pesto and spinach pasta - a healthy recipe with less than 5 ingredients

Healthy recipes with 5 ingredients or less

10 Jun 2023


Sick of slaving away in the kitchen every night?

Having a few quick, easy, and healthy meals under your belt is the best way to make sure you’re fueling your body with nutritious food while using minimal effort.

Essential ingredients for your kitchen cupboard

We’ve all come home from a long day’s work or study to discover little to eat in the kitchen. Nevertheless, there are a few must-have ingredients which are always worth keeping in stock for those days when you need to whip up an easy meal quickly:

  • Legumes – this food group is hugely versatile and includes things like beans, pulses and chickpeas, all of which are rich sources of essential nutrients.1 Always have a couple of options in your cupboard so you can make tasty daal, bean stew or some hummus.

  • Pasta – no pantry is complete without a bag of pasta, whether it’s white, wholemeal or gluten-free. It’s such a diverse food with lots of possibilities. Add a dollop of pesto to it, whip up a simple sauce from whatever veggies you have in your fridge, or serve it Italian-style with a drizzle of olive oil and some crushed garlic.

  • Frozen peas or spinach – having a stock of frozen veggies is a great way to make sure you never run out of healthy ingredients. Spinach and peas are ideal options which you can add to almost any meal.

  • Pesto – this basil-based sauce is one of the most versatile cooking sauces there is, and it contains some pretty nutritious ingredients. Good pesto is full of fresh basil, garlic, pine nuts, and olive oil.

  • Coconut cream – perfect for adding to curries and soups, coconut cream or milk is a good source of certain minerals such as vitamin C and iron. It also contains lauric acid, a fatty acid that’s thought to help the body fight off infection and provide you with energy.2
Follow a vegan diet? Consider bulking out your store cupboard with some soy protein mince which you can quickly rehydrate in some stock or a rich tomato sauce.

Five ingredients or less healthy recipes to try at home

After some easy meal ideas which use just a handful of ingredients? Why not try making a:

Vegetarian chilli bowl3

A veggie chilli, especially on a cold day, is a wholesome and heartwarming meal that’ll satisfy your hunger pangs.

  • One tin of kidney beans
  • One tin of chopped tomatoes
  • A large onion cut into chunks
  • A courgette sliced into chunks
  • Chilli powder
  1. Heat your oven to 200˚C (or 180˚C if you have a fan oven).
  2. Add the chopped vegetables to a casserole dish with a little oil and cook in the oven for ten minutes.
  3. Mix in the beans and tinned tomatoes. Season with chilli powder, salt and pepper, stir and place back in the oven for another 15 minutes.
  4. Eat on its own or serve over rice, mixed grains or quinoa.

Pesto and spinach pasta4

Pesto pasta is a match made in heaven which you can easily make healthier with some well-chosen veggies.


  •  300g of pasta
  • Two diced onions
  • 300g of fresh or frozen spinach
  • Five tablespoons of pesto
  • Low-fat cheese or Engevita yeast flakes


  1. Heat some cooking oil in a pan and fry the onions until they’re soft.
  2. Add the spinach and a splash of water. Allow fresh spinach to wilt or frozen to defrost, stirring either continuously, so nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan.
  3. In the meantime, cook the pasta in boiling water as directed on the packet.
  4. Drain the pasta and add it to the onion and spinach mix. Stir in the pesto, season if needed and spoon into bowls.
  5. Sprinkle with your favourite grated cheese or mix in a spoonful of vegan yeast flakes to give it a cheesy flavour.

Butternut squash and coconut curry5

Fragrant and nutritious, you can’t beat a tasty coconut-based curry served with rice, quinoa, or naan.


  • One large butternut squash chopped into chunks
  • One 400g tin of coconut milk
  • Two tablespoons of curry paste
  • One pepper deseeded and sliced in chunks
  • Fresh coriander


  1. Heat a large frying pan and add the curry paste.
  2. Stir well and then throw in the chopped squash and pepper.
  3. Mix in the coconut milk along with 200ml of water. Leave to simmer for 20 minutes until the vegetables are soft and the sauce has thickened.
  4. Serve over rice or in a bowl with naan on the side. Garnish with some finely chopped coriander.
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Last updated: 23 April 2020