Pasta is a super quick and easy meal, but on hectic days, you need a dish that is warp-speed speedy. And preferably with as little washing up as possible. These recipes are intended to be pretty kid-friendly while keeping the adults happy too. There is only so much spag bol one can take!
Caramelised Red Onions, Wholewheat Croutons and Feta Cheese
This recipe is unashamedly end-of-the-month foraging. Melt a little butter and olive oil in a frying pan. Toss in cubes of wholewheat bread and toast until crispy. I season my croutons with salt, pepper and a pinch of chilli flakes. Remove from the pan. Melt a little more olive oil and butter and sauté thinly-sliced red onion until very soft. Add a little balsamic vinegar and a teaspoon of brown sugar at the end. Crumble in feta cheese and a sprinkling of fresh parsley.
Roasted Vegetables and Parmesan shavings
A bit like ratatouille but much tastier. Thinly slice red and yellow peppers, courgette, red onions and aubergines. Drizzle olive oil and balsamic vinegar and season well with salt and pepper. Roast at 180 degrees until soft and juicy. Toss through pasta with Parmesan shavings or crumbled feta cheese.
Peas and Parma Ham
Add frozen peas to the pasta cooking water for the last three minutes of cooking. Drain well and mix créme frâiche and grated Parmesan cheese through the hot pasta. Finish off with torn pieces of Parma ham and black pepper.
Pesto, Pine nuts and Cherry Tomatoes
I often make this dish with cold pasta for a lunchbox main. Simply mix basil pesto through pasta and add toasted pine nuts, halved cherry tomatoes, crumbled feta cheese and finely-chopped spring onion.
Smoked Salmon and Leeks
Sauté chopped and rinsed leeks in a little butter until soft. Add créme frâiche, strips of salmon, grated Parmesan cheese and plenty of black pepper. I like to add fronds of fresh dill to finish off the dish.
Chorizo and Red Peppers
I love chorizo for its ability to add such favour to so dishes that need a bit of ‘oomph’. Dice up the chorizo and sauté gently to render out some of the fat. Add sliced red onion and red peppers and cook until tender. Mix through some halved cherry tomatoes until softened. Season well and stir through cooked pasta.
Ham and Frozen Mixed Veg
This is a real kids dinner, but I love it. Add frozen mixed veg to the pasta water for the last five minutes of cooking. I like the carrot, sweet corn and pea mixed frozen veg combo. Drain well and stir through créme frâiche, a little Dijon mustard and grated mature cheddar cheese. Add diced ham and heat through. Thick cut ham works best for this. I often cook a small 1.5kg ham, thickly slice it and freeze it for dishes such as these.
Mushrooms, Spinach and Cream Cheese
Simply sauté sliced mushrooms on a high heat until browned and tender. Add garlic and herb cream cheese and heat until bubbling. Wilt baby spinach leaves in the sauce. For another version, add crispy bacon and blue cheese.
Sausage and Passata
This is meaty and tomatoey like spaghetti Bolognese but with far less work. Chop up Italian style sausages into chunks. Fry with a diced red onion in a little olive oil until browned. Add a tin of chopped tomatoes to the pan. Season with salt, pepper and a little sugar and balsamic vinegar. Simmer for 15 – 20 minutes. You can also can mushrooms and red peppers.
Leftover Chicken and Broccoli
I’m a huge fan of leftover roast chicken, it has so many tasty uses. To cook the broccoli, simply add fresh or frozen broccoli florets to the pasta cooking water for the last four minutes. Drain and toss with the shredded chicken, crushed walnuts, grated Parmesan cheese and a splash of cream. It’s the one time that slightly softer broccoli works well.
Well-known food journalist and talk show regular Rozanne Stevens is the creative chef behind Makeaheadmealz.com group and private cookery lessons. For extra recipes and tips follow @MakeAheadMealz on Twitter or Instagram: @MakeAheadMealz, @RozanneStevens.
Join her for her Thinner Dinners cookery class and lunch for brilliant time, budget and figure-friendly food, sign up here.