Jamie Oliver: new simple ways to cook great food at home

In his latest cookbook Oliver offers delicious ways to revamp the items you buy every week

The premise behind Jamie Oliver’s new cookbook is blindingly simple and devastatingly effective: What things do people put in their shopping baskets every week, and how can we inspire them to cook something different and delicious with them?

The result, 7 Ways, is a natural progression from 5 Ingredients, the book that Oliver says he is asked about more than any other. “Over the last three years, wherever I go – parents’ evenings, public engagements, random encounters on the street – I get asked when I’m going to write another 5 Ingredients,” he writes in the introduction.

Saying that 7 Ways is “the most reader-focused cookbook” he has ever written, Oliver researched shopping habits to determine what items of food people buy week in week out, and compiled a list of 18 things he calls “hero ingredients”.

With the mantra of “extracting maximum flavour with minimum effort”, the book has answers for some of the most commonly used reasons not to cook, such as “I don’t have time”, “I hate washing up”, and “I want a takeaway”. Short, clearly defined preparation times, plenty of traybakes and one-pan wonders, and lots of tempting fakeaway recipes blast those particular excuses out of the water.

The 18 ingredients that make the cut are: broccoli; cauliflower; avocado; chicken breast; sausages; salmon fillet; sweet potato; aubergine; eggs; mince; potato; pepper; prawns; white fish fillet; whole chicken; mushrooms; steak and pork. They don’t all make it into my shopping basket every week, but among them are several of the things that contribute most to the household food waste that I am trying hard to reduce or eliminate – looking at you cauliflower and aubergine – so new, easy ways of using them up in simple, tasty dinners are very welcome.

Take aubergine, for example. Instead of watching its shiny, taut purple skin turn dull and wrinkly, before eventually regretfully putting it in the compost bin, I could be turning it into Roasted aubergine laksa, Aubergine Parmesan Milanese, or the intriguing sounding “Moreish” aubergine salad.

Chicken breast is usually on my shopping list, and although I always find a way of using it up, my speedy midweek chicken dinners won’t be winning any awards for culinary creativity. However Oliver’s sweet chilli chicken balls, served nestling on mixed veg and egg-fried rice can be whipped up in 20 minutes using ingredients most people will have to hand (except perhaps fresh coriander, of which there is never any in the fridge when I need it).

In his latest cookbook, 7 Ways,  Jamie Oliver offers delicious ways to revamp the everyday foods we buy each week. From

If it is Indian food that has you reaching for the takeaway menu after a busy day, Oliver’s 7 Ways take on butter chicken cleverly gets its depth of flavour from charring chillies, tomatoes, and the chicken breasts too, on a high heat in a frying pan. Cashew butter and yoghurt provide the requisite buttery and tangy notes, and the spice and aromatic qualities come from a big spoonful of garam masala, along with ginger and garlic.

Is it traditional Indian butter chicken? No, of course not. But it is a tasty-sounding plate of food that can be made with just eight readily available ingredients. Just buy good quality chicken, that will make all the difference to the end result.

For each of the 18 so-called hero ingredients in the book, there are seven new recipes that might help you see them in a new light, after years of over familiarity. At the very least, 7 Ways will give that stoic cauliflower, sitting patiently in my fridge, a chance to shine. First up, Oliver’s intriguing Cauliflower cheese pasta that coats spaghetti in a creamy sauce made from the vegetable, topped with crunchy garlicy breadcrumbs.

My kinda butter chicken

Fragrant spices, tomatoes, cashew butter and yoghurt
Serves 2
Total time: 40 minutes

2-3 fresh mixed-colour chillies
350g ripe mixed-colour cherry tomatoes
4 cloves of garlic
6cm piece of ginger
1tbsp garam masala
4 heaped tablespoons natural yoghurt
2 x 150g free-range skinless chicken breasts
Olive oil
2tbsp smooth cashew butter

Halve and deseed the chillies. Place in a large non-stick frying pan on a high heat with the tomatoes and blacken all over, turning occasionally. Meanwhile, peel the garlic and ginger, and finely grate into a large bowl. Add most of the garam masala, a pinch of sea salt and black pepper, and one tablespoon of yoghurt. Deeply score the chicken breasts at 1cm intervals, then massage with the marinade.

Once charred, remove the tomatoes and chillies to a board, returning the pan to a medium heat with ½ a tablespoon of olive oil and the chicken. Cook and char for 10 minutes, turning halfway, while you pinch off and discard the tomato skins and roughly chop 1-2 of the chillies, to taste. Remove the gnarly chicken from the pan and go in with the tomatoes, chopped chillies and cashew butter. Pour in 250ml of boiling kettle water and stir to pick up the sticky bits. Let it bubble vigorously for 2 minutes and once it starts to thicken, return the chicken to the pan, turning in the sauce for a final 2 minutes, or until cooked through, then remove to a board.

Off the heat, season the sauce to perfection, then ripple through the remaining yoghurt. Slice the chicken and serve with the remaining chilli and garam masala.

  • ENERGY 435kcal
  • FAT 20.7g
  • SAT FAT 4.8g
  • PROTEIN 45.2g
  • CARBS 17.5g
  • SUGARS 11.1g
  • SALT 0.8g
  • FIBRE 3.4g

Avocado pastry quiche

Sweet pea, Cheddar and basil filling, mixed garden leaves
Serves 6
Total time: 1 hour

2 ripe avocados
400g self-raising flour, plus extra for dusting
6 large free-range eggs
300g frozen peas
90g Cheddar cheese
½ a bunch of basil (15g)
Olive oil
100g bag of mixed salad
Extra virgin olive oil
1 lemon

Halve, destone and peel the avocados. Weigh the flesh – you want 200g to get your ratios right (if you don’t have enough, simply top up to 200g with extra virgin olive oil). In a large bowl, smash up the avocado, then gradually rub in the flour, a pinch of sea salt and four tablespoons of cold water until you have a dough. Knead until smooth, then wrap and rest for 15 minutes. For the filling, crack the eggs into a blender, then add the frozen peas and most of the Cheddar. Rip in the top leafy half of the basil, add a pinch of salt and black pepper, and blitz until smooth.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Roll out the avocado pastry on a flour-dusted surface to just under ½cm thick. Loosely roll it up around the rolling pin, then unroll it over an oiled 25cm x 35cm baking tray, ease it into the sides and prick the base. Roughly tear off any big bits of overhang, then bake for 10 minutes, or until lightly golden. Evenly pour in the filling and bake for another 15 minutes, or until set, then finely grate over the remaining cheese. Dress the salad leaves with extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice, season, then sprinkle over the quiche to serve.

  • ENERGY 764kcal
  • FAT 52.6g
  • SAT FAT 11.3g
  • PROTEIN 21g
  • CARBS 55.9g
  • SUGARS 2.4g
  • SALT 1.1g
  • FIBRE 4.9g

Quickest white fish tagine

Sweet cherry tomatoes, harissa, asparagus and fluffy couscous
Serves 2
Total time: 15 minutes

150g couscous
4 cloves of garlic
Olive oil
250g ripe mixed-colour cherry tomatoes
250g asparagus
2 heaped teaspoons rose harissa
2 x 150g white fish fillets, skin off, pin-boned, from sustainable sources
1 lemon
2tbsp natural yoghurt

Place the couscous in a bowl, add a pinch of sea salt and black pepper, then just cover with boiling kettle water, and cover. Peel and slice the garlic, then place in a shallow casserole pan on a medium-high heat with one tablespoon of olive oil, stirring while you halve the cherry tomatoes, adding them to the pan as you go. Snap the woody ends off the asparagus, roughly chop the spears and stir into the pan, then season with salt and pepper. Rub most of the harissa over the fish, sit it on top of the veg, finely grate over the lemon zest and squeeze over half the juice. Add 150ml of water, cover, and cook for five minutes, or until the fish is just cooked through.

Fluff up the couscous. Ripple the remaining harissa through the yoghurt, then spoon it over the fish and couscous. Serve with lemon wedges, for squeezing over.

  • ENERGY 560kcal
  • FAT 13.4g
  • SAT FAT 2.2g
  • PROTEIN 43.5g
  • CARBS 70.2g
  • SUGARS 10.9g
  • SALT 1.5g
  • FIBRE 4.9g

7 Ways by Jamie Oliver is published by Penguin Random House © Jamie Oliver Enterprises Limited (2020 7 Ways). Photography: Levon Biss.

Marie Claire Digby

Marie Claire Digby

Marie Claire Digby is Senior Food Writer at The Irish Times