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Quick and skinny dinners for the week

Sat, 30 November, 2019

Tough one this time. On one hand we should still be on the lean streak; if nothing else, simply to make space before filling it with treats. Abstain a little before you indulge, go healthy before you let rip, dry out before you sozzle – after all that is why religions invented fast before feast. Plus, absence makes not only heart but taste buds fonder too, meaning seasonal treats always taste better.

On the other hand it’s the time of parties and some of us are frantically looking for magic recipes of cheap, delicious, impressive and easy to prep party food. Let me say this: whatever you do, the M&S or Waitrose trays of canapes and nibbles are none of those, not even easy as extracting them from their excessive packaging is tricky. Anything you concoct yourself, even from prefab ingredients, will be better.

But first, quick and skinny dinners for the week – American friends, I’m ignoring you as you’re still eating your Thanksgiving leftovers. Avocado and bean salad with crispy garlic for one night, baked sardines Italian style for another with winter rainbow salad on the side. Shakshuka for dinner, just swap eggs for fresh salmon. And maybe stir fried ginger vegetables with plain rice?

Now for the party nosh: puff pastry is the magic vehicle that can be filled with stuff like prawns or spinach or bacon to make up tartlets. Maybe a tray of brown sugar bacon as well? Don’t forget how great spanakopita is: prepped in advance and frozen, it can be served hot or cold. And there are always nachos loaded with beef chilli for pleasing a crowd, and ebi fry or veal negimaki for the sophisticated few.

And we REALLY can’t get away now without a few mince pies or lebkuchen. Happy party season!