5 easy peasy dinner ideas

For those nights you’re late home from work, as well as the ones where you just can’t be arsed and think about giving Mr Hut a call, here’s five super simple suggestions for your supper. And they’re all possible in well under an hour…

Melon, proscuitto and mozzarella salad

What I like about this salad is that it doesn’t feel too ‘salad-y’. It’s full of flavour and is really filling. Feel free to serve with a jacket potato or meat, but really you don’t need it.

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Serves: 2-3

You’ll need: 2 baby gem lettuces, 1 buffalo mozzarella, 1 small cantaloupe melon, a few slithers of prosciutto, and a little olive oil and pepper

Wash the lettuce leaves, chop the melon and tear up the mozzarella. Arrange the leaves first and then layer with the rest of the ingredients. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with pepper. Voila.

Cheese & mushroom pasta with a poached egg

I’d pretty much always say, make your own pasta. However, some nights it’s all about easy wins in the kitchen and so the shop-bought stuff will do for this super-quick tea.

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Serves: 1

You’ll need: A handful of fusilli pasta, salt, fresh mushrooms / porcini mushrooms, a handful of Parmesan, 1 egg

Bring a saucepan of water with a sprinkling of salt to the boil. Once it’s bubbling, add the pasta and cook for 10-15 minutes.  Meanwhile, if you’re using fresh mushrooms, brown those in a little olive oil, and if you’re using those fabulous just-add-water porcini mushrooms, set them in a bowl of warm water. When the pasta is done, stir it with the Parmesan and mushrooms, and leave the boiling water on the heat. Add a splash of vinegar, give it a stir, and crack the egg into it. In less than 3 minutes, you’ll have a perfectly poached egg to pop on top of your pasta.

Garlic & paprika chicken with watermelon and feta salad

This is a real crowd-pleaser, and it looks like it takes a lot longer than it does. Hot or cold, for lunch or tea, give this a whirl and I promise, you won’t be disappointed.

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Serves: 4

You’ll need: A bag of mixed leaves (spinach, rocket, etc), 3 cups watermelon chunks, 1/2 packet feta, 4 slices parma ham, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, pinch of sugar, 4 chicken breasts, Panko breadcrumbs, garlic granules, paprika

Lay the chicken breasts out on a baking tray, covered in tin foil. Sprinkle the garlic, paprika and breadcrumbs over each breast and then pop in the oven for approx 40 minutes. Put the leaves in a bowl and then add the watermelon, crumbs of feta and parma ham. In a ramekin, mix together a couple of tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and olive oil, then add a sprinkle of sugar. Taste and add salt and pepper if necessary. Add the dressing to the salad and mix well. I like to keep a little feta and ham back to pop on the top, just to make it look a little more presentable, post-mix. When the chicken is done, serve together.

Steak with asparagus and blue cheese sauce

Whenever Alex is away, I treat myself to steak. Not specifically because he’s away, but because it’s a good excuse to have something super simple and quick for dinner. Add some greens and a tasty sauce and nights in alone aren’t so bad.

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Serves: 1

You’ll need: 1 piece of good quality sirloin steak (I promise, your local butcher is better than the supermarket), 5/6 asparagus tips, a small handful of your favourite blue cheese and a dollop of Greek yoghurt

First, introduce the steak to the fresh air for a good 20 minutes or so, until it starts to lose its red-ness. Then, rub a little olive oil on to each side and season with salt and pepper. A few chilli flakes or a bit of fresh garlic will add flavour, but you can keep it simple if you prefer. Heat a non-stick pan and for rare steak, sizzle each side for 3 minutes. For medium, 4-5 minutes should do it. When the steak is cooked, wrap it in tin foil and set aside to rest – VERY important if you don’t want meat stuck in your gnashers. Meanwhile, boil the asparagus for 3-4 minutes. Mix together a handful of blue cheese and a dollop of Greek yoghurt in a ramekin and heat it up for a few minutes in the steak pan you used. Serve together with a large glass of red.

Tagliatelli carbonara

You’ll still be able to make this dish in under an hour if you make your own pasta, which on this account, I’d strongly recommend. My homemade pasta recipe is here, but if you’re short on time / equipment, go for the fresh stuff from the supermarket.

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Serves: 2-3

You’ll need: 3 nests of tagliatelle pasta or 3 small fistfuls of spaghetti (if you’re not making your own pasta, in which case, ingredients here), 3 large eggs, small cup of double cream, Parmesan, pancetta, mushrooms (optional), onions (optional), cracked black pepper

If you’re going ahead with the mushrooms and onion, set them off in some olive oil in a nice big non-stick pan. Boil your pasta with a little salt and then get to work on the carbonara sauce: the eggs, cream, a little pepper and half a handful of Parmesan, all mixed together, thoroughly. When your onions have started to brown lightly, add the pancetta, and when the pasta is done, add that to the pan too, with a few spoonfuls of the cooking water. Mix well and then take off the heat. Pour the cream over the pasta and mix well. Be careful not to scramble the mixture! Serve with extra Parmesan and pepper.

What are your go-to late night dinners?

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Freelance writer, eater, drinker and cook living in London.

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