3 Speedy, Healthy Meals To Make This Week
3 Speedy, Healthy Meals To Make This Week

3 Speedy, Healthy Meals To Make This Week

Jane Lovett is known and loved for her delicious, straightforward recipes that work equally well for midweek suppers as they do for easy, stress-free entertaining. Her latest cookbook, Deliciously Simple, is a collection of over 100 recipes that are reassuringly fool proof without any compromise on taste, and all with an emphasis on speed. From flash in the pan suppers (meatballs with honey and mustard sauce) to recipes where the oven does all the work (haddock, potato and fennel traybake), along with sharing platters, speedy sides, quick nibbles and easy drinks, her recipes are sure to become firm favourites. Here are three from her book for you to try at home.

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Quick cooking is the essence of Deliciously Simple, with emphasis on ‘cooking’. There’s a fine line between making a speedy recipe requiring only limited cooking and minimum effort, and producing one through unmitigated cheating, which often involves no actual cooking whatsoever. And so, while speed is the thread running through the recipes, cooking also remains firmly at the heart of them.

The recipes below are straightforward yet imaginative. They’re swift to make, though never speedy for speed’s sake. They sometimes include a few shortcuts, plus, of course, the odd cheat along the way for added convenience. I’ve left out laborious techniques, such as blind-baking a pastry case, and anything that involves multiple methods. As an instinctive feeder, I always strive to create simple, accessible and appealing food that people really want to eat, and I hope through this book you will see that the added emphasis on speed doesn’t have to mean uninventive or uninspiring. 

Inspired? Here are three of Jane’s recipes to try at home…


Tomato & Coconut Dhal

This is pretty much a store cupboard recipe, at least it is for me. Gently spiced, it has warmth without fire, is creamy from the coconut milk and immensely satisfying. It’s also good to know that as long as I’ve got some tomatoes, I’m minutes away from a quick lunch, particularly in mid-winter when it’s blowing a hooley outside. All the ingredients, except the tomatoes, go into the pan together at the outset, so it’s nice and simple, too. Suitable for vegetarians, and for vegans as well, if you omit the optional eggs.

Total Time
30 Minutes
For the dhal:
250g of dried red split lentils
1 onion, thinly sliced (or use around 150g frozen chopped onions)
1 tsp of ground turmeric
1½ tsp of medium curry powder
¼ tsp of ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp of medium chilli powder
1 small handful of dried curry leaves, roughly crushed
1 x 28g vegetable stock pot or 1 vegetable stock cube
1 x 400g tin coconut milk
400g of tomatoes, half of one reserved for garnish, the remainder chunkily chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
To serve (optional):
Soft-boiled eggs (lowered into boiling water for 6½ minutes, then into cold water and peeled when just cool enough to handle)
Nigella or onion seeds
Roughly chopped coriander
Natural yoghurt (dairy free, such as coconut yoghurt, for a vegan dhal)
Step 1

Put all the dhal ingredients, except the tomatoes and salt and pepper, into a large pan. Fill the empty coconut milk tin with water and add that, then bring the mixture to the boil, stirring from time to time. Simmer on a low heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Step 2

Add the tomatoes and simmer gently for a further 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. If necessary, thin with a little more water to your preferred consistency (bearing in mind the dhal will thicken up if you’re not eating it immediately). Season with salt and pepper.

Step 3

Divide the dhal between four bowls, thinly slice the reserved tomato and arrange on top with any, or all, of the serving suggestions (if using) and serve.


The recipe can be completed to the end of step 2 up to 3 days in advance, then cooled, covered and chilled, or it can be frozen (defrost before reheating). For both options, reheat gently in a pan until hot and bubbling.


This is a lovely dhal without the tomatoes. Add a few handfuls of spinach (young or regular leaves) at the end if you like (just allow it to wilt), with or without the tomatoes.


Salmon Poke Bowl

 This is bursting with flavour and is so good, largely thanks to two extremely tasty sauces. Originating from Hawaii, poke is raw fish salad, or ‘sushi in a bowl’ by any other description. Typically, top quality raw fish, such as tuna or salmon, is marinated and arranged over bowls of sushi rice, alongside fresh and pickled vegetables, avocado and spicy mayonnaise. Anything goes (the ingredients are variable), so poke bowls are a good way of using up leftover vegetables, cooked meat and poultry. Try tofu for a change, and don’t forget the chopsticks.

Total Time
30 Minutes
150g of sushi (sticky) or jasmine rice, rinsed under cold water in a sieve until the water runs clear
1 tbsp of rice wine vinegar
75g of frozen edamame beans
150g of very fresh salmon fillet, skinned and cut into 1.5cm cubes
1 small carrot, peeled and shredded or grated
Pickled cucumber or pickled red cabbage, red onion or ginger, or other pickles from a jar
1 ripe avocado, halved, stoned and thinly sliced within its skin
2 spring onions, trimmed and thinly sliced diagonally
Mixed black and white sesame seeds, toasted
For the marinade:
1 tbsp of dark soy sauce
½ tbsp of rice wine vinegar
½ tbsp of toasted sesame oil
1 small pinch of dried chilli flakes
For the sauce:
2 tbsp of thick mayonnaise
½ tsp of dark soy sauce
¼ tsp of sesame oil
Sriracha sauce, to taste
Step 1

Put the rice into a small pan with 180ml of cold water, put the lid on and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer very gently for 13 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave to steam for 10 minutes with the lid on. Remove the lid and stir in the rice wine vinegar. Divide between two bowls.

Step 2

Meanwhile, cook the edamame beans in a separate small pan of boiling well-salted water for 3 minutes, then drain and cool.

Step 3

Mix the marinade ingredients together in a small mixing bowl and stir in the salmon. Set aside. Mix the sauce ingredients together in a separate small bowl and set aside.

Step 4

Arrange the carrot, edamame beans and pickled cucumber (or other pickles), with a little of its juice, in groups over the rice around the edge of the bowls. Then add the salmon, with its marinade, in the same way. Remove the avocado halves from their skin with a large spoon, fan out the slices and arrange on the rice.

Step 5

Drizzle the sauce in lines over the top of the bowls or spoon it into the bowls. Scatter with the spring onions and some toasted sesame seeds. Serve.


The rice can be cooked the day before. Cool quickly, cover and chill, then serve cold, or reheat to serve (be sure to reheat until hot throughout). The edamame beans, carrot, pickled cucumber and spring onions can be prepared the day before, as can the marinade and sauce; cover and chill separately.


Traditionally, the rice is served warm and the toppings at room temperature. However, the rice doesn’t have to be warm, it can be served hot or cold.

I love making poke bowls for picnics. They can be prepared in advance, are very transportable and everyone has their own container.


Bacon, Blue Cheese & Spinach Gnocchi

A lovely comforting bowl of creamy gnocchi, spiked with bacon and blue cheese. The gnocchi are fried, therefore everything’s cooked in one pan – it really couldn’t be much simpler.

Total Time
15 Minutes
2 tbsp of olive oil
1 x 500g packet chilled fresh ready-made potato gnocchi (400g packet is fine, too)
6 rashers of smoked streaky bacon, stacked up and snipped into roughly 1cm batons
120g of creamy blue cheese, such as Saint Agur, Gorgonzola or Dolcelatte
3 heaped tbsp of crème fraîche
120g of baby spinach leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 large spring onions, trimmed and finely chopped (optional)
1 small handful of walnut pieces, toasted and roughly chopped (optional)
Step 1

Heat the olive oil in a large, non-stick frying pan, add the gnocchi and fry on a high heat until beginning to turn golden brown. Allow them to form a crust on the bottom before turning over with a fish slice, then turn from time to time until golden brown all over, about 5-10 minutes in all. Transfer to a plate.

Step 2

Add the bacon to the now dry pan and fry on a high heat until turning golden brown and sizzling. Lower the heat, crumble the cheese into the pan, add the crème fraîche and heat gently, stirring to make a smooth, creamy sauce. Add the spinach, a handful at a time, and stir until partially wilted between each addition. Season with black pepper, and salt if it needs it.

Step 3

Return the gnocchi to the pan and heat through, very gently stirring everything together over the low heat. Add a little more crème fraîche or a splash of water if you prefer a creamier consistency. Serve in individual bowls scattered with the spring onions and toasted walnuts (if using) and finish with a grinding of black pepper.


To toast walnuts, put a handful of walnut pieces (or halves) into a small, dry frying pan and cook on a medium heat for a few minutes, while stirring, until fragrant and lightly browned. Leave to cool, then chop.

This is very good served with a bitter leaf salad, such as radicchio or chicory, or crisp salad leaves with peppery watercress and rocket leaves. A few walnuts would also be a nice addition to the salad, as would a little walnut oil in the salad dressing.

Deliciously Simple is available to buy here.

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