For many new students, the first few weeks of university are all about friendships, fun and having a fabulous time. But you do need to make time to eat, and not just cereal or a slice of toast. So why not get your new friends round to share a bite, while you get to know each other better?
Nobody wants to be tied to the kitchen when there’s so much going on, which is why these recipes are so perfect for any cook, expert or otherwise. They are done in less than an hour, and can be scaled up to feed a crowd. Bon appetite!
Baked gnocchi alla norma
prep 20 minutes
cook 35 minutes
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large eggplantroughly chopped
1 onionfinely chopped
1 garlic clovegrated
Pinch chilli flakes (optional)
3 x 400g cans of chopped tomatoes
1 tsp sugar
1 small bunch basiltorn
1 x 120g mozzarella balls
30g grated parmesan or a veggie alternative
Heat one tablespoon of oil in a large, non-stick frying pan. Season the aubergine with salt, add to the pan and fry over a high heat for five minutes, stirring regularly until brown and beginning to soften. Set aside on a plate.
In the same pan, add the remaining oil and the onion and fry with a pinch of salt over a medium heat for 10 minutes or until softened and translucent. Add the garlic and chilli, and cook for one minute. Stir through the tinned tomatoes, sugar and a pinch of salt, bring to a gentle simmer and cook uncovered for 10 minutes. Season to taste.
Heat your oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 8. Mix the gnocchi with the sauce, aubergine and basil. Tip into an ovenproof dish, tear the mozzarella and dot it over the top of the gnocchi and finish with the parmesan. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden and bubbling. Serve with salad and garlic bread.
Vegan loaded nachos
prep 20 minutes
cook 30 minutes
1 large sweet potatodiced into 2cm cubes (250g)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp ground coriander
100g unsalted cashew nuts
120ml plant milk
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
Pinch or bell pepper
1 x 400g can of black beansdrained and rinsed
2 large tomatoesdiced
1 ripe avocadodiced
small red onionfinely chopped
1 x 200g bag of tortilla chips
½ small bunch corianderroughly chopped
Heat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Toss the potato with the oil, smoked paprika and ground coriander. Season with salt. Spread out the potato on a large roasting tray and roast for 30 mins, tossing half way.
Place the cashews in a bowl of boiling water, fresh from the kettle. Leave to sit for 15 mins to soften then drain. Tip into a blender with the plant milk, nutritional yeast, paprika and half a teaspoon of salt. Blend until smooth and creamy.
In a bowl mix together the black beans, tomatoes, avocado, red onion, lime juice and some salt.
Pile the tortilla chips into a large bowl. Top with the sweet potato, black bean mix, cashew cream, and, if you like, some coriander.
Mango chutney chicken and spiced potatoes
prep 10 minutes
cook 45 minutes
600g new potatoeshalfway
1 tbsp medium curry powder
1 tsp cumin seeds
Pinch chilli flakes
2 tbsp olive oil
4 skin on chicken thighs
3 tbsp mango chutney
½ small bunch corianderchopped
150g frozen peas
Yogurt and garlic naanto serve
Heat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6.
Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Add the potatoes and cook for six minutes. Drain and leave to dry in the colander for five minutes. Toss the potatoes in a roasting tin with the curry powder, cumin seeds and chilli flakes as well as one tablespoon of olive oil.
Mix the mango chutney with the remaining oil and liberally coat the mixture over the chicken pieces. Nestle these into the potatoes and roast everything for 40 minutes.
Cook the peas in boiling water for four minutes. Toss the peas through the potatoes. Serve everything scattered with coriander and with yogurt and naan, if you like.
For more guidance on the right course for you, check out the Guardian university league tables for 2022. The Guardian league tables for 2023 will be out on 10 September in print and online.
For more helpful advice and student news sent straight to your inbox, sign up to the Guardian’s student newsletter.