Friday 23 February 2018

Tempt your teens - Neven Maguire's top four takeaway alternatives

Top chef Neven Maguire took up our invitation to devise four tasty recipes that are a great alternative to takeaways

Neven Maguire with Anne Holohan (17) and James Kelly Trant (16) and the dishes they cooked at an al fresco kitchen in Airfield estate. Photograph: ©Fran Veale
Neven Maguire with Anne Holohan (17) and James Kelly Trant (16) and the dishes they cooked at an al fresco kitchen in Airfield estate. Photograph: ©Fran Veale
Neven Maguire's fajita's with guacamole. Photograph: ©Fran Veale
Neven Maguire's Creamy Chicken Korma. Photograph: ©Fran Veale
Neven Maguire with James Kelly Trant (16) putting the final touches to his pizza. Photograph: ©Fran Veale
Neven Maguire's Italian Ragu. Photograph: ©Fran Veale

Cooking is such a fantastic life skill. An appreciation of good food and what we put in our bodies to keep healthy, study well and feel good is so important for our teens.

My creamy chicken korma (recipes below) is a great, basic curry with vegetables and lean chicken breast. It's a real favourite of mine. In India, this would be garnished with fresh rose petals, but for me it needs nothing more than a scattering of fresh coriander to add a real 'zing'.

A good fajita served with guacamole always goes down well. It's fashionable and sociable and I always keep a packet of flour tortillas in the cupboard. To make them soft enough for rolling, pop them on a hot frying or griddle pan or microwave on high between dampened sheets of kitchen paper for 30 seconds.

I am just back from filming my new show in Italy, where I found out that Italian food is the most exported cuisine in the world. I learned to make pizza from a man who has been making it for 40 years.

The first pizza I tasted had no cheese on it - just some tomato sauce, olive oil and garlic - and was beautiful. Fussy eaters or vegetarians can choose their own toppings. Teens are usually not going to make the pizza dough so I recommend Pizza da Piero. They make beautiful pre-made pizza bases and taste much better than any takeaway. I have given my recipe for Neapolitan pizza but you can use your own toppings: ham, chicken, leftovers, whatever you want. They are quick, cheap, tasty and simple.

The ragù alla bolognese is a new recipe I've taken from my travels to Italy. This classic ragù is tasty, inexpensive and a great source of protein. It's easy to make and great for teens going off to college. It's very versatile - you can make a lasagne or a pasta dish - and it's perfect to make a large quantity and freeze in batches.

This recipe is based on the Italian way - half pork, half beef with no garlic in the recipe - and it's so tasty. You can serve it with spaghetti or, to be more authentic, large pappardelle pasta.

Growing your own herbs is on trend and a great way for teens to understand and create their own flavours in their food. From the fresh coriander in the korma to the basil leaves on the pizza, growing your own is simple and fun and can be done on your kitchen window.

Happy cooking!



Neven Maguire's Creamy Chicken Korma. Photograph: ©Fran Veale

Serves 4


2 tbsp rapeseed oil

2 onions, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 green chilli, seeded and finely chopped (optional)

2 tsp finely grated root ginger

1 tsp garam masala

1 tsp ground turmeric

¼ tsp chilli powder

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

400g (14oz) can chopped tomatoes

2 tbsp mango chutney, plus extra to serve

1 tsp tomato purée

4 tbsp water

400g (14oz) can coconut milk

4 x 175g (6oz) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 2.5cm (1in) cubes

Steamed basmati rice, to serve

Handful of fresh coriander leaves, to garnish

Warmed naan bread or green chilli and coriander flatbreads


1. Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium-high heat and fry the onions and garlic for 6-8 minutes, until golden brown. Stir in the green chilli, if using, and the ginger and cook for 1 minute, stirring.

2. Add the garam masala to the pan with the turmeric, chilli powder and a pinch of salt and cook for another minute, stirring.

3. Add the tomatoes, chutney, tomato purée and 4 tbsp water. Stir well to combine, then bring to a fast simmer for 5 minutes, until the sauce is so well reduced that it is almost sticking to the bottom of the pan, stirring occasionally.

4. Stir the coconut milk into the pan and then stir in the chicken. Slowly bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer gently for 10-15 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and completely tender. Season to taste.

5. To serve, arrange the basmati rice and chicken korma on warmed plates and scatter over the coriander leaves to garnish. Place the naan or green chilli and coriander flatbreads in a separate dish to pass around at the table along with the mango chutney.


Neven Maguire with James Kelly Trant (16) putting the final touches to his pizza. Photograph: ©Fran Veale

Makes 2 large pizzas


For the tomato sauce:

(Makes 350ml/12fl oz) 1 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, crushed

6 large ripe tomatoes, peeled, deseeded and cut into chunks, or 1 x 400g (14oz) tin of Italian plum tomatoes

1 tsp red wine vinegar

2 tsp tomato purée

1 tsp caster sugar

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the pizza:

2 large ready-made artisan pizza bases (Pizza da Piero)

8 tbsp tomato sauce (see recipe above)

1 x 150g ball of mozzarella, drained and sliced

25g/1oz freshly grated Parmesan

Few fresh basil leaves, torn, plus extra to garnish

2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil


1. This is a very quick sauce to make (and works brilliantly too with any pasta). Start by heating the olive oil in a pan and sauté the onion and garlic for a few minutes, until softened but not coloured. Tip in the tomatoes with the vinegar, tomato purée and sugar. Cook on a low heat for a few minutes, while stirring, to help break the tomatoes down. Season to taste, then increase the heat slightly and simmer for 10-15 minutes, until the sauce has reduced and dried out a little. Use immediately or leave to cool, then transfer to a bowl, cover with cling film and chill until needed. Use as required. This will happily keep in the fridge for up to 1 week.

2. To make the pizza, preheat the oven to 240°C/475°F/gas 9. Put the pizza bases onto 2 large baking sheets. Spoon over the cold tomato sauce, scatter over the mozzarella and basil leaves. Drizzle well with olive oil. Bake in the preheated oven for 10-15 minutes until the base is crisp and the cheese is melted and golden.


Neven Maguire's fajita's with guacamole. Photograph: ©Fran Veale

Serves 4


3 tbsp vegetable oil

1 large onion, thinly sliced

1 red, 1 green and 1 yellow pepper, seeded and cut into thin strips

1¼ lb/550g frying steak, trimmed and sliced into strips (good quality)

1oz/25g fajita seasoning mix (from a packet)

2 limes

8 soft flour tortillas (1 packet)

¼ pt/150ml soured cream

1 bunch spring onions, trimmed and thinly sliced (about 6 in total)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the tomato salsa:

1 tbsp olive oil

1 small onion, roughly chopped

1 garlic clove, crushed

14oz/400g can chopped tomatoes

2oz/50g jalapeño peppers, finely chopped (from a jar) - optional

¼ tsp sugar

Pinch hot chilli powder

3 tbsp roughly chopped fresh coriander

For the guacamole:

2 ripe avocados

1 small red onion, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, crushed

1 red chilli, seeded and finely chopped

2 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and roughly chopped

2 tbsp roughly chopped fresh coriander, plus extra sprigs to garnish

Finely grated rind and juice of 1 lime


1. First make the salsa. Heat the oil in a pan and gently fry the onion and garlic for 3-4 minutes until softened but not coloured, stirring occasionally. Add the canned tomatoes, jalapeño peppers, if using, sugar and chilli powder. Bring to a simmer and then cook for 15 minutes until reduced and slightly thickened. Transfer to a serving bowl, stir in the coriander and season to taste.

2. To make the fajitas, heat 2 tbsp of the oil in a large frying pan and gently fry the onion and peppers for 6-8 minutes over a low heat until softened, stirring occasionally. Remove with a slotted spoon to a bowl and keep warm.

3. Heat the remaining 1 tbsp oil in the same pan, add the beef strips and then sprinkle over the fajita seasoning mix, stirring to combine. Sauté for 6-8 minutes until cooked though and lightly golden.

4. Finely grate the rind from one of the limes, then squeeze out the juice. Cut the remaining lime into wedges and set aside to use as a garnish. Return the onion and pepper mixture to the pan with the lime juice and rind. Sauté for another 2-3 minutes until well combined and heated through. Season to taste.

5. Meanwhile, make the guacamole. Peel, stone and mash the avocados in a bowl. Add the onion, garlic, chilli, tomatoes, coriander, lime rind and juice. Mix well to combine and season to taste.

6. Heat a frying or griddle pan. Add a soft flour tortilla and heat for 30 seconds, turning once until soft and pliable. Repeat with the remaining tortillas and stack them up on a warmed plate.

7. To serve, transfer the spicy beef mixture into a serving bowl or platter and garnish with the coriander sprigs and lime wedges. Hand around the tomato salsa, warmed tortillas, guacamole, soured cream and chopped spring onion, allowing each person to assemble the fajitas themselves.


iw FVeale (83).jpg
Neven Maguire's Italian Ragu. Photograph: ©Fran Veale

Serves 8-10


2 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

1 carrot, finely diced

1 celery stick, finely diced

350g lean minced beef

350g lean minced pork

300ml red wine

2 x 400g (14oz) can plum tomatoes

1 x bouquet garni (bay leaf, thyme, rosemary, sage)

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

675g-1kg spaghetti

Freshly grated Parmesan, to serve


1. Heat a large, heavy-based pan. Add the oil and sauté the onion, carrot and celery. Cook for 8-10 minutes until the vegetables have softened and taken on a little colour, stirring occasionally.

2. Add the minced beef and pork to the pan and mix until well combined, then sauté until well browned, breaking up any lumps with a wooden spoon.

3. Deglaze the pan with a little of the red wine, scraping the bottom of the pan to remove any sediment. Pour in the remaining wine with the plum tomatoes and break up using a wooden spoon. Bring to the boil, add in the bouquet garni, reduce the heat to the lowest setting and simmer for at least 2 hours, or up to 4 hours is best, until the beef and pork are meltingly tender and the sauce has slightly reduced.

4. When ready to serve, bring a large pan of water to a rolling boil. Add a good pinch of salt and swirl in the spaghetti. Stir once and then cook for 8-10 minutes, or according to instructions on the packet, until the pasta is al dente. Drain and quickly refresh under cold running water, then return to the pan and add the bolognese sauce. Toss until well combined and then divide among warmed wide-rimmed serving bowls. Scatter over some Parmesan to serve.

Irish Independent

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