Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 23 May 2019

Cook clever with these three-ingredient recipes

We whip up a range of three-ingredient recipes to suit every palate and budget

Cream cheese and roasted red onion tart. Photo: Scott Price 
Cream cheese and roasted red onion tart. Photo: Scott Price 

There’s no getting away from it: in a world where we all work hard and are increasingly time-poor, producing meals from scratch day after day can slip down the priority list. And yet, there’s something satisfying about knowing that you made the meal yourself, rather than falling back on delivered dishes.

The thing to do, then, is cook clever: forget about overcomplicated methods and lots of ingredients, and focus instead on speed, ease and ­flavour. The recipes and ideas that follow only require three main ingredients (note that olive oil, salt and pepper, ­lemons, garlic, milk and butter are counted as kitchen staples), and take 30 minutes or less to prepare. All are budget-­conscious, serve two and can easily be doubled.

Cream cheese and roasted red onion tart

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

Ingredients

1 x 375g ready-rolled sheets of puff pastry

150g cream cheese with herbs

2 red onions

Method

Preheat the oven to 200ºC. Slice the onions into slim wedges, toss with one tbsp olive oil and one tbsp sugar, and season. Tip on to a baking tray and roast in the oven for five minutes.

Meanwhile, unroll the pastry sheet on to a baking tray and score a border approximately one cm in from the edge. Prick the pastry within the border all over with a fork and brush the edges with milk.

Put the cream cheese in a bowl, add the zest and juice of half a lemon and plenty of black pepper, and beat together.

Spread the cream cheese over the pastry, keeping within the border. Arrange the red onions on top. Bake for 20 minutes, until the pastry is crisp, golden brown and risen.

Easy extras

Add a layer of pesto on top of the cream cheese or swap the cream cheese for soft goat’s cheese or labneh. Omit the red onions and prepare the tart as above, adding thinly shaved ribbons of raw courgette tossed with lemon juice just before serving. Turn this into a quick take on pizza by spreading the pastry with sundried tomato puree and topping with mozzarella slices and roasted red onions. For something a little more sophisticated, arrange thinly sliced, honey-drizzled pears over the pastry, add crumbled blue cheese, then bake as above.

Chickpea, tomato and spinach stew with croutons

Chickpea, tomato and spinach stew with crispy chickpea croutons. Photo by Scott Price 
Chickpea, tomato and spinach stew with crispy chickpea croutons. Photo by Scott Price

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

Ingredients

400g can chopped tomatoes with herbs

400g can chickpeas

100g baby spinach

Method

Set a saucepan with one tbsp olive oil over a medium heat and add two crushed garlic cloves. Cook for two to three minutes.

Drain the chickpeas and add three-quarters of them to the pan along with the chopped tomatoes.

Season generously with salt and black pepper and add half tsp caster sugar if you have it (this will counter the acidic bite that sometimes comes with canned tomatoes).

Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat slightly and simmer rapidly for 10 minutes, until the stew has thickened and most of the liquid from the tomatoes has evaporated.

Meanwhile, set a frying pan with one tbsp olive oil over a high heat.

Once hot, carefully add the remaining chickpeas, season with salt and pepper and cook for three to four minutes until the chickpeas are crisp and golden, and some have burst.

Fold the spinach into the pan with the tomatoes and chickpeas, cook for a minute then remove from the heat and divide among bowls. Top with the crispy chickpeas and finish with a generous squeeze of lemon juice.

Hummus with crispy tabbouleh lamb

Hummus with crispy tabbouleh lamb. Photo: Scott Price 
Hummus with crispy tabbouleh lamb. Photo by Scott Price

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 15 minutes

Ingredients

150g hummus

175g lean lamb mince

200g tabbouleh (buy both the hummus and the tabbouleh from the supermarket)

Method

Set a frying pan with one tbsp olive oil over a medium heat. Add two crushed garlic cloves and cook for two to three minutes, stirring constantly.

Increase the heat to high, tip in the lamb mince and season generously with salt and pepper. Cook for 10 to 12 minutes, until the lamb is crisp, dark-golden brown and cooked through.

Remove from the heat, drain any excess oil and tip the mince into a bowl. Stir in half the tabbouleh and add a squeeze of lemon juice. Swirl the hummus on to serving plates in a thin layer.

Spoon the lamb mix over the top and offer the remaining tabbouleh on the side.

Easy extras

Fry the mince in ground cumin and coriander seeds for more flavour. When it comes to topping the hummus, there are several options: garnish with chopped chillies, spring onions or pickles; drizzle over yoghurt-tahini dressing or hot sauce; or finish with crumbled feta.

Black bean quesadillas

Black bean quesadillas. Photo: Scott Price 
Black bean quesadillas. Photo by Scott Price

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 10 minutes

Ingredients

400g can black beans

4 flour tortillas

65g grated cheddar cheese

Method

Set a saucepan with 1 tbsp olive oil over a medium heat. Add two thinly sliced garlic cloves and cook for 3-5 minutes, until the garlic is crisp, golden and aromatic.

Drain the beans and add to the pan, along with a splash of water.

Season with salt and lots of black pepper and use a large fork or potato masher to break the beans down to a rough puree.

Spread half the beans over two of the tortillas (reserving the remaining beans), then scatter with the cheddar. Top with the remaining tortillas.

Set a frying pan with 1/2 tbsp olive oil over a medium-high heat. Once hot, add the first quesadilla to the pan and cook for 1-2 minutes until the tortillas are crisp and golden and the cheese is melting. Repeat with the other quesadilla.

Add the juice and zest of a lemon and 1 tbsp olive oil to the remaining black beans. Mix well and warm through.

Cut the quesadillas into triangles and serve hot, with the extra black beans on the side.

Easy extras

To make the meal more substantial, layer mashed sweet potato on top of the black beans when assembling the quesadillas, or add strips of cooked chicken or beef. Serve with a tomato and spring onion salsa, sour cream and chilli-lemon avocado

Creamy polenta with garlic mushrooms

Creamy Parmesan polenta with garlic mushrooms. Photo by Scott Price 
Creamy polenta with garlic mushrooms. Photo by Scott Price

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 15 minutes

Ingredients

200g mixed mushrooms

75g Parmesan

100g instant polenta

Method

Thinly slice the mushrooms and finely grate the Parmesan.

Set a frying pan with one tbsp butter over medium heat. Add two sliced garlic cloves and cook for two to three minutes.

Increase the heat and add the mushrooms. Season and cook for five minutes, then keep warm over a low heat while you cook the polenta. Pour 250ml milk and 250ml water into a saucepan and bring to the boil.

Slowly add the polenta, whisking constantly. Continue to cook, stirring, for one or two minutes, then add one tbsp butter and all but 10g of the grated Parmesan. Season.

Divide the creamy polenta between serving bowls, then spoon over the garlic mushrooms. Scatter with the remaining Parmesan.

Easy extras

A crispy fried egg wouldn’t go amiss here. Serve a bunch of rocket leaves tossed in a zippy balsamic vinegar dressing on the side to counter the richness of the polenta.

For a slight twist, spread the cooked polenta out in a two-centimetrethick layer on a baking tray and leave to cool, then slice into strips, drizzle with olive oil and bake in a hot oven to make polenta chips.

Other three-ingredient meal ideas to try

Kale Caesar salad with jammy eggs

Shred kale leaves into thin ribbons, dress with lemon juice, olive oil and salt and pepper. Mix well and set aside for 15 minutes. Drizzle with ready-made Caesar dressing, and top with peeled and halved boiled eggs that have been cooked for seven minutes exactly to serve.

Smoked salmon and cucumber sushi bowls

Cook sushi rice according to pack instructions. Toss smoked salmon slices with lemon juice and black pepper. Cut a small cucumber into halfmoon shapes, season with salt and a sprinkling of sugar and vinegar. Divide the rice among bowls, then add the cucumber and lemony smoked salmon.

Chicken tacos with creamy avocado dressing

Shred a rotisserie chicken into pieces. Mix half a peeled, destoned and chopped avocado with the shredded chicken. Put the remaining chopped avocado in a blender with half a garlic clove, and the zest and juice of a lemon. Add a splash of water, season and blitz until creamy, with a dressing-like consistency (you may need a little extra water). Mix half the dressing with the chicken and avocado, the divide among warm taco shells. Serve the remaining avocado dressing on the side.

Updated: March 5, 2019 10:13 AM

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