Dinner – or tea, depending on where you come from – can often come with a degree of monotony. The same meals, week in week out, with imagination and inspiration swept aside for ease, convenience and familiarity.
Yet the opportunity for culinary exploration is endless, through adding flavours, essences and spices from around the world to your cooking. You don’t need a Michelin Star – creating exotic masterpieces in your own kitchen is the new way of cooking.
Be inspired to refresh your cookbook with these simple-to-follow recipes, brought to you by Waitrose.
DISH: Vietnamese beef pho
A traditional dish bringing the flavours of Vietnam to your home, this beef pho packs a punch on your palate through combining juicy rump steak with South Asian staples of lemongrass, chilli and ginger.
Preparation time:15 minutes
Cooking time:15 minutes
- 1 bunch salad onions, sliced
- 4cm piece root ginger, peeled and chopped
- 3 whole star anise
- 2 lemongrass stalks, finely chopped
- 3 x 500g tubs Cooks’ Ingredients Beef Stock
- 200g pack Thai Taste Folded Rice Noodles
- 2 x 200g essential Waitrose British Beef Rump Steak, lean, trimmed of fat
- 300g bag beansprouts
- 235g pack pak choi, halved lengthways
- 1 tbsp Thai fish sauce
- 1 tsp light muscovado sugar
- Juice of lime, plus wedges to serve
- 1 red chilli, seeded and sliced
- Coriander leaves, to garnish
- Set aside some green salad onion slices to garnish and place the remainder in a large saucepan with the ginger, star anise, lemongrass and stock and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, place the noodles in a heatproof bowl, pour boiling water over and cover the bowl with clingfilm, leave to soak for 10 minutes or until tender.
- Heat a frying pan until very hot and cook the steak for 2 minutes on each side until nicely browned but pink in the centre. Transfer to a plate and leave to rest for few minutes.
- Place the beansprouts and pak choi in a large saucepan and pour or strain over the hot stock. Bring to a simmer, add the fish sauce, sugar and lime juice to taste.
- Drain the noodles and divide between bowls. Ladle over the broth and vegetables then thinly slice the steak and place on top. Scatter with reserved salad onions, chilli and coriander leaves, and serve with lime wedges on the side.
Cook’s tip: Vary the vegetables used in this – try with mangetout, baby spinach or sliced mushrooms.
DISH: Easy Carolina-style pulled pork
Bring a taste of the USA to your culinary repertoire with this simple-to-prep pulled pork. With an abundance of flavours in the sauce, this succulent slow-cooked dish will be instant favourite.
Preparation time:10 minutes
Cooking time:4 hours 5 minutes
- 5kg skinned pork shoulder, (from the meat counter)
- 2 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
(For the sauce)
- 100ml Aspall Organic Cyder Vinegar
- 1 tbsp light brown soft sugar
- ½ tsp chilli flakes
- ½ tsp Tabasco sauce
- Preheat the oven to 160°C, gas mark 3. Remove any string from the pork and rub all over with the salt and pepper. Place in a roasting tin and cover tightly with foil. Roast for 2 hours, then uncover and baste with the juices. Re-cover and roast for another 2 hours until there is no pink meat and the juices run clear.
- Remove the foil and carefully lift the pork onto a plate. Skim off any excess fat from the tin, but leave any roasting juices (add a splash of water to loosen if needed). Return the pork to the roasting tin and shred with forks, turning the meat in the juices.
- Warm the sauce ingredients together in a small pan over a low heat until the sugar dissolves. Pour over the pork and toss together. Serve with coleslaw and baked sweet potatoes or piled into buns.
Cook’s tip: If a whole pork shoulder is not available from the meat counter, use the same weight in shoulder steaks instead. Adjust the cooking time in accordance to the weight.
DISH: Sri Lankan-style sweet and sour aubergine
At times running parallel to the culinary style of South Asia, Sri Lanka has its own distinct spiced flavours which bring a different edge to its dishes. These sweet and sour aubergines truly showcase the unique flavours of the country’s palate.
Preparation time:10 minutes
Cooking time:20 minutes
- 2 large essential Waitrose Aubergines
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- ¼ tsp dried chilli flakes
- ¼ tsp ground black pepper
- ¼ tsp ground turmeric
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 red onion, finely sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
- 2 tomatoes, roughly chopped
- Handful dried curry leaves
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 2 tsp red wine vinegar
- 1 tsp caster sugar
- 2 x 250g pouches brown basmati rice
- Preheat the grill to 240ºC, gas mark 9. Trim and cut the aubergines into 0.5cm-thick slices, halving any larger pieces, then arrange on a large foil-lined baking tray (don’t worry if they overlap; they will shrink as they cook). Grill for 5 minutes, then turn over and grill for another 5 minutes.
- Heat the vegetable oil in a large frying pan or wok over a medium-high heat. Add the spices and salt, then fry off for 1 minute. Add the onion, garlic, tomatoes and curry leaves, then cook, stirring, for another 2-3 minutes.
- Tip the aubergine into the pan, toss everything together and heat for 2 minutes, then add the mustard, vinegar and sugar. Fry for another 2 minutes until combined. Serve the aubergine with the rice cooked according to pack instructions, plus natural yogurt and chopped coriander, if liked.
Cook’s tip: Grilling the aubergine slices before frying them means you don’t need to use more oil in the pan.
DISH: Middle Eastern panzanella with tahini dressing
Authentic Bedouin cuisine, this vegetarian dish is a flawless crowd pleaser. The creamy tahini dressing is the perfect partner to complement the seasoned aubergines and onions.
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 40 minutes
- 2 aubergines, cut into wedges
- 2 red onions, cut into wedges
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp fennel seeds
- ½ tsp chilli flakes
- 3 pitta bread, cut into shards
- 1 small cauliflower, cut into florets
- 3 tbsp tahini
- ½ orange, juice
- 1 garlic clove, finely grated
- ½ x 28g pack coriander, roughly chopped
- 125g pack Waitrose Pomegranate Seeds
- Preheat the oven to 200˚C, gas mark 6. Toss the aubergine and onion with 2 tbsp oil, the fennel seeds and chilli flakes; season. Spread on a parchment-lined baking tray and roast for 20 minutes.
- Toss the pitta and cauliflower with the remaining 1 tbsp oil; season. Stir the aubergine and onions, then nestle the pitta and cauliflower florets in between. Turn the oven up to 220˚C, gas mark 7, and roast for another 20 minutes, until golden.
- For the dressing, mix the tahini with the orange juice, garlic and 3-5 tbsp warm water until smooth and the consistency of double cream. Arrange the vegetables and pitta over a large serving plate, spoon over the tahini dressing, and scatter with the coriander and pomegranate before serving.
Cook’s tip: Try throwing some red peppers and cherry tomatoes onto the baking tray, too, for colour and sweetness
Thousands of recipes can be found at www.waitrose.com/recipes. Recipes and imagery credited to Waitrose. Prices and information correct at time of print.