We know that everyone cooks the same small repertoire of recipes, so I want to help you expand on that and arm you with some new favourites.
For the first time, I’ve looked at the data that shows what we’re putting into our shopping baskets, week in, week out, and have built meals around the 18 hero ingredients that kept appearing.
These recipes will give you new ideas for the ingredients you already know and love.
Let’s face it, life is busy, and these days we seem to have more and more demands on our time and headspace.
So this is about giving you inspiration on the food front for every day of the week.
We’re keeping things simple, pushing maximum flavour with minimum effort. We want fun, and we want solid, super-tasty recipes that consistently deliver.
The majority of ingredients will be easy to find in any food shop in any town in the country. As is often the case in cooking, the success of the recipes comes down to the quality of the ingredients you use.
There’s not loads of stuff to buy for each recipe, so I’m hoping that will give you the excuse to trade up where you can, buying the best meat, fish or veggies you can find.
For your store cupboard, there are just five ingredients that I consider to be everyday staples: olive oil for cooking, extra-virgin olive oil for dressing and finishing dishes, red wine vinegar as a good all-rounder when it comes to acidity and balancing marinades, sauces or dressing and, of course, sea salt and black pepper for seasoning.
Cooking is simply impossible without these items at your fingertips and I believe every household should have them in stock.
We’ve included oil and vinegar in each individual recipe’s ingredients list where needed, although I’m presuming you’ll stock up on them before you start cooking.
One-pan wonders like the Stuffed red peppers involve minimum prep so you can let the oven do all the hard work. The clean-up after will be simple too.
Preheat the oven to 200c/gas 6. Cut the tops off the peppers, pull out the seeds, then sit the lids and bases on the bars of the oven to start softening.
Finely chop the ham and put in a large, non-stick ovenproof frying pan on a medium heat with one tablespoon of olive oil, stirring as you peel and finely chop the onion.
Once the ham is crispy, stir in the onion to cook and soften for five minutes. Add a tablespoon of red wine vinegar, then the beans, juice and all. Remove the peppers from the oven and nestle the bases in the stew.
Divide the grains and a little feta between them and sit the pepper lids ajar. Transfer to the oven for 20 minutes, or until the peppers are cooked through, then season the stew to perfection.
Dice the avocado flesh, then toss with the juice of one lime and season.
Spoon over the peppers, crumble over the remaining feta, and serve with lime wedges, for squeezing over.
Preheat the oven to 180c/gas 4. Trim the broccoli stalks, then halve each head and place in a roasting tray.
Peel and finely slice the garlic then add to the tray, tear in the drained peppers, then halve and add the cherry tomatoes.
Toss with one tablespoon each of red wine vinegar and olive oil, and a pinch of sea salt and black pepper, then pull the broccoli halves to the top and roast for 40 minutes.
Meanwhile, crush half the almonds in a pestle and mortar. Pour the butter beans, juice and all, into a small pan and simmer on a medium-high heat for ten to 15 minutes, or until the liquid has reduced. Remove the broccoli to a board, then put the tray’s contents in a blender.
Add the remaining almonds, tear in one slice of bread and blitz until smooth, then season to perfection with red wine vinegar, salt and pepper.
Toast the rest of the bread. Divide the romesco sauce and beans between warm plates. Sit the broccoli on top.
Scatter over the crushed almonds and serve with sardines and hot toast on the side.
Preheat the oven to 140c/gas 1.
Halve the cherry tomatoes, toss with one tablespoon of olive oil and a pinch of sea salt and black pepper, and place cut-side up in a roasting tray.
Roast for one hour, or until soft and sticky. Meanwhile, trim the tough end off the broccoli stalk.
Cut off the florets and cook in boiling water for five minutes, then drain.
Very finely slice the remaining broccoli stalk. Mix two tablespoons each of peach juice, extra virgin olive oil and red wine vinegar, then toss half with the broccoli stalk.
In a large non-stick frying pan on a medium-high heat cook the halloumi, drained peach halves and broccoli florets until golden, while you heat the grains according to packet instructions. Squash and destone the olives.
On a serving platter, toss the grains with the remaining dressing.
Arrange everything else on top, tearing the halloumi and any large mint leaves, then spoon over the yoghurt.
Mix the flour, egg and a pinch of sea salt until you have a smooth dough, adding a splash of water, if needed.
Knead on a flour-dusted surface for two minutes, cover and pop into the fridge. Trim the tough end off the broccoli stalk. Remove the florets, halving any larger ones, and chop the remaining stalk into 2cm chunks.
Put one third of the florets aside, then cook the rest with the chopped stalk in a pan of boiling water for 8 minutes.
Drain and mash well, then finely grate in the cheese, finely chop the chives and add half, stir in the soured cream, season to perfection and leave to cool. Peel and finely slice the garlic.
Divide the dough into eight, then roll out each piece into a 14cm circle, dusting with flour as you go. Divide up equal amounts of the filling on one side of each circle.
Lightly brush the exposed pastry with water, then fold it over the filling, twisting along the edge to seal, like in the picture.
Put a large non-stick frying pan on a medium heat with half a tablespoon of olive oil, the pierogi and the reserved broccoli florets. Pour in boiling kettle water until it is 1cm deep, cover and boil for four minutes.
Uncover and fry the pierogi and broccoli on one side for four minutes, or until the water has evaporated and the bases are golden.
Meanwhile, place one teaspoon of olive oil and the garlic in the pan you used to boil your broccoli, stir until lightly golden, then pour in the tomatoes, simmer for two minutes and season to perfection.
Serve it all together, sprinkled with the remaining chives.
Preheat the oven to 220c/gas 7. Click off and discard only the tatty outer leaves of the cauliflower, then cut it into quarters.
Blanch in a pan of boiling water for five minutes, then drain. Meanwhile, peel the onion and cut into sixths. Halve the chicken thighs.
In a 28cm non-stick ovenproof frying pan on a medium-high heat, fry the chicken and onion with one tablespoon of olive oil, a pinch of sea salt and lots of black pepper until lightly golden, stirring occasionally.
Add the cauliflower to the pan. Cook and turn for five minutes, then push it all to one side of the pan and add the pancetta to crisp up.
Now add the tomatoes, mustard, honey and one tablespoon of red wine vinegar, and mix well.
When it’s looking really golden, roll the pastry out a little to fit the pan and place it over the top, using a wooden spoon to push it right into the edges.
Bake for 25 minutes at the bottom of the oven, or until golden and puffed up. Using oven gloves, pop a large plate over the pan and confidently but very carefully turn out and serve.
See page 60 for details and conditions.