Jamie Oliver 7 Ways, cookbook review: 'Another fail-safe cookbook for families and students'

Chef Jamie Oliver is back and better than ever with his 24th cookbook, 7 Ways

Chef Jamie Oliver has come up with a winning formula for his new cookbook, but how does it fare in our test?   
Chef Jamie Oliver has come up with a winning formula for his new cookbook, but how does it fare in our test?    Credit: Levon Biss

Having “bottled” the philosophy behind 5 Ingredients (which was published in 2017), Jamie Oliver serves it up in his latest cookbook (his 24th!) by focusing on 18 “hero ingredients” and offering seven easy ways to use them. 7 Ways: Easy Ideas for Every Day of the Week (Penguin Random House, £26) is aimed at those who “have no time” and “don’t know how to cook,” Oliver writes.

It includes recipes from his Channel 4 show Keep Cooking Family Favourites, and offers new takes on weeknight staples, including traybakes, pies and one-pan dishes. It’s packed full of fuss-free methods and ingredients so novices (and accomplished cooks, in fact, since the recipes have a broad appeal) hoping to achieve satisfying weeknight meals can do so with ease and minimum mess.

The approach

Oliver promises “a range of portion sizes, from solo meals to those for six, clear timings, lots of cheats and shortcuts and, ultimately, delicious recipes that work every time.” And there is plenty on offer here for meat eaters and vegetarians alike.

The chapters are divided into everyday ingredients; there are sausages, chicken, pork, and loads of vegetables such as ­cauliflower and peppers – nothing out of the ordinary in their pages. Note: those with a sweet tooth might be disappointed, as pudding is off menu in this book.

The recipes

The book has plenty of options for weeknight and weekend cooking, so I opted for a mix of both. Two dishes, the cheat’s fish and chips and seared steak with red chimichurri, require some prep and care, while the aubergine required little more than assembly and could be served as a side. A feast for a family of six.

Seared steak with red chimichurri

Right: Jamie's seared steak with red chimicurri; left, a home-cooked version  Credit: Levon Biss / Morgan Lawrence

This would be a knockout dish for a Friday night. Oliver’s red chimichurri is made by blitzing caramelised garlic, roasted red peppers, chilli and charred spring onions, resulting in a flavoursome base on which to lay slabs of medium-rare steak and sweet potato mash. Loved the crispy bits of steak fat, too.

Moreish aubergine salad

Left: Jamie's vegetarian main of Moreish Aubergine salad; right, the finished dish at home  Credit: Levon Biss / Morgan Lawrence 

This was a bit of a miss for me. Whole aubergine roasted on the wire racks of the oven for a crispy skin and melting inside is genius; however, the filling – a mix of skin-on almonds, crushed mint, honey, olives and feta – was too sweet and could have done with double the olives and lemon juice.

Cheat’s fish and chips

Left: the Cheat's fish and chips from the cookbook; right, a home-cooked attempt 

After seeing how easy Oliver’s fish and chips dish was to achieve, I don’t think I’ll order a takeaway again. Bacon and stale sourdough form the basis of a light crumb for the fish fillets (you can choose any white fish) which are roasted alongside crispy home-made chips. A sauce made from red wine vinegar, fresh mint and olive oil cuts through with a refreshing zing, while crushed peas with a liberal sprinkle of salt offer texture.

The verdict

Easy, achievable and delicious; Oliver has created another fail-safe cookbook for families and those of us who are stretched for time. The recipes are so simple to follow that even cooks with basic knowledge of ingredients and technique will produce impressive meals for family and friends. It would make a brilliant first cookbook for students, too.