Ten Super Quick Dinners

We all have our favourite quick and easy recipes that we make regularly. The recipe you think of as you take the main ingredient out of the freezer.

Tried and tested, easy no-brainers.

What are your favourite go-to recipes you can make with your eyes closed? Here are some of mine.

Salmon with Ginger and Sweet Chilli Sauce
Crispy Skinned Fish with Tomato Salsa
Lamb chops with Dijon, Rosemary and Honey
Steak Diane
Smoked Haddock with Tomatoes and Cream
Eggplants with Labneh and Spicy Cashews
Sticky Chilli Chicken
Pasta with Broad Beans and Pesto
Chicken with Spinach, Pine Nuts and Raisins

Crispy Pork Belly with Sticky Sherry Sauce

This easy recipe for pork belly comes from Taste.com

Making it in an air fryer is the easiest way to ensure crunchy crackling with no oven cleaning. Roasting pork in the oven inevitably creates a lot of spattering. An air fryer is a dream to clean. Well mine is.

Aldi sell pork belly in one kilo packs which are perfect for this recipe.

1 kg (approx) pork belly with skin
2 tsp garlic salt (or ordinary salt)
1 tsp cumin
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp dried oregano
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
Sticky Sherry Sauce:
¼ cup sweet chilli sauce
¼ cup sherry
1 Tbs lemon juice
1 Tbs wholegrain mustard
2 Tbs Worcestershire sauce

With a sharp knife, make cuts parallel to the edge on the meaty side of the pork, 1 cm apart. Don’t cut all the way through – less than halfway. Make similar cuts in a diagonal direction on the skin side of the pork, also about 1cm apart and just cutting through the skin, not right through. Mix the salt and spices and use the mixture to coat both sides of the pork, rubbing it into all the cuts.

Place pork on the tray of an air fryer, skin side up, and cook at 200°C for 25 minutes then at 160°C for a further 30 minutes. By this time the pork should be cooked through and the crackling crunchy.

Meanwhile place all ingredients for sauce in a small saucepan. Bring to the boil then simmer for 3-4 minutes until reduced and sticky.

Slice pork and serve with the sauce underneath or spooned over. Garnish with some fresh herbs such as coriander leaves.

Serve with rice and a steamed green vegetable or a simple coleslaw.

Serves 4-6

Note: if you don’t have an air fryer, cook in the oven in a roasting pan for half an hour at 220°C then turn the oven down to 160°C for a further 10 minutes or until pork is tender and crackling is crunchy.

Brussels Sprouts with Honey & Balsamic

Brussels sprouts, love them or hate them?
Nightmares of these over-cooked, soggy vegetables have haunted generations of children. Back then everybody boiled them for far too long, leaving them grey and unpalatable.
But have you ever tried them roasted? With the addition of olive oil, salt and pepper and about 20 minutes in a hot oven, sprouts take on a whole new persona.

Before serving, you might like to add a touch of honey and a drizzle of balsamic glaze. In the second photo I’ve added some cooked peas and crumbled feta cheese.

Let me know in the comments if this recipe convinces you to give sprouts another go!

500g brussels sprouts
2 Tbs olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp honey
1-2 tsp balsamic glaze
1-2 cups frozen peas, cooked in boiling salted water and drained (optional)
100g feta cheese, crumbled (optional)

Preheat oven to 200°C. Trim sprouts and halve vertically. Mix with oil and seasoning. Spread out on a shallow tray lined with baking paper and roast for about 20 minutes or until al dente and starting to brown on the edges. Alternatively, cook in an air fryer for 10-15 minutes.

Drizzle with the honey and balsamic glaze. If liked, mix in the peas, top with the feta and drizzle with a little more olive oil.

Serves 4-6


Lamb with Hummus, Roasted Veggies & Mint Pesto

This is a delicious way to serve roast lamb.

1 leg or shoulder of lamb, boned or not
½ cup balsamic vinegar
½ cup water
2-3 tsp Za’atar spice mix (or spice mix of your choice)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 cups hummus (home-made or bought)
1 batch oven roasted veggies
Mint Pesto:
1 cup mint leaves, firmly packed
½ cup pistachios or pine nuts, lightly toasted
1 Tbs lemon juice
1 tsp honey
Olive oil
Salt to taste
To serve:
Toasted pine nuts

Pre-heat oven to 150°C. Place lamb in a large heavy casserole with a lid. Season with the Za’atar, salt and pepper. Add the balsamic vinegar and water and cover. Cook for 2- 3 hours, turning the meat over halfway through. If when you turn the meat the liquid has all dried up add a bit more water – half a cup or so. If the meat is boned it will take less time. Cook to preferred doneness.

Prepare the roast veggies.

For the mint pesto, place all ingredients except the oil in a food processor. Process until chunky then add the oil through the feed chute with the motor running until you have a thick sauce. Scrape down the sides halfway through. Scrape out into a bowl.

To serve, spread the hummus on one large plate or divide between individual plates. Top with sliced lamb, then the roasted vegetables. Top with some mint pesto and sprinkle with a few toasted pine nuts – which as you can see from the photo, I forgot! If liked drizzle some of the cooking liquid from the lamb over the top and around the edge of the plate.

Serves 6-8

Crunchy Beans with Humus and Feta


This healthy dip or shared plate is delicious and easy to make. Even the grandkids loved it.

1 can white cannelini beans, drained thoroughly
1 good pinch chilli flakes
1 Tbs cornflour
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp dried rosemary or another herb (optional(
1 tsp garlic powder
1 Tbs olive oil
1- 2 cups humus (bought or home made)
100g feta cheese, crumbled
Chopped fresh herbs to garnish or spring onion slivers
Extra virgin olive oil

Preheat ovento 200C. Mix beans with chilli flakes, corflour, salt, pepper, rosemary, garlic powder and olive oil. Line a shallow baking sheet with baking paper. Spread the beans over the paper in one layer. Bake for 20-30 mins or until golden and crunchy. Move them around a bit halfway through cooking.

Meanwhile spread humus over serving plate. Sprinkle feta over the top, then, the crunchy beans and a few fresh herbs. Drizzle with olive oil. Serve with nice bread.

Serves 4-6 as a shared plate

Salmon with Ginger and Sweet Chilli Sauce

This recipe is so easy, I have never bothered to include it in this blog.

I’m going to do so today, for two reasons. Firstly it’s a favourite in our house, so I make it at least once a fortnight and sometimes once a week. Secondly, if I serve it to guests they invariably ask for the recipe.

2 portions salmon, skin on or off
1 Tbs grated fresh ginger (see note below)
1 Tbs Thai sweet chilli sauce
Lemon to garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 200°C. Line a shallow baking tray with baking paper.

Pat the salmon fillets dry and arrange on the tray. Mix ginger and chilli sauce and spread evenly over the tops of the salmon. Bake for 8-10 minutes. We like our salmon pink in the middle. If liked, cook longer.

Serve garnished with lemon, with an Asian Coleslaw or steamed green vegetable.

Serves 2

Note: Peel half a kilo or more of fresh ginger, then chop very finely in food processor. Freeze in ice cube trays, pressing down to fill. When frozen, tip into a ziplock bag or container and freeze. Just take out one cube at a time. Perfect for stir-fries and marinades.

Stuffed Peppers

Stuffed peppers or capsicums are delicious served hot or at room temperature.

The filling is flexible. This version has a vegetarian filling, but if preferred you can add some browned minced beef, chicken or pork, or some chopped ham.

4-6 small to medium capsicums (peppers), red or yellow
1 cup rice, quinoa or pearl (Israeli) couscous
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 Tbs chopped fresh parsley
1 clove garlic, crushed
Finely grated rind and juice of 1 lemon
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
½ cup pine nuts
Olive oil
½ cup home made breadcrumbs
To garnish:

1 long green chilli, thinly sliced (optional)
Or fresh parsley leaves

Preheat oven to 200°C.

Cook the rice, quinoa or pearl couscous in boiling salted water until al dente, drain well.

Cut capsicums in half lengthwise and remove seeds. Place cut side up in a large oiled baking dish in one layer. Mix ingredients for filling, except for the olive oil and saving a bit of the feta and pine nuts for the topping. Fill the capsicum halves.

Mix the saved feta cheese and pine nuts with the breadcrumbs and sprinkle on top. Drizzle generously with olive oil. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the capsicums are starting to char a bit – see photo.

Garnish with the green chilli – or some fresh parsley leaves – and serve hot or at room temperature.

Serves 6-8

Chicken with Spinach, Pine Nuts and Raisins

We have six perpetual spinach plants in the garden. It’s a great leafy vegetable to grow because you just break off the leaves as you need them and it keeps on growing.

Ours are in a raised bed which we can cover at night in the cooler months, like a greenhouse, so the plants don’t get damaged by frost.

This is a healthy, quick and easy dinner for two, but easily doubled for four. If liked serve with rice, potatoes or Israeli pearl couscous

1 large or two small chicken breasts
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Herbs or spices of choice (paprika, thyme etc)
2 Tbs olive oil
1 bunch spinach, washed, stalks removed
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 Tbs pine nuts
2 Tbs sultanas or raisins
Balsamic glaze

Cut chicken into six or eight lengthwise fat fingers. Season with salt and pepper and a good pinch of any spices or herbs you fancy. Last time I added a good pinch of curry powder. Place sultanas in a small bowl, cover with hot water, leave 3 minutes, then drain.

Pour boiling water over the spinach and leave for 2 minutes. Drain, squeeze out all the water and if spinach has large leaves, chop roughly. If using baby spinach, no need. Leave in a sieve to continue draining while you cook the chicken.

Heat 1 Tbs oil in a frying pan and cook chicken on both sides for 8-10 minutes, turning a couple of times, until cooked through. When chicken is cooked, remove from the pan. To the pan add the second Tbs of oil – you might not need it – spinach, garlic, pine nuts and sultanas or raisins. Stir fry for 2 to 3 minutes then season to taste.

Divide spinach among two serving plates. Top with chicken, then garnish with olive oil and balsamic glaze.

Serves 2

Quick Falafel

When we lived in Israel in the late 1970s, we loved the street food called falafel. Crispy chickpea patties served in a warm pita bread pocket with humus, tomatoes, cucumber, and onion.

Falafel are traditionally made with chickpeas. Using a can doesn’t work – they end up mushy. This recipe uses red lentils instead of chickpeas which you just soak for an hour. The photo shows the falafel ready to fry – which is why they look a bit insipid. Next time I think I’ll make them a little bit smaller.

1 bunch parsley
2 cloves garlic
1 onion
1 cup red lentils soaked one hour in cold water then drained
1 tsp each ground cumin, coriander and salt
4 tbs chickpea flour (besan flour)
¼ cup olive oil + extra for frying the felafel
To serve:
4 pita bread pockets
Hummus (bought or home-made)
1 small cucumber, diced
2-3 tomatoes diced (or 8-10 cocktail tomatoes)
½ red onion, diced
Coriander or parsley, chopped
Avocado diced (optional)
Olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste

Mix all the ingredients for the felafel. I use the food processor to finely chop the parsley and onion, then add the drained lentils, spices, salt, chickpea flour and olive oil. Process just enough to get a chunky mixture. You don’t want it smooth. Form into 2cm flattened balls with damp hands.

Deep fry or shallow fry the falafel or spray both sides with oil and cook them in an air fryer for about 10 minutes, turning once about halfway through.

Meanwhile warm or toast the felafel pockets. Mix the cucumber, tomatoes, red onion, coriander or parsley and avocado if using. Add a little olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste.

To serve, fill each pita pocket with some hummus, cucumber and tomato mix and two or three crispy warm felafel.

Serves 4

Chicken with Israeli Couscous and Citrus Marmalade

I know chicken with marmalade sounds a bit weird, but think duck with orange.

Choose a tart chunky marmalade such as Seville Orange, Grapefruit or similar. I used a home-made Cumquat and Ginger marmalade. If you’ve never cooked Israeli Couscous, also known as Pearl Couscous, it’s just bigger than normal couscous. It makes a nice change from rice.

1 very large or 2 smaller chicken breasts
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbs olive oil
1 cup Israeli (Pearl) couscous
2 Tbs chopped parsley
A knob of butter or 1 Tbs olive oil
2-3 Tbs chunky citrus marmalade

Pat chicken dry and season to taste. Flatten out a bit if it’s very thick in some parts. Heat oil in a frying pan and cook chicken for 10-15 minutes, turning halfway, or until cooked through. Remove from the pan and slice downwards. Meanwhile while chicken is cooking, cook the couscous in boiling salted water for 7-8 minutes or until al dente. Drain well then add the parsley, butter or oil and season to taste.

Divide couscous between two serving plates. Top with the chicken slices and the marmalade.

Serves 2