How to Cook a Wholesome 4-Dish Meal Within an Hour

By Kaveri Jain

Delhi winters always entice me to make soups for early evening pangs of hunger. And they can then can be served at dinner too. Last Friday, I decided to stay indoors as the kids were going out to their grandma’s and our man was travelling for the weekend. I prepped for a warm green soup and got into my cozy quilt for a relaxing evening.

Five minutes into my ultra-comfortable and chilled-out zone, my phone rang. On the other end was my long-lost school friend. She was on her way with two others and expected a full-course homemade dinner. Of course, she was bringing along her favourite wine.

With just an hour in hand, I rushed to the kitchen, quickly drawing up a menu in my head. The green soup would do, along with a quick pasta, maybe something with mushrooms as I had lots of them sitting in my fridge. And my friend had a sweet tooth so how could I not do dessert?

A bit of multi-tasking lay ahead. But this four-part meal for the four of us was ready in precisely 55 minutes. How glad I was to find myself washed up and ready just when my doorbell rang! Read on to see my recipes, and try them out for yourself.

SPINACH AND PEAS SOUP
Time: 20 minutes
green-soup.jpg
Ingredients (serves 4)
2 teaspoons olive oil
4 spring onion, chopped
300 gms boiled potatoes, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
200 gms spinach, chopped
250 gms boiled peas
Vegetable stock 500 ml
Fresh cream 4 tablespoons
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
Salt to taste

Method
Heat the oil in a pan and fry the onions and garlic till transparent. Add potatoes, peas and the vegetable stock, and let it simmer for 3-4 minutes. Now add the spinach and cook for another 5 minutes. Take off the heat add 2 tablespoons of cream, salt to taste and white pepper. Blend with a hand blender. Serve hot with a swirl of cream on top.

PASTA IN TOMATO AND SHALLOT BUTTER SAUCE
Time: 20 minutes
pasta-dish.jpg
Ingredients (serves 4)
Butter 100 gms
2 large shallots, finely sliced
4 cloves of garlic
600 gms cherry tomatoes, cut into halves
4 tablespoons tomato purée
400 gms pappardelle pasta (fettuccine or tagliatelle will also work)
A bunch of chopped basil leaves
Salt  to taste

Method
Cook the pasta as per instructions on the packet. Heat the butter in a pan, cook the shallots and garlic for 5 minutes. Add the cherry tomatoes and purée and cook for 7-8 minutes. Stir in salt and chopped basil. Toss the pasta in the sauce, add a splash of pasta water. Cook for another minute. Serve hot!

MUSHROOM AND DILL STROGANOFF
Time: 15 minutes
mushroom.jpg
Ingredients (serves 4)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 chopped onions
300 gms assorted mushrooms (chestnut, shiitake, button), sliced
30 gms dill, chopped
Fresh cream / creme fraiche
100 ml water
Salt and pepper to taste

Method
Heat the oil in a pan and fry the onions for 4 minutes. Add the mushrooms and garlic and cook for another 5 minutes. Add cream and some water, let it simmer for another minute. Add the chopped dill and finally season with salt and pepper. Serve as an appetizer along with garlic bread or as a main course with some wild rice or any other rice of your choice.

NUTELLA ORANGE MOUSSE IN A JAR
Time: 20 minutes
mousse-in-a-jar.jpg
Ingredients (serves 4)
5 cups whipping cream
1 and a half cup Nutella
8 large chocolate chip cookies, crushed
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 tablespoon orange juice
1 and half cup icing sugar
4 mason jars

Method
Chill the cream and whip it adding the icing sugar till stiff peaks emerge. This should take 10 to 12 minutes. Divide the cream into half. Add Nutella to one half and mix. Add the orange juice and zest to the other half and mix.

Layer in the jar. First layer will be of the crushed cookies. Top it up with a layer of orange cream and then a layer of Nutella mousse. You can make 3 or 6 or even more layers. Chill in the fridge till you serve it!

Photo credit: Ananya Jain. First published in the December issue of eShe magazine. Read it for free here, or buy the print edition.