Cooking. Is there anything you want to do less after a long, hard day at work? Unless you’re a remote worker whose commute only takes them from bed to the kitchen table, it can feel like a big challenge to commit to making a balanced meal that you would actually like to eat. All too often, healthy comes at the expense of tasty, and if you want your mealtimes to be both, you feel like you need to spend the whole night slaving away at the stove.
But what if we told you that it didn’t have to be like this? Well, we’ve done the difficult work for you, devising healthy, delicious recipes that can be quickly rustled up at a moment’s notice. Here are three of our favourite midweek meals that don’t compromise on health or flavour.
If you’re unfamiliar with orzo, let us provide a well-overdue initiation. The hugely versatile rice-shaped pasta is packed with protein and makes the perfect companion for a creamy sauce. In fact, the experts from Pasta Evangelists advise that orzo is “the perfect solution for mid-week recipes due to its high protein content”, as its semolina flour base produces the necessary firmness to “maintain its shape whilst remaining soft and light in texture.”
We’ll also be using some tasty asparagus. The springtime shoot is packed with fibre, folate and anti-inflammatory vitamins like C and E to help with your health and well-being. For this recipe, we’ll simply chop the stalks once and toss them in a pan with some succulent meatballs — what could be easier?
- 400g orzo pasta
- 300ml low-fat creme fraiche
- 1 asparagus bundle (approx 250g)
- Pack of 12 pork meatballs (approx 350g)
- A pinch of dried thyme
- Salt and pepper
- Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a tray with foil and cook meatballs from chilled for 20-25 minutes, until cooked through and browned.
- Bring a pan of salted water to a boil and simmer the orzo for 4 minutes, then slice each asparagus stalk lengthways and add to the pan for a further 5 minutes.
- Drain the orzo, then add the cooked meatballs and creme fraiche to the pan. Season with thyme, salt and pepper to taste, and stir well.
Prawn jambalaya is a flavoursome, colourful and surprisingly trim recipe that can fill hungry bellies without any calorific ingredients. The recipe incorporates delicate prawns with a helping of rice and veggies — creating a super satisfying banquet in a bowl.
The Louisianan dish is pure comfort food, there’s no doubt about it — but a lot of its mass comes from the “holy trinity” of veggies used in the recipe: onion, celery, and bell pepper. The Spruce Eats explains that there are two popular takes on jambalaya, “Creole jambalaya, which is also sometimes known as red jambalaya, includes tomatoes”, while “Cajun jambalaya does not include tomatoes and generally has a brown colour”. For our take on the dish, we’re keeping the tomatoes in — after all, they offer endless nutritional benefits — from supporting brain to heart health.
- 150g basmati rice
- 150g small prawns, thawed
- 250ml chicken stock
- 4 tomatoes, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1 green pepper, diced
- 1 stick celery, diced
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 tbsp chopped parsley
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 pinch chilli flakes
- Salt and pepper
- Spray a large pan with low-fat cooking spray and place on medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, green pepper and celery. Fry for a few minutes until the vegetables soften.
- Add stock, rice, tomatoes and spices, then season the mix with thyme, paprika, salt and pepper to taste. Add the chilli flakes and bay leaf.
- Cover the pan and leave on a low simmer for 20-30 minutes, until nearly all of the liquid has been absorbed, then stir in the prawns. Allow to cook for a further 4-5 minutes until prawns are cooked through, and top with parsley.
Salmon has earned its place among the upper echelons of the superfood tier list. Boasting high quantities of omega-3 fatty acids, which support healthy blood pressure and cholesterol, our favourite fish makes an undeniably tasty asset to any dish. Research has also shown that these important molecules can keep brain health in check as you age — and best of all, you can get these benefits and more just by eating a small portion of salmon.
In this recipe, we’ll complement our salmon with the bright notes of fennel, lemon and olive. Packed with strong flavours and prepared in under an hour, the dish is a crowd-pleaser for the whole family — not just the person responsible for the limited washing-up it creates.
- 2 small white potatoes, thinly sliced
- 2 skinless salmon fillets
- 2 lemons, sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, sliced
- 1 fennel bulb, sliced
- 2 tbsp olive tapenade
- 2 sprigs of dill, to serve
- Salt and pepper
- Heat the oven to 180°C. Toss the potato and fennel slices in olive oil and arrange them in one layer on a baking tray. Season with salt and pepper to taste and roast for 10-15 minutes.
- Turn the veg over once slightly golden, and top with the salmon fillets. Add salt, pepper, garlic and lemon slices then roast for a further 15 minutes.
- Once cooked, drizzle the tray bake with tapenade and top with dill.