Ready steady comfort food: tasty, nutritious recipes to cook at home
Five top chefs share simple, easy to cook meal ideas from a variety of worldwide cuisines that you can make from kitchen staples. No pasta needed.
Supermarket shelves are bare (thanks for nothing, hoarders!), but that doesn't mean we can't cook-up quick, tasty and nutritious meals while in isolation at home.
We are having to go outside our comfort zones to feed ourselves or our families, as shops struggle to stock up on staples including pasta, chicken and eggs. That's why we drafted in five incredible chefs to give you some simple and varied alternatives.
Taking a little bit of inspiration from Ready Steady Cook, which relaunched for 2020 earlier this month with Rylan Clark-Neal presenting, we asked each chef to share a recipe that consists of no more than five main ingredients you might find at the back of your kitchen cupboard or in your fridge.
Not only is each dish tasty and simple to make, but each rates highly in the comfort food stakes. Take Grace Regan, founder of vegan curry house Spice Box in Walthamstow, London who has revealed her recipe for One Pot Dhal. She stresses in this time of crisis, nutritious homecooked food is "very important".
Grace, who has had to adapt to the impacts of the Coronavirus overnight by switching her business to online delivery only says, "Eating a variety of different plant-based food is so important for gut health which helps your immune system.
"This is really quick and easy to make. It can be made using very simple ingredients you'll probably have at home and it is SUPER nutritious!"
If you love what you taste (you definitely will) find more delish recipes from Grace on her Spice Box YouTube channel. Don't forget to let us know in the comments below if you've tried out any of these recipes. And as always we'd love to see pics of the final dish. Enjoy!
Grace Regan, founder of Spice Box
Next up is Roberto González, head chef of La Fontana Steakhouse in Miami, USA. He shares the recipe for restaurant favourite: Beef Marinara Rustic Bread Bowl.
Get ready for some serious comfort food feels direct from an Italian chef who chose this dish because it means a lot to him personally. "Cheese is one of the key elements in traditional Italian food, and it’s also an ingredient that transcends cultures, it brings true comfort," he says.
"During times like these, people seek comfort in the familiar. Everything is changing so quickly and we don’t really know what the effects of this will be in the long run, but we can control the now. Creating and eating delicious dishes, especially ones with familiar flavours, allows us to be truly present."
Beef Marinara Rustic Bread Bowl at La Fontana Steakhouse
According to Roberto, his Beef Marinara Rustic Bread Bowl, which is making our mouths water just from the picture, is a dish that's easy to love. "In an otherwise chaotic world, this dish offers a true feeling of reassurance," he says.
"It allows us to appreciate what we have, and forget the rest, even for a moment, and those moments are incredibly valuable. Families isolating in the same home are taking the time to spend quality time with each other, and this dish can now become a part of that experience."
Roberto González of La Fontana Steakhouse
British chef Harry Faddy is currently located in Thailand soaking up everything he can about Thai cuisine and the culture, which he has been passionate about for over 20 years.
Before travelling to Thailand, Harry worked at the River Cafe in Hammersmith, London and before that he was head chef of Aquavit London, St. James’ Market, which earned a coveted Michelin star after only ten months of opening.
Here Harry shares the recipe for one of his favourite Thai discoveries: Southern Thai Pork rib curry. It ticks all the boxes across taste, comfort and ease.
"Food for me is always the first thing on my mind, and nothing makes me happier than sharing a meal with loved ones," says Harry. "Thai food always helps you get through the coldest of winter nights or take you away to somewhere your worries might not follow. It’s pure escapism."
Harry explains this dish will pack a flavour punch and boost your immune system. "This Thai curry redolent with lots of chilli and black pepper will do its best to fight off nasties, with the addition of turmeric, a proven anti-inflammatory with numerous other health benefits to boot."
The ingredients are likely to be hiding in your kitchen cupboards. "Ready made curry paste is a great store cupboard staple," Harry says. "Turmeric is great to have in house to make fresh tea and everyone has black pepper, an essential ingredient in Southern Thai food."
Cook Justine Murphy is used to wearing many hats as a wife, mother, chef, chef agent, cooking school principal and successful entrepreneur, plus author of The Mymuybueno Cookbook: 160 refined sugar-free recipes for everyday eating in your busy life.
The dish she is sharing is a delicious butternut squash, feta and chorizo salad. A healthy and tasty lunch to break up the day working from home. "There is something very satisfying about this salad in winter time," she says. "Not only does making it give you something to do in isolation, but it keeps you eating properly, which means you are looking after yourself well.
"Trying new recipes also gives you something to look forward to at each meal. We will enjoy food and the happiness it brings even more at this difficult time."
Justine Murphy, author of the mymuybueno cookbook
Justine is keeping spirits high at this difficult time by offering plenty of recipes and tips via her mymuybueno instagram account, which we recommend you check out.
One tip is to be creative with cumin powder (have a look you'll have some in!). "I mix it into my hummus, baked beans, add it to stir fries to use in stews, it livens everything up," she says.
Justine Murphy cook and author of Mymuybueno
Self-trained Chef Ricky Evans founded The Ingredientist at Milroy’s of Spitalfields, London in 2017, which offers a fresh and bespoke approach to catering and unique immersive dining and drinks tasting experiences.
Ricky has successfully delivered several experiences that offer bespoke food pairings, primarily focused on whisky, and frequently offers up his expertise in developing food pairings for a diverse portfolio of whiskies.
The dish he is sharing is a Honey & Whisky Mackerel Pate, which he declares is his personal favourite comfort food. "Mackerel pate is super tasty and quick and easy to make," he says. "I think a little indulgence each day in these tough times is important to ensure you stay sane and have something to look forward to when isolated at home."
In fact, Ricky believes getting into the kitchen is the best way to lift your mood right now. "Home cooking is a great way to teach yourself something new and by trying new recipes you have the perfect opportunity to stimulate your brain and get that feel good feeling flowing. Plus Mackerel is packed full of Omega 3 oils, proven to boost your immune system."