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Fast, tasty and hassle-free food

After a bad day in the office, the last thing you want to do is start cooking. You're tired and hungry but the thought of cooking is not top of your list -- but it needn't be that much hassle.

This week, I am sharing three simple meals that you can whip up in 30 minutes or less. However, if you want to be able to cook these dishes up quickly, you should have a well-stocked cupboard.

Start off with these ingredients to make your life a little easier . . .

>Dry storage: A big bottle of extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper, herbs and spices such as thyme, basil, oregano, cumin, curry powder, rosemary, Italian seasoning, canned tuna, chopped tomatoes, mushy peas, canned beans such as black beans, cannellini beans, butter beans, chicken stock cubes, tomato paste, jar of marinara sauce, red wine, white wine, different varieties of rice and pastas, all-purpose flour, sugar, potatoes, garlic, onions, lemons.

>Fridge: Butter, milk, eggs, yogurt, Parmesan cheese, mustard.

>Freezer: Peas, spinach, bacon, sausages prawns.

RECIPE 1: Angel hair/spaghetti pasta with prawns, tomatoes and lemon

Serves 2

Ingredients

>225g angel hair pasta or spaghetti

>2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

>225g uncooked large shrimp/prawns, peeled, and deveined

>2 tbsp chopped, fresh basil

>2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

>2 tsp dried oregano

>1 lemon juiced and half zested

>1 tbsp sugar

>2 cans chopped tomatoes, juices drained

>120ml white wine, sauvignon blanc is good

>Salt, pepper and basil leaves

Method

1>Cook pasta in a pot of boiling salted water.

2>Heat oil in large non-stick skillet over medium heat.

3>Add prawns, basil, garlic, oregano, lemon juice, zest and 1 tbsp sugar and stir until prawns are almost cooked through -- about 2-4 minutes.

4>Add tomatoes and wine and simmer for 5-8 minutes or until sauce becomes thickened.

5>Add salt and pepper.

6>Transfer to a bowl on top of the pasta.

7>Garnish with some basil leaves.

RECIPE 2: Bacon spinach frittata

Serves 2

Ingredients

>1 tbsp olive oil

>50g butter

>4 strips of streaky bacon, diced

>100g baby spinach leaves

>½ onion, diced

>1 potato, scrubbed and sliced thinly

>6 eggs

>2 tbsp dried thyme

>Salt and pepper

>50g goats' cheese, crumbled

Method

1>Heat the oil and butter in a non-stick frying pan or a cast-iron pan.

2>Sauté bacon for 4 minutes until browned then add the chopped spinach, onion and potato and cook for a further 5 minutes.

3>Whisk the eggs, thyme, salt and pepper in a large bowl to combine. Pour into the pan and gently cook for about 5 minutes. Using a heat-proof rubber spatula, ease around the edges.

4>Sprinkle on goats' cheese, turn on the grill and slide the pan under for 1-2 minutes or until the cheese begins to lightly brown.

5>Slide the frittata out onto a large plate or board and divide into portions. Serve at once.

RECIPE 3: Sausage and bean chilli

Serves 2-4

Ingredients

>1 tbsp olive oil

>½ pound sausages or Italian sausages

>1 onion, diced

>1 red bell pepper

>1tbsp chilli powder

>2 tsp cumin powder

>2 cans chopped tomatoes

>1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed

>1 can cannellini beans (white kidney beans) drained and rinsed

>1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

>1 tbsp red wine vinegar

Method

1>Heat oil in heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Add sausages and cook until well browned. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

2>Add onion to pan and sauté for 3-5 minutes. Add bell pepper and cook for 1 more minute.

3>Add chilli and cumin powders and stir to combine.

4>Add tomatoes and all three types of beans. Simmer for 15 minutes.

5>Cut up cooked sausage into ½-inch pieces and add to the pot for the last 2 minutes of cooking. Add vinegar and stir.

6>Serve in bowls with some tortilla chips and sour cream or crusty bread.


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