There is nothing more thrilling for a host than to prepare delicious, wholesome, home-made food for family or friends – with minimal cooking involved. Is this even possible? Absolutely. Here are three delectable no-cook recipes that are packed with nature’s goodness. Recipes that you’ll enjoy preparing, serving and savouring. They can also be laid on the table all together to make for a scrumptious and sizeable spread. The end game is to ensure a relaxing time for the host and a memorable meal for the guests.
Pantry couscous with harissa
Serves four to six
I love how incredibly versatile couscous is; it blends well with most ingredients while adding a comforting, moreish aspect to your dish. I have never prepared couscous on a hob. I leave it to the machinations of the humble kettle and the vibrant flavours straight out of the jars in the pantry (that are easily sourced from the deli counter of a supermarket).
Ingredients and method for the harissa dressing
2 tsp harissa paste
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp cumin
½ tsp paprika
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper, to taste
Mix all the ingredients using a hand-whisk or a fork until well blended.
Ingredients and method for the couscous
1 cup dried couscous
150g preserved artichoke hearts
150g preserved chargrilled bell peppers
1 can chickpeas
150g cherry tomatoes, halved
100g baby spinach
Handful of pitted green olives
½ cup soaked raisins
2 handfuls roasted unsalted almonds
Boil one and a half cups of water in the kettle.
In a large glass bowl, mix the dried couscous with a drizzle of olive oil and lightly season. Pour the hot water over it, then immediately seal the bowl with cling film. Set aside for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, use a vegetable grater or sharp knife turn your courgette into thin matchsticks. Also, chop the artichoke and bell peppers to a suitable size.
Remove the cling film from the couscous bowl and fluff it up using a fork, then gently fold in gently the remaining ingredients except the almonds, one at a time.
Drizzle generously with the harissa dressing and sprinkle almonds on top.
Vegetable rice rolls with spicy peanut butter dressing
Serves four to six
These rolls are my new obsession, and I first tried my hand at them courtesy of the health guru behind Manifest Health by Cecilia. They make for a healthy sharing appetiser for any gathering, big or small.
Ingredients and method for the spicy peanut butter dressing
1 tbsp sugar-free peanut butter
1 tsp Sriracha chilli sauce
1 tbsp soy sauce
½ lemon, juiced
3 tbsp warm water
Mix all the ingredients until you reach a light creamy consistency.
Ingredients and method for the rolls
1 raw beetroot
1 large cucumber
½ round lettuce
1 large carrot
½ small cabbage
1 pack spring circular roll wrapper sheets (rice pancakes)
Thinly slice all the vegetables using a knife or zoodle grater. Lay them on a big chopping board next to each other.
Pour some water onto a large plate, then take one rice sheet and immerse it in the water a few times on each side until it softens. Transfer immediately and gently (so it does not break) on to a dry plate, laying it completely flat and open.
Place a few sticks from each vegetable in the upper half of the circular sheet, then roll it up like a spring roll. Repeat for all the sheets and veg.
Serve the rolls with the spicy peanut dip on the side or drizzled over.
Top tip: if you have chicken, beef or prawns, slice them up and add them into the rolls.
Prawn noodles with zingy dressing
Serves four to six
A wholesome dish that can be served on its own, this ticks all the boxes of a no-cook meal with layers of fresh textures and exciting flavours. You can play with the ingredients as much as you like; the actual star of this dish is the dressing, which elevates a simple noodle dish with its complexity of flavours, minus the labour.
Ingredients and method for the zingy dressing
1 tbsp freshly grated ginger
2 red chillis, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 lime, juiced
3 tbsp rice vinegar
Mix all the ingredients using a whisk.
Ingredients and method for the noodles
1 pack rice noodles
100g snow peas
70g bean sprouts
1 bunch coriander leaves
1 bunch mint leaves
1 large carrot
4 spring onions
250g ready-cooked medium prawns
Handful of salted peanuts
Cover the rice noodles with boiling water from the kettle. Leave for about two to three minutes until completely softened. Then drain the noodles and set aside.
Blanch the snow peas and bean sprouts by also covering them with hot water from the kettle for about a minute, then strain them out and run cold water over them. Set aside in a sieve.
Thinly slice all the other vegetables using a knife or zoodle grater. You can use a pair of scissors to snip the fresh herbs and spring onions.
In a large bowl, add the drained noodles, then all the vegetables and herbs, then the prawns and finally the dressing. Mix gently using a large pair of salad tongs.
Transfer to a serving platter, then sprinkle with peanuts.
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