This time-taking influence far and wide across the Mediterranean – from Italian pasta to Moroccan tagines.
Over the years (The Naked Chef first graced our TV screens in 1999), it’s fair to say, Oliver, with his jovial, no-nonsense, man-of-the-people image, has made home cooking doable for many people who otherwise wouldn’t cook and given others a go-to stash of reliable recipes when you don’t have the time or inclination for complicated. One thing’s usually a given though – the dishes will be tasty.
So, what can you expect from 5 Ingredients Mediterranean?
The concept – of just a handful of ingredients needed for each dish – is, at its core, uncomplicated and easy to digest. For beginner cooks, long lists of ingredients can be intimidating, not to mention costly, and even seasoned home cooks need ease sometimes, too.
Using just five (helpfully individually pictured on each page) requires some clever additions to pack in flavour, though – a bag of mixed frozen veg counts as one, for example, or shop-bought tzatziki. So purists might not approve, but the time-poor among us will really appreciate the simplicity and corner-cutting.
As with all his recent books, you’ll need a few very basic pantry ingredients like olive oil and red wine vinegar, and not one of the recipes is longer than half a page – some even just one paragraph.
Why not try some for yourself?
Feta filo turnover recipe
These parcels are finished with fresh marjoram, runny honey and a sprinkle of pistachios.
Total time: 20 minutes
4 sheets of ﬁlo pastry
200g feta cheese
½ a bunch of marjoram (10g)
25g shelled unsalted pistachios
Runny honey, to serve
1. Lay a sheet of ﬁlo on a damp tea towel and brush lightly with olive oil.
2. Crumble a quarter of the feta across one side of the pastry, leaving a three-centimetre gap around the edges, and pick over a quarter of the marjoram leaves.
3. Carefully fold over the ﬁlo, press the edges to seal, then fold in half again, pressing down gently to secure. Brush lightly with olive oil.
4. Place a large non-stick frying pan on a medium heat with a splash of olive oil, add the ﬁlo parcel and cook for two minutes on each side, or until golden and crisp, then transfer to a serving plate.
5. Meanwhile, bash or roughly chop the pistachios. Drizzle the parcel with honey and scatter over a quarter of the pistachios. Repeat with the rest of the ingredients, serving each parcel as soon as it’s ready.
Tunisian prawn spaghetti recipe
With fragrant rose harissa, zingy lemon and fresh parsley.
Total time: 22 minutes
150g dried spaghetti
8 large raw shell-on king prawns
2tsp rose harissa
½ a bunch of ﬂat-leaf parsley (15g)
1. Cook the pasta in a pan of boiling salted water according to the packet instructions.
2. Meanwhile, peel the prawns, removing and reserving the heads and leaving the tails on. I like to run a small sharp knife down the back of each, discarding the vein, so they butterﬂy when they cook. Toss the prawns with the harissa and leave to brieﬂy marinate.
3. Place the prawn heads in a large frying pan on a medium heat with one tablespoon of olive oil and fry until golden all over, stirring regularly and gently squashing to extract amazing ﬂavour.
4. Roughly chop and reserve the top leafy half of the parsley, then ﬁnely slice the stalks and add them to the pan with a pinch of sea salt and black pepper. Fry for one minute, then add the marinated prawns and cook for one minute on each side.
5. Using tongs, drag the pasta into the pan, squeeze in half the lemon juice, throw in the parsley leaves, then toss together, loosening with a splash of starchy cooking water, if needed. To serve, pick out and discard the crispy prawn heads and cut the remaining lemon half into wedges for squeezing over.
Chocolate dreams recipe
Silky-smooth chocolate with fresh coffee.
Total time: 40 minutes, plus cooling
150g dark chocolate (70%)
125g unsalted butter
50ml good espresso
2 large eggs
125g golden caster sugar
1. Preheat the oven to 120°C/250°F/gas ½.
2. Snap the chocolate into a heatproof bowl, add the butter, espresso and a good pinch of sea salt, and place over a pan of gently simmering water to melt very slowly until smooth, stirring regularly.
3. Meanwhile, whisk the eggs and sugar together until pale and doubled in size, then carefully fold in the melted chocolate mixture.
4. Boil the kettle. Divide the mixture between six coffee cups or ramekins and put them into a roasting tray. Place the tray in the oven, then carefully pour in enough boiling kettle water to come halfway up the side of the cups.
5. Bake for exactly 20 minutes, then carefully remove from the oven and leave to cool in the water for two hours.
6. To serve, I sometimes shave over some extra chocolate, or add fresh fruit like cherries, blood oranges or wild strawberries, with a dollop of yoghurt or crème fraîche.
5 Ingredients Mediterranean by Jamie Oliver is published by Penguin Michael Joseph © Jamie Oliver Enterprises Limited (2023 5 Ingredients Mediterranean). Recipe photography: © David Loftus, 2023.