By the time you get home from work you’re starving, tired and ready to pop a frozen burrito in the micro. (Or, even better yet, order pizza!) But there’s still hope for home-prepared meals in your future. U.K. culinary star Sophie Wright — the youngest head chef in England at age 20 — insists making dinner doesn’t have to be time- or labor-intensive.
“You just need to be well organized,” says Wright. “You need to have an idea [of a recipe] in the back of your head. Maybe flick through a cookbook the night before. Then, rather than stopping for a slice of pizza on the way home, stop at the supermarket and pick up a few bits and make a really nice meal.”
If this sounds like a case of easier-said-than-done, Wright shows us how in her new book, “Home at 7, Dinner at 8,” which is filled with 80 easy, fancy-sounding recipes, such as Honey Roasted Pork Tenderloin and Red Wine, Gorgonzola and Orange Risotto that can be in your belly in less than an hour.
Taking into account that Wright chops food a lot faster than us novice cooks, the chef added on extra time to each recipe and made sure not to use too many pans (“It’s horrible washing up after you cook”). But the true test: “My guinea pig is my boyfriend, who is the most incompetent cook,” she says, laughing. “I know that if he can do it, anyone can.”
Keep a nonstick frying pan.
Always stock your pantry with olive oil, salt, pepper and staple spices: ground cumin, ground coriander, chili and paprika. You can make anything taste really good with these.
Freeze extra fresh herbs so you have them ready to go for the next time.
When chopping an onion, chop an extra one and store it in a sandwich bag in your fridge for the next day.
When cooking sweet potato or butternut squash, don’t bother peeling. You can eat the skin, and it will add flavor and texture to your dish.
Baked salmon with pancetta, potatoes, tomatoes and asparagus
“This isn’t so much a recipe as a mixture of ingredients thrown together that taste great when combined and cook in about the same time. Salmon is a fish that can have a bit of a bad name, as people tend to overcook it and serve it with the same old accompaniments. I promise that this combination of flavors and ingredients work in perfect harmony.”
4 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for oiling
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons dried oregano
4 salmon fillets, weighing about 5½ to 6 ounces each
20 spears of asparagus, trimmed
20 cherry plum tomatoes on the vine, halved
8 lices of pancetta or prosciutto
juice of 1 lemon
1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and rub with a little oil. Slice the potatoes (with their skins left on) to the thickness of about ? inch. Lay the potatoes over the baking sheet, trying not to overlap them too much. Sprinkle generously with salt, pepper and oregano; drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Put in the hot oven for 15 minutes.
2. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and increase the temperature to 425°F. Lay the salmon fillets on top of the potatoes and scatter around the asparagus spears and tomatoes. Drape the pancetta or Parma ham over the top. Drizzle over the rest of the olive oil and put the pan back in the oven for an additional 10 to 15 minutes until
everything is cooked through.
3. Squeeze over the lemon juice and serve immediately.