For those (still) working from home, lunch can either be a hassle or a highlight. Even though the 10-minute queue for a lunchtime sandwich used to pass without mention, spending the same amount of time on reaching for a saucepan or turning on the oven at home can somehow feel illicit. There’s nothing I’d like to see more than the queues back at the lunchtime cafes but, in the meantime, here are three recipes that can be ready in less time than it used to take to get to the front of those queues. In all of them, you can get most of the work done before you sit down to start the working day. All of the highlights; none of the hassle.
Cheesy curried butter beans on toast (pictured above)
AKA grown-up beans on toast. If you want to get ahead before you start work, take the beans up to the point before the coriander, cream and cheese are stirred in; the onions can also be made ahead of time, which means lunch can be on the table within seven or so minutes.
Prep 10 min
Cook 15 min
1 green chilli, thinly sliced into rounds, seeds and all (10g)
½ red onion, thinly sliced into rounds (60g)
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
Salt and black pepper
2½ tbsp olive oil
25g ginger, peeled and finely grated
4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
½ tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp mild curry powder
¼ tsp chilli flakes
200g jarred butter beans (drained weight)
1½ tbsp (5g) coriander leaves, roughly chopped
60ml double cream
100g mature cheddar, roughly grated
2 large slices sourdough (or 3 small ones), cut 1½cm thick
Put the chilli, onion, vinegar and a tiny pinch of salt in a small bowl, stir to combine, then leave to soften and pickle while you get on with the rest of the dish.
Put a tablespoon and a half of oil in a medium saute pan on a medium-high heat. Once hot, add the ginger and garlic, and fry, stirring often, for two to three minutes, until lightly golden and fragrant. Add the spices, cook for 30 seconds, then stir in the butter beans, a quarter-teaspoon of salt and plenty of black pepper. Turn off the heat and leave to cool for five to 10 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the oven grill to a high setting. Once the bean mix is cool, stir in the coriander, cream and cheese.
Place the slices of bread on a small baking tray and grill for two minutes. Remove, flip over and drizzle the untoasted sides with the remaining tablespoon of oil. Top with the butterbean mixture and grill for four to five minutes, until golden and bubbly. Spoon half the pickled onion mixture over the top and serve the rest in a bowl alongside.
Spicy tuna and herb fried rice
Make the sauce in advance, if you like, which will reduce your time at the stove later to just eight minutes. Load up the finished dish with whatever soft herbs you have to hand – basil, dill or parsley all work as well as the chives and coriander suggested.
Prep 6 min
Cook 14 min
2 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
15g piece fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
2 tomatoes (200g net weight)
1 red chilli, roughly chopped (remove and discard the pith and seeds if you prefer less heat)
1 tbsp maple syrup
40ml soy sauce
60ml olive oil
Salt and black pepper
350g cooked rice (most rice will triple when cooked, so you’ll need about 120g uncooked rice) – I use short-grain brown rice
2 x 160g tins tuna in olive oil, drained (200g net weight)
3⅓ tbsp (10g) chives, finely chopped
2½ tbsp (10g) coriander leaves, finely chopped
2 limes – 1 juiced, to get 1 tbsp, the other cut into wedges
30g crispy shallots (homemade or shop-bought; optional)
Put the first six ingredients in the small bowl of a food processor with two tablespoons of oil and a quarter-teaspoon of salt, and blitz to make a smooth sauce.
Heat a wok or saute pan on a high heat, add a third of the sauce and stir-fry for three minutes, until thickened and reduced (careful, it might spit!). Add the cooked rice and two tablespoons of oil, and fry for eight minutes, stirring every now and then, until the rice is browned and crisp.
Stir through the rest of the sauce, the tuna, herbs and lime juice, and transfer to two plates. Serve topped with crispy shallots, if using, the lime wedges for squeezing on top and a drizzle of chilli oil, if you like.
Cauliflower, manchego and chorizo frittata
If you have any leftover roast vegetables in the fridge, use them up in this rather than frying the cauliflower from scratch. Make the frittata in advance and serve it at room temperature, or reheat it in the oven, leaving you just the chorizo to fry for five minutes come lunchtime.
Prep 10 min
Cook 20 min
½ small cauliflower, broken into small florets (200g net weight)
35ml olive oil
1 tsp ground turmeric
Salt and black pepper
5 tbsp (25g) basil leaves, roughly chopped
6½ tbsp (25g) coriander leaves, roughly chopped
6 large eggs
50g manchego, cut into 1cm cubes
140g cooking chorizo, crumbled
1 large green chilli, finely chopped, seeds and all
1 tsp caraway seeds
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
2 limes – 1 juiced, to get 1 tsp, the other cut into wedges, to serve
Heat the oven to 220C (200C)/425F/gas 7. Season the cauliflower florets with a tablespoon of oil, a quarter-teaspoon of turmeric, a teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper.
Put a tablespoon of oil in a small, non-stick, oven-proof saute pan for which you have a lid. Place on a medium-high heat, then fry the florets for five minutes, turning them once halfway through, until lightly coloured all over. Stir in the herbs, cover the pan and cook for another minute.
Meanwhile, whisk the eggs in a large bowl with a quarter-teaspoon of turmeric, a half-teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper, then stir in the cubed manchego.
Tip the cauliflower and herbs into the egg mix, stir well, then pour half the mixture back into the saute pan set over on a medium heat. Cook the mix, stirring frequently, until it’s the consistency of runny scrambled eggs, then tip it back into the bowl of uncooked frittata mixture and stir to combine.
Pour the whole lot back into the saute pan, transfer to the oven and bake for seven minutes, until just set.
Meanwhile, put a teaspoon of oil in a small frying pan on a medium heat, add the crumbled chorizo and cook, stirring occasionally, for five minutes, until nicely coloured. Turn off the heat, then stir in the chillies, garlic, caraway seeds, lime juice and the remaining half-teaspoon of turmeric.
Flip the frittata on to a plate, spoon the chorizo oil and its solids over the top, and serve with the lime wedges for squeezing on top.