In my opinion, meal prep is the only way you can guarantee eating healthy, tasty lunches throughout the week. At work, I’m super busy, so I don’t have time to faff about going out for lunch. Plus, I don’t want to spend unesseccery money on stuff that doesn’t make me feel good about what I’m eating.
This is one of my favourite desk lunch recipes. It’s quick and easy, full of texture and flavour and can be made ahead in bulk. Plus it’s a great way to use up nearly-stale bread instead of wasting it. Just wazz up one to two slices in a food processor and you’re away.
This recipes makes 2 hearty lunch portions and takes about 20 mins to rustle up.
I was recently sent some healthy infused rapeseed oils from Borderfields as part of their #IsBetter campaign. I already really rate rapeseed oil as an alternative to olive oil, as it’s much lower in saturated fat but still great to cook with. These infused oils are lovely and will be cropping up in a few of my recipes this month. Thanks to Bordefields for sending them over!
What you need
For the roast veg:
1 red onion
2 peppers (whichever colours you prefer)
2cloves garlic, whole
2tbsp. garlic infused rapeseed oil (I used Borderfields)
handful of cherry tomatoes
For the pasta:
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp garlic infused rapeseed oil
140g whole wheat fusilli
50g fresh brown breadcrumbs
1 tsp dried herbs (thyme, basil, oregano all work well)
handful of fresh basil, roughly torn, plus extra to serve
Parmesan cheese, grated, to serve
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
What to do
Pre heat the oven to 180C/160C fan. Roughly chop the veg and arrange in a roasting tin along with the 2 cloves garlic. Drizzle with the oil and a good seasoning of salt and pepper. Mix with your hands to make sure everything is coated. Pop in the middle of the oven for 35 mins, tuning once halfway through.
Meanwhile, cook your pasta until al-dente. In a large saucepan, heat the other 2 tablespoons of oil over a medium heat. Once hot, add the breadcrumbs, dried herbs and minced garlic, stir well. Heat gently until the breadcrumbs turn golden brown, but make sure they don’t burn. Remove from the heat and stir in the fresh basil leaves.
When the pasta is cooked, drain and add to the breadcrumb mixture. Stir well to ensure everything is coated. Add a little hot water if you feel the mixture needs loosening a little.
Separate the pasta mixture in to two Tupperware’s and top each with the roasted veg and a fresh grating of Parmesan cheese. Keeps in the fridge well for up to 3 days. Enjoy cold or re-heated in the microwave for lunch!
What are your favourite pasta dishes, or healthy make-ahead lunches? Use the comments below, I would love to hear your thoughts!
Morning Campers! Boy have I got a treat for you today. For this month’s guest post I have teamed up with Ste Holmes – the man behind HUSSS Sandwich Co. in Liverpool.
Ste makes AWESOME sandwiches, served from a food truck on Myrtle Street, Liverpool. And his story is genuinely really cool. After graduating from University in 2008, he went on his travels around South East Asia. Being a true food lover, he was blown away at every meal-time by the amazing flavours they use in this part of the world. From the rich and complex noodle soups of Vietnam, to the spicy, fresh salads of Thailand, he was hooked on the delicious variety of flavour combinations.
When Ste returned home to the UK he put his degree on the back-burner and began researching the various cuisines of South East Asia. After studying hundreds of recipes, he realised almost all of the meals he had been enjoying contain the five flavours: HOT, UMAMI, SOUR, SALTY & SWEET – and so ‘HUSSS’ Sandwich Co. was born.
When these five flavours are used together, they compliment each other and create the most amazing taste sensation. Over the past couple of years, the HUSSS Sarnie team have worked together using combinations of the five flavours to develop a unique range of HUSSS Sandwiches. In short – they are using South East Asian culinary principles to liven up your lunchtime! And I am so in love with this concept!
In true guest post style, I have an exclusive recipe for you to try, and some words below from the man himself. If you give this a go at home, we would love to hear how you got on, and see your grilled cheese creations, so use the hashtag #baconjamgrilled if you do and we will retweet our favourites!
The question we get asked most when this is on our menu is ‘What is bacon jam?’ Short answer, jam made of bacon. Long answer, smoked and unsmoked streaky bacon with bourbon, maple syrup and spices. What’s not to love?
You need to make the jam at least a couple of days in advance to let the flavours marry, but other than that it’s plain sailing. This recipe makes enough to make four bacon-filled grilled sarnies, with enough left over to slather on burgers, hot dogs and cereal (if you’re a gamer).
Chipotle chilli powder is ground smoked Jalapeno. It adds layers of depth to the jam. If you can’t find it, substitute Cayenne, but please find it. Phone me, I’ll send you some. Cumin adds a lovely earthy flavour, and the Bacon, well, it’s Bacon.
What you need:
2 tbsp neutral oil, vegetable or peanut are ideal
150g finely diced onion
150g finely diced shallot
3 large cloves garlic, diced
600g streaky bacon – mixture of smoked and unsmoked, diced
1 tsp chipotle chilli powder
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground mustard
125ml bourbon whiskey
65ml maple syrup, pure maple, a little goes a long way and the mixed stuff is nasty
80ml cup balsamic vinegar
80g brown sugar
What to do:
Heat a heavy based pan (Le Creseut is a winner here) over medium heat. Add 1 tsbp oil, then the onions and shallots. Cook for about ten minutes until they are soft and translucent (be careful not to burn them as that will make the jam taste acrid). Once softened, add the garlic and cook for two minutes more. Remove the onion mix to a bowl.
Add the remaining tbsp of oil to the pan, followed by the chopped bacon. Cook out for 30 minutes, stirring frequently until crispy. Cook in batches if you’re pan is a tiddler.
Return onions to pan, along with the spices. Cook for one minute. Add the whiskey, maple syrup and balsamic vinegar and bring to the boil. Add the sugar and once amalgamated (massive word) turn the heat down. Cook for a further 15 minutes until the mixture has reduced and become jammy. Stir frequently.
Use a stick blender or transfer to a food processor and blend to a coarse consistency. You want some texture; you don’t want a smooth puree.
Mozzarella is THE perfect cheese for grilled cheese. It melts amazing and goes stringy and gooey. On the downside, it’s a pretty neutral cheese. So an extra mature cheddar is the perfect bed partner. We’ve tried all sorts of posh breads for grilled cheese. Sourdough, rye, ciabatta, you name it. But simple sliced white gets our vote. You need a thinnish bread so the cheese can melt and its innards can become volcanic. Warburtons Danish loaf is our go to. It’s not very artisan but it really does the job.
What you need:
8 tbsp bacon jam
4 slices mozzarella (sliced, not fresh)
4 slices extra mature cheddar
8 slices white bread (we use Danish bread, found in most supermarket bread aisles)
Butter, at room temperature
What to do:
Lay four slices of sliced white on a chopping board. Top each piece of bread with a slice of mozzarella, followed by two tbsp of bacon jam. Use a palette knife (or normal knife if you don’t have one) to spread the jam all over the cheese, making sure to reach every corner evenly. Top with a layer of cheddar and another piece of bread.
Heat a frying pan, or ideally two (or four if you want to serve them all at once and you’re felling switched on) over a medium heat. Use a palette knife to nail the top slice of bread in butter, making sure to cover every corner.
Place a sandwich buttered side down in the frying pan and coat the naked side of bread in butter. Get a saucepan lid or weight and push down on the sandwich. This will make sure that all of its surface area is being grilled. Don’t touch it. I know you want to, but don’t. It’s the Maillard Reaction (Wikipedia it). You want it to get nice and brown but definitely not burnt. Listen to it. When you hear it toasting away nicely flip the sandwich and repeat with the other side. If it’s beige you’re premature. If it’s burnt blame me and start again. We do about a two minutes-two and half minutes per side over a medium heat with a saucepan lid pressed down on the sarnie.
Once both sides are golden flip it out onto a chopping board and slice on the diagonal. The mozzarella should be stringy, the bacon jam scorching, and the bread lovely and crispy.
Hot (Chipotle), Umami (Cheese), Sour (Balsamic Vinegar), Salty (Bacon), Sweet (Maple Syrup). HUSSS. Dig in.
And if that wasn’t enough to get your tastebuds tingling, here are some more images of Ste’s other mouth-watering creations:
Here’s one for meat free Monday. You can even make these bad boys ahead on a Sunday, ready to bake to perfection come Monday evening. These aren’t just any veggie burgers, no. They are Matti P’s ultimate veggie burgers. Healthy, easy and hella satisfying. This recipe makes 6 burgers, and takes about 50 mins to prep and cook. Once cooked, they will keep well in the fridge for a couple of days – and they make a great addition to a salad if you wanted to save one for work in the week. You can add more or less fresh chilli, depending on how spicy you like it…
What you need:
2 and a half cups of Quinoa (cooked and cooled)
3 spring onions
3 sticks of asparagus
half a red chilli
one third of a courgette
2 handfuls of spinach
1 jar of Aldi’s Tomato and Mascarpone stir-in sauce
1 tablespoon of garlic powder (Matti notes, NOT garlic salt)
1 teaspoon of paprika
50 g cheddar cheese, whichever variety you prefer, grated
2 tablespoons of tomato purée
salt and freshly ground black pepper for seasoning
What to do:
Cook the quinoa and leave to fully cool
Cut the spinach as fine as possible and add to a large mixing bowl
Slice the other veg as fine as possible, mix together whilst chopping, then add to the mixing bowl
Add in the garlic powder and paprika
Add the jar of tomato and mascarpone sauce. Grind in some salt and pepper to taste – Matti notes ‘don’t go overboard on the seasoning!’
Add the grated cheddar cheese to the bowl, as well as the tomato purée
Prepare a baking tray by lightly brushing it with oil, then add the quinoa to the mixing bowl
Combine all ingredients in the mixing bowl together thoroughly using your hands
Once thoroughly mixed, split and compact the mixture into burger shaped patties – how many or how big is up to you. Matti likes his big, so he got 5 out of this mixture – but it makes up to 6!
Place the patties onto the baking tray, and cook at 180 degrees for 35mins in the centre of the oven
Cook until golden brown
Enjoy on a flatbread with fresh salad and grilled halloumi!
If you have an appreciation for good homemade food, Indian/thali cuisine, different flavours, textures and spices all on one platter – this place is a must-try.
It’s laidback cafe style, quick, super-friendly service and value for money are all second-to-none for a lunchtime jaunt or a bite to eat with your buddies. They are open from 11:30am – 7:30pm, so it’s ideal for lunch or an early dinner. This place is awesome.
Their mint and coriander sauce was a highlight for me amongst all their other amazing flavours and textures. It is refreshing and sharp and really works well to cleanse the palate between bites. You can have any combination of tender meat and lovely veg dishes, I went for the one meat 2 veg option, which worked really well. We were in-and-out within about 25 minutes, perfect timing as we were on our lunch break from the office. It is safe to say we all loved it, and at an average price of £5.50 per Thali (steel plate pictured below) we will certainly be back for more!
Here are a few snaps of our visit there a couple of weeks ago:
For more information, please visit: www.chapaticafe.co.uk and if you’re in the Manchester area, make sure you pay them a visit!
It’s that time of year again when I usually switch from salads to soups as my main go-to for lunches at work. Most supermarkets offer great soups in a wide range of flavours, which are ideal if you’re pushed for time. However, they can end up costing a lot more, and sometimes contain stabilizers and other random ingredients that you don’t really want – so I highly recommend making your own. If you do a batch, it’s freezable so you can stock-up for the winter months. No brainer!
As you know, I love spice, so I wanted a soup that was warming, healthy and super-tasty. This soup has loads of carrots, so is high in vitamin-A and low in saturated fat; making it perfect for a little health-boost (always welcomed, especially at this time of year!)
I’ve been trying out a few different recipes recently, but none are as good as this one from Sainsbury’s Magazine. Hats off to cook Tamsin Burnett-Hall (twitter: @cooksewgrow) who created this recipe, it truly is delicious and has been perfectly crafted for full-on flavour without overloading on calories. The soup topping, tarka, is a mix of spices fried in oil until fragrant, then added just before serving. It’s what makes this soup extra special, perfect for lunch in the week (just take the tarka in a little separate tub), or ideal for a starter if you have people round for dinner.
The original recipe makes 8 portions, but my casserole dish only has room for 6, so I have adapted the recipe slightly to make 6 hearty portions instead. In total it takes around 50 minutes to make from start to finish.
what you need:
for the soup
2 tbsp rapeseed oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tsp grated root ginger
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp garam masala
1 litre good quality veg stock
for the tarka
2 tbsp rapeseed oil
1 tsp shredded root ginger
1 garlic clove, finely sliced
1-2 red chillies, de-seeded and finely sliced
1/2 tsp yellow mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
6 tbsp low-fat natural yogurt
handful of freshly chopped coriander
what to do:
1. For the soup, heat the oil in a large saucepan or casserole dish, add the onion and cook for about 8 minutes until softened but still pale. Meanwhile, scrub (no need to peel), trim and chop the carrots and parsnips into 2 cm chunks.
2. Add the ginger and spices to the onion and cook for 1 minute until fragrant, then add the carrots and parsnips and mix to coat them in the spices.
3. Pour in the veg stock, season and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.
4. Blend the soup in a liquidiser or using a hand blender until smooth.
5. For the tarka, heat the oil in a small frying pan over a medium heat and fry the ginger, garlic, chilli and mustard seeds for 1-2 minutes, until the seeds start popping and the garlic begins to change colour.
6. Ladle the soup into cups or bowls and swirl in a spoonful of natural yogurt and a few bits of coriander. Sprinkle over the chilli and garlic topper just before serving and enjoy -x-