Many students have exams and coursework deadlines coming up in the next few months, so you need recipes that can keep you going through those long revision stretches. They’re hearty, filling and easily eaten with one hand whilst writing with the other. These dishes can keep your morale up any time of day. They’re chosen for a student budget and for relative easiness, although I hope you have better success making the quesadillas than I did! (Tip: quesadillas don’t keep so well in the fridge). The sources from which they were adapted are in the links.
A Girlguiding leader once told me this was her go-to dish during university, and understandably so. That’s probably because it’s quick, cheap, customisable, and has cheese – people seem to have an unhealthy obsession with cheese… and garlic bread (honestly it’s like some sort of secret club).
- 2 tortillas
- Chicken (pre-cooked) or tofu/sautéed mushrooms/minced Quorn™ for a vegetarian option
- 3 tablespoons tomato salsa
- Salt and pepper
- 80 g grated cheddar cheese
- 1 onion, thinly sliced
- 1 bell pepper, thinly sliced
- ½ tablespoon vegetable oil
- Sour cream and guacamole to serve (optional)
- Pre-heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium-high heat. Fry the onion and pepper until soft (up to 5 minutes). Set the vegetables aside.
- Take one of the tortillas and lay it on a flat surface. Spread with the salsa and add on the chicken, cheese and vegetables. Add a pinch of seasoning to your taste.
- Sandwich the filling with the other tortilla and squeeze together.
- Fry the tortilla sandwich on both sides (2 minutes per side) until golden and crisp.
- Cut into quarters and serve with some sour cream and guacamole.
I hadn’t tried mozzarella before making this dish, and I found it to be a deliciously creamy cheese. Mascarpone works well too; its sweet creamy flavour complements the tomatoes and achieves a smoother sauce. Only one pot is required, making this dish rather nifty and quick.
- 1 medium onion, sliced
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 500 g penne/fusilli pasta
- 900 ml boiling water, or more depending on your pasta
- 50 g mozzarella or 5 tablespoons of mascarpone
- 250 g spinach
- 2-4 tablespoons of butter
- 2 cans (400 g) of chopped tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons of tomato purée
- Salt and pepper
- 1 tablespoon of garlic purée or 5 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 2 tablespoons of dried Italian herbs, or mixed herbs
- Heat the oil in a pot (medium heat) and fry the onions whilst stirring until they soften (5 minutes). Add the garlic and herbs and sauté on low heat for 2 more minutes.
- Add the tomatoes, tomato purée, and salt. Stir the mixture periodically for 5 minutes until bubbling.
- Add the pasta with the boiling water to the tomato mixture. Sprinkle 1-2 tablespoons of seasoning. The sauce will appear very watery at this point, but the pasta will absorb the extra water as it cooks
- Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes, stir and check frequently to see if the pasta has cooked and the sauce has thickened sufficiently. At this point, add more water if you want a thinner sauce.
- Lower the heat and stir in the spinach and butter. Keep cooking until the spinach is done.
- Turn off the heat and stir in the mozzarella/mascarpone to get a creamy sauce. Serve as you please.
Like the previous dish, this one is also one-pot. The other nice thing about this recipe is that it lets you multitask – just leave the ingredients to cook for 1 hour or more whilst you get on with other things. Alternatively, you can leave it for just 30 minutes if you don’t like softer vegetables. Ready-mixed bags of casserole vegetable mix are available on most supermarkets and save time and effort. I used the fresh mixes from Aldi and Heron Foods, though frozen mixes might work too.
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- Casserole vegetable mix (baby potatoes, onions, leeks, carrots, and swedes – chopped into bite-size chunks)
- 1 onion, sliced
- 500 g chicken, cut into bite-size chunks
- Dried mashed potato powder or all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons parsley
- Salt and pepper
- 600 ml vegetable/lamb/beef stock (pre-made or from a stock cube)
- Heat the oil in a pot, then turn up to high heat and add the chicken with seasoning. Cook the chicken until browned and set aside.
- In the same pot, add the casserole vegetables. Stir in the garlic for 5 minutes until the onions soften. Slowly pour in the stock whilst stirring. Bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes.
- Return the cooked chicken to the pot and leave on low heat for 30 minutes – 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Check the vegetables, especially the potatoes occasionally so they don’t get too soft and disintegrate. Add the mashed potato powder/flour to thicken the stew if required.
- Remove the pot from the heat and add parsley. Serve with bread.