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Chefs’ tips for 15 minute meals in the house

I need some easy 15-minute meals– any concepts?

Jim, Matlock, Derbyshire

As is so typically the case, everything comes down to planning, Jim. And pasta. Redemption can, of course, be found in the familiar likes of pesto and aglio e olio (garlic, chilli, olive oil), but the Neapolitan sciue (meaning “rush, hurry”) is another excellent shout, states Jacob Kenedy, chef/owner of Boca di Lupo in London. “Fry tomatoes, garlic and chilli in olive oil, include prepared pasta and toss. It’s scrumptious.” Angela Hartnett, meanwhile, favours a braised courgette with penne number: the chef/patron of Murano and Café Murano in London sweats the veg in olive oil, then includes finely chopped garlic, a few spoonfuls of water (so the solids do not capture) and covers. “The courgettes begin to break down and become a sauce.” Stir in prepared penne, add grated cheese and tuck in.

Pippa Middlehurst also uses her noodle– or, rather, she tosses prepared soba with chopped spring onions, crunchy veg or chargrilled broccoli and equal parts chilli oil, black rice vinegar and light soy sauce. “And if you’re the sort of individual who keeps broth in the freezer, then you have the makings of a more filling meal,” states the author of Dumplings and Noodles: heat the stock, stir in soy sauce and sesame paste (plus any greens you fancy), then add noodles; an egg would not go awry, either.

“Cooking en papillote [ie, in paper] is enormously underrated when it pertains to fast meals,” states Rick Toogood, executive chef/co-owner of Prawn on the Lawn in Padstow and London. “It’s such an awesome trick, and you can use small entire fish, fillets or shellfish.” Lay the seafood, veg, butter and spices on a sheet of greaseproof, splash with a little white wine, wrap and bake in a 200C (180C fan) oven for “a complete meal in a bag”. A preferred Toogood late-spring go-to is mackerel, olives, red onion, tomato, garlic and dried oregano.

If you’re lacking lunch motivation, Grace Regan, author of SpiceBox: 100 Fresh, Vegan Curry House Favourites, is everything about spiced cabbage– with an optional side of pearl barley. She fries whole spices (think mustard and/or cumin seeds) in oil till golden, then adds chilli flakes, sliced cabbage and salt. “Once softened, grate in garlic and ginger, include turmeric and, as soon as that’s prepare out, remove the heat and squeeze in lemon juice.” Complete with herbs and toasted nuts.

And do not forget to make meals out of leftovers, states Matthew Pennington, chef/co-owner of The Ethicurean in the Mendip hillsnear Bristol. “When you roast a chicken, keep any excess fat in the refrigerator.” Next day, warm the fat (or sesame or hazelnut oil), combine with a ferment (sauerkraut, kimchi, beetroot) and serve with green salad and bread. Leftovers are a huge deal at Shuko Oda’s home, too, where “rice and bits” makes a routine look: “It’s basically prepared rice with four toppings,” states the co-founder and executive chef of Koya London, who always includes a salad (shredded cucumber, carrot, lettuce) dressed with sesame oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar and sesame seeds, while other garnishes might be scrambled egg or miso mince.

Chicken Milanese is another excellent quick choice, Hartnett states, while for Kenedy chicken scaloppine is likewise a winner: dust thinly sliced up breast in flour, fry, then make a sauce with the pan juices, butter and lemon, include rosemary or parsley and serve on mash. You’ll require to slice those spuds small, however, to hit that 15-minute mark.

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