Clodagh McKenna's Moroccan prawn rice bowl

3 Clodagh McKenna dinner recipes that you can make in less than 20 minutes

Posted by for Food and Drink

For whatever kind of day you’re having, Clodagh McKenna’s easy recipes will have you out of the kitchen in under 20 minutes.

Time. It’s often all we can think about. Whether we’ve got a lot or never enough, it dictates much of our lives. And after the best part of two years spent at home with more of it on our hands, now that the world has reopened, you may be finding that there simply aren’t enough hours in the day. In between work and our personal lives, we’re once more also contending with time-sucking occurrences such as commuting and after-work drinks, leaving few precious minutes in the day for everything else – especially making delicious meals.

Enter Irish chef Clodagh McKenna. No, she’s sadly not selling us Bernard’s Watch, but what the cookbook author, columnist and presenter is doing is helping us to claw back some much-needed minutes of the day with her genius new cookbook, In Minutes

In Minutes by Clodagh McKenna
In Minutes by Clodagh McKenna

Based around the premise of recipes that are all achievable in 10, 20 or 30 minutes, McKenna has obviously been listening to our innermost thoughts, delivering 80 accessible recipes that are ideal for any night of the week. “Some nights you may have 10 minutes and other nights half an hour, so there’s a recipe in here for whatever kind of day you might be having”, she notes in the introduction – meaning that whether your meeting ran late, your train was delayed (how can there be leaves on the track, again?), or you just don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen, In Minutes will have you covered. 

The recipes range from abundant salads to warming curries, hearty pasta dishes, re-invented takeout favourites and more. And because we know you’re all time poor – but still very much in need of satisfying weeknight meals – we’ve selected three of McKenna’s recipes that can be made in 20 minutes or less.

If you’re a lover of the warming flavours of Indian cuisine but are far from being a spice fiend, McKenna’s Indian spinach and paneer curry is perfect. The vegetarian dish features cubes of lightly fried paneer in a comforting spinach sauce. Just the thing for cooler autumn nights – with the bonus that it can be on your table in 20 minutes. 

If you’re looking for a speedy meal, look no further than McKenna’s turbo tempeh tacos – it is in the name after all. Another vegetarian recipe, the tacos are piled high with fried tempeh, crisp cabbage, smashed avocado and coriander for a weeknight meal that’s sure to be a hit.

Ready in just 10 minutes, McKenna’s Moroccan prawn rice bowl relies on flavour-packed harissa and ready-cooked rice to deliver a mouth-watering meal in a flash, with the colourful presentation belying how just simple it is. Keep the ingredients on standby for the ultimate meal in the minutes. 

  • Indian spinach and paneer curry

    Clodagh McKenna's Indian spinach & paneer curry
    Clodagh McKenna's Indian spinach & paneer curry

    Clodagh says: “Spinach and paneer curry is one of the most loved dishes in India, so yes, it’s VERY good! It’s made from chunks of a fresh cottage cheese, called paneer, swimming in a lush sauce with fresh spinach. The spinach gives the sauce a naturally thick and creamy consistency. This is one of the milder Indian curries out there, both in heat and spice intensity. The gentle spicing from garam masala, cumin and turmeric plays well with the delicate spinach, without overwhelming it. Meanwhile, the pieces of paneer are like little creamy sponges that absorb all those tasty flavours in the sauce. Plus, it takes just 20 minutes to make – yay!”

    Serves 4


    • 3 tbsp ghee or vegetable oil
    • 1 large onion, finely chopped
    • 2cm piece of fresh ginger,
    • peeled and grated
    • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
    • 1 green chilli, finely chopped
    • 400g paneer, cut into 2cm cubes
    • 1 tsp garam masala
    • 1 tsp ground turmeric
    • 1 tsp cumin seeds
    • 400g spinach, roughly chopped
    • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


    Heat 2 tablespoons of ghee or vegetable oil in a large, heavy bottomed pan over a medium heat. Add the onion and fry for five minutes. Add the ginger, garlic and chilli and continue to fry for a further five to seven minutes until everything is nicely caramelised. If it starts to look dry, add a little more ghee or oil.

    While the onion is cooking, heat the remaining ghee or oil in a non-stick frying pan. Add the paneer and fry for seven to eight minutes, turning the cubes regularly until all the sides are golden. Remove to a plate.

    When the onion is ready, add the spices and fry for 30 seconds, mixing well. Add the spinach to the onion along with 50ml water. Cook for two minutes until wilted.

    Stir in the paneer and cook for a further two minutes until the paneer is heated through. Season to taste and serve with rice or warm naan.

  • Turbo tempeh tacos

    Clodagh McKenna's turbo tempeh tacos
    Clodagh McKenna's turbo tempeh tacos

    Clodagh says: “Family taco night in just 20 minutes! These are so fun, easy to whizz up and they look fantastic. I am using a vegan alternative in these tacos called tempeh, which is a plant-based protein that originated in Indonesia. It’s made from fermented soybeans that have been formed into a block. Unlike tofu, it has a meaty, firm texture and yummy nutty flavour. Check out the recipe swap below for lots of alternatives to use instead of tempeh.”

    Serves 4


    • 2 x 200g packs of tempeh
    • 1 tbsp olive oil
    • 1 small brown onion, finely chopped
    • 1 garlic clove, crushed
    • 1 tsp smoked paprika
    • 1 tsp ground cumin
    • ½ tsp chilli flakes
    • 1½ tbsp light soy sauce
    • ½ tbsp maple syrup
    • 4 soft corn tortillas, warmed
    • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

    To serve

    • ½ small red cabbage, thinly sliced
    • 200g cherry tomatoes, quartered
    • 2 ripe avocados, mashed with a squeeze of lime juice
    • a small bunch of coriander, leaves picked
    • a pinch of chilli flakes
    • 1 lime, sliced into wedges


    Place the tempeh in a bowl and crumble into small chunks with your hands.

    Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add the onion and fry for three minutes until softened. Add the tempeh and fry for a further five minutes until slightly golden.

    Add the garlic and fry for 30 seconds until fragrant before adding the spices, soy sauce and maple syrup. Stir everything together and fry for a further two minutes. Season to taste.

    Spoon the tempeh mixture into the warm tortillas with the red cabbage, tomatoes and mashed avocado. Top with a scattering of coriander leaves, chilli flakes and a squeeze of lime juice.

  • Moroccan prawn rice bowl

    Clodagh McKenna's Moroccan prawn rice bowl
    Clodagh McKenna's Moroccan prawn rice bowl

    Clodagh says: “It’s amazing that in just 10 minutes you can make this bowl that is jumping with flavours. I use ready-cooked rice in this recipe which makes it super-fast to throw together. The harissa paste is a must for your store cupboard, you can pick it up in any supermarket – it adds chilli, garlic and smoky flavours in one spoonful!

    Serves 2


    • 1 tbsp olive oil
    • 180g large, raw prawns
    • 4 spring onions, sliced thinly
    • 1 garlic clove, crushed
    • 2 tsp harissa paste
    • ½ tsp ground turmeric
    • 200g canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
    • 250g packet of ready cooked brown basmati rice
    • 1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
    • juice 1 lemon


    Place a frying pan over a medium heat and add the olive oil. Add the raw prawns, spring onions and garlic, season with salt and pepper and cook for two minutes – tossing every 30 seconds.

    Once the prawns turn pink, stir in the harissa and turmeric and cook for one minute. Next, add the chickpeas and rice and cook for about three minutes until heated through. Stir in the flatleaf parsley and a squeeze of lemon juice, to taste.

    In Minutes by Clodagh McKenna (Kyle Books, £20) is out now

Photography: Dora Kazmierak 

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