Mustard- Balsamic Bean & Veggie Couscous (cheap & quick)

wp-1487931517876.jpgThis has been one of my favourite lunches for a while now. Last year my flatmate would make massive couscous, pesto, and veggie salads, and then divide them up, store them in tubs in the fridge- and have lunch ready for a couple of days. With practically no effort. You can see where the inspiration for this meal comes from.

Since I’ve been at uni I’ve gotten into the habit of always having a big bag of couscous in my cupboard- just the plain kind, so that I can add my own flavours. Currently, wholegrain mustard and balsamic vinegar is my go-to combination to flavour my couscous salads. The veg I add changes depending on how well-stocked my shelf in the fridge is, and whether I want to add in Quorn, tuna, tofu, mackerel, or kidney beans for my protein source. That’s the basic formula you want here: couscous + protein source + seasonings + vegetables. And you’re good to go. The great thing about this dish is that you can change up what you put in it according to what’s in the fridge- though the combination I’m showing you today is vegan and veggie suitable.

The ingredients I’ve given below then are just an example; use what you like and let me know what you add down in the comments. You can also easily double this, and then keep a second portion in the fridge for up to two days.

Ingredients

  • 50g dry couscous, left to soak for 5 minutes in 70ml freshly boiled water
  • 1/2-1 can kidney beans (depending how hungry you are), drained, and well rinsed
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 handful close cup mushrooms, sliced and then microwaved for 1 minute (or have them raw- they’re equally delicious)
  • Cherry tomatoes, however many you want really, each chopped in half
  • 1/2 large carrot, chopped
  • 1 large handful spinach (again, you can wilt this or leave it raw- completely up to you, and how much time you have)
  • Balsamic vinegar, to taste (I use 1-2tbsp)
  • Wholegrain mustard, to taste (I use 2-3tsp)

 

Method

Whilst the couscous is soaking, simply place all of your veggies and beans into a large mixing bowl. Once the couscous has absorbed all of the water then throw that in too, followed by balsamic vinegar and mustard, to taste. Stir everything up together, and then dig in straight away, or transfer into a tub, allow to cool, and store in the fridge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Omelettes: 21 Easy Ways

wp-1487345745308.jpgOmelettes are pretty much my go-to quick and easy staple meal. I’m in late: omelette. Not much in the fridge: omelette. Something quick: omelette. Something I can throw into a tub: omelette. You get the gist.

But can’t omelettes tend to get a little bit…boring? Well, yes, if you don’t play with different flavours occasionally. So, below I have 21 omelette ideas for you- vegetarian, pescetarian, and carnivore options, plus some sweet omelettes that make a great weekend brunch.

I’m giving you the basic omelette recipe below as a starting point, and then the quantities of the ingredients you’ll need for each flavour. Simply fold the ingredients up into the middle of the omelette, or whisk them into the eggs- the choice is yours. If you have an egg-cellent (sorry) omelette combination, then write it in the comments below…

Basic Omelette:

  • 2-3 large eggs
  • Cooking spray
  • Optional seasonings: salt, white, and black pepper for savoury. Cinnamon and 1.2tsp vanilla essence for sweet. (if any seasonings are specified in a recipe then add them along with these!)

Whisk the eggs and the seasoning together, then spray a pan with cooking oil and place over a medium- high heat. Pour the eggs in and swirl around the pan. Allow to cook for 1-2 minutes, add the filling, fold, and dig in.

And now, the flavour combinations… Continue reading “Omelettes: 21 Easy Ways”

Mackerel Power Salad (cheap, quick & easy!)

wp-1479641743207.jpgMackerel is something I love, but most of the time genuinely can’t bring myself to cook in a shared house. Because I value my friendships too much to do that.

But canned mackerel is a different ball game, because the smell doesn’t really linger (well, linger for as long, if you take the bins out regularly). It’s also very cheap, and using a canned product removes a lot of time spent faffing about. This salad took me just 10 minutes to prepare- but was packed with nutritious ingredients, omega-3, and nourishing fats. You can switch up the combination of vegetables used here, depending on what’s left in the fridge. It’s great for using up all of the little leftovers from different meals throughout the week. I have to say though, the combination of ingredients used here works really well. So perhaps plan the rest of your meals around this instead…

Ingredients

Mediterranean Chickpeas

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Chickpeas are an incredibly versatile ingredient. I have a sweet chickpea post soon to follow this amazing savoury one, just to prove that to you all. But for today, the focus is on these warming Mediterranean chickpeas. Even though we aren’t quite into autumn yet, these are going to be an autumn staple for me- especially seen as I’ll be back at uni, and so in search of a cheap and healthy meal…

The quantities below make a batch of Mediterranean chickpeas that will serve 3. It could make four smaller portions at a push- but trust me, you don’t want to scrimp on the portion sizes here. It tastes way too good. If you want to, you can freeze two portions, as the chickpeas seem to keep in the freezer very well. Alternatively, keep it in the fridge for up to 2 days, and use it as a packed lunch or super-fast tea.

Ingredients (serves 3)

  • 1 can chickpeas (400g net weight)
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes (ditto)
  • 1 large bell pepper, any colour
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 small courgette, chopped into small chunks
  • 12 green olives, each chopped in half
  • 2tsp vegetable gravy granules
  • 1tsp chilli flakes
  • 1tsp Italian herbs
  • 1/2tsp smoked paprika
  • Generous pinch of each: thyme, oregano
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste
  • Non-stick pan spray

Continue reading “Mediterranean Chickpeas”

Satay-Style Courgetti

Courgetti. Is it a suitable replacement for pasta/noodles in my opinion? Well, yes and no. It tastes amazing depending what you do with it, the novelty is fun, it’s super-quick, and its much lighter on the stomach- but I also don’t want you all to be cutting out carbs in place of courgetti for every meal.
 
However, with that out of the way, I am a fan. I bought a hand-held spiralizer about a week ago now, and it’s my new favourite gadget. So far I’ve spiralized courgettes, carrots, and my finger (accidently)- but I hear that sweet potatoes are also possible to spiralize.

This is my favourite recipe yet- anything with peanut butter is amazing, and having the peanut butter here means that there’s some added protein.

You can add in Quorn, chunks of tofu, prawns, and even some cooked chicken if you like- this is a versatile dish, so you have many options open to you. I do recommend adding in one of these meats/meat substitutes though, as you need this meal to fill you up. I opted for the Quorn, but prawns are next on the list.

Ingredients (serves one, but feel free to double it for an extra big bowlful)
  • 1 medium- large courgette
  • 1/2 medium carrot, sliced into rounds
  • 1/2 red chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 large Portobello mushroom, sliced
  • 1 small handful of mangetout, chopped in half
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1tbsp chunky peanut butter – I used Meridian
  • Chinese five spice, to taste
  • 2tbsp boiling water
  • 1tsp soy sauce

Method
  • Start by making the courgetti, according to your device’s instructions; set to one side.
  • Into a pan add your chilli, carrot, and bell pepper, stir frying for 1-2 minutes. After this, add in the mushrooms and mangetout, and allow to cook for 1 minute more, until softened.
  • Throw in your soy sauce, and your five spice, along with the courgetti. Toss together, and leave over a medium heat.
  • In a mug, whisk together the peanut butter and boiling water, adding a little at a time, until the consistency is smooth. Pour over the vegetables, and toss together so that the sauce coats the courgetti.
  • Leave over the heat until the courgetti has warmed through, and then serve. Top with black pepper and more slices of chilli, if desired.

Shakshuka (Eggs in Hell)

I’ve only made sashuka a few times, but this week just gone by I developed a massive craving for it- owing to seeing it on a food diary video on YouTube. Until that point I had always known it as “Eggs in Hell”, due to the spicy tomato sauce. You can eat it for breakfast, brunch, and lunch- and although its great in summer, its even better when the weather turns cold in winter.

This dish takes a little longer than my recipes usually do (around 45 minutes start to finish), but it looks after itself; the time is taken up by the sauce cooking down to a tomato and chilli flavoured goodness. And if the time it takes to cook is off-putting, then just remember: you have less washing up to do, as this is eaten from the pan. See? Perfect student food.

I like to keep my sauce fairly chunky, but if that isn’t for you then simply chop your vegetables into smaller chunks, and add in some more canned tomatoes- this will take longer to reduce though, and you will need to play around with how much chilli you add.

Ingredients (serves one)

  • 1/2 can chopped tomatoes (roughly 200g)
  • 1/2  bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 -1 medium red chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, crushed and finely chopped
  • 1 handful of kale
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • Pinch of each: cayenne, cumin, turmeric, smoked paprika (this is a recipe you can really tailor to your own tastes, but make sure that you have more smoked paprika here proportionately)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • TO SERVE: Toast, if desired

Method
  • Into a frying pan place your garlic and chilli. Cook for around 1 minute, on a medium heat, until softened. Now throw in the onion; sauté over the same heat until golden.
  • Throw in the pepper, the kale, and the chopped tomatoes, along with all of your spices, salt, and pepper. Reduce the heat to low, add 1/4 cup of the boiling water, and allow to simmer gently for 15 minutes.
  • After 15 minutes, return to your pan and give it a stir, adding in the final 1/4 cup of water, and allowing to simmer for 15 minutes more.
  • Once you return to the pan the sauce will have thickened, and cooked down nicely. Make two small wells in the mixture, crack in the eggs, and turn the heat up to medium. Allow the eggs to fry, keeping an eye on them to prevent burning. If the bottoms of the eggs have cooked, but the tops are still too raw, then place a baking tray or a lid over the pan (my pan has no lid, hence the baking tray), to direct the heat rising from the pan, back down to the eggs.
  • After 5- 10 minutes- depending how runny you like your yolks- remove the pan from the heat, and add some more black pepper. If you have fresh basil hanging around then tear some up to top your sashuka with.
  • No need for a plate- dig in straight from the pan.

May’s Salad: Greens, Feta & Black Pudding

Summer is getting closer, and that means fresher flavours- which was more than enough of a reason to make a green salad this month. I know that sometimes green salads can be a tad boring though, which is why to this green salad we’re adding mint, feta, black pepper, and also some black pudding. This way, we have fresh, salty, creamy, light, and richer flavours covered. It also takes just minutes to prepare (about ten of them), so time is no issue.

I’ve chosen to use a vegetarian black pudding here, from a brand called ‘V-Pud’. It tastes slightly like stuffing, but as I like stuffing I have no complaints. The shop I found this in also has vegetarian haggis, which I can’t wait to give a try. Alongside my salad I had some toast, but feel free to experiment with adding your carbohydrate to the actual salad: quinoa, beans, sweet potato, new potatoes, pearl barley, or cous-cous would all mix into this recipe really well.

Ingredients

  • 50g regular, or vegetarian black pudding
  • 30g feta cheese, crumbled
  • 6-7 asparagus spears, each chopped into large pieces
  • 60g frozen peas
  • Lettuce
  • Fresh mint leaves, torn up
  • Black pepper, to taste


Method

  • Preheat the grill to high, and then place the black pudding and asparagus onto a baking tray, and grill for 8-10 minutes, turning the black pudding over after five minutes. Do note though, that if you’re not using a vegetarian black pudding, it is possible that this will take longer to cook.
  • Whilst the grill is working its magic, throw your peas into a jug, and cover with boiling water. Microwave for 1-2 minutes, until defrosted.
  • Into a large bowl place your lettuce, your drained peas, mint, feta, asparagus and black pudding. Add black pepper if desired, and toss together.
  • Serve up with toast- or a different side- or on its own.