Anne-Sophie at UEA

An International Student of Literature in England.

5 Easy Vegetarian Recipes for Students

One of the biggest changes that has happened to me during university is cooking. I love cooking (and I love eating even more) and I usually think about what I could make for dinner all day long. However, if you go back to one of my first articles you will see it was not always the case. Before I came to university, a tin of lentils or a tin of red kidney beans with pasta and nothing else was an acceptable meal. At home, my parents don’t cook much and I often ended up having bread and cheese because it was easier for everybody.

One of the things I loved about living in halls in my first year was the shared kitchen. It had its annoying aspects (and we were “only” being seven in the flat) it meant that I got to spend a couple of hours or more each night cooking, chatting and laughing with my friends. Seeing them cook (and seeing their disgusted faces when they saw what I “made”) encouraged me to learn! It became an opportunity for me to socialise rather than a chore. During the process, I learnt to appreciate food and the importance of eating properly and healthily (no more bags of crisps in front of TV), especially as a vegetarian.

My growing love for cooking has even given me an amazing nickname: Anne-Sophie Klechefski (a pun on my surname – Kleczewski). All this to say that eating healthily is important and that, if you are like the old me, there is still hope!

Today, I want to share with you my five favourite vegetarian recipes! They are all very easy and perfect for students on a budget. I almost only buy fresh vegetables but tinned or frozen veggies are okay. Spices, herbs, vegetable stock and crème fraiche are essential!

I have a real problem with following recipes and like experimenting (which led to a number of “incidents” in the past), so most of these recipes are improvised, loosely based on cook books (that give inspiration) and subject to change.

I hope the following photographs inspire you! If not, remember it’s hard to take a decent pictures of food.

Anne-Sophie’s Pasta

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I’m not sure what to call this and I think it was inspired by a recipe my boyfriend made called Pasta Mario and by another thing I’d seen in one of my cookbooks. This one is awesome because it’s so quick and easy to make.

While I defrost my frozen peas and beans in a frying pan on medium heat, I start cooking my pasta. Then I add thinly sliced fresh mushrooms in the frying pan, crème fraiche (depends how much you want) and grated cheddar (depends how much you want, and you can also make it without cheese). Add salt and pepper – I always forget!

Once your pasta is done, mix everything. Instead of pasta, you can also make jacket potatoes! To make your jacket potatoes more interesting, you can halve them before cooking, make a small hole with a spoon and add chopped garlic, butter and thyme/herbs in the middle (thanks dad for the tip!). Close them and wrap them in kitchen foil before putting in the oven for an hour.

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Mushroom and Cider Stroganoff

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THIS WAS SO YUMMY! And I actually followed the recipe.

Melt butter in a saucepan and cook one onion until it’s soft. Add as much sliced mushrooms as you want (okay, in the recipe they mention 750g of mushroom but how am I supposed to weigh them – I am a student after all!). Once the mushrooms are cooked, add 250ml decent-quality cider (not a flavoured one!), 200ml double cream (roughly), thyme, salt and pepper.

While you’re doing all this, make rice! Mine is always a catastrophe so I use my housemate’s rice cooker. This mushroom and cider stroganoff is delicious! Bon appétit!

Spicy Chinese Soup

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I call this one a Chinese soup but I invented it so is it really Chinese? The first time I made it, I was trying to copy an amazing vegetable ramen I’d eaten at Wasabi in London because there’s no Wasabi in Norwich. I love making it because, again, it’s super quick and easy.

To make it, you need to start by putting about 1L or 1,5L of boiling water in a saucepan, with vegetable stock. You can put pretty much what you want in it, but I suggest tinned chick peas (and perhaps a bit of sweetcorn), sliced mushrooms, beans, one chopped red onion and lettuce! To make it more interesting and filling, you can either add egg or rice noodles. It needs to cook for about 5 to 10 minutes.

The best part is when you add all the spices: I usually put more curry powder, cumin and crushed chilies than my body can take so be sensible and enjoy!

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Pasta and Vegetable Soup

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What a creative name for a soup that’s not even really a soup! This one’s also very simple and you can put in pretty much whatever you want. All you need to do it to boil 1 to 1,5L of water in a saucepan, add one tin of chopped tomatoes, pasta and vegetables (I suggest beans, red kidney beans, thinly sliced carrots and mushrooms. It needs to cook for at about 10 minutes (until the pasta is read). Add either one or two big table spoons of double cream or crème fraiche, stir and serve!

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And last but not least…

Mediterranean Roast Potatoes

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I’m not sure why I called it that, but I think it sounds good 😛 . What is do is cut big chunks of potatoes, boil them for about 5 minutes before putting them in the oven with a bit of oil so the potatoes only need to cook for 30 minutes instead of an hour. While they’re in the oven, I cut very chick peas, thick slices of courgettes, carrots and mushrooms and boil all this until tender. When the potatoes are nearly done, I add the vegetables in the oven with black olives!

Another quicker version of this is to make couscous instead of potatoes (and you don’t need to roast the vegetables) — so it’s a bit like a vegetarian mediterranean “couscous”. It can be very dry and tasteless – but I like it, especially when I feel sick but need to eat.

Bonus

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Here’s an amazing dessert my friend and I kinda became addicted to at the end of the year… Banana Split! Perfect for summer and warm days! I don’t know if that’s the original recipe but we cut a banana lengthways, added vanilla ice cream, strawberries and golden syrup (I’d never tried it before, but it’s nice! It reminds me a bit of maple syrup).

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