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Main dish

Fragrant lamb with spinach

Fragrant lamb with spinach

This enticing curry is warmly spiced rather than fiery hot with chillies. Serve it with basmati rice, chapattis and a fresh tomato and cucumber chutney for a healthy Indian–style meal. It is the perfect choice when entertaining friends on a chilly winter's evening.

Beef in red wine

Beef in red wine

Long, slow cooking gives this traditional casserole its inimitable flavour. The cooking liquid is reduced by removing the casserole lid, resulting in a wonderfully aromatic sauce that glazes the meat and vegetables. Flambéing with brandy brings the cooking to a spectacular finale.

Chunky mulligatawny

Chunky mulligatawny

This lightly spiced soup is robust and satisfying – the perfect choice for a simple meal on a cold day. Generous spoonfuls of fresh raita bring a terrific contrast in flavour and texture to the soup, which is finished with fried curried onion. Naan or pita bread mop up both soup and raita.

Chicken with apricots and cumin

Chicken with apricots and cumin

Chicken thighs are excellent in a casserole, being very tender and full of flavour. Fresh apricots and a bulb of fennel make good partners, especially when spiced up with cumin. Rice would be a good accompaniment, as would boiled new potatoes or baked potatoes.

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Potato-filled Sardinian ravioli

Potato-filled Sardinian ravioli

Mashed potato enriched with cottage cheese and parmesan and enlivened with garlic and herbs makes a marvellous filling for the pasta parcels called ravioli. A small amount of extra virgin olive oil is added at the end, so none of its flavour is lost and the dish tastes richer than it really is.

Rigatoni with garlicky sausage

Rigatoni with garlicky sausage

Eggplant can contribute succulent texture to pasta sauces. Here, the eggplant provides the perfect complement to tasty sausage and olives, simmered with canned cherry tomatoes and fresh herbs. Tossed with pasta, the result is a speedy, well–balanced meal that tastes terrific.

Rotolo of ricotta and spinach

Rotolo of ricotta and spinach

This is an attractive recipe to serve as a main dish, and it is equally good served as a first course, when it will provide 8 portions. Serve a fresh, crisp green salad as an accompaniment, taking advantage of the wide range of leaves and green vegetables that can be eaten raw.

Saffron couscous

Saffron couscous

Serve this salad warm or cool as a main dish for 4, or as a main course accompaniment for 6. Either way, it is a flavoursome low–fat vegetarian dish that has real meal appeal. Saffron, which brings the taste and colour of the Middle East to the couscous, is available from supermarkets.

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Souffl-topped pasta bake

Soufflé-topped pasta bake

A topping lightened with whisked eggwhites and finished with a sprinkling of parmesan can make a simple pasta and vegetable bake very special. You can use a wide variety of vegetables with the pasta in this easy version of a soufflé. Serve with a salad of curly endive and watercress.

Couscous pilaf with tahini yogurt

Couscous pilaf with tahini yogurt

This vegetable–rich couscous is lower in fat than most pilafs and it makes a marvellous, healthy main dish, or an excellent side dish for almost any simply cooked meat or poultry, when it will serve 8 or more. Any leftovers can be used as a delicious stuffing for chicken or other poultry.

Polenta with turkey and wild mushroom sauce

Polenta with turkey and wild mushroom sauce

This flavoursome dish is a lovely way to enjoy a small amount of leftover turkey or chicken, with lots of tasty mushrooms and a herby soft polenta. The sauce is very quick to make and can be served in many other ways, such as over plain boiled or steamed rice or baked potatoes.

Basil-stuffed chicken breasts

Basil-stuffed chicken breasts

This stylish–looking main course is surprisingly easy to make. The chicken breasts can be prepared in advance, ready for cooking, and kept, covered, in the fridge. Tagliatelle tossed with a little grated lemon zest would be a good accompaniment, plus ciabatta with olives or sun–dried tomatoes.

Chicken and sausage jambalaya

Chicken and sausage jambalaya

A typical Cajun recipe, this dish is full of spicy, complex flavours. With lots of rice and vegetables, it is a great meal to make a small amount of meat go a long way, and offers a healthy balance of protein and carbohydrate.

Pasta with two-cheese sauce

Pasta with two-cheese sauce

This is one of the quickest options for a nutritious family meal – the cheese mixture is prepared in the time it takes the pasta and peas to cook. When you add the hot pasta to the parmesan and ricotta, the heat melts them, producing an instant creamy sauce.

Burghul pilaf

Burghul pilaf

The combination of grains and beans is common to all cuisines with a tradition of vegetarian meals. In this delicious one-pot main dish, ground coriander and cinnamon and dried apricots add a Middle Eastern flavour.

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