A bush of garden thyme will be a good friend to any cook, as it provides fresh leaves all the year round. It has a really strong, warm resinous flavour and needs to be used sparingly if it is not to overpower other tastes.
A teaspoonful of chopped thyme added to a salad dressing is a good idea, and I use little branches of thyme in my stocks and casseroles – and always add some to beef stews.
As it is a herb that dries well, it's useful for flat dwellers and non-gardeners.
No fiddly browning of the meat here: just throw it all into a casserole and three hours later you'll be swooning at the wonderful aromas that escape from this classic stew.
Ready-cooked chestnuts allow you to make this quck, easy, low-fat soup in no time at all and you'll be well rewarded: the chestnuts add richness and a sweet flavour for a perfect winter soup.
A tin of cooked lentils allows you to rustle this lovely, French-inspired salad up in minutes. You could also serve it without the cheese as an accompaniment to chicken and fish. Let's raise the pulse rate!
Filled with wintry root veg and a cheesy sauce, with a parmesan pastry, this pie is a real treat! Replace the lard with vegetable fat if making this for vegetarians.
All you need is crusty bread to mop up the juices in this superb summery salad that has more than a hint of Italy about it.