By Sarina Chandria
Since the beginning of term, I’ve been having to get a little bit creative with my meals as this year unlike other years I do not have access to a microwave or toaster (Christ Church rooms rarely have a full kitchen to use). While I do get socially distanced dinner every evening at the early-bird special time of 5.40pm, I still need to prepare 1-2 meals a day using just a kettle and my imagination. I’ve written down my greatest hits, and I hope they’ll come in handy – I’ll certainly be cooking these a lot more when I can no longer rely on popping out for breakfast or lunch during the new lockdown. Plus, cooking your own meals at home works out significantly cheaper!
All of these recipes are vegetarian or vegan, but I’ve indicated where you could swap in meat or fish. I’ve tried to use similar ingredients in the various dishes so you can either make the same dish multiple times or different dishes using the ingredients from the same grocery shop. Best of luck and happy cooking!
Avocado on Toast
1 large avocado (or 2 small/med)
2 slices of sourdough bread (or any bread loaf that has structure)
Salt, pepper, olive oil
4-5 cherry tomatoes (quartered and stir into avocado mix)
Chilli sauce or balsamic reduction (drizzle over top)
Red chillies (sliced – use medium heat ones, not bird’s eye!)
Smoked salmon (lay on top)
Chorizo (dice and stir into the avocado)
Sundried tomatoes (lay on top)
Feta (crumble on top)
1. Cut avocado into cubes and then mash with a fork
2. Add salt and pepper to taste
3. Add a little drizzle of olive oil and stir.
4. Then add in whatever you have from the optional list or leave it as is – get experimental!
Jazzed up Couscous
1 cous cous packet (e.g the Ainsley Harriott 100g packets)
Baked Gigantes Beans in Tomato Sauce (Odysea brand from Sainsbury’s)
¼ Cucumber (diced)
½ Bell Pepper (diced)
Herbs such as dill, coriander or basil
Beetroot (you can buy it pickled in jars)
Chickpeas (buy the jarred kind, they’re softer and nicer to eat cold than canned)
Red onions (Diced)
1. Prepare the cous cous by covering it with hot water (to about 1-2 cm above the couscous). Leave for 2-3 minutes.
a. You could also use bulgur wheat or pearl cous cous if you wanted to change up the texture. But if you’re not using a pre-flavoured packet, make sure to add salt/pepper and other spices like cumin, garlic powder or paprika.
2. Fluff up with a fork and add some olive oil
3. Then mix in any of the optional ingredients – you can pick based on what you have or what kind of cous cous you’ve chosen. For example:
a. wild mushroom cous cous with stilton and spinach
b. sundried tomato and garlic cous cous with whole sundried tomatoes, chickpeas, feta and lemon juice
c. roast vegetable cous cous with cucumber, dill, beetroot and goat cheese
d. Mediterranean cous cous with cucumber, raisins, peppers, feta and gigantes beans
½ packet of Gosh! Sweetcorn and Quinoa bites (Tesco)
2-3 handfuls of spinach
2-3 tablespoons of tahini
2-3 tablespoons of garlic/herb salad dressing
50g of goat cheese (cut into bite sized pieces)
½ packet ready to eat chicken style pieces (or real chicken)
5-6 cherry tomatoes (halved)
Chilli sauce (optional)
1. Optional – Warm the sweetcorn quinoa bite and chicken pieces in the microwave (you can eat these cold also)
2. Add to a bowl the spinach, goat cheese, quinoa bites, chicken and cherry tomatoes
3. Drizzle over the tahini, salad dressing and a bit of chilli sauce if you like (a scotch bonnet style one works particularly well)
Peanut noodles and miso soup
For the noodles
1-2 packages of your favourite instant ramen noodles (mine are Maggi curry noodles)
1 jar of peanut satay sauce (should have spices, garlic etc in it, not just peanut butter)
Chilli sauce (e.g. sriracha)
1 spring onion – sliced
For the miso soup
¼- ½ package of soft tofu (finely diced)
2-3 teaspoons of instant dashi stock or veg stock powder
1 spring onion (sliced)
1 nori sheet (sliced)
For the noodles
1. Prepare the ramen noodles as per package instructions but only use half the spice packet (or just one if you’re using 2 packages)
2. After the noodles are cooked, drain the water/broth out using a sieve or just some careful pouring
3. Pour the satay sauce, the remainder of the spice mix and some chilli sauce over the noodles. Stir!
4. Sprinkle over the sliced spring onion
For the miso soup
1. Add stock powder to boiling water and stir well.
2. Add 2 tablespoons of miso paste and stir with a fork (or whisk)
3. Add 2 tea spoons of soy sauce (after tasting for salt – don’t add if your broth is already salty) and sliced nori
4. Add in spring onions and tofu pieces. Cover for 1 min.
4-5 rice paper wrappers (Tesco occasionally has them, or try GG Oriental Snack Shack or Seoul Plaza)
1 large carrot
½ bell pepper
1 handful of spinach
½ block of firm tofu
½ handful of coriander
1 jar/bottle of peanut satay sauce (try Sainsbury’s or a specialty Asian grocer as suggested above)
1. Julienne (thinly slice) all your filling (the veg and tofu) – you can add and remove as you like
2. Pour warm water into a bowl and dip a rice paper wrapper in for ~15-20 seconds (follow package instructions) and then place onto a plate or other clean flat surface
3. On the bottom half of the wrapper layer in the cut fillings (try not to over fill)
4. Roll up the wrapper into a spring roll like shape (tuck as you go so everything remains secure) and you can tuck the ends if you prefer.
5. Squeeze out some peanut sauce and mix in 2 tea spoons of soy sauce and a squeeze of chilli sauce (to taste) to make your dipping sauce.
Figs and Goat cheese on Bread
Sourdough/rustic bread (essentially once that is sturdy)
60g of soft goat’s cheese (e.g. Sainsbury's Abergavenny Goats Cheese)
Honey or balsamic reduction
1. Spread a thick layer of goat cheese onto your bread slice(s)
2. Add a layer of spinach
3. Slice figs into flat rounds and layer on top of the spinach
4. Drizzle on either balsamic reduction or honey depending on which flavours you prefer
Zucchini noodles in pesto with peas
½ jar of green pesto
½ cup of peas
cheese (any kind but parmesan or feta would work particularly well)
6 cherry tomatoes (quartered)
1. Cut the courgette into noodles, you can do this by:
a. Using a hand-held spiraliser (only get this if you’re actually going to use it often)
b. Using a vegetable peeler to cut the courgette into long ribbons then cutting into pasta noodles with a knife (either spaghetti, linguine or tagliatelle depending on the width you choose)
c. Using a sharp knife to slice the courgette into long strands (cut length wise into thin ribbons and then into noodles)
2. If you want warm noodles: Put the zucchini noodles in hot boiling water for 1 min (use a heat-proof bowl and cover with a plate)
a. You can also eat them cold
3. Boil peas in hot water for 2-3 minutes (you can keep defrosted peas in your fridge if you don’t have a freezer)
4. In a large bowl mix together noodles, peas, cherry tomatoes and half the jar of pesto (3-4 tablespoons usually)
5. Grate over cheese (or make shavings using your knife if you’d don’t have a grater)
6. Optional: For extra protein you could tear in some prosciutto
Falafel hummus wrap
3-4 tablespoons of hummus or tahini
A handful of cherry tomatoes
1 medium Avocado
2 handfuls of spinach
Sweet chilli sauce
¼- ½ red onion
1. Spread hummus on the inside of the wrap
2. Layer in falafels sliced in half (you can heat these in a microwave if you have one)
3. Layer on chopped/sliced spinach, avocado, onion, and tomato
4. Add sweet chilli sauce, salt and lime juice to taste
5. Fold together and enjoy!
Finally, another way you can make meals more enjoyable is by changing up what you drink with a meal. A bottle of juice, some flavoured sparkling water, a new kind of tea or perhaps even a glass from a nice bottle of white wine can make eating in your room a bit more special.
My latest drink revelation has been that cold brew is much easier to make than I thought. You just take 1 of Taylor’s new coffee bags (strength 4 works well – they sell them in Tesco) and put it in a jar or bottle filled with water (filtered is probably better, but I use tap and it still tastes great). Seal the container and leave it in your fridge for 10-12 hours (i.e. when you go to bed). Add some vanilla syrup and/or milk of your choice and voila, Starbucks at home (and for a fraction of the price).