Breakfast is always a quick bowl of cereal, elevensies is fruit (biscuit), yogurt (biscuit) or a cup-a-soup (with some biscuits) and dinner is some concoction from what I’ve got in the fridge – usually including chicken kiev in some way. But lunch, lunch is a toughie. I’m sick of shop bought sandwiches or boring tomato soup. Especially now winter’s set in. We all want something warm and tasty when the cold arrives – and I don’t just mean food.
So I thought I’d put together five easy recipes for quick lunches. The difference with these recipes are most of them are pre-made, some in batch, so it’s a case of making time out of your day to have something a little bit more delicious when the clock strikes 12pm.
Butternut Squash Soup
3 small butternut squash, about 1.6kg (3 ½ lb) total weight
about 2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
freshly grated nutmeg
25g (1oz) butter
1 large onion, roughly chopped
2 large carrots, roughly chopped
2 large sticks celery, sliced
2.5cm (1 inch) root ginger, grated
1.1-1.3 litres (2-2 ¼ pints) vegetable or chicken stock
sprig of fresh rosemary or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
Preheat the oven to 200°C / 400°F /Gas 6.
Cut the butternut squash in half length ways, scoop out the seeds with a metal spoon and discard. Arrange the squash halves cut side up in a roasting tin just big enough to hold the squash in a single layer and drizzle over the olive oil. Season each squash half with salt, pepper and freshly grated nutmeg. Pour 150ml (1/4 pint) water around the squash. Cook in the preheated oven for about 1 ¼ hours, basting occasionally, until the squash are very tender. Allow to cool.
Melt the butter in a large pan and add the onion, carrot, celery and grated ginger. Cook for 5-10 minutes until beginning to soften. Add the stock, rosemary and seasoning, bring to the boil then partially cover and simmer for about 20 minutes until the vegetables are tender.
When cool enough to handle scoop the flesh from the squash and add to the pan. Blend the vegetables in a liquidiser or food processor until smooth. (If you use a food processor, it is easier to process the vegetables with a little of the liquid, adding the remaining liquid to the processed vegetables to make the soup).
Taste for seasoning and serve hot with crusty bread.
Smoked Ham, Kale and Olive Frittata Cups
6 large eggs
¼ tsp sea salt
¾ tsp freshly cracked black pepper
¼ tsp ground ancho chile (or other chili powder)
1 cup finely chopped kale leaves (stems removed)
200g organic smoked black forest ham, cut into bite size chunks
¼ cup sliced green olives
¼ cup sliced kalamata olives
1 tsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
Preheat oven to 350F and line a 12- large muffin pan with reusable silicone or parchment paper muffin cups.
Place the chopped kale leaves, pieces of ham, both kinds of olives, chopped rosemary and minced garlic in a large mixing bowl. Stir with a spoon until all the goodies are well distributed. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, add the eggs, salt, pepper, ancho chile powder and whisk vigorously until slightly frothy. Pour that over reserved kale and ham mixture and mix well.
Divide this egg mixture between the 12 prepared muffin cups. Do not fill the cups more than ¾ of the way to avoid spillage.
Cook for 22-25 minutes , until eggs are set and tops start to color slightly.
Allow to cool for at least 5 minutes before removing frittata from cups.
Rainbow Quinoa Salad
1 cup uncooked quinoa
1 red onion, chopped
7-8 sweet peppers, chopped
1 cup broccoli
1 cup corn
1 can black beans, rinsed
Juice of 2 lemons
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp sea salt
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Handful fresh basil, chopped
To make quinoa, rinse and soak for about 10 minutes in warm water. Bring 1 1/2 cups of water to a boil in a small saucepan and drain quinoa and add to boiling water. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer, cooking for about 15 to 20 minutes. Turn heat off and allow quinoa to sit for 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork. Allow quinoa to cool before adding in the rest of the salad.
Meanwhile, sauté onion and sweet peppers with just a bit of olive oil until onion is translucent and peppers are soft, about 3 minutes. Add mixture to cooled quinoa then add broccoli, corn and black beans, mixing well.
In a separate bowl, whisk together lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper and red pepper flakes. Add to salad and toss well. Once salad is coated, add fresh basil and allow to sit in the fridge for at least 4 hours.
New York Bagel
600g pastrami, sliced
6 tsp mustard
60g Emmental cheese, cut into slices
For the preparation of the New York Style Pastrami bagels cut the bagels down the middle and toast. Place on one side 10g Emmental cheese and give all halves with sliced side up into the oven and grill until the cheese is melted. Remove the bagels from the oven and spread the half without cheese with 1 teaspoon mustard. Spread on the side with the cheese 100g pastrami, put the one half with the mustard on it, bite in it, and enjoy.
Sweet Potato, Broccoli and Cheddar Patties
1 large sweet potato (approx 600g)
2 cups of frozen broccoli (defrosted)
56g of cheddar cheese (2xHEa’s)
salt and black pepper
Frylight or Pam spray
Pierce sweet potato with a knife and microwave in the oven for approx 8 mins (needs to be nice and soft, so may need a little longer than this).
Cut in half and scoop out all the potato and place in a large bowl.
Chop up the defrosted broccoli into smaller pieces and mix into the potato along with the cheddar cheese.
Season well with salt and black pepper.
Form into 6 equal sized patties
Preheat oven to 200c or 400f
Spray a baking tray with some Frylight or Pam spray. Place patties on tray and spray over the top with more Frylight or Pam Spray.
Bake in the oven for approx 30-40mins, turning over half way through cooking time, to make sure they are golden on both sides.
Make in batch so you can freeze and then defrost when needed. To reheat, place in microwave for 1 minute 30.