Chris Baber's pesto baked eggs

Easy: 3 weeknight recipes that take under 30 minutes to make

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When life gets in the way, add these three speedy recipes to your weeknight repertoire.

Whether you love to cook, or are more acquainted with your Deliveroo app than your pots and pans, we can all agree that after a busy day at work, the last thing we want to do is spend hours in the kitchen. And if you’re now juggling hybrid working, the addition of a commute alongside calculating what you have left in your fridge will be an all too frequent challenge.

Which is why having a string of easy-to-make dishes that can be whipped up on a whim using everyday ingredients is a must – especially when said dishes can be on the table in less than half an hour. 

Easy by Chris Baber
Easy by Chris Baber

Giving us just that is chef and M&S food ambassador Chris Baber. His 160,000 Instagram followers will be well aware of his talent for creating satisfyingly simple meals in minutes, and with his new book Easy, he’s sharing over 90 fuss-free recipes.

Speedy brunches, weekend-worthy suppers and favourite desserts are all on offer, but we’re honing in on fast and flavour-packed dinners and sharing three recipes that promise to deliver a hearty home-cooked meal in under 30 minutes.

No fresh veg in the fridge? No problem. Most of us will have a bag of peas sitting in the freezer, and in Chris’s cheesy chilli and pea frittata he makes the humble frozen vegetable the star of the show. Leeks, cheddar cheese and chilli are all added for a greater flavour hit, but we’re sure that any other seasonal greens or whatever cheese you happen to have in would work too.

And what could be better than a dish that only calls for five ingredients? Chris’s pesto-baked eggs work for any time of the day, whether you’re looking for a quick brunch or a speedy supper. Plus, the one-pan single-serving meal comes together in just 20 minutes.

While we’re all for vegetarian weeknight dinners, if you’re in a more carnivorous mood, Chris’s five-spice duck and rice bowls are the answer. The duck is coated in Chinese five-spice, before being glazed with a sticky soy and honey mix and pan-cooked to pink perfection. Simply served with rice, cucumber, sesame oil and spring onions, it promises to balance hot and cold with fresh and punchy flavours – not to mention taking only 25 minutes to make.   

  • Cheesy chilli leek and pea frittata

    Chris Baber's cheesy chilli leek and pea frittata
    Chris Baber's cheesy chilli leek and pea frittata

    Chris says: “A really simple, fresh recipe you can have on the table in just 20 minutes. Try swapping the peas for asparagus when it’s in season – just chop it into bite-sized pieces. This dish is lovely with a handful of rocket or watercress on the side.”

    Serves 2 

    Ingredients

    • 1 tbsp butter
    • 1 leek, finely sliced
    • 1 red chilli, deseeded and chopped
    • 150g frozen peas, defrosted
    • 5 eggs, lightly beaten
    • 75g Cheddar cheese, grated, or 75g goat’s cheese, crumbled
    • Salt and pepper

    Method

    Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan.

    Melt the butter in a small ovenproof frying pan over a medium heat.

    Fry the leek and chilli with salt and pepper for five minutes until softened, then add the peas.

    Stir in the eggs and half the cheese. Cook on the hob for 1 minute, then scatter the remaining cheese on top and finish cooking in the oven for about 10 minutes until the eggs are set and the cheese is golden on top. 

  • Pesto baked eggs

    Chris Baber's pesto baked eggs
    Chris Baber's pesto baked eggs

    Chris says: “This tasty little number goes to show you can make a belter of a brunch with a few simple store cupboard ingredients in no time. If you have any fresh herbs lying around like basil or parsley, throw them on at the end. If you can’t get any canned cherry tomatoes, a can of chopped tomatoes works just as well.”

    Serves 1

    Ingredients

    • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to serve
    • 1 garlic clove, sliced
    • 400g can cherry tomatoes
    • 3 tbsp basil pesto
    • 2 eggs
    • Salt and pepper
    • Bread, to serve

    Method

    Heat the oil in a small frying pan over a medium-high heat.

    Fry the garlic for 30 seconds, then stir in the tomatoes and two tbsp of the pesto and season with salt and pepper.

    Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to medium, cover loosely and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes until you have a fairly thick sauce.

    Use a spoon to make two wells in the tomatoes. Crack an egg into each well, cover and cook for about five minutes or until the whites are set and the yolks are still soft.

    Take off the heat, spoon over the remaining pesto and drizzle with a little more oil. Serve with bread to dip in the egg yolk and sauce. 

  • Five-spice hoisin duck and rice bowls

    Chris Baber's five-spice hoisin duck and rice bowls
    Chris Baber's five-spice hoisin duck and rice bowls

    Chris says: “This is a mash-up of duck with hoisin sauce and roast Peking duck and rice. Roasting a whole duck is a real art form and takes over a day to prep, so I’ve used duck breasts to keep this quick and simple. They stay super juicy and I think are best served pink.”

    Serves 2

    Ingredients

    • 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
    • 2 tbsp honey
    • 2 duck breasts
    • 2 tsp Chinese five-spice
    • 250g jasmine rice
    • 1⁄2 cucumber, diced
    • 4 spring onions, finely chopped
    • 2 tsp toasted sesame oil
    • 2 tbsp hoisin sauce
    • Salt

    Method

    Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan.

    In a small bowl, mix together the soy sauce and honey to make a glaze. Set aside.

    Use a sharp knife to score the skin of the duck in a chequerboard pattern. Be careful not to score into the flesh.

    Pat the duck dry with kitchen paper. Season with salt and evenly coat in the Chinese five-spice.

    Cook the rice according to the packet instructions.

    Put the duck into a cold pan, skin-side down. Turn the heat to medium and cook for three to five minutes until the skin is golden and crispy. Turn the duck over. Pour over the glaze to evenly coat the duck.

    If your pan is ovenproof, transfer it straight into the oven. If it’s not, put the duck on a preheated baking tray. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes for blushing pink meat or slightly longer for well done.

    Remove from the oven. Leave to rest for five minutes, then cut into thin slices.

    Serve on top of the rice with the cucumber and spring onions. Drizzle with the sesame oil and hoisin sauce. Give it all a good mix together before getting stuck in. 

    Easy by Chris Baber (£16.99, Ebury) is out now

Photography: Haraala Hamilton

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