3 New Recipes Perfect For Sharing
3 New Recipes Perfect For Sharing

3 New Recipes Perfect For Sharing

Sophie Wyburd is a cook, recipe writer and presenter who’s worked in restaurants, food styling and has headed up the food team at Mob. Her new cookbook – Tucking In – aims to take the fuss out of at-home entertaining. Whether you’re cooking for two or ten, her simple recipes are perfect for beginners. Here, she shares more about the inspiration behind the book and what she’s loving in her kitchen right now, as well as three recipes…
By Harriet Russell

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Tucking In is a book filled with simple, hearty, comforting recipes. It's not overly complicated – food shouldn't be scary. All the recipes are made for sharing, whether that's gathering ten people around your garden table on a Saturday, or just having one of your friends round for a bite to eat on a Tuesday. It covers the entire range of cooking – from weekend dinner parties to weekday meals.

I grew up in a really big family with my parents and four sisters. Every night we all sat around the dinner table and ate together. Those were formative times – having all kinds of chats around the table. It’s still very much how I like to socialise as an adult; I'm very much the host in my friendship group and I like wearing that hat. Sometimes, hosting books can lean a bit more towards formal dinner parties. And while I love those, the food that I like to cook very much isn't that. It's much simpler, less structured and casual. 

Almost all of these recipes are suitable for beginners – plus, the ingredients are all things you can source really easily from the supermarket. They’re not massively ‘steppy’ recipes either, and they only involve basic techniques. 

Let's say you a couple of friends coming round and it's all a bit last minute. I’m probably going for some kind of tapas-y spread – so really nice, cured meats, some pickled things, olives or some fresh chillies. Then, a couple of things to make some nice vegetable sides, so, in this season, that’s tomatoes dressed in lots of olive oil and salt. I would also probably make a Spanish tortilla, just because you can do that quickly, and everyone's always really impressed. It only involves potatoes, onions, eggs, a bit of salt and lots of olive oil. And remember, there’s nothing wrong with buying some pre-made or pre-cooked bits in the supermarket then just zhooshing them up a bit. 

There are certain things you’ll always find in my fridge. There's always parsley and always parmesan, as well as a little bag with the rinds in it so I can use those to flavour sauces and stocks. The condiments area is always pretty hectic – I think I've got two shelves full of them. The one that you will always find in there is chili oil. I'm also really into sugar snaps right now. I'm thrilled about cooking them in a hot frying pan with a little bit of oil to make them blister and then sprinkling them with flaky Maldon sea salt.

I love cookbooks. Nigella is someone who I've been obsessed with since I was a young child. I just think her approach to cooking, her generosity, the simplicity… It really shows through the pages, and it's very much inspired the way that I like to cook. I also love the old-school Italian food writers like Anna Del Conte.

In terms of food trends, I feel like the craze for vegetarian alternatives has died down a bit. Now it seems we're going back to using good-quality meat that’s been cooked well. I still eat vegetarian food a lot and I love using seasonal vegetables with beans or chickpeas, but then treating myself to nice, ethically sourced meat at the weekend. You can’t beat a perfectly roasted chicken or – at this time of year – fatty pork chops on the BBQ.

If people take anything away from my new book, I hope it would be that cooking doesn't have to be this big, intimidating thing. If you are cooking for people you love, they're probably most likely there to hang out with you. They're not there for some kind of major gastronomic experience. Good food can be simple ingredients treated really nicely. So don't be scared of it. It can be really fun and really easy. 


Inspired? Here Are Three Recipes From Sophie’s New Cookbook…

Chicken & Ricotta Meatballs With Green Spaghetti

Red sauce has dominated the meatball market for too long, and I say enough is enough. Okay, I also love the classic tomato sauce and polpette combo, but there is something lighter and fresher about this version that I sometimes prefer. The leanness of chicken mince enriched with milky ricotta and parmesan creates an impossibly tender little thing to stab with your fork and twirl around in a silky green spaghetti skirt. Maybe you’ll twirl around the kitchen a little, you’ll like it that much. The meatballs can be prepared a day in advance, so you can whip this up in no time.

Serves
4
Total Time
34 Minutes
Ingredients
400g of skinless chicken thigh fillets
Zest & juice of ½ lemon
250g of ricotta
½ small bunch of parsley
70g of fresh white breadcrumbs
80g of Parmesan, plus 20g for sprinkling
100g of watercress
1 x small bunch of basil
50g of sunflower seeds
1 garlic clove
400g of spaghetti
Salt, pepper & olive oil
Method
Step 1

Chop your chicken thigh fillets into pieces, then add to a food processor. Add the lemon zest and 120g of the ricotta, as well as 1 teaspoon of salt and 15 twists of black pepper. Pulse until you have a smooth paste. Grate in 30g of your parmesan, then finely chop your parsley and add this too, as well as your breadcrumbs. Give it a stir so it’s all combined.

Step 2

Roll your mixture into 12 even-sized balls. Pop these on a tray and place them in the fridge for 15 minutes to firm up.

Step 3

Meanwhile, give your food processor a clean, then move on to making your pesto. In the food processor, combine the watercress, basil, sunflower seeds, peeled garlic clove and remaining 50g of parmesan. Whizz it up to form a smooth green paste, then drizzle in 50ml of olive oil so you have a smooth sauce. Add the lemon juice and the remaining ricotta, pulse the machine briefly, then season to taste with salt.

Step 4

Bring a large saucepan filled with water to the boil, and season it with salt as though it were a soup you were about to eat.

Step 5

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large sauté pan over a medium heat. Add your meatballs to the pan and cook for about 10 minutes, turning them frequently so they cook evenly and take on some colour on the outside.

Step 6

Meanwhile, add your spaghetti to the pan of boiling water. Cook your pasta for a couple of minutes less than the packet instructions require, or until it is just al dente.

Step 7

Once it’s cooked, tong your spaghetti directly into the meatball pan, along with a ladleful of the pasta cooking water. Add your pesto to the pan and give it a good toss so that each strand of spaghetti is coated in the green sauce. Add as much pasta water as you need to get the sauce glossy. Adjust the seasoning if needed.

Step 8

Divide the spaghetti and meatballs between plates and serve it up with a little extra parmesan.

Coconut Chicken & Bean Salad With Jammy Shallots

A warm chicken salad is a lovely thing. Chicken fat is one of the most gorgeous naturally occurring flavours in the world, I reckon. Cooking chicken thighs skin-side down in a frying pan means releasing all that flavour, which can then be sponged up by whatever you cook in the juices. In this case, you cook some jammy shallots in the fat, then toss them with that crispy chicken and some tender green beans to make a very fragrant salad situation. You could even double up and save some for your lunch the next day.

Serves
2
Total Time
45 Minutes
Ingredients
4 chicken thighs (bones in & skin on)
3 banana shallots
2 tbsp of fish sauce
2 tbsp of red wine vinegar
2.5 tsp of caster sugar
200g of green beans
1 garlic clove
2 red chillies
150ml of full-fat coconut milk
Zest & juice of 1 lime
½ small bunch of coriander
Salt, pepper & olive oil
Method
Step 1

Debone your chicken thighs by carefully slicing on either side of the bones, and scraping the flesh down it to release them. Season all over with salt.

Step 2

Place a frying pan over a medium heat and add the chicken thighs to the pan while it is still cool, placing them skin-side down. Pop a square of baking parchment over the chicken, then top with a heavy pan. This will ensure you get really crispy skin. Fry for 10 minutes.

Step 3

Meanwhile, peel and quarter your shallots lengthways, keeping the stems intact and removing any tough bits.

Step 4

Remove the heavy pan and parchment from the chicken. Flip each thigh over and fry for another 5 minutes on the other side. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside to cool. There should be lots of delicious chicken fat left in the pan.

Step 5

Add your shallots to the chicken pan, cut-side down. Fry for 4 minutes to get a little char on them, then flip and fry for another 2 minutes on the other side.

Step 6

Add 100ml water, along with the fish sauce, red wine vinegar and 1½ teaspoons of the sugar. Put the piece of baking parchment you used earlier on top, and reduce the heat to low. Let it all bubble down for 5 minutes to soften the shallots. They should get nice and sticky. Remove the paper and spoon any leftover juices over the shallots, then remove the pan from the heat.

Step 7

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a separate frying pan over a medium-high heat. Add the green beans, and fry for about 5 minutes until they are tender and slightly charred.

Step 8

Meanwhile, make your dressing. Peel your garlic, and finely chop the garlic and one of your red chillies, then scrape these into a small saucepan. Pour in your coconut milk, then place over a medium heat for about 5 minutes to reduce by half.

Step 9

Remove from the heat and let it cool. Add the lime zest and juice, along with the remaining 1 teaspoon of sugar. Give it a mix, and season to taste with salt.

Step 10

Pick your coriander leaves and slice your chicken. Finely slice the remaining red chilli.

Step 11

Tip the green beans, coriander leaves and shallots into a mixing bowl, then pour over your dressing. Toss together to combine.

Step 12

Divide your salad between 2 plates, then top with the crispy chicken. Serve with the sliced red chilli on top.

Sticky Tamarind Carrots With Green Chilli Yoghurt

Roasted carrots are a top-tier vegetable. A trip to a scorching location (the oven) with a drizzle of oil turns them into something gnarly and witchy looking, with a rich, caramelised flavour. It is without a shadow of a doubt my favourite way to eat them, and I’ve cooked versions of this dish more times than I can count. I would go so far as to say that it has become one of my personality traits. If you are coming round for a big dinner spread at mine, you better believe that I will be sneaking some form of sticky roasted carrot onto your plate. This version makes a great side for a roast dinner, barbecue or curry, but is equally satisfying as a standalone meal with bread to serve.

Serves
4
Total Time
1 Hour
Ingredients
500g of heritage carrots (with their tops on)
1 tsp of ground cumin
½ tsp of kashmiri chilli powder (or mild chilli powder)
Juice of 1 lemon
1 bunch of mint
3 green chillies
350g of coconut yoghurt or thick natural yoghurt
1 garlic clove
400g tin of chickpeas
6 tbsp of tamarind sauce (I like the Maggi one)
Flatbreads, to serve (optional)
Salt, pepper & olive oil
Method
Step 1

Preheat your oven to 210°C/190°C Fan/Gas Mark 6½.

Step 2

Trim the green tops off your carrots and save these for later. Tip the carrots into a roasting tray and drizzle them with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, then scatter over your cumin and chilli powder, as well as 1 teaspoon of salt and 10 grinds of black pepper. Shake the tray so that the carrots are totally coated in the spices and oil, then roast for 30 minutes.

Step 3

Meanwhile, finely chop a handful of your carrot tops until you have about 2 tablespoons’ worth. Using a pestle and mortar, bash the carrot tops along with the lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of olive.

Step 4

oil, until you have a chunky green sauce.

Step 5

Finely chop the mint and green chillies. Spoon your yoghurt into a bowl, then grate in the garlic and add your mint and chillies. Add ½ teaspoon of salt, then give the whole thing a mix until combined.

Step 6

When the carrots have been roasting for 30 minutes, drain your chickpeas and give them a rinse, then toss them onto the roasting tray. Return to the oven for 15 minutes until the chickpeas are crisp.

Step 7

When everything is ready, remove your carrots and chickpeas from the oven. Pour the tamarind sauce over the top, and give them a toss until they are all coated.

Step 8

Spoon your yoghurt onto a serving plate and top it with your chickpeas and carrots. Drizzle with the carrot top oil, then serve and enjoy with bread for dipping.

Tucking In: A Very Comforting Cookbook, By Sophie Wyburd available to buy here

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