Do you love cheese and easy to cook, delicious recipes? We thought so. Here, we’ve picked three sumptuous, one pot meals from renowned chef Darina Allen, perfect for a weeknight bake or a Sunday batch cooking session.
During the chill of early spring, our attention turns to feasting on delicious, filling recipes to warm our cockles (and our hearts).
And with the coronavirus pandemic meaning more of us than ever are spending our days and nights at home, we were intrigued to see a copy of chef Darina Allen’s new cookbook, stuffed full of enticing one pot meals.
After all, what could be more soothing in these uncertain times that turning our attention to cooking? Especially when said cooking involves popping a bunch of ingredients into a pot and watching them turn into something wonderful in the oven?
One Pot Feeds All is the ultimate one meal cookbook, and we’ve selected three recipes featuring cheese (an ingredient that is very close to our hearts) to share with you.
These gooey, filling recipes are all perfect for a weeknight bake or a Sunday batch cooking session. Enjoy!
Easy one pot meals: Spanakopita Greek spinach and cheese pie
Spanakopita can also be made in individual snails, but this delicious flaky version comes in a s auté pan. This version is good for a feast as it serves 12–15 people. You could halve the recipe if you’re serving smaller numbers.
- 150g butter
- 900g leeks, sliced and washed really well
- 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 500g onions, finely chopped
- 8 spring onions (both white and green parts), finely sliced
- 900g fresh spinach, weighed after the stalks have been removed, washed really well
- flaky sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and nutmeg
- 6 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 6 tablespoons chopped dill
- 350g feta cheese, crumbled
- 125g Parmesan, grated
- 4 organic, free-range eggs, beaten
- 15g melted butter, for brushing
- 9 sheets of filo pastry, 30 x 43cm (about one packet)
- egg wash, made by beating 1 egg with 2–3 tablespoons milk
- Roasting dish 30x23x4cm
Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4.
Melt the butter in the and cook the sliced leeks with 2–3 tablespoons water for 4-5 minutes until tender (older leeks may take slightly longer). Scoop the leeks out of the pan and set aside on a plate while you cook the spinach.
Heat the olive oil in the sauté pan, add the finely chopped onion and spring onions, and sweat over a low heat for 3–4 minutes, covered, until soft but not coloured. Increase the heat to medium, add the spinach and toss well to coat it in the oil. Season with salt, freshly ground pepper and nutmeg.
Add the chopped parsley and dill, and continue to cook for 4–5 minutes, stirring, until the spinach has wilted. Turn out the spinach mixture into a colander and set aside to drain and cool.
Combine the crumbled feta and 100g of the grated Parmesan in a medium bowl and beat in the egg. Add the well-drained spinach and the leeks and season to taste.
Brushing each sheet of filo with melted butter as you go, layer up the pastry in the base of the sauté pan so that it comes up the sides of the tin, leaving enough pastry hanging over the sides to fold over and encase the filling.
Spread the filling evenly over the pastry and bring up the sides of the filo to encase the filling. Sprinkle the surface with the remaining 25g grated Parmesan. Score the top of the pie into a diamond or square pattern and brush all over with the egg wash.
Bake in the oven for about 45 minutes until puffed up and golden. Serve, cut into wedges, while still warm and fluffy.
Easy one pot meals: Heirloom tomato & ricotta tart
This gorgeous tart was inspired by a photo on the cover of Delicious magazine. The ricotta and pecorino filling is uncooked, so be sure to assemble the tart close to the time of eating. Best made in late summer or early autumn when the tomatoes are exquisitely sweet. We use the delicious buffalo ricotta made in West Cork for this one.
For the pastry:
- 150g plain white flour
- 75g cold butter
- a little egg or water, to bind
For the filling:
- 250g buffalo ricotta
- 100g Pecorino, grated
- 2 tablespoons double cream
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 2 tablespoons chopped basil, thyme and marjoram, plus extra to garnish
- zest of 1/2 organic lemon
- flaky sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper
- 650g mixed heritage and cherry tomatoes, including striped zebra (green), red and yellow cherry tomatoes, if available
- 1 x 23cm tart tin
First make the pastry. All the ingredients should be cold. Cut the butter into cubes. Sift the flour into a large bowl. Toss the cubes of butter into the flour and then proceed to lift up a few cubes of butter at the time in each hand. Using your thumbs, rub the cubes of butter across the middle three fingers, toward the index fingers.
Allow the flakes of floured butter to drop back into the bowl, then pick up some more and continue until all the butter is rubbed in. As you rub in the butter, hold your hands well above the bowl and run your fingers through the flour to incorporate as much air as possible to keep the mixture cool.
This whole process should only take a minute or two – careful not to rub the butter in too much, or the pastry will be heavy. The pieces should resemble lumpy breadcrumbs. If you are in doubt, shake the bowl and any larger pieces will come to the top. Add salt if using unsalted butter.
Using a fork, toss and stir the pastry as you add just enough water to bind - 2-3 tablespoons should do the trick. If you are in doubt, discard the fork and collect up the pastry with your hand as you will be able to judge more easily by feel if it needs a little more water. Careful not to make the pastry too wet or it will shrink in the oven. If the pastry is too dry, it will be difficult to roll out.
When the pastry has come together, turn it out onto the work surface and flatten it into a round approx 30cm. Cover with greaseproof paper or clingfilm and, if possible, set aside in the fridge to ‘rest’ for a minimum of 15 minutes to allow the gluten to relax. The pastry will then be less likely to shrink in the oven.
Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4.
Roll out the pastry to a circle. Lift the pastry over a 23cm tart tin and press down gently around the sides.
Trim around the edges with a sharp knife and prick the base gently with a fork. Line with baking parchment and fill with baking beans.
Transfer the pastry case to the oven and bake ‘blind’ for about 25 minutes until pale and golden. Remove the baking beans and paper. Brush the part-baked pastry case all over with a little beaten egg and pop it back into the oven for 5–10 minutes until pale golden brown all over. Set aside to cool.
To make the filling, combine the ricotta and pecorino in a bowl. Add the double cream, extra virgin olive oil, honey, freshly chopped herbs, grated lemon zest, flaky sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Mix gently together. Taste a little dollop of the filling with a slice of tomato and correct the seasoning, if necessary. It might need a little more honey.
Slice the larger tomatoes and cut the smaller cherry ones in half lengthways or crossways, as you prefer. Not long before serving, spoon the ricotta filling into the cooked pastry case and arrange the tomatoes on top. I like to arrange the sliced, bigger ones, including the green zebra over the base and top with the smaller cherry tomatoes. Season with flaky sea salt, freshly cracked black pepper, a little drizzle of honey (about 1/2 teaspoon) and lots of thyme and marjoram leaves.
Garnish with a few little basil leaves and serve soon.
Easy one pot meals: Matar paneer curry
Everyone loves this North Indian vegetarian dish. If you’re not too rushed, sauté the cubed paneer in a little oil beforehand until they are lightly coloured, then pop them into a bowl of hot water until you are ready to add them to the sauce. Soaking the fried paneer in water really plumps it up, but make sure you drain it really well before adding it to the sauce. Feta makes a good substitute if you can’t get hold of paneer.
- 5g finely grated fresh ginger
- 5g crushed garlic
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 100g onions, finely chopped
- 4 ripe tomatoes, finely chopped into 3mm dice
- 1 teaspoon chilli powder
- 1 tablespoon ground coriander
- ½ level teaspoon ground turmeric
- ½ level teaspoon ground fenugreek
- ¾ teaspoon garam masala
- 150g thick natural yogurt or labneh
- 250g paneer or feta cheese, cut into 2.5cm cubes
- 200g fresh or frozen peas
- freshly squeezed organic lime juice, to taste
- salt, to taste
- chopped coriander leaves, to serve
For the cucumber and yoghurt raita:
- ¼ medium cucumber
- ½ tablespoon finely chopped onion
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
- 150ml natural yogurt
- 1 ripe tomato, finely diced (seeds discarded)
- 1 tablespoon chopped coriander leaves
- flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Make the cucumber and yogurt raita. Peel the cucumber if you wish, cut it in half lengthways and remove the seeds, then cut into 5mm dice. Put the diced cucumber into a bowl with the onion, sprinkle with salt and set aside for 5–10 minutes.
Meanwhile, roast the cumin seeds in a pan to release their aroma, then crush lightly in a pestle and mortar. Drain the cucumber, discarding the juices. Stir in the yogurt and add the tomato, coriander and cumin. Season to taste. Cover and chill until needed.
To make the curry, make a paste by combining the grated ginger with the crushed garlic in a little bowl. Heat the oil in the saucepan and add the cumin seeds. Stir for a few seconds to release their aroma into the oil, then add the finely chopped onions and 1 teaspoon of the ginger and garlic paste. Stir over a medium heat for 1–2 minutes until the onion begins to soften. Add the tomatoes, salt and spices, and stir well to combine. Cover the pan with a lid and cook over a gentle heat for 7–8 minutes until the tomatoes are soft and pulpy.
Whisk the natural yogurt or labneh in a medium bowl and add 6 tablespoons of the hot onion and tomato mixture, one tablespoon at a time, whisking well between each addition.
Transfer the yogurt mixture back to the pan; return the pan to the heat and add the paneer (or feta) and peas. Simmer for 5 minutes, then remove the pan from the heat. Squeeze over some lime juice and taste, adding a little more if necessary. Scatter with coriander and serve with the raita and someflatbreads, or rice for a carbier option.
One Pot Feeds All by Darina Allen is published by Kyle Books, £20
This piece was originally published on 20 September 2019
Images courtesy of Kyle Books