In the hustle and bustle of busy weekdays, finding time to cook a delicious meal can feel like a daunting task. But these two dishes are designed to give your midweek meal a little touch of magic without sacrificing quality and flavour. First up is my vegetarian chilli, which has a bit of a Mexican or South American feel to it – a bit sweet and a bit spicy. Using tinned beans will save you lots of time on this dish and because tinned beans are pre-cooked they will add great texture to the finished chilli – rinse them well before adding to the pot. Make sure to get a nice, ripe avocado and if you’re looking for a very good chipotle paste, the Dunnes Stores Simply Better range have one which is made by Folláin Foods in Co Cork.

The next recipe is pasta with purple sprouting broccoli and Parma ham. Purple sprouting broccoli is one of my favourite vegetables and it is in season from January until the end of May – although many supermarkets are now shipping it in from other countries and stocking it year-round. If you’re not a fan of purple sprouting broccoli, try making this pasta with courgettes, instead.

The anchovies will add a lovely, salty taste. You sometimes hear this flavour described with a Japanese word – umami – which translates as ‘delicious, savoury taste’.

When you are buying Parmesan, it is always worth making sure it is aged to at least 24 months, as age makes a great difference to the taste. I always keep some in my fridge.

Happy Cooking,


Vegetarian chilli

Ingredients: Serves 6-8

2 tbsp rapeseed oil

2 red onions, finely chopped

2 celery sticks, finely chopped

3 mixed peppers, cut into bite-sized pieces

4 garlic cloves, crushed

1 tbsp ground cumin

2 tsp smoked paprika

2 tsp chipotle paste or chilli powder

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp dried oregano

1 small pumpkin, peeled,

seeded and cut into 2cm chunks

2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes

2 tbsp tomato purée

500ml vegetable stock

2 x 400g tins of black beans,

drained and rinsed

1 x 400g tin of red kidney beans,

drained and rinsed

25g dark chocolate

(at least 70% cocoa solids), finely chopped

1 tbsp light muscovado sugar

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

To serve:

2 limes, cut into wedges

1 bunch of spring onions, thinly sliced

2 ripe avocados, halved, stoned and sliced

20g fresh coriander,

leaves picked and roughly chopped

Tortilla chips or small flour tortillas


1 Heat the oil in a casserole pot with a lid over a medium to high heat. Sauté the onions, celery and peppers with a pinch of salt for 8–10 minutes, until softened and starting to caramelise around the edges. Stir in the garlic, spices and oregano and sauté for another two minutes, until fragrant.

2 Stir in the pumpkin, tinned tomatoes and tomato purée along with the stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and cover. Simmer gently for 45 minutes, then tip in the black beans and the kidney beans. Give everything a good stir and season generously.

3 Cook, uncovered, for another 30 minutes, until all the vegetables are tender and the sauce has thickened.

4 Add the chocolate and sugar, stirring until melted. Keep extra portions in the fridge or freeze at this stage.

5 To serve, simply put the warm chilli in a serving bowl with separate bowls of lime wedges, spring onions, avocado slices and coriander. Have the warm tortillas to hand and allow everyone to help themselves and enjoy.

Pasta with purple sprouting broccoli and Parma ham

Ingredients Serves 4–6

1 tbsp olive oil

175g (6oz) Parma ham, thinly sliced

150g (5oz) baby plum tomatoes,


2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

Good pinch of dried chilli flakes

3 anchovy fillets,

drained and finely chopped

550g (1¼lb) purple sprouting broccoli

500g (1lb 2oz)

ood-quality fettuccine pasta

50g (2oz) butter

4 tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

50g (2oz) freshly grated

Pecorino or Parmesan

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


1 Heat the olive oil in a pan with a lid. Add the Parma ham and fry for a few minutes, until it’s just beginning to crisp. Stir in the tomatoes, garlic and chilli flakes and fry for another minute or two, tossing the pan occasionally.

2 Scatter the anchovies over the tomato mixture, then tip in the purple sprouting broccoli, tossing to combine. Sprinkle over 1–2 tablespoons of water, cover and cook for 2–3 minutes, until the broccoli is just tender when pierced with a knife, continuing to toss the pan occasionally to ensure everything cooks evenly.

3 Meanwhile, cook the fettuccine pasta in a large pan of boiling salted water for 3–4 minutes (if using fresh pasta) or according to the packet instructions. Drain well.

4 Stir the butter and parsley into the broccoli mixture with the drained fettuccine pasta. Season to taste and divide among warmed plates. Sprinkle with the Pecorino or Parmesan to serve.

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