Recipe Review: Jamie Oliver’s 30 Minute Meals

My husband and I are big fans of Jamie Oliver, and we use his recipes as our go-to meals for dinner parties, weeknight cooking, and even sweet treats. His recipes are simple and clean, but the flavors are strong and sophisticated. Even the most novice cook can manage to prepare his recipes and produce an incredible meal. 

Venture & Roam: Recipe Review of Jamie Oliver's 30 Minute Meals
Jamie Oliver’s “Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals”

I bought my husband Jamie Oliver’s cookbook “Jamie’s 30-Minute Meals: A Revolutionary Approach to Cooking Good Food Fast” for Christmas in an attempt to encourage us to cook more at home. When we lived in Switzerland, I cooked almost every night of the week. But since moving to Dubai, where fast food and delivery is a-plenty and takeout is a main part of any diet, I haven’t cooked as much. It is difficult to turn down takeout in a city where the takeout is authentic, delicious, and cheaper than buying groceries. 

But alas, the Dubai culture of weekly takeout food is not so friendly on the waistline. Nor is it the best nutrition for growing a baby. So we made a promise to cook more. Enter my husband’s Christmas gift.

Jamie Oliver’s “30-Minute Meals” cookbook offers about 50 meals designed to help you cook an entire meal for four in 30 minutes. Yes, that’s right. An entree, salad, side dish, and sometimes a dessert, all within 30 minutes. Impossible, you say? I said the same thing. So I invited some friends over for dinner last night and attempted to make one of his meals in 30 minutes. 

Considering that I’m expecting, I thought it was fitting to make Jamie Oliver’s “Pregnant Jools’s Pasta” meal, complete with a pasta dish, chicory & watercress salad, and frangipane tartlets. I also made Paula Deen’s Creamy Artichoke and Spinach Dip as an appetizer, but I did not include that into my final cook time as it was not part of Jamie Oliver’s meal, and I made it before I began cooking “Pregnant Jools’s Pasta”. 

The recipes in the meal plan are laid out in a creative way that allows you to manage your cooking. The directions and steps guide you into simultaneously cooking all of the different elements of the meal, prepping one dish while another is cooking, and it prepares you to have everything ready roughly at the same time. 

The Cooking Begins

I began the “Pregnant Jools’s Pasta” meal by preparing the vegetables and sausage mixture for the main base of the pasta sauce. I had forgotten to prep the vegetables beforehand, so I took some time to wash them. I only had to roughly chop the veggies before putting the mixture in the food processor to do the rest of the work for me. This step took a surprising amount of time, but I think its because I didn’t have the ingredients prepped before I began cooking. Once I finished this vegetables and placed the mixture in the frying pan, I began working on the tart. 

I couldn’t find individual tartlet shells at the grocery store, so I used a large pre-made pie crust instead. The tart took almost no time at all to prepare. I simply spread jam on the bottom of the pie shell, and then mixed the almond powder, egg, sugar, butter, and vanilla together. I poured it into the pie crust and set it in the oven. 

At this point, the pot of boiling water was ready for my pasta, so I tossed the whole bag in and seasoned the water with salt. I tended to the vegetable and sausage mixture in the frying pan, adding the final ingredients, including diced canned tomatoes, to pan. Once I was finished with this, it was almost time to strain the pasta. By the time the pasta was finished, the sauce was also ready. I only needed to garnish the dish with freshly shaved parmesan cheese and fresh basil.

I found that I was running out of time, and my guests had already finished the majority of the Spinach and Artichoke dip, so I skipped the chicory and watercress salad. But since we had more than enough pasta for 5 people, I’m sure that they didn’t mind missing some leafy greens. 

The Verdict

All in all, it took me about 45 minutes to cook this meal. I suspect that it would have taken less time if I had properly prepared all of the ingredients before I began to cook. I spent a lot of time on prep, but I am sure that if I hadn’t been a bit distracted in the kitchen and if I had prepped my ingredients before, I could have made the entire meal (including the chicory salad) within 30-35 minutes. 

Venture & Roam: Jamie Oliver's Pregnant Jools's Pasta - Penne Pasta with Sausage Tomato Sauce from 30 Minute Meals
Pregnant Jools’s Pasta – Penne Pasta with Sausage Tomato Sauce

The pasta was absolutely delicious, and there was hardly any left over. It had a great hint of spice from the chili peppers, and the sausage and spices reminded me of a great Italian sausage. I even helped myself to seconds, it was that good!

Venture & Roam: Jamie Oliver's Frangipane Tartlet on Gien Bagatelle China with Jacques Piccard linen and Vieri silverware, Recipe Review Jamie Oliver's 30 Minute Meals
Jamie Oliver’s Frangipane Tartlet

The frangipane tartlet was ready about 5 minutes after we began eating the pasta, and was the perfect temperature by the time we were ready for a sweet dessert after an intense round of Mario Party. It was sweet, with a hint of orange zest. I’m not sure if the center was supposed to set as it was a bit runny when we cut into it, but looks don’t matter when something tastes so good!
I will definitely try to challenge myself to completing more of Jamie Oliver’s meals in 30 minutes. I already have my eyes set on a roast beef meal with mini Yorkshire puddings. 

Have you tried any of Jamie Oliver’s 30-minute meals? Tell me about it below!


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