the cheese won’t melt as efficiently. Whack that cheese on there, as much as you want. Carefully place your sandwich into the press and close it. Wait about five minutes and check. When you see melting cheese and that beautiful golden-brown bread, you’re good to go. If you don’t have a sandwich press you can cook your toastie in a pan, you’ll just have to flip it.
Verdict: seriously delicious.
Rice + soup
A little less on the gourmet side but still quick, simple, and nutritious.
What you’ll need: A cup of rice, your choice of tinned of soup, spinach, carrot, broccoli.
Boil a cup of rice in a medium-sized saucepan using the absorption method. When it’s ready, add in your tinned soup and continue heating. If your soup doesn’t have a high vegetable content, throw in some chopped carrot and broccoli. Spinach cooks down to nothing so always use plenty of that. Salt, pepper, and spice your soup up as you see fit. Enjoy with toast.
Verdict: better than nothing!
A simple but very effective crowd-pleaser.
What you’ll need: tortilla wraps, shredded chicken or beef strips, spinach (lettuce and rocket make good substitutes), tomato, avocado, carrot, beetroot, cheese, sauce of your choice.
Lay your wrap out on a plate and run your meat filling down the centre. Remember to leave space at the top and bottom of your wrap for folding. Beans work great if you’d prefer a vegetarian option. Grate some cheese over your wrap, keeping everything tight and piled in the middle. While you’re at it grate half a carrot onto your wrap as well. Next take your tomato and avocado and slice it up thinly, then spread it evenly along the edge of your pile. At this point, you’ll want to give it a good salt and peppering and add your sauce. I like sweet chilli on a wrap. On top of your sauce now put your salad mix. If you’re after freshness try iceberg lettuce and avocado. The beetroot is optional, but it does transform a wrap. The tricky part is when it comes to the actual wrapping. Everybody has their own technique, but basically you want to fold the bottom up and the sides over. Wrap it up and rip in.
Verdict: a sensational culinary event.
Simple pasta dish
For the pasta lover looking to spice things up in a hurry.
What you’ll need: pasta, olive oil, a jar of crushed garlic, parmesan, fresh basil leaves, cherry tomatoes, parsley, chilli flakes, pine nuts.
This meal is very simple but very impressive. Boil pasta to your preference and remove water. Stir through a healthy amount of olive oil, you want it to coat all the pasta without overwhelming it. Stir through a few teaspoons of garlic, adjusting for your own taste. You don’t want these flavours competing with each other, you want them working together. Toss in a handful of basil, the more the merrier. Really, the sky’s the limit when it comes to basil. You could also throw in some spinach since it cooks away to nothing. Add your pine nuts and sliced cherry tomatoes when the basil and spinach have been assimilated. Bonus points if you toast the pine nuts in a separate pan first. A little pepper doesn’t hurt but take it easy. Most of the heat should come from the chilli flakes, so sprinkle liberally. Chop your parsley and stir that through. If you’re a fan of olives they go beautifully with this meal. Serve with parmesan grated generously over everything.
Verdict: literally the best thing ever.
Feature image via Unsplash. Inset gifs via Giphy