5 simple dishes you need to master before you’re 30

There are a few reasons why home cooking can seem more difficult than it actually is. After all, you’ll have likely spent most of your early life relying on your parents for all of your meals, while as a grown-up, the idea of standing in front of the stove after a full day’s work is understandably unappealing. But while ready meals and takeouts may have got you through college, if you’re deep into your twenties and haven’t advanced beyond these staples, it’s time to shake things up.

Home cooking is cheaper, healthier, and far more impressive than pulling another TV dinner from the freezer. And while it’s tempting to focus on the eye-catching, intricate recipes you see in fancy cookbooks, you don’t have to go all Bobby Flay or Gordon Ramsay to whip up a delicious meal. In fact, cooking tasty, wholesome food is simpler and quicker than you might think. Here are five easy dishes you’ll be able to master in no time.

Creamy tagliatelle with mushrooms

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 10 minutes

Serves: 4

Pasta is not only delicious, filling and nutritious, but extremely easy to make. One pasta recipe that’s great to have in your toolkit is creamy tagliatelle with mushrooms. Offsetting cremini mushrooms and fresh parsley with white wine, garlic, and butter, this is a mouthwatering dish that’s sure to go down a treat. And once you’ve got to grips with it, why not really impress others by making your own pasta using fresh ingredients, rather than picking up dried noodles from the grocery store?

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 250g cremini mushrooms sliced (white and portobello mushrooms also work)
  • ½ cup white wine
  • ½ cup whipping cream
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • 250g dried Tagliatelle
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Parmesan cheese for serving

Method

  1. Boil the pasta until al dente — it will finish cooking in the sauce.
  2. Meanwhile, melt the butter with olive oil in a large frying pan on medium heat.
  3. Add the onion and sauté until translucent, then add garlic and cook for one minute.
  4. Throw in the mushrooms and cook until soft, before seasoning with salt and pepper.
  5. Pour in the wine and cream, simmering for five minutes.
  6. Add the parsley and season everything to your liking.
  7. Toss the pasta into the mix, sprinkle with the Parmesan and serve.

2. Shepherd’s pie

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 1 hour

Serves: 4

This warming British dish is a twist on cottage pie and is the ultimate comfort food, making it perfect for a lazy Sunday. Don’t be put off by the cooking time though, as most of it is pretty hands-off. To make it healthier, you can also swap potatoes for sweet potatoes, and the lamb mince for turkey, as well as adding extras like leeks and mushrooms to the mincemeat mixture.

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2-3 medium carrots, chopped
  • 500g pack of lamb mince
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • Large splash Worcestershire sauce
  • 500ml beef stock
  • 900g potato, cut into chunks
  • 85g butter
  • 3 tbsp milk

Method

  1. Heat the sunflower oil in a medium saucepan, before adding the onion and carrots, cooking them until soft.
  2. Next, crumble in the mince and brown it off, pouring away any excess fat.
  3. Add the tomato purée and the Worcestershire sauce, and continue frying for a few minutes.
  4. Pour in the beef stock then bring to a simmer before turning down the heat, covering and cooking for 40 minutes, removing the lid after 20 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 350°F and make the mashed potato: boil the potato chunks for 10-15 minutes, or until tender. Then drain, pour butter and milk into the pan, and mash on a low heat.
  6. Place the mince mix into an ovenproof dish, and top with the mash.
  7. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the top darkens, and the mince is bubbling through at the edges.
  8. Take the pie out of the oven, and let it stand for five minutes before serving.

3. Fish tacos

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 15 minutes

Serves: 4

For a taste of Mexico, try these flavorsome fish tacos. Using cod — or any other flaky variety of white fish — and marinating it in a mixture of lime juice, chilli powder and cumin, they’re a true taste of summer. Fish tacos are also pretty simple to make, despite the number of ingredients, and you’ll be sure to keep coming back to this recipe time and time again.

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 2 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 700g cod (or any other flaky fish)
  • 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 corn tortillas
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • Lime wedges, for serving
  • Sour cream, for serving

For the corn slaw:

  • 50g mayonnaise
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 2 tbsp freshly chopped coriander
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 200g shredded purple cabbage
  • 150g sweetcorn
  • 1 jalapeño, diced

Method

  1. Whisk together the olive oil, lime juice, paprika, chilli powder, cumin, and cayenne in a medium-sized bowl.
  2. Add the cod, tossing in the mixture until evenly coated, then leave to marinate for 15 minutes.
  3. While the fish marinades, make the slaw by whisking together the mayo, lime juice, cilantro, and honey in a large bowl. Then stir in the cabbage, corn and jalapeño, and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Grab a large nonstick frying pan and heat the vegetable oil over medium heat. Remove the cod from the marinade and season with salt and pepper, before adding it to the pan, skin side up. Cook for three to five minutes each side until cooked through.
  5. Let the cod rest for five minutes, then flake with a fork.
  6. Serve the fish over heated tortillas with the corn slaw and avocado, and garnish with a squeeze of lime juice and sour cream.

4. Chicken curry

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: 25 minutes

Serves: 4

Everyone should know how to cook a curry, and fortunately it’s way easier to make than you might think. Save your pennies with this authentic ‘fakeaway’ recipe using Madras curry paste, although you can switch this to spicier or milder pastes depending on your preference. You may also want to add vegetables like cauliflower, spinach and peas to help you get your five a day.

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 450g chicken breast, cut into cubes
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, deseeded and sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1cm piece ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp Madras curry paste
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 300g basmati rice
  • Handful coriander, chopped, to serve

Method

  1. Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a large casserole dish on high heat. Then cook the cubes of chicken for around five to seven minutes until golden and just cooked through. Remove the chicken from the pan, and set aside.
  2. Pour the rest of the oil into the dish, before adding the onion and cooking for three minutes until soft, and then doing the same for the red pepper for two minutes. Stir in the garlic and ginger and cook for 30 seconds, then add the curry paste until everything is coated.
  3. Tip in the tomatoes, as well as 200ml of water. Bring to a boil, before reducing the heat, covering the dish and letting it simmer until the sauce has thickened.
  4. Add the chicken back to the casserole dish and cook uncovered for five minutes, until it’s cooked through and piping hot.
  5. Serve with rice, and a sprinkled garnish of coriander.

5. Chilli con carne

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 1 hour

Serves: 4

One of the best dishes to serve friends and family at a get-together, chilli con carne is a crowd favorite that anyone can rustle up. Perfect for those who love a little kick to their food, it is also fibre-rich and totally delicious.

Ingredients

  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 heaped tsp hot chilli powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 500g lean minced beef
  • 1 beef stock cube
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • ½ tsp dried marjoram
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 410g can red kidney beans
  • Plain boiled long grain rice, to serve
  • Soured cream, to serve

Method

  1. Pour 1 tbsp oil into a pan and leave for a couple of minutes until hot, then add the onion and cook for around five minutes, stirring regularly, until soft.
  2. Add the garlic, red pepper, hot chilli powder, paprika and cumin, and cook for five minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Turn up the heat and add the minced beef, breaking it up with a spoon or spatula.
  4. Keep mixing and continue to break up the mince until it has completely separated, and is no longer pink.
  5. Crumble one beef stock cube into 300ml hot water, before pouring it onto the mince mixture. Then add the chopped tomatoes, marjoram, sugar, salt and pepper, and tomato purée, stirring well.
  6. Simmer gently, bringing it to the boil before turning the heat down, covering and letting it bubble for 20 minutes. Keep regularly checking that the sauce isn’t caught on the bottom of the pan, or drying out, and add a few tablespoons of water if this is the case. You’ll know the sauce is done when it’s thick and juicy.
  7. Drain and rinse the red kidney beans before stirring them into the mixture. Bring to a boil again, and then let it bubble without the lid for around ten minutes.
  8. Turn off the heat and let the chilli stand for about ten minutes prior to serving, as this enables the flavors to mingle better.
  9. Serve with soured cream and plain boiled long grain rice.

 

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