Been caught short at Easter? Here are some last-minute recipes to see you through

Last minute? No worries. This tray bake is the perfect set-and-forget dish for an impromptu meal.

Last minute? No worries. This tray bake is the perfect set-and-forget dish for an impromptu meal. Photo: Lisa Linder

You’ve single-handedly organised Easter lunch, the shopping is done, the kids busy, the chocolate egg hunt sorted.

But you forgot about friends popping around on Sunday evening, or Monday for lunch, or just for coffee and cake. Fear not, The New Daily has got you sorted with these quick pull-together recipes.

Pan-fried gnocchi with wild mushrooms

Once you have pan-fried gnocchi, you will never boil them again. With a crispy golden outside contrasting the pleasingly chewy texture, this recipe is one of the quickest meals in the book. Pre-packaged gnocchi can be found in the freezer, the chiller, or even vacuum-packed in the dried pasta aisle of the grocery store.
Serves 4

Prep time 5 mins 

Cook time 14 mins

olive oil, for cooking 

2 large shallots, sliced 

450g wild mushrooms, sliced

3 garlic cloves, finely sliced

8 sage sprigs

squeeze of lemon juice

450g good-quality fresh gnocchi 

4 tablespoons butter

handful of grated or shaved Parmesan

Salt and black pepper. Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add a thin layer of olive oil to the pan, then add the shallots and cook for four minutes, moving them around in the pan. Add a little more oil, then add the mushrooms and cook for three to four minutes until golden and soft. Add the garlic and sage and cook for another minute. Add the lemon juice, then transfer the mushrooms to a plate and set aside. 

Heat another good splash of olive oil in the skillet over medium to high heat. Add the gnocchi and cook, tossing frequently, for three to four minutes until golden on the outside. Once cooked, add the butter, let it sizzle, then divide the gnocchi among serving plates with the mushrooms on top. Season and top with Parmesan.

Make ahead?

This dish is done in minutes so it is best cooked to order.

Baked feta with radishes potato and harissa dressing

Arguably better than a perfectly crisp roast potato, these smashed potatoes become extra crunchy from their gnarly, craggy edges.  The key to a really crispy potato is to only boil them for 10 to 12 minutes until they are just tender; if they are too wet they will steam too much. To make them extra crunchy, roast them for 10 minutes before adding all the remaining ingredients. (see main photo)

Serves 4

Prep time 10 mins

Cook time 55 mins

700g baby potatoes, skin on 

200g block of feta

3 red onions, quartered (or into eighths if large)

6 garlic cloves, crushed but skin-on 

1 bunch of radishes, trimmed 

olive oil, for drizzling


4 handfuls of arugula,(rocket) for serving 

Harissa dressing

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 to 2 teaspoons harissa, to taste

Make ahead? 

You can make the dressing in advance and store in a clean jar in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days. The dressing also works well on steamed or roasted vegetables as a side dish.

This is an edited extract from Last Minute Dinner Party by Frankie Unsworth published by Hardie Grant Books

Photography: Lisa Linder


Baked stuffed tomatoes

Serves 4

Preparation time 20 minutes

Cooking time 1 hour

Standing time 10 minutes

These tomatoes make a great light meal served on their own, with a little bread or even with some olives and a piece of good feta.

8 large tomatoes

1⁄3 cup (80ml/2½fl oz) olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

1 large brown onion, finely diced

4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

1 zucchini (courgette), grated

8 tablespoons koshihikari (sushi) rice or medium-grain rice

1 teaspoon powdered vegetable stock (optional)

2 tablespoons each roughly chopped parsley, mint and oregano

salt and black pepper, to season

Preheat the oven to 180C (360F) fan-forced. Cut the tops off the tomatoes and hollow them out by scooping out the insides with a small spoon. Roughly chop the removed pulp and set aside.

Heat a medium frying pan over a medium heat and add the oil. Fry the onion for about 5 minutes until starting to brown, then add the garlic and fry for about 1 minute. Add the zucchini, rice, about 1 cup (250ml/8½ fl oz) water, half the chopped tomato pulp, and the vegetable stock, if using. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 5 minutes until the rice has absorbed the liquid, then stir through the chopped herbs and season very well with salt and pepper.

Spread the remaining tomato pulp onto the base of a baking dish or ovenproof frying pan that will fit the tomatoes snugly, then place the tomatoes on top. Divide the onion mixture between the tomatoes, stuffing it inside, and cover with the tops. Drizzle with the extra olive oil and cover with aluminium foil. Bake for 25 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for a further 20 minutes. Allow to stand for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Tip If you want to add meat to this dish, about 150g (5½ oz) minced (ground) beef or lamb is all you need. Add it after frying the onions and garlic and fry until browned.

No-mix potato salad

Serves 8

Prep 20 minutes

Cooking time 25 minutes

I made this salad one Christmas years ago only because we didn’t have a bowl large enough to toss everything together. It was a revelation. Keeping the dressing separate from the mustard cream allowed each element of the salad to have its own character.

1.5kg (3lb 5 oz) new potatoes

1 teaspoon salt, plus extra to season

¼ cup (60ml/7½ oz) olive oil

100g (3½ oz) speck, in a block, cut into lardons

4 spring onions (scallions), sliced

¼ tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1 red onion, cut into thin rings

3 dill pickles, sliced

2 tablespoons baby capers, drained

¼ cup finely shredded dill

2 tablespoons finely shredded parsley

Mustard cream

¾ cup (185g/6½ oz) sour cream

¾ cup (185g/6½ mayonnaise

2 tablespoons dijon mustard

black pepper, to season

Place the potatoes in a large pot, cover with cold water and place over a medium heat. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10–15 minutes until tender (a small sharp knife inserted into a potato should be able to go in and come out easily). Drain and allow to cool slightly, then cut into halves or quarters, depending on how large your potatoes are.

To make the mustard cream, mix the ingredients together and season well with plenty of black pepper.

In a small non-reactive frying pan, heat half the olive oil and fry the speck until crisp. Add the spring onion and cook for about 1 minute until softened. Add the remaining olive oil and the apple-cider vinegar. Remove from the heat.

Spoon the mustard cream onto a serving plate, add half the potatoes, then scatter with the red onion, sliced dill pickles and capers. Add remaining potatoes, then pour over the dressing. Scatter with the dill and parsley to serve.

Tip Keep the potatoes and the dressing slightly warm when you pour the dressing over, as it will help the vinegar to soak into the potatoes. The salad can cool down or be chilled after that, but combining them when they’re still slightly warm is quite important.

This is an edited extract from 7 Days of Dinner by Adam Liaw (Hardie Grant Books, RRP $45)
Photography © Steve Brown


White chocolate & coconut squares


185g (6½ oz) unsalted butter, softened

220g (7¾ oz) caster (superfine) sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

4 eggs

250g (9 oz) self-raising flour

60g (2¼ oz) fine desiccated coconut

¼ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)

pinch of salt

150ml (5 fl oz) coconut milk

White chocolate glaze

250ml (9 fl oz) coconut milk

360g (12¾ oz) caramelised white chocolate

60g (2 oz) golden syrup (or light treacle)

40g (1½ oz) unsalted butter

pinch of salt

To coat

120g (4¼ oz) fine desiccated coconut

150g (5½ oz) shredded coconut

150g (5½ oz) flaked coconut

Preheat the oven to 160°C (315°F) fan-forced and grease a 20 cm (8 inch) square tin with a little butter. Line the base and sides with baking paper.

In the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugar and vanilla until very light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Place the flour, desiccated coconut, bicarbonate of soda and salt in a separate mixing bowl and whisk together. Add half to the creamed butter mixture, stirring gently, before adding the coconut milk. Once incorporated, follow with the remaining flour mixture, stirring gently until just combined.

Spoon the batter into the tin, smoothing the top with a spatula and tapping the tin gently on the bench a few times to remove any air bubbles.

Bake in the oven for 45–50 minutes or until the cake is risen and cooked through. Allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before carefully turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

When the cake is cool, make the white chocolate glaze by combining all the ingredients in a medium saucepan over low heat. Stir gently until the butter and chocolate have melted and the mixture is smooth. Allow to bubble and thicken for a few minutes before removing the pan from the heat and allowing to cool a little.

Once the chocolate glaze has cooled slightly, use a large serrated knife to slice the cake into 16 squares. Pour the extra desiccated, shredded and flaked coconut into a large shallow bowl and mix well. Coat the cake squares in the chocolate glaze, then toss gently in the coconut mixture. Place the cakes on a baking tray scattered with a little extra coconut and allow the glaze to firm.

These little cakes are best eaten on the day they are made, but will keep happily in an airtight container at room temperature for two to three days.

Images and text for white chocolate and cocount squares from The Plain Cake Appreciation Society by Tilly Pamment, photography by Tilly Pamment. Murdoch Books RRP $39.99. 

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