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3 tempting traybakes from Jo Pratt

Never tried to make a traybake? They're the perfect solution for a quick and easy dinner, plus it means less washing up.

Traybakes are a lifesaver when you need a low-maintenance meal and we’ve picked the tastiest ones from Leicestershire chef, Jo Pratt’s brand spanking new book, The Flexible Family Cookbook. Her recipes are a lifesaver in the kitchen and a total crowdpleaser at the table.

Tikka traybake

Ingredients

2 large onions, cut into 3cm/ 1 1⁄4 inch pieces
1 large aubergine (eggplant), cut into 3cm / 1 1⁄4 inch pieces
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 3cm/1 1⁄4 inch pieces
1⁄2 cauliflower, broken into florets
450g/1 lb skinless chicken thigh fillets, cut into chunks
sunflower or rapeseed (canola) oil for cooking
6 ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
4 tbsp tikka masala curry paste (or curry paste of your choice)
1 x 400ml/14 fl oz tin coconut milk small bunch of chopped coriander
1 tsp nigella (onion) seeds
flaked sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 220°C/200°C fan/425°F/gas 6.

2. Place the onions, aubergine, sweet potatoes and cauliflower in a single layer in a large roasting tray (or 2 smaller ones if necessary).

3. Add the chicken and enough oil to lightly coat everything. Season with salt and pepper and roast for 40 minutes, turning a couple of times throughout.

4. Add the tomatoes and curry paste. Toss around, and return to the oven for a further 20–30 minutes, again turning everything a couple of times for even cooking, until the veggies are tender and nicely golden.

5. Transfer the roasting tray to the hob and put over a medium-high heat. Pour in three-quarters of the coconut milk and stir until it comes to a simmer. Add the remaining coconut milk for a saucier finish if preferred. Cook for 5 minutes. Season to taste.

6. If serving straight away, stir through most of the coriander. Alternatively, loosely cover with foil and return to the oven set to about 150°C/130°C fan/300°F/gas 2 to keep hot.

7. Serve scattered with nigella seeds and the remaining coriander.

Flexible
Vegetarian/vegan: swap the chicken for 450g/1 lb diced paneer cheese or 2 x 400g/4 oz tins drained chickpeas. Rather than adding at the start of the recipe, add to the roasting tray at the same time you add the curry paste and tomatoes.

Pescatarian: swap the chicken for 400g/14 oz raw king prawns. Season with salt and add to the pan when you add the coconut milk. Simmer for 5 minutes, until they are cooked through and pink in colour.


Thai green squash and tofu curry traybake

Ingredients

1 butternut squash, about 1kg/
2 lb 4 oz, cut into 2–3cm/1–11⁄2 inch chunks (peeled if preferred)
3 banana shallots, cut into chunks 3 tbsp sunflower oil
2 tbsp Thai green curry paste (more or less depending on your tastes)
1 x 400ml/14 fl oz tin coconut milk
250g/9 oz extra-firm tofu, diced
100g/31⁄2 oz baby corn, halved on an angle 100g/31⁄2 oz sugar snap peas, halved
1 bunch coriander (cilantro), chopped juice 1 lime
light soy sauce or flaked sea salt (or fish sauce for non-vegetarian) lime wedges, to serve.

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/180C fan/400°F/gas 6.

2. Put the squash, shallots, oil and curry paste in a large baking tray, and toss everything together well.

3. Bake for 35–40 minutes, turning the vegetables occasionally, until the squash is cooked through and becoming golden.

4. Stir in the coconut milk, tofu, baby corn, sugar snap peas, half the coriander and lime juice. Season with soy sauce or salt and return to the oven for a further 15 minutes.

5. Once cooked, scatter over the remaining coriander and check for seasoning. Serve with lime wedges to squeeze over.

Flexible
Pescatarian: replace the tofu with 350–400g/12–14 oz raw peeled prawns added to the pan for the final 15 minutes of cooking time. Season with fish sauce.

Meat-lovers: put 6–8 chicken thigh fillets in with the squash and omit the tofu.


Carrot cake traybake

Ingredients

150ml/5 fl oz/./3 cup sunflower or rapeseed (canola) oil
1 ripe banana, peeled and mashed to a puree
125g/4. oz soft brown sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
175g/6 oz self-raising (self-rising) wholemeal flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of (baking) soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
tsp ground allspice
tsp ground ginger
200g/7 oz finely grated carrots
75g/2. oz sultanas
25g/1 oz desiccated coconut

For the frosting
75g/5. oz butter, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
125g/4. oz cream cheese
225g/8 oz icing (confectioners) sugar

For the pecan brittle
100g/3. oz caster (superfine) sugar
50g/1. oz pecan nuts, chopped
sunflower or rapeseed (canola) oil for brushing

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/350°F/gas 4. Line a 20 x 30cm/8 x 12 inch rectangular, 3–4cm/11⁄2–13⁄4 inch deep baking tin with baking parchment.

2. In a large bowl, mix the oil, mashed banana, sugar and eggs together until totally combined. Mix in all of the remaining cake ingredients and spoon into the prepared tin, levelling off the surface with the back of your spoon.

3. Bake for 20–25 minutes until the cake has risen, is firm but springy when lightly pressed and a skewer comes out clean when inserted in the centre. Leave the cake to completely cool in the tin.

4. To make the frosting, beat the butter and vanilla with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the cream cheese and beat for a minute or so before sifting in half the sugar. Mix at a low speed to start with so you don’t end up with a cloud of icing taking over your kitchen, then increase the speed until it’s mixed in. Repeat with the remaining sugar and beat until it is a light creamy texture. Keep in a cool place until needed.

5. To make the pecan brittle, line a baking tray with baking parchment and brush with a little oil. Place the sugar in a saucepan over a medium heat. Leave until the sugar is melted and turned deep golden, swirling the pan a couple of times, but do try and avoid stirring the sugar. Stir in the nuts and tip straight onto the prepared tray. Leave for a few minutes to set.

6. When the cake is cool, spread the frosting over the top and serve cut into pieces, decorated with shards of pecan brittle.

Flexible
Carrot cake conversions: the cake mixture can be spooned into cupcake cases and baked for 15–20 minutes. Or if you want a classic round cake, then divide the mixture between two 18cm/7 inch round tins and bake for 20–25 minutes.

Nut-free: honeycomb is a fun alternative to pecan brittle. Line a 20cm/8 inch deep baking tin with baking parchment. Heat 200g/7 oz caster sugar and 5 tablespoons golden syrup in a pan over a low heat. Dissolve the sugar then increase the heat and simmer until you have an amber caramel. Stir in 2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda then pour straight into the tin and leave until solid (about 1 hour). Break into chunks and decorate the traybake.

The Flexible Family Cookbook: 75 quick and easy recipes with over 200 options to keep the whole family happy by Jo Pratt. Published by Frances Lincoln, £20.00.

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