This is what happened when we tried recipes from Jamie Oliver’s new cookbook, 7 Ways
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Jamie Oliver’s 7 Ways has arrived. We put three recipes to the test…
The concept behind Jamie Oliver’s new cookbook, 7 Ways, is to take staple ingredients we already have in the cupboard and elevate them to new heights.
He champions 18 ‘hero’ ingredients and provides a week’s worth of recipes for each – that are likely to stretch your culinary imagination slightly. Think Bombay jacket spuds, crispy sweet and sour salmon, a prawn toast toastie, and a steak sandwich, Japanese-style.
To see just how versatile, tasty and straightforward Oliver’s latest offering is, we tested three recipes (hero ingredients: eggs, peppers and chicken breasts). Here’s how we got on…
Claire Spreadbury tested: the sunshine egg salad
I do eat a lot of eggs (mainly because I’m vegetarian) and always have them in stock. But I do use them in a lot of the same old ways – poached and plonked on toast, whisked up into a frittata or crustless quiche, or simply boiled to dippy perfection, so soldiers of toasted crumpet (slathered with salted butter and Marmite) can be dunked into them and devoured. But on a hot, summery day, this ‘sunshine salad’ makes a great midweek meal.
Though I most definitely always have eggs in, there were other ingredients in this recipe I had to buy specifically. Spinach and yogurt are generally in the fridge, and I do try to keep a packet of cooked mixed grains in the cupboard, but the jarred peppers (I would normally just roast my own – and if you had time, you still could), pomegranate and especially the dukkah, needed to be sought out especially.
I bought my ingredients from Ocado and they came to more than £15, but to be fair, I’d only need to buy a few more eggs and I could make the entire recipe again with what’s leftover.
Making the recipe is pretty straightforward – as is Oliver’s style. You only really need to toast the dukkah then cook off the grains and peppers, wilt the spinach and poach the eggs. The only part that didn’t quite work out was the juicing of the pomegranate, which just didn’t happen. The tiny amount of juice I did manage to get out of it squirted its way across my worktop. I didn’t really fancy scraping it up and stirring it through the yogurt (though I agree, it would have looked much prettier) and I’m not convinced it would have been enough anyway.
It did take me almost twice as long to cook than the 15 minutes he suggests, but again, I think that’s pretty commonplace – a combination of Oliver being super-speedy at throwing a recipe together, and me being uber-slow.
But, no matter, the finished dish was utterly delicious – and hugely elevated by the dukkah and pomegranate, so genuinely worth seeking out those extra additions. The portions are pretty huge too, so you can put a little aside for lunch the next day if you fancied. And if you’re craving a meatier dinner, the addition of some hunks of ham hock would do nicely.
Ella Walker tested: my kinda butter chicken
Butter chicken is not, admittedly, the most exciting curry out there, but for an easy weeknight bowl of something comforting, it’s a solid choice for a ‘fakeaway’.
This one relies on fridge staple chicken breasts, which did leave me slightly apprehensive… Cooking chicken breasts can be a risky business – so often they go from pinkly raw to dry and tough, seemingly skipping the ‘just right’ stage entirely. Thigh, or just roasting a whole bird and shredding the lot, tends to be tastier, but Oliver tries to mitigate any issues with a thick yoghurt, garlic, ginger and garam masala marinade, which definitely helps. Charring the chicken on either side also brings a depth of flavour and pleasing smokiness that might be lacking otherwise (there’s no whole ground spices involved).
Talking of charring, there’s a lot of whipping things in and out of a hot pan; you char tomatoes and chillies, then sub in the chicken, then swap them back, and back again – if you’re not on it, you can end up using half your plates before you’ve even laid the table. However, from start to finish, it’s a pretty swift operation, and the only ingredient I needed to make an effort to track down was cashew butter (peanut would have worked in a pinch though, I reckon). And it would have ended up quite mild if we hadn’t used homegrown cayenne chilli peppers (arguably, these were slightly too hot).
We scooped up the sauce with toasted pitta, and I added a handful of chopped coriander and a spritz of lime for a bit of acidity, zing and greenery. Some mango chutney wouldn’t go amiss either. Substantial and straightforward, if not revolutionary.
Prudence Wade tested: sticky miso peppers
My style of cooking is definitely on the heartier side of things, which means I don’t have quite as many light recipes in my repertoire when the British summer actually happens. So Oliver’s recipe for sticky miso peppers really appealed, it’s ideal for warmer weather.
I had all the ingredients in my cupboard and fridge, except for the wasabi peas – although not everyone will have miso paste handy, but it’s definitely worth buying as a spoonful of the umami flavour can jazz up anything from bolognese to salad dressings.
As a loyal follower of Oliver’s recipes, I’ve come to expect them to be quick and easy – which is exactly what this one was. All you have to do is char the pineapple and tofu in a pan, separately glaze the other ingredients with miso and leftover pineapple juice, and plop everything on top of cooked noodles. I half expected I might have to add other ingredients – maybe some extra chilli or ginger – but I’m pleased to say the dish was tasty enough on its own. There was plenty of flavour, the sweet and salty played against the umami very well, and it took just as long to make as advertised (which feels like a rarity for many recipes).
As a vegetarian I’m already a big fan of tofu, but this recipe could be a good entry-point for non-believers. Despite the dish being advertised as sticky peppers, they felt more like an accompaniment to the real stars of the show: the tofu and the pineapple. It feels a bit odd the main ingredients aren’t mentioned in the title (maybe Oliver’s trying to trick people into eating tofu? Who knows…).
I will definitely be cooking this recipe again – but will mix everything through the noodles before serving. You can tell it was a good meal if that’s the only thing I’ll be changing.
- 7 Ways by Jamie Oliver is published by Penguin Random House © Jamie Oliver Enterprises Limited (2020 7 Ways). Photography: Levon Biss