Corn bean chilli

As busy people, we don’t all have time to cook a balanced meal every evening. In my case, I don’t want to do anything more than boil pasta when I get in from work. How to get round this? Be organised! On your days off, cook extra portions to save for later. Plan quick and low-prep meals. Putting in a bit of effort in advance will save you time and stress later.

I adopt this technique as much as I can – although when you’re cooking for yourself, it’s much easier. This chilli is an excellent bulk-batch meal, as it’s easy to make, freezes well, and tastes really good. I’ve pared it back significantly, adding sweetcorn to bulk it out. It’s delicious, and exactly the sort of meal you want to come home to.

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Corn & bean chilli, served with spinach and potatoes

To serve three, you’ll need:

  • one brown onion
  • two cloves of garlic
  • tbsp tomato puree
  • tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • one and a half tins of kidney beans
  • 250g sweetcorn, fresh or frozen
  • salt and pepper
  • one lime.

Begin by finely chopping the onion. Cook gently for ten minutes, stirring regularly. Add finely chopped garlic, and cook over a moderate heat for another minute. Add the smoked paprika, cumin, and cayenne pepper, cook for one minute, and squeeze in the tomato puree. Stir until everything is well combined.

Pour in the chopped tomatoes and simmer for ten minutes.

Set a pan of rice or quinoa to cook in a steamer (or potatoes, if you wish), with the sweetcorn overhead. Add the kidney beans to the chilli and simmer for another ten minutes. Finally, tip in the cooked sweetcorn and season generously. Squeeze in the juice of half a lime.

Serve the chilli over your chosen grain, perhaps with sliced avocado and chopped coriander. Put leftovers into plastic containers, and put in the fridge or freezer for when you need it most!

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Roasted veg couscous salad

When most people hear the word salad, they think of limp lettuce and low-fat dressing. When I contemplate salad, I picture a big bowl of assorted veg on a grain. A salad for me isn’t a satiating meal without an accompanying carb, be it rice, pasta, or quinoa. On the other hand, lunchtime carbs can induce mid-afternoon energy drops for some people. If that’s you, then make sure you’re stocking up on carbohydrates for breakfast!

This salad is one you can eat for lunch or dinner, and pack in a whole lot of nutrients. It’s full of flavour, with both bite and soft textures.

To serve one portion, you’ll need:

  • 75g dry couscous. (I didn’t weigh mine, and ended up with a huge pile as a result. Remember that this stuff expands!)
  • 5 or 6 closed cup mushrooms, or half a pack of button mushrooms
  • One small / half a large courgette
  • Half a can chickpeas
  • Half a small red onion
  • Handful of parsley
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • Pinch of chilli flakes
  • 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp vegetable stock
  • Olive oil.

Begin by preheating the oven to 180C, and slicing the courgettes and mushrooms. Place the courgette in one tray, drizzle with oil, season, and sprinkle over rosemary. Give everything a stir to coat, and place in the oven for 20-25 minutes.

Slice or halve the mushrooms, depending on size, and put in another tray with sliced onions. Drizzle with more oil, season, and add paprika and chilli flakes. Slide into the oven underneath the courgettes. (It’s better to roast mushrooms separately, as they tend to release water when cooked – which can make everything else in the tray soggy.)

Meanwhile, place the couscous in the bowl you intend to eat out of, and pour enough boiling water over to cover by 1cm. Add a tsp of vegetable stock, stir well, and place a tea towel over the top. Leave to absorb for ten minutes.

Chop the parsley, and drain the chickpeas. Feel free to prepare other ingredients to add, such as chopped avocado, pumpkin seeds, or tomato.

Fluff up the couscous with the fork – if it is still dry, add a little more water. When the vegetables are cooked and tender, remove from the oven and add to the couscous with the beans and parsley. Preferably eat in the sunshine!