Chatting easy meals on ABC Afternoons

I love dropping into ABC Radio Melbourne to chat to Clare Bowditch about food. This time I sat on her lap while we talked easy meals. No, I didn’t really sit on her lap the whole time! Even though it’s the ABC, there are enough chairs for everyone. Listen in below…

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As it was back-to-school time, I shared some of my stand-by meals for school nights, those dishes and ideas that work in amongst the school/sport/work jumble and the ‘whoops, I forgot to make dinner!’ panic.

I love the notion of Sunday cooking for the whole week, a neatly organised freezer with meals and snacks for the week, and chopped containers of vegetables stacked up in the fridge (wow, Clare, over achieving!). Notions are one thing, reality is another and I am often rather seat-of-the-pants.

However, I do always manage to get dinner on the table and it’s usually rather nice.


  • If I’ve got these bits and pieces on hand, I can be confident dinner isn’t far away.
  • Sweet potatoes: they store well and are versatile. I use them for soup, mash and roast vegetable salad.
  • Tomatoes: in summer I’ve always got a big bowl of tomatoes for salads, pasta sauces, or jumbling in a roasting tray.
  • Pesto: make your own (I often use cashews instead of pine nuts) and use it as marinade, salad dressing base, topping for soup or dollop it over eggs, roast vegetables and grilled meats. Freeze it in small portions. If you’re a subscriber to Dani Valent Cooking, you’ll also love my Everything Salsa, a tasty base for dips, dressings and marinades. 
  • Rice paper rolls and nori sheets: DIY dinners are easy, fun and flexible.
  • Condiments and extras: garlic oil, miso and marinated fetta will get you out of trouble over and over again.
DANI VALENT COOKING Everything salsa landscape

Everything Salsa on Dani Valent Cooking

Dish ideas

  • Roasted sweet potatoes and tomatoes tossed with greens: roast vegies in a moderate oven while you pick up the kids from soccer/dance/gym. When you get home, toss warm veg with spinach leaves or pasta or pile over 5-minute cous cous.
  • Breakfast for dinner: scrambled eggs on toast, omelettes, boiled eggs. It feels like topsy-turvy fun and it gets you out of trouble.
  • Lentil soup: red lentils are a great pantry staple, quick to cook, filling and nourishing. My 20-minute Thermomix soup with red lentils and tomatoes has saved me a hundred times. If you’re a subscriber to Dani Valent Cooking, you’ll love my Emergency Lentil Soup
  • Couscous salad: instant couscous 5 minutes to cook and you can toss it or top it with…anything! (Sausages or other cooked meats, roast veg, pesto and halved cherry tomatoes and shaved carrot).
  • Minute steak and salad: sounds fancy but is actually easy. can slice the steak and use as salad topping too.
  • Dips dinner’: an antipasto dinner of dips, olives, boiled eggs, carrot and celery sticks (and maybe ‘bugs on logs’, cream cheese and currants on celery).
  • Rice paper rolls: rice vermicelli noodles, sliced carrot, celery, cucumber, corn, whatever the kids like, maybe fry up some chicken or tofu, make a quick satay sauce with peanut butter, honey and soy in a jar. Soak rice paper at the table and everyone fills and rolls their own.
  • Sushi: all you need to do is cook the rice, season it and let it cool down, then everyone fills their own nori wrappers with, for example, tuna, cucumber, avocado, carrot and mayonnaise. BONUS: make extra for tomorrow’s school lunches
  • Fried rice: have cooked rice in freezer and fry it up with chopped vegetables and leftover meat
  • Pasta with fresh chopped tomatoes, herbs, pesto – also good as a pasta salad for lunchboxes the next day
  • Steamed fish with spinach salad: fillets steam in 10 minutes, while you toss spinach with cherry tomatoes, sliced mushrooms and fetta. Add some couscous if you want carbs.

Listen in and let me know what you think below…

For inspiring and simple Thermomix recipes and videos, head over to Dani Valent Cooking.


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