The past few weeks have been a bit busy for me, what with my final essays for third year being handed in tomorrow, and completing my poetry portfolio to hand in a couple of weeks ago- something I’ve spent nearly a year working on and had to be pried away from me. I know that this time of year us students tend to just pick up food as we go, and though I am always ready to indulge my love of food, it can become a little bit expensive. It can become a LOT expensive. And since I’ve been spending a lot of time in a local cake shop recently, and I would rather spend my money on cake (its really good cake), this was becoming a bit of a problem. This is the kind of lunch that provides a solution: its fast, its pretty no-brain-power-required, it tastes great, and it will make you feel good. You can also then spend more money on cake.
Swap in whatever veggies you want/have. Here I’ve used broccoli (I always have that in), pepper (I was finishing up a three pack), and asparagus (on offer in the market, and coincidentally one of my favourite vegetables, so I was using up a massive bunch of the stuff). The idea is to keep this cheap, so don’t go buy mega-expensive ingredients. Couscous is something I feel like every student should have in, as are eggs. Both are things you can make multiple meals out of, and so are invaluable.
Continue reading “Egg, Asparagus, Broccoli & Pepper Couscous (fast, easy, and healthy!)”
Not so long ago now, I went to Wagamama’s for the first time. I know; the first time. And since then, ramen (which I have had before) has been something I crave frequently. But I don’t usually have the time to make fancy ramen like Wagamama’s. Which is where this cheat’s ramen comes in. So called as it only has a few ingredients- which you can play around with depending what’s in your fridge.
I went for tofu, but feel free to add in prawns or shredded chicken. When it comes to adding the tofu, you can either add it all at once, or stir half into the soup, and then use the rest to top (my preference, as I like to see my tofu, and the stock helps to warm it slightly). Also, I used vegetable stock, but switch it up with beef or chicken if you have a preference.
Finally, this is perfect if you’re a student: the noodles are cheap, the stock is cheap, you can use up all of those leftovers- and it both tastes better,and is better for you, than a pot noodle. It’s comfort food at its finest. So, chopsticks at the ready…
- 1 nest of wholemeal rice vermicelli noodles (I use the ‘Mama Instant Vermicelli Wholemeal Noodles’, and got mine at Morrison’s; you immerse them in hot water and, like healthy instant noodles, they are ready in 4 minutes)
- 100g firm tofu
- 1/2 vegetable stock cube, made up with 500ml freshly boiled water
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 4-5 mushrooms. sliced
- 1 medium carrot, sliced
- 1 large handful of curly kale
- 1/2 large red chilli, sliced
- 1 large pinch Chinese 5 spice
- Black and white pepper to taste.
- Into a large pan throw your garlic, and your chilli- begin to lightly fry over a medium heat.
- After a minute or so add in the carrot, before pouring in the stock and turning the heat down to medium-low. Add in the 5 spice, and stir, before allowing to simmer for 3-5 minutes.
- Throw in the mushrooms and the kale, and continue cooking for 2 minutes, before adding in the noodles. Simmer for 4 minutes, and then add in half of the tofu.
- Transfer everything into a bowl, being careful not to smush the tofu up, and then top with the rest of the tofu, and some black and white pepper…
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
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.
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
- 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.
Student meals. They can either be fabulous, or not so great- or downright grim. Don’t get me wrong, some nights I just open some soup, or have baked beans and a jacket potato with scrambled eggs. And that’s fine- but the days I want a quick meal that also has a little more…pzazz? Enter this take on a meal which is popular with one of my flatmates and myself…
Two of us in the flat are very much into mushrooms. Lucy once bought 2lbs of them, because they were 50p per lb. and “too good to resist”, though she didn’t quite realise how much 1lb was. Which meant we lived off of mushrooms for a little while (I didn’t get the frantic text telling me not to buy mushrooms until it was too late). And the easiest dish (other than stir frys, soup, and pasta sauces) was garlic mushrooms and spinach on toast. Which is fine for a light meal, but I am starving by the time I get in on an evening.
This meal is quick, simple, takes under 10 minutes, contains vegetarian protein sources (yes, I’ve combined two LBV sources so that we get everything we need- look this up if you didn’t do A-Level Food Tech/ are a biology nerd), and it uses cheap ingredients. Spring greens work as a more flavoursome alternative to spinach, and at the moment they’re coming into season, so make the most of them while they’re cheap…
- 2 slices wholegrain bread (I opted for a sourdough, as the texture is the best you’ll find in the Waitrose bargain bin- which is where I head when I’m feeling fancy)
- 5-6 mushrooms
- 1/2 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed (approx. 120g: you can use the others in a salad, or mash with 1/2 avocado and curry powder before dolloping onto a jacket potato)
- 1 good handful of spring greens (supermarkets sell them with the spinach, kale, and salad leaves usually)
- Black and white pepper, to taste
- 2 large cloves of garlic
- OPTIONAL: 1 good pinch of mixed herbs; 1 heaped tsp. wholegrain mustard (use whatever you like, but I do recommend adding this, and I prefer wholegrain for flavour), 1/4 lemon to dress
- First things first: slice the garlic cloves thinly (use a press if you have one; I don’t), and add to the pan, with a little cooking spray or oil. Turn the pan to a medium heat, and cook gently.
- Now slice the mushrooms in to thick slices, and add them to the pan too. Once beginning to soften, add the spring greens, and a little splash of water in order to steam them. Throw in the black and white pepper, and the herbs if using.
- Add in the chickpeas, and stir. Leave over a low heat while you toast the bread.
- Once your bread is transformed into toast, spread each slice with a little mustard, and then whack the chickpea mixture on top. Add more pepper and a bit of lemon if desired.
- Dig in…
It’s finally time for February’s seasonal salad post. Although it’s pretty late in the month these ingredients are still in season. Chicken, apples, kale are the stars of the salad. Steaming the chicken breast keeps the moisture locked in, roasting the apple releases their sweetness, the quinoa cooks quickly in a pan, and the kale can be whacked into the microwave. Toss everything together, whip up a four ingredient dressing, and you’re ready to go…
Ingredients (serves 1)
- 1 large apple
- 1 small-medium chicken breast (approx. 100-150g)
- 1/4 cup quinoa + 1cup boiling water
- 1 large handful kale
- Black pepper, salt, Italian or mixed herbs
- 1tsp wholegrain mustard, 1/2tbsp boiled water, 1/4 small lemon, 1tsp honey
- Preheat the oven to 190*c, and place the chicken onto a piece of foil, large enough to make a parcel with. Season the chicken with the salt, pepper, and herbs. Now, loosely wrap the foil into a parcel around the chicken, and whack it into the oven for 35 minutes.
- With 15 minutes to go chop up the apple into large chunks, and then throw them into the oven as well. Allow to roast.
- With 10 minutes remaining place the quinoa into a pan with the freshly boiled water, and bring to the boil once more. Turn this down to a simmer and then leave for 15 minutes, until all of the water has been absorbed.
- When the chicken and apple chunks are ready place to one side, and allow the chicken to rest for five minutes while the quinoa finishes cooking.
- Microwave your kale, and then stir into the quinoa, along with the apple. Plate up, and top with the chicken breast.
- Finally, add 1/2tbsp boiling water to the lemon, honey, and mustard before stirring to form a quick and easy dressing. Drizzle it over the salad, and dig in…