Hosting friends but short on time? John Whaite’s new book, A Flash In The Pan, is full of easy dinner party recipes that can be on the table in under 30 minutes
Beetroot and Freekeh Salad with Tangerine and Tahini Dressing
Salads need a variety of flavours and textures to be just right. In this offering, there is the earthiness of beetroot, the sweetness of the tangerine, the bitter nuttiness of the tahini, all rounded together with salty feta and sweet-yet-sharp cranberries. Freekeh is simply young, green wheat that is toasted (sometimes fired) and is similar to bulgar wheat or barley. Don’t be put off by the unusual name; it is so simple to cook.
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
200g wholegrain freekeh
1 small golden beetroot
1 candy beetroot
75g dried cranberries
100g feta cheese
For the dressing:
2 tbsps tahini
Juice of 2 tangerines
2 tbsps olive oil
2 tsps red wine vinegar
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Step 1: Heat a saucepan over a high heat. Once hot, add the pecans and fry for just a minute or so, until they release their nutty aroma. Chop them roughly, and throw them into a large mixing or salad bowl.
Step 2: Put the freekeh into the saucepan along with 1 litre of water. Set the pan over a high heat and bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes.
Step 3: Meanwhile, peel and finely slice the beetroot – if you have a mandolin, use that, or a very sharp knife. Put the beetroot and the cranberries into the mixing bowl with the pecans, and crumble in the feta. Toss together.
Step 4: For the dressing, simply stir together the tahini, tangerine juice, olive oil and red wine vinegar in a small mixing bowl, along with a pinch of salt and pepper to taste.
Step 5: Once the freekeh is tender and cooked, drain away the water – I use a sieve – and allow to cool slightly before adding to the beetroot. Toss the salad together, tip it out onto a plate, then drizzle over the dressing just before serving.
Moroccan-Spiced Pan-Fried Chicken and Chickpeas
This is one of those dishes that deserves to be unveiled at the table; its simplicity coupled with its scent renders diners to rapture. The spice blend, ras-el-hanout, is pretty ubiquitous now, and so should be available in larger supermarkets (and, of course, online).
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes
6 chicken thighs, skin on, bone in
2 tbsps sunflower oil
2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
1 tbsp ras-el-hanout spice blend, plus extra for sprinkling
50ml dry sherry
400g can chickpeas, drained
175g dried apricots
400ml chicken stock
A squeeze of fresh orange juice
2 tsps pomegranate molasses
Small handful of dill, roughly chopped
400g hot chicken stock
Sea salt flakes
Step 1: Put the chicken thighs into mixing bowl, add 1 tablespoon salt and toss together to mix well. Set a large shallow casserole over a high heat and add the oil. When the oil is hot, reduce the heat to medium, add the chicken thighs, skin-side down, and fry for 5 minutes. The chicken skin should be deeply golden but not burned. Flip the chicken over and fry for 3 minutes on the other side.
Step 2: Add the garlic and ras-el-hanout to the pan, tucking the slices of garlic in between the chicken pieces. Throw in the sherry and allow it to bubble and hiss, until it has evaporated almost entirely. Add the chickpeas, apricots and chicken stock and allow to come to a boil. Reduce to a rapid simmer and cook for 20 minutes, ensuring the liquid reduces but doesn’t entirely evaporate – if the pan dries out, add a splash of water.
Step 3: Meanwhile, put the couscous into a mixing bowl and pour over the hot chicken stock. Cover with cling film or a plate while the chicken cooks.
Step 4: When the chicken is cooked through and the liquid is scant, remove from the heat. Squeeze over a drizzle of orange juice and pomegranate molasses, sprinkle over the dill, and finish with a scatter of sea salt flakes.
Step 5: Uncover the couscous and season to taste. Serve alongside the chicken.
Both recipes from A Flash In The Pan: Simple, Speedy Stovetop Recipes by John Whaite (£20, Kyle Books), out now
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Images: Nassima Rothacker
Jenny Tregoning is deputy production editor and food editor at Stylist, where she combines her love of grammar with lusting over images of food