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Cook with Chris Baber

On a mission to make cooking easier and more delicious, chef Chris Baber has created these simple, speedy family recipes. Have a scroll and say goodbye to that “what do I make for dinner?” dilemma

Meet Chris Baber

“I’ve always loved food,” says Chris, who’s been cooking up a storm in the M&S kitchen to create some family-friendly recipes for you to enjoy. “Growing up in Hexham, Northumberland, I used to cook dinner for my mum and dad every day. I trained with Atul Kochhar at his Michelin-starred London restaurant, but my real passion is inspiring others and making home cooking accessible for everyone." 

See Chris’s latest recipes

Meatball pitta pockets

“Set to be a family favourite and an all-round crowd-pleaser, these are packed full of flavour from the Cook with M&S ancho chilli paste, creamy tzatziki and fresh salad. Cooking for little ones? Just leave out the chilli paste.”

Serves 4

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes

3 tbsp olive oil
? white onion, finely chopped
1 pack (500g) 12% fat beef mince
30g breadcrumbs
45g Cook with M&S ancho chilli paste
6 Mediterranean pitta breads
? cucumber, diced
20g parsley, chopped
150g cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 tub (230g) tzatziki

Heat one tbsp olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and sweat down the onions. Once caramelised, remove from the heat and allow to cool.

In a bowl, mix together the mince, breadcrumbs, cooked onions, and Cook with M&S ancho chilli paste. Form the meatballs from around one tbsp worth of mixture each.

In a hot pan, add one tbsp olive oil and fry the meatballs for 10 minutes, until golden and cooked through. Meanwhile, toast the pittas.

Mix the cucumber, parsley and tomatoes together in a bowl with a drizzle of one tbsp oil and salt and pepper.  

Stir one tsp of ancho chilli paste through the tzatziki and add a generous dollop of the tzatziki mix to each pitta, along with the meatballs and dressed cucumbers and tomatoes.

Top tip: make an extra batch of the meatballs for the freezer, to enjoy later with pasta and a rich tomato sauce. You can also make your own tzatziki by grating cucumber into yoghurt alongside lemon juice, dried or fresh mint, olive oil and seasoning.    

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Asparagus frittata

“Looking for lunch inspiration? Quick, filling and delicious, my asparagus frittata has a tasty kick of spice. If your family don’t like spice, just leave out the chilli.”

Serves 4

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes

1 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp Cook with M&S easy chilli
1 leek, finely sliced
8 medium eggs
1 pack (200g) feta, crumbled
1  pack (125g) asparagus, woody ends removed
New potatoes and salad, to serve

Heat one tbsp olive oil and one tsp Cook with M&S easy chilli in a frying pan over a medium heat and fry the leek slices with the chopped chilli until they begin to sweat down.

In a bowl, whisk the eggs with black pepper and salt. Stir in 150g feta and the cooked leeks.

Grease and line a baking tray dish (20cm x 30cm) with baking parchment and pour the egg mixture into the dish.

Evenly layer the asparagus spears on to the egg mixture and crumble over the remaining feta and tsp of Cook with M&S easy chilli. Season with some more black pepper.  

Place in the oven at 200°C/180°C fan/gas mark 6 and cook for 15 minutes until it is firm around the edges and with a slight wobble in the middle.

Serve with a fresh side salad and new potatoes with mint and butter.

Top tip: the asparagus can be swapped for frozen peas and the feta swapped for grated cheddar cheese. 

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Lamb keema curry

“Enjoy the tastes of your favourite Indian takeaway from the comfort of your own home with my super-tasty (and super-easy) lamb keema curry.”

Serves 4, generously

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes

400g lamb mince
2 white onions, finely chopped
100g Cook with M&S hot madras paste
1 cauliflower, chopped into small florets and leaves cut into 1cm chunks
1 tin (400g) chopped tomatoes
400ml vegetable stock
75g frozen peas
1 lemon, juiced
40g mint

Fry the lamb mince in a large non-stick frying pan over a high heat for around five minutes until golden brown, using the fat from the mince instead of any additional oil. Remove the lamb from the pan with a slotted spoon, reserving any fat in the pan.

Turn the heat down slightly and add the onions, season with salt, and cook until the onions are soft.

Return the mince to the pan, add the Cook with M&S hot madras paste and cook for one minute, making sure everything is nicely coated.

Add the cauliflower florets to the pan and stir. Then add the chopped tomatoes and stock. Simmer for 20 minutes on a medium heat with the lid off, until most of the liquid has reduced, the cauliflower florets are soft, and you’re left with a dry sauce.

Add the cauliflower leaves and frozen peas, stirring them in, and cook for two minutes. Add a generous squeeze of lemon and sprinkle with mint. Serve with cooked basmati rice or naan bread.

Top tip: the lamb mince can be swapped for beef mince and any leftovers can be frozen for another day. Plus, you can use the whole cauliflower to reduce waste and make this curry go even further.  

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Squash, spinach and ricotta cannelloni

“Introducing your new Italian favourite, packed full of veggies and flavour. This comforting dish can be served with a leafy salad or seasonal greens.”

Serves 4, generously

Prep time: 40 mins
Cook time: 20 mins

Olive oil for cooking
400g butternut squash, sliced
200g spinach
250g ricotta
12 lasagne sheets
550g Italian tomato pasta sauce
210g béchamel sauce
30g parmesan (optional)

Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/gas mark 6. In a baking tray, drizzle two tbsp olive oil over the butternut squash slices, season with salt and pepper and roast for 20 minutes, or until soft enough to mash. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

Microwave the spinach as per packet instructions and squeeze out any excess water. Once the spinach is cool, roughly chop and mix together with the ricotta and roasted butternut squash. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Bring a pan of boiling water to the boil and add two tbsp of olive oil and the lasagne sheets. Cook for 5 minutes and then lay each sheet on kitchen roll.

Divide the filling between the 12 sheets of pasta, around one tbsp per sheet, spooning into the centre of the sheet lengthways. Fold one edge over the filling, so there is a slight overlap where the pasta joins.

Spoon half the tomato sauce onto the base of a baking tray. Lay the rolls of pasta alongside each other in the pan.

Now coat the pasta with the remaining sauce, then pour over the béchamel.

Top with the grated parmesan and bake at 200°C/180°C fan/gas mark 6 for 20 minutes until golden and bubbling.

Top tip: you can use frozen spinach instead of fresh. Make a double batch of this dish to reheat the next day for a quick and delicious lunch.  

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