Darker evenings and cooler temperatures make the perfect excuse to indulge in healthy comfort foods. Try these six yummy dinner recipes perfect for autumn
There’s nothing like a good plate of comfort eating to brighten up your day, especially now that the evenings are drawing in and the temperature has taken a cooler turn.
Well, we have the perfect healthy comfort foods to get you through the autumn and winter months.
We’re talking luxury fish pie, juicy lamb burgers, katsu curry and plenty more. Plus it’s all healthy and can be made in batches for your own convenience.
The Batch Lady has super speedy recipes that can be made in – you guessed it – ‘batches’, making your life simple and delicious – plus they can all be prepared in 30 minutes or less.
Healthy comfort food recipe #1 Luxury Fish Pie
This pie takes just moments to put together and tastes amazing.
If you are making this for the freezer, work as fast as you can to ensure the frozen veg in the pie does not thaw out between freezes.
Serves 4 | Prep: 5 mins | Cook: 30mins
– 400g fresh fish pie mix 1 cup (140g) frozen sweetcorn
– 1 cup (140g) frozen sweetcorn
– 1 cup (155g) frozen peas
– 1 small pack fresh dill, leaves finely chopped
– 1 1/2 cups (360ml) double cream
– 425g (about 1 1/2 packs) ready-made mashed potatoes
- Put the fish mix, sweetcorn and peas in the base of a large baking dish and sprinkle over the dill. Pour over the cream and give everything a stir to combine.
- Spoon the mashed potatoes over the fish mixture, then spread over the top with a spatula or palette knife to form an even layer
- TO COOK: Cook the pie on an oven preheated to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6 for 30 minutes, until bubbling and golden.
- TO FREEZE: Cover the pie with a lid, or wrap in a layer of clingfilm followed by a layer of foil, then label and freeze flat for up to 3 months.
- TO COOK FROM FROZEN: This can be defrosted or cooked from frozen. If defrosted, cook as described left. If cooking from frozen, increase the cooking time to 1 hour, covering with foil if the top starts to catch.
Zhuzh it up: To add even more luxury to both of these dishes, add some prawns or even lobster tails to the fish mix before cooking.
Healthy comfort food recipe #2 Lamb & Feta Burgers
These are so easy to make and are frozen raw, so the minute you’ve divided up your patties,
you’re moving on to the next meal. I freeze these with brioche burger buns and corn on the cob alongside, so my whole meal is ready to pull out of the freezer and defrost in one go.
Makes 4 large or 6 medium burgers | Prep: 5 mins | Cook: 12mins
– 500g minced lamb
– 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
– 2 tsp dried rosemary
– 2 tsp dried thyme
– 100g feta cheese, cut into 1cm (1/2 inch) cubes
– Splash of olive oil for frying
– Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
– 4 brioche burger buns, halved
– Salad leaves
– Corn on the cob
– Sauce of your choice (sriracha, mayo or cucumber yoghurt would work well)
- Put the meat, Worcestershire sauce, dried herbs and a generous grinding of salt and pepper in a large bowl and mix with your fingers until well combined.
- Depending on the size you want your burgers, split the mixture in four or six equal-sized portions, then divide the cubed feta evenly between the portions of meat. Shape each portion of meat into a burger patty, pressing the feta cubes firmly into the mixture.
- TO COOK: To cook the Burgers, heat a splash of olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat, then cook for 5-6 minutes on each side, until cooked through. Serve in brioche buns, with salad, corn on the cob and your choice of sauce alongside.
- TO FREEZE: Transfer to a clearly labelled freezer bag in a single layer, then freeze flat for up to 1 month.
- TO COOK FROM FROZEN: These are best defrosted and cooked in a pan as described above. If you want to cook from frozen, cook in an oven preheated to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6 for 25-30 minutes, turning halfway through.
Zhuzh it up: For a grown-up twist, add some finely chopped fennel tops to the burger mixture to give a delicious hint of anise.
Healthy comfort food recipe #3 Moussaka
Serves 6 | Prep: 20 mins | Cook: 1 hour
– Butter, for greasing
– Splash of olive oil
– 1 cup (115g) frozen, chopped onions
– 2 tsp frozen, chopped garlic
– 500g minced lamb
– 2 x 400g cans whole tomatoes, drained
– 2 tbsp tomato purée
– 1 tbsp dried mixed Italian herbs
– 1 tsp ground cinnamon
– 500g frozen, roasted aubergines
– 1 x 250g tub ricotta cheese
– 1 x 200g pack feta cheese
– 1 large egg, beaten
– Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- Grease a large baking dish with butter.
- Heat a splash of oil in a large pan, then add the onions, garlic and minced lamb and cook, stirring continously, for 5-7 minutes over a medium heat, until the meat has browned.
- Drain any excess fat from the pan then add the tomatoes, tomato purée, dried herbs and cinnamon and stir to combine. Reduce the heat to a simmer and leave to cook for 20 minutes.
- Using scissors, snip the frozen aubergine slices into 2.5cm (1 inch) strips and layer half of these in the base of your prepared dish. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, beat together the ricotta, feta and beaten egg until well combined, then season generously with salt and pepper.
- Once the meat has finished simmering, pour the mixture into the baking dish over the aubergines, ensuring that it reaches the edges in an even layer.
- Top the meat with another layer of aubergines, then pour the cheese and egg mixture over the top and spread to form an even layer.
- TO COOK: Transfer to an oven preheated to preheated to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4 for 35-40 minutes, until golden and bubbling. If the top of the Moussaka browns too quickly, cover with foil for the remainder of the cooking time.
- TO FREEZE: If you are making the moussaka ahead to freeze, set aside until cooled to room temperature, then cover with a layer of clingfilm followed by a layer of foil. Label clearly and transfer to the freezer for up to 1 month.
- TO COOK FROM FROZEN: Remove the Moussaka from the freezer and defrost thoroughly, then cook the Moussaka as described above.
Healthy comfort food recipe #4 Katsu Fish Curry
This tasty, Japanese-inspired dish has lots of shortcuts that can make a simple dish even simpler! For speed, you can buy ready- breaded fish and microwave rice, meaning that all that’s really left for you to do is make the sauce
Serves 4 | Prep: 15 mins | Cook: 25 mins
– 2 cups (300g) frozen, chopped carrots
– 3/4 cup (180ml) coconut milk
– 1 x 180g jar katsu curry paste
– 4 x panko-breaded, shop-bought cod fillets (if not breading your own)
– Cooked rice, to serve
If breading your own fish:
– 4 x skinless, boneless cod fillets (125-200g each)
– 1 cup (130g) plain flour
– 3 cups (130g) panko breadcrumbs
– 3 eggs, beaten
– Vegetable oil, for frying
– Salt and freshly ground pepper
- Bring a pan of water to the boil over a medium-high heat, add the carrots and cook for 5-7 minutes, then drain and set aside.
- If you using fish fillets that are already breaded, skip the next 2 stages and and continue from step 4. While the carrots are cooking, put the flour on a plate and season generously with salt and pepper. Put the panko breadcrumbs in a shallow bowl, then put the beaten eggs in a separate shallow bowl. Set all 3 dishes next to each other on the worktop.
- Dredge the fillets of cold in the flour, shaking of any excess, then dip in the egg and,finally, roll in the breadcrumbs until coated. Set aside and repeat until all of the fish is coated.
- Heat the coconut milk in a small pan over a low heat, then add the katsu paste, stir to combine and cook gently, stirring occasionally, until the mixtures starts to simmer. Add the cooked carrots to the sauce, stir to combine, then remove the pan from the heat.
- TO COOK: Transfer the fish to a baking sheet and cook in an oven preheated to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 5 for 15 minutes, until golden. Serve the fish on a bed of rice, with the warm katsu sauce spooned over.
- TO FREEZE: Transfer the fish to a large, labelled freezer bag. Leave the sauce to cool to room temperature, then spoon into a smaller freezer bag, seal and place inside the bag with the fish. Freeze for up to 3 months.
- TO COOK FROM FROZEN: This can be cooked from frozen. Cook the fish at 180°C/350°F/gas mark 5 for 20-25 minutes, until golden. Defrost the sauce in the microwave until piping hot, then serve as described above.
Cook’s tips: If you are also making the Chicken Katsu Burgers, hold back 1 tablespoon from the jar of the katsu paste to use when making them.
Healthy comfort food recipe #5 Spinach & Ricotta Cannelloni
Serves 6 | Prep: 20 mins | Cook: 40 mins
– 8 cubes frozen, chopped spinach
– 2 x 250g tubs ricotta cheese
– 1 tsp ground nutmeg
– 1 x quantity Basic Tomato Sauce (see page 200 in the book) or 1 large jar store-bought tomato sauce
– 1 cup (115g) grated mozzarella cheese (optional)
- Put the frozen spinach in a heatproof bowl and cook in the microwave on high for 2.5 minutes, then stir and cook for 2 minutes more.
- Drain the spinach through a colander lined with kitchen paper, pressing down to remove as much liquid as possible, then return the spinach to the bowl.
- Add the ricotta cheese and nutmeg to the bowl with the spinach, stir to combine and set aside. Pour half of the tomato sauce into the base of a large baking dish.
- Using your hands or a teaspoon, fill the cannelloni shells with the spinach and ricotta mixture, then lay them in an even layer over the tomato sauce in the base of the baking dish.
- Once all of the tubes are filled, pour the remaining tomato sauce over the top of the pasta, then scatter over the grated mozzarella, if using.
- TO COOK: Simply transfer to an oven preheated to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4 for 30-40 minutes, until the top is golden and bubbling and the pasta is tender.
- TO FREEZE: Cover the lasagne with a lid, or wrap in a layer of clingfilm followed by a layer of foil, then label and freeze flat for up to 1 month.
- TO COOK FROM FROZEN: This can be defrosted or cooked directly from frozen. If defrosted, cook as described above. If cooking from frozen, increase the cooking time to 1 1/4- 1 1/2 hours, covering with foil if the top starts to catch and ensuring it is piping hot before serving.
Zhuzh it up: For some extra punch, add a couple of cloves of fresh crushed garlic to the spinach and ricotta mixture before filling the cannelloni tubes.
Healthy comfort food recipe #6 Chicken Katsu Burgers
This katsu curry/burger hybrid makes a great midweek meal and is a fun twist on the traditional way of serving chicken goujons. I like to serve these with corn on the cob alongside so, for ease, you could freeze a bag of corn alongside the goujons and pull it all out of the freezer at the same time.
Serves 4 | Prep: 10 mins | Cook: 15 mins
– 3 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
– 3-4 tbsp plain flour
– 1 tbsp mild curry powder
– 1/2 tsp salt
– 1 x 200g pack panko breadcrumbs
– 2 eggs, beaten
– 1 tbsp shop-bought katsu curry paste or 4 tbsp katsu curry sauce
– 4 tbsp mayonnaise (if using curry paste rather than sauce)
– Shredded lettuce and grated carrot
– 4 brioche burger buns
- Slice each of the chicken breasts into five long pieces, then set aside.
- Put the flour, curry powder and salt onto a plate and mix to combine. Put the panko breadcrumbs in a shallow bowl, then put in the beaten eggs in a separate shallow bowl. Set all three dishes next to each other on the worktop
- Dredge the pieces of chicken in the flour, shaking off any excess, dip in the egg, then roll in the panko breadcrumbs until coated. Set aside and repeat until all of the chicken is coated.
- TO COOK: Bake the chicken at 190°C/375°F/gas mark 5 for 10-15 minutes, until golden. If using the katsu paste, combine with the mayonnaise, then spread over the buns. Layer up the buns with the lettuce, carrot and a few of the goujons. If using katsu sauce, heat in a pan, and spoon the sauce over the chicken. Serve.
- TO FREEZE: Transfer the coated chicken to a lined baking sheet, then transfer to the freezer for 3-4 hours. After this time, transfer to a labelled freezer bag and freeze flat for up to 1 month.
- TO COOK FROM FROZEN: These can be cooked from frozen. Bake the chicken at 190°C/375°F/gas mark 5 for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown and the chicken is tender and juicy. Once cooked, assemble the burgers as described above.
Cook’s tip: For a delicious meat-free version of these, substitute the chicken for slice halloumi cheese and prepare in the same way.
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