It's Recipe Redux time (again)!
It's that time of the month again ladies and gentlemen, the September Recipe ReDux post is here! The theme for September is simple sheet-pan meals that can be whipped up without too much effort (and with minimal dishes to wash).
Before I jump into my tips for preparing quick, easy dinners and share my recipe with all of you, I thought I'd give you all a quick update on what has been happening here over the past few weeks whilst the blog has been so quiet. As you all know, my husband and I have been preparing for a BIG move to a new country over the past couple of months. As I have already mentioned here before, when this opportunity presented itself to us we spent a lot of time weighing up the pros and cons to try and figure out if it was the right path for us to travel down before we decided to jump in and grab it with both hands. Over the past month, we have had to finalise things like visas, accommodation, my husband's job, and the list goes on...
We are so amazed at how things have worked out and are expectant for the adventure that lies ahead of us in this new season. Since arriving here on Monday we have enjoyed a couple of great runs in Hyde Park, taken the train to Eton, and visited the University of Surrey where I will be studying over the next year. I am so excited to get to know this part of the world a bit better, and meet new people along the way. Although the chilly weather is going to take some getting used to, it is a wonderful place :)
It seems quite fitting that this month's theme revolves around quick & easy one-pan meals, which are so needed when one is pushed for time and/or space in the kitchen. I thought that I would share a couple of tips for preparing quick and easy dinners on days where you are too busy to stop and take a breath. These tips have definitely been useful for me!
5 Tips for Quick & Easy Dinners
1. Cook foods with other meals in mind
Cook grains in bigger batches than you would normally eat in just one meal, and use in meals throughout the week. Cooked grains can last for about 5 days when stored in the fridge, making them easy to incorporate into quick dinners. The same goes for roasted veggies. Instead of roasting enough sweet potato, zucchini, eggplant, carrots, or whatever else you have on hand for the week, make a point of roasting enough to last you a couple of days. With these staples ready for you in the fridge, it will take no time at all to put together a nourishing bowl when paired with a quick-cooking protein (tinned tuna, legumes, or chicken strips) and a simple dressing.
2. Make use of tinned beans, lentils & chickpeas
Now I'm a huge advocate of cooking legumes from scratch, but soaking and cooking them can take up a whole lot of time. To save yourself a few hours when life gets busy, don't be afraid to make use of tinned beans, lentils, and chickpeas. They are all incredibly versatile and can be incorporated into all kinds of dinners to make them both hearty and healthy. Whip up a quick batch of hummus, make a quick and easy lentil bolognese and freeze half for later in the week, or include a tin of beans in a green salad to bulk it up a bit without having to cook anything.
3. Love your freezer
Stock your freezer with a few simple dinners that freeze and defrost easily for an easy meal. Soups, stews, bean dishes, or mince fit the bill quite well. Also, don't be afraid to keep frozen veg on hand in the freezer that you can easily steam or roast in no time at all to complement dinner. Freeze condiments like pesto, caramelised onions, grated ginger, stock, curry paste, tomato paste, and even mashed roasted garlic in ice cube trays. Pop them out and place them in labelled bags for easy use when you need them most.
4. Plan ahead
Meal planning is a lifesaver when you don't have a lot of time during the week. Set aside an hour over the weekend to check what you have in the fridge before you plan a week's worth of main meals for you and your family. After planning your menu, write up a shopping list and plan a trip to the shops before the week begins. If you have a bit of extra free time over the weekend, why not use it to prepare a few bigger meals or even just simple ingredients like roasted veggies that can be stored in the fridge or freezer for the week ahead? If you don't have a lot of time to make bigger meals, use the small amount of time that you do have to tick off some of the smaller food preparation tasks in advance. Prepare a salad dressing for the week, rinse and chop up veggies to store in the fridge, or even just organise your fridge in a way that makes things easy to access. That will leave you with a bit of down-time rather than you having to spend an hour in the kitchen after a busy day at work.
5. Find some go-to sheet-pan and one-pot meals
There's only one thing better than minimising the time you need to cook after a busy day, and that's minimising the time that you need to spend cleaning up after cooking dinner. Find some go-to single pot or sheet-pan meals that you enjoy, and make them part of your weekday routine. They save you a whole lot of time having to prepare a main dish with sides, as everything can be cooked in the same dish, and they leave you with much fewer dishes to clean up at the end! Seriously, this tip is a winner.
Ok so now it's time for the good stuff. This really isn't a culinary marvel, but wow was it delicious! Instead of shopping for new ingredients to prepare this I decided to work with what was in the fridge. This recipe is really versatile, so feel free to make use of whatever veggies you have on hand - sweet potatoes, carrots, bell peppers, or cherry tomatoes. The real taste-clincher here is definitely the Tahini turmeric dressing, so don't miss out on it :) I hope that you enjoy this, and please remember to take a look at the other Recipe ReDux posts for this month.
Total time: 50min
For the salad:
- 1 aubergine, cubed
- 400g mushrooms, halved
- 4 baby potatoes, cut into quarters
- 1 cup chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- Salt & pepper, to taste
- 2 cups baby spinach
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1/2 cup cooked quinoa/brown rice
For the dressing:
- 2 Tbsp tahini
- 3 Tbsp water
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 tsp honey
For the veggies:
- Preheat the oven to 180˚C. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
- Mix together the aubergine, mushrooms, baby potatoes, and chickpeas with 1 Tbsp olive oil, the cumin and paprika, and some salt and pepper. Spread over the baking tray, and roast for 35 minutes (until the veggies are soft).
For the dressing:
- Whisk together all of the ingredients together in a small bowl until well combined. Store in a clean jar in the fridge for up to 5 days.
To prepare the salad:
- Divide the baby spinach, tomatoes, and cooked quinoa/brown rice between two bowls.
- Divide the cooked veggies between the bowls, and drizzle with the turmeric tahini dressing. Enjoy!