the 10 minutes challenge with 5 ingredients

tuna with couscous-3

Last month, when I was getting ready for my trip, I had a big couple of days cooking and taking photographs of things so I wouldn’t be pressured to be blogging on the road. Rather than waste all that food, I invited a few mates around for a pot luck farewell dinner.

A great old night was had by all. The award for most popular dish of the night went to my little Baileys cheesecakes. A no-brainer really, although I had a slight bias towards my honey icecream – but that’s more about my icecream addiction than anything else.

For the savoury dishes I was pretty sure that my pasta with sausages and crushed peas was going to be the favourite but was pleasantly surprised that the recipe I’m going to share with you today enjoyed all the accolades. Yes a humble dish of couscous with canned tuna and cherry tomatoes. I knew I was going to love it, but wasn’t so sure that it would be a crowd pleaser.

Towards the end of the evening my good mate Keir was kind enough to say how much he’s been enjoying the 5 ingredients | 10 minutes recipes on stonesoup lately. But he felt that while I might be able to whip them up in no time at all, that he would struggle to make them that quickly.

Now Keir is no kitchen slouch. I’ve enjoyed many a fine roast meal at his democratic dining table, so I was a bit shocked that he thought he wouldn’t be able to keep up the pace.

Which got me thinking – how about you guys out there?

Am I dreaming when I say that something is going to take 10 minutes? Or do you think I’m on the mark? I’d love to know your thoughts.

If you’re up for it, I’d love it if you cooked one of my 5 ingredients | 10 minutes dishes and timed yourself like I do and report back in the comments. I’m super interested to know.

tuna with couscous-2

[5 ingredients | 10 minutes]
couscous with tuna & cherry tomato sauce

serves 2

I LOVE tuna in all its forms but I know there are some tuna snobs out there who think that the tinned stuff is bad. Trust me, good quality tuna in olive oil can be a thing of beauty – granted it is completely different to fresh tuna – think of it as a totally new food. And it’s so handy to have in the pantry for an emergency meal.

1C couscous
1/2 bunch green onions (scallions or shallots), chopped
2 cloved garlic, finely sliced
1 medium tin tuna in olive oil (190g or 7oz)
1 punnet cherry tomatoes, halved

Boil the kettle.

Place couscous and scallions in a medium saucepan. Pour over 3/4C boiling water, 2T olive oil and a generous seasoning of salt and pepper. Stir and cover. Stand.

Place garlic, tuna and tomatoes in a medium frying pan over a high heat. Cook, stirring freequently until the tomatoes have broken down a little and everything looks saucy. Taste and season.

Fluff couscous with a fork. Taste and add a little more salt and pepper if needed. Serve cousccous topped with the tomato sauce.

tuna with couscous-4


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  • This recipe I could definitely do in 10 minutes, once I’d done the chopping and measuring out of ingredients. I don’t know if that makes me slow or not. I imagine the chopping and measuring would only add another 5 minutes really.

    Question, do you drain the can of tuna? I usually buy tuna in springwater so wondered if the olive oil was essential.

    I am going to make this and will time it, but unfortunately it can’t be for another 5 days because of my shifts. Is that too late to make it and report back to you?

  • Haven’t tried this recipe yet, but I did do the broccoli with chickpeas recipe you included in a guest post at Zen Habits. That recipe took me 10 minutes including chopping and measuring. (It was delicious, by the way.)

    If that recipe is similar to the others in the series, I think you’re definitely on track.

  • I think you are slightly off the mark, some of your recipes took me about 15 minutes or maybe closer to 20.

  • I’m sorry to say I haven’t made any yet, although I most definitely have some bookmarked. I can say, though, that when I read them they at least appear to be realistically ten minutes.

    By the way, I just had cous cous last night for the first time in over a month and I had pushed out of my mind how crazy fast it is! And so, so delicious. I just shoveled it in my mouth while I waited for the rest of my food to finish cooking.

  • I made your cheese on toast and even that took me over 10 minutes – but I always seem to take longer – maybe chopping side vegies (which I often do) and a demanding baby slow me down

  • Ingenious recipe!
    I didn’t have canned tuna on hand and was in a hurry so I opted for canned boneless/skinless sardines in olive oil instead. The result was very nice; I definitely will try it with tuna next time.

    The recipe overall took about 8 minutes for me.
    Thank you so much for the recipe!

  • From start to finish, took me 17 minutes. Quick, easy, tasty, healthy, inexpensive and made from staples in the fridge and cupboard – can’t ask for more than that. Even have leftovers for lunch tomorrow! My favourite tuna is chargrilled with red chilli pepper in olive oil – used two small cans of this and it was delish. Thank you for the great recipe.

  • Lynne
    Thanks for the feedback on timing.

    I use tuna in oil because it seems to have better flavour and texture. If you were making this with tuna in spring water I’d add a couple of tablespoons olive oil to the pan to give it some richness and stop the sauce sticking. No deadline on this – just whenever you have time.

    Thanks Daisy – glad you enjoyed the broccoli

    Good to know – thanks for sharing

    ET – good point about overfishing – thanks for bringing it up

    thanks sarah – glad it sounds realistic to you – and also glad you’ve discovered couscous – it’s something I used to cook all the time and have only now just got back into.

    thanks eric – and good point – quantity plays a big part in the chopping timing.

    johanna – thanks for the feedback – can imagine a baby would change timing dramatically

    thanks paula

    hiro – sardines would be lovely in this great idea – and glad to see it only took you 8 minutes. yay

    thanks carolyn for taking the time to time yourself and report back.

  • I made your honey ice cream and it took me about 10 minutes to heat/whip/combine the ingredients. Maybe 12 :)

  • I *LOVE* the idea of the 5 ingredient/10 min recipes, because I am only willing to cook really simple things that don’t take much at all in the way of ingredients or doing, and I really need to get a few such new dishes in my repertoire. I have printed out a bunch of your recipes–the 5/10 ones and several of the salad ones which also have few ingredients. The broccoli and chickpeas is the only one I have made so far (I just found your site about a month ago through your Zen Habits post). This dish was really terrific! It took me longer than 10 min the first time I made it (I am a very slow cook!), but then from the second time on, since I knew what I was doing, it was really fast. So I think that familiarity with a recipe might be important for some cooks in getting the 10 minute time. But that’s ok; the idea is that these recipes all take very few ingredients and are quick and easy—whether that’s 8 min or 13 minutes or whatever for a given individual. I plan to try a lot more of them—I’m just apparently also slow at getting to things. = ) I am always excited to see when you have a new one posted! Thanks so much! Peace and blessings, Jennifer

  • Oh, and the 5/10 thing makes it feel like cooking really IS possible even if you don’t have much time/energy/interest to invest in it!

  • Yum. I could definitely (try) do this in 10 minutes. In reality it would probably take me longer. But that’s because I’m really fussy about leaving a mess so I tidy and clean up as I go. I’ll try it and let you know..

    I reckon a couple of pasta recipes would fit this category quick & easy category – probably a puttanesca or arrabiata?

  • my friend, andi, just gave me your website/blog and i look forward to learning more. i am not a cook but want to prepare my own meals with short notice and 5 or less ingredients. i do not eat wheat but can have spelt.

    can you talk about that at all?

    also i am thinking about doing away with all meats but fish.

    thanks for reading this.

    b’shalom, jeanne simonoff

  • thank you for the recipe! definitely did it in 10 and adapted it with a few of my own ingredients at home including some basil pesto and then also topped with coriander. actually really good. love the blog.

  • Both the cheese toast, and tuna and butter bean salad are both easily done in 10 minutes. I am working my way through the list.

  • I have only recently found the wonders of your blog. I have been searching for what seems like ages to find someone who knows how to make healthy meals with less than a mile long ingredient list. Even if this recipe took me 20 minutes, it’d be well worth it. Ten is something than would probably come with practice. Thank you so much for all these recipes, I can’t wait to try every single one!

  • Yes I think your wonderful recipe could be easily made in 10mins.
    When I cooked it I changed it a bit. I added some fresh chopped Chinese cabbage, fresh chopped corriander and I added dried chili flakes to the tuna & tomatoes. I also didn’t cook couscous I used left over brown rice from the fridge that I warmed up on the stove top. I can’t have any gluten so brown rice for me. I do love couscous but my tummy doesn’t. Love your blog :-)

  • I always cook my couscous in stock or broth instead of water – whatever is handy and/or goes with my protein. It adds a bit of a richer flavor.

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