It’s been a few years since I delved into a Jamie Oliver cookbook. I was a fan in his early ‘Naked Chef’ days, but over the years I have discovered Rick Stein, Bill Granger, The Hairy Bikers, and my personal favourite Ottolenghi.
I happened to catch the TV show of Jamie’s 15 Minute Meals, and surprisingly found myself hooked. The meals being produced looked like food that I like, so the following weekend I bought the book, and I’m very pleased I did.
The recipes are fresh, interesting and full of flavour, and his collaboration with a nutritionist means they are good for you without feeling like ‘health food’. Each recipe has the number of calories per serving, and at the back of the book there is additional information such as fat content, sugar, and saturated fat. All very useful for those of us who worry about these things.
I have yet to complete any of the recipes in the allotted 15 minutes, but none have taken me more than 30 minutes, they are easy to cook, and they taste delicious. My personal favourite is the ‘Blackened Chicken with San Fran Quinoa Salad’, although I will confess to using Cous Cous instead of Quinoa. But that’s what I like about this book; it’s easy to substitute ingredients.
To get a meal in 15 minutes Jamie has obviously focussed on using quick to cook ingredients, so there are lots of recipes with noodles, rice, and cous cous. I was sceptical when I found a recipe for chicken with potato gratin as I thought there was no way you could cook a potato gratin in 15 mins (a time frame that also includes slicing the potatoes!). But using a food processor to slice the potatoes very thinly Jamie makes it possible, and I can confirm that the recipe is yummy.
I have a couple of minor criticisms of the book; the recipe descriptions can feel ‘rushed’, and make me feel slightly panicky to get all things done quickly; and there are one or two omissions in the descriptions – one recipe says to chop some peppers (capsicums) but then doesn’t tell you what to do with them!
Overall, I have found I use this book three or four times a week, and I would give a rating of four stars out of five.