Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 20 March 2018

Make a little go a long way with these nutritious recipes

With a little bit of strategic planning, you can save time and money, and eat more healthily

Lemon roast chicken. Courtesy Scott Price
Lemon roast chicken. Courtesy Scott Price

We’ve all done it. Started the week with plans to eat well, cook from scratch and rein the budget in a bit. Then life gets in the way, and suddenly it’s 7pm on Monday evening and, after arriving home from work ravenous, the best part of a sharing bag of crisps has disappeared and the reorder button on the takeaway app has been hit.

Even when we do have the inclination, most of us simply don’t have the time to make a home-cooked meal every single night. Yet we want to eat healthily and feel good about the choices we’re making. It’s easy to see why daily, portion-controlled meal delivery services are so popular, even though these plans are not ideal. They tend to be pricey and not particularly flexible, there’s little scope for leftovers and they still don’t provide the same sense of reassurance that eating food you’ve prepared yourself (and therefore know exactly what’s gone into it) does.

The ideas that follow aim to provide a solution to these issues and involve cooking one hardworking, versatile dish at the weekend, which then forms the base of four quick and simple meals. Doing so will ultimately save time and money, reduce food waste and encourage you to eat more healthily.

These nutritious recipes work on the basis that each meal feeds two, but can easily be scaled up.

Lemon roast chicken

When it comes to producing deli-cious, easy-to-use leftovers, roast chicken is the dish that just keeps on giving. Once the meat has been stripped from the bones, use the latter to make a simple chicken stock, and the meat to make other dishes.

1.8kg whole chicken

6 tbsp olive oil

2 lemons

6 to 8 thyme sprigs

6 to 8 rosemary sprigs

3 red onions, cut into wedges

2 fennel bulbs, cut into wedges

1 carrot, chopped

1 bulb garlic, halved horizontally

Remove the chicken from the fridge 30 minutes before you want to start cooking. Preheat the oven to 220°C, gas mark 8.

Whisk together five tablespoons of olive oil, the zest and juice of one lemon, and the leaves from two sprigs each of thyme and rosemary.

Slice the remaining lemon into wedges and put in a roasting dish with the red onion, fennel, carrot, garlic and the remaining herbs. Drizzle with one tablespoon of oil. Sit the chicken on top of the vegetables, season generously inside and out, and pour over the lemon-oil, rubbing it into the skin.

Transfer to the oven. Reduce the temperature to 200°C and cook for 1 hour and 40 minutes, or until the juices run clear. Cover it with foil and leave to rest for 10 minutes.

Serve two portions of chicken with the lemony roasted vegetables, accompanied by roasted, mashed or boiled potatoes.

Once cool, pick the remaining meat from the bones and store in the fridge in an airtight container.

Getting the best from the rest:

1. Roast chicken bruschetta

Mix together Greek yogurt, grated Parmesan, a little crushed garlic and some of the shredded breast meat. Top slices of toasted ciabatta with some rocket leaves, the chicken mix and avocado slices. Crispy turkey bacon or a poached egg also make for a nice addition.

2. Chicken lettuce wraps

Separate a head of endive or butter lettuce into individual leaves. Mix shredded chicken with diced cucumber, sliced red onion, shredded carrot, crushed peanuts and chopped coriander. Pile into the lettuce cups and serve with sweet chilli sauce.

Chicken lettuce wraps. Courtesy Scott Price
Chicken lettuce wraps. Courtesy Scott Price

3. Chicken fried rice

Cook rice for two according to pack instructions. Cool completely. Fry sliced spring onions in 1 tablespoon of oil and a little butter until softened, then pour in two beaten eggs, a generous splash of soy sauce and a sprinkling of 5-spice (if you have it). Add the rice and mix really well. Stir in shredded chicken and a handful of defrosted frozen peas and cook until warmed through (3 to 4 minutes).


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Spiced lentils

Spiced lentils. Courtesy Scott Price
Spiced lentils. Courtesy Scott Price

As well as being packed with vitamins and minerals, lentils are versatile, low-fat, inexpensive and have a fantastic earthy flavour.

3 tbsp olive oil

2 onions, peeled and finely chopped

3 carrots, peeled and finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, crushed

4 rosemary sprigs, leaves picked

2 tbsp cumin seeds

1 tbsp white grape vinegar

700g brown lentils

1 tbsp Dijon mustard

250g halloumi

1 tbsp runny honey

Set a large saucepan with 2 table-spoons of oil over a medium heat. Add the onions, carrots, garlic, rosemary and 1 tablespoon of cumin seeds. Season, and cook for approximately 12 to 15 minutes, until softened. Add the white grape vinegar and bubble briefly.

Tip the lentils into the pan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes, until tender, but with some bite. Stir in the mustard and remove from the heat.

Set a frying pan with the remaining oil over a high heat. Add the rest of the cumin seeds and halloumi, and cook for two minutes, turning the halloumi halfway. Drizzle over the honey and cook for one more minute.

Divide two portions of lentils between bowls and top with the halloumi. Leave the remaining lentils to cool completely, then store in the fridge in an airtight container.

Getting the best from the rest:

1. Lentils on toast with feta and a fried egg

Warm two portions of lentils in a pan with a couple of tablespoons of crème fraiche. Spoon over toasted sourdough and top with crumbled feta and fried eggs.

Lentils on toast. Courtesy Scott Price
Lentils on toast. Courtesy Scott Price

2. Lentil soup with coriander yogurt

Blitz two portions of lentils with 300ml chicken or vegetable stock (from a cube is also fine). Warm through in a pan, divide between bowls, and top with a swirl of natural yogurt and a scattering of freshly toasted cumin seeds.

3. Lentil stuffed peppers

Halve and deseed two red peppers, drizzle with olive oil and season. Arrange on a baking tray, cut side up. Fill the peppers with lentils, top with thick mozzarella slices and bake in a 180°C, gas mark 4 oven for 25 minutes.

Roasted vegetables

Roasted vegetables. Courtesy Scott Price
Roasted vegetables. Courtesy Scott Price

The key to producing roasted vegetables that taste genuinely delicious, rather than just unremarkable, is really pretty simple. Cut all the veg into similar size pieces, cover generously with olive oil, salt and pepper, and spread out on a baking tray in a single layer. The last step is crucial; pile the vegetables on top of each other and rather than caramelising and turning golden brown, they will simply stew, so cook in batches if necessary.

2 butternut squashes, peeled, halved and deseeded

6 medium beetroots, peeled

1 large head cauliflower

4 red onions

1 bulb garlic, halved horizontally

8 thyme sprigs

4 tbsp olive oil

Preheat the oven to 200°C, gas mark 8. Chop the vegetables into equal size pieces and tip into a

large bowl.

Add the garlic and thyme and drizzle with olive oil. Season generously and mix well.

Spread the vegetables out on a baking tray lined with baking paper, being careful not to overcrowd them.

Roast for 45 minutes, stirring halfway, until the vegetables are tender and caramelised around the edges.

Serve two portions of roasted vegetables stirred through freshly cooked pasta and finished with Parmesan shavings.

Leave the remaining vegetables to cool completely, then store in the fridge in an airtight container.

Getting the best from the rest:

1. Labneh and roasted veggie tart

Blitz one portion of roasted vege-tables with labneh to make a chunky paste. Spread over a sheet of shop-bought puff pastry, dot with a little extra labneh and sprinkle with chilli flakes. Cook in a 200°C, gas mark 6 oven for 20 minutes.

2. Spiced vegetable soup

Chop up one portion of roasted vegetables. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a saucepan, add the chopped vegetables and 1 tablespoon harisssa paste. Stir well and pour in a can of coconut milk. Simmer briefly, then blitz to make a soup. Reheat until hot and serve with warm flatbreads.

3. Roasted vegetables with couscous and coriander-yogurt

Warm two portions of vegetables through in a low oven. Cook couscous for two according to pack instructions. Blitz 100g of natural yogurt and a bunch of chopped coriander in a blender. Serve the roasted vegetables with the couscous and coriander-yogurt.

Cous cous and roasted vegetables. Courtesy Scott Price
Couscous and roasted vegetables. Courtesy Scott Price