Freshers' food 101
First-time students need to quickly master making speedy, easy meals on a budget, with basic kitchen equipment. Try these five nourishing and moreish freshers' essentials
Chilli Chicken Enchiladas
Corn tortillas, pinto beans and chillies are synonymous with Mexican cooking. This recipe combines chicken with a fiery tomato sauce as a filling for the soft tortillas, which are topped with soured cream and Cheddar before baking. It makes a perfect lunch or supper dish served with a crisp leaf salad.
3 tbsp sunflower oil
450g skinless chicken breast fillets, cut into strips
1 large onion, chopped
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 tbsp tomato purée
400g tin chopped tomatoes
410g tin pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
8 corn tortillas, warmed
150ml soured cream
75g mature Cheddar, grated
Salt and black pepper
Shredded spring onions, to sprinkle
Ovenproof dish, lightly greased
Preheat the oven to 190˚C/375˚F/gas mark 5.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large non-stick frying pan, add the chicken and stir-fry for 4-5 minutes, or until golden. Remove with a slotted spoon, put into a bowl and set aside.
Add the remaining oil to the pan, then the onion and fry for 5 minutes. Add the chilli and garlic and fry for 1-2 minutes more, or until the onions are soft and golden. Stir in the tomato purée, tinned tomatoes and 100ml cold water. Cook for 2-3 minutes and season with salt and pepper.
Add just under half the sauce to the chicken with the beans and coriander, and mix together. Spoon 2 heaped tablespoons of the chicken mixture onto the middle of each warmed tortilla and roll up to enclose the filling. Place seam-side down in the prepared ovenproof dish and top with the remaining tomato sauce.
Spoon the soured cream along the centre of the tortillas and sprinkle with the grated cheese. Bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes or until golden and bubbling. Sprinkle over the spring onions and serve.
Mac 'n' Greens
This is a healthy twist on macaroni cheese if you feel that you've had too much indulgent food recently. You can also use wholemeal pasta if you want to make this recipe even more nutritionally balanced.
1 medium/large leek, trimmed and thinly sliced
40g plain flour
600ml semi-skimmed milk
Head of broccoli divided into small florets (about 300g florets)
350g dried penne (plain or wholemeal)
2 handfuls of chard or spinach leaves
150g mature Gruyère
3 heaped tablespoons grated Parmesan
Salt, black pepper and grated nutmeg
4 individual ovenproof dishes, lightly buttered
Put the butter in a medium non-stick saucepan and melt gently. Add the leek, stir and cook for 1 minute, then stir in the flour and cook for a few seconds.
Take the pan off the heat and gradually add the milk, stirring continuously. Put the pan back on the hob, increase the heat slightly, then bring the milk gradually up to simmering point. Turn the heat right down again and leave the sauce over a very low heat.
Fill a large saucepan with boiling water from the kettle, bring back to the boil, add salt, then add the broccoli and blanch for a couple of minutes. Transfer the broccoli to a sieve with a slotted spoon and rinse with cold water. Tip the pasta into the same water in the pan and cook according to the instructions on the packet.
Wash and remove the stalk and central rib from the chard or spinach (unless using baby leaves). Just before the pasta is ready, stir half the Gruyère and the Parmesan into the sauce and check the seasoning, adding salt, pepper, nutmeg and more Parmesan, if necessary. Add the broccoli and chard or spinach, stir, and set aside for 3-4 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the grill. Drain the pasta and divide between the prepared dishes. Pour over the sauce and vegetables and mix gently, then sprinkle over the remaining Gruyère.
Place the dishes on a baking tray and grill for 5 minutes until the cheese is brown and bubbling.
Lamb in Pita Bread
Say goodbye to greasy late-night kebab horrors and hello to this fresh, fast and fantastic alternative. You'll never look back.
2 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp ground cinnamon
¼-½ tsp cayenne pepper
300g minced lamb
Pinch of salt
2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
4 pita breads
A few salad leaves
1 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted in a dry frying pan
Put the coriander and cumin seeds into a small frying pan without oil and fry until they start to brown and release their aroma. Leave to cool slightly, then grind to a powder with a pestle and mortar.
Heat the oil in a frying pan, add the onion, garlic and ground spices, and fry gently for 5 minutes until softened but not golden.
Increase the heat, add the lamb and the pinch of salt, and stir-fry for 5-8 minutes until well browned. Stir in the fresh coriander.
Meanwhile, lightly toast the pita bread and cut a long slit in the side of each one. Carefully fill with a few salad leaves, add the minced lamb mixture, a spoonful of yoghurt and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Serve hot.
Potato Skins with Green Dip
This recipe makes a lot of potato skins but they are so moreish that you'll be glad you made this many.
3 large baking potatoes
50ml olive oil
100g mature Cheddar, grated
For the green dip:
100ml soured cream
Handful of fresh chives
3 spring onions, chopped
Bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Salt and black pepper
Baking tray, lightly greased
Preheat the oven to 180˚C/350˚F/gas mark 4.
Using a sharp knife, pierce each potato right through the middle. Bake in the preheated oven for about 1 hour 10 minutes, or until cooked through. Remove and set aside until cool enough to handle.
Raise the heat to 220˚C/425˚F/gas mark 7. Cut each potato in half lengthways and scoop out the potato middles, leaving a thin layer lining the skin. Cut each skin into 4 wedges. Brush oil over the potato skins and arrange in a single layer on the prepared baking tray. Bake at the top of the oven for 30 minutes, moving the potatoes around occasionally to ensure even cooking. Remove from the oven and reduce the heat to 200˚C/400˚F/gas mark 6. Sprinkle with cheese and return to the oven for 5-10 minutes until the cheese is melted.
To make the dip, put the soured cream, chives, spring onions and parsley into a bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste and mix well.
Couscous with Roast Squash, Halloumi, Dates and Pistachios
It might sound unusual, but peppermint tea is great for fluffing up the grains of couscous and works well alongside the sweetness of squash and salty, squeaky halloumi. It is strong and minty, so it only needs a brief stint in hot water.
400g butternut squash or pumpkin, peeled, deseeded and cut into wedges
3 tbsp olive oil
3 dried bay leaves
3 sprigs of thyme
4 garlic cloves, unpeeled
2 large dried chillies or 1 tsp dried chilli flakes
250g halloumi, cubed
25g pistachios, shelled and chopped
2 peppermint tea bags
300ml just-boiled water
125g fresh dates, stoned and finely chopped
Salt and black pepper
Preheat the oven to 200˚C/400˚F/gas mark 6.
Put the squash in a roasting tin, drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and tuck in the bay leaves, thyme, garlic cloves and chillies or chilli flakes. Roast in the preheated oven for 25 minutes, or until the squash is almost tender. Raise the oven temperature to 240˚C/475˚F/gas mark 9. Add the halloumi and pistachios, drizzle with the remaining olive oil and roast for a further 10 minutes, or until the halloumi is golden.
Meanwhile, put the peppermint tea bags in a heatproof jug or a teapot and pour over the hot water. Leave to steep for 1 minute, then discard the tea bags. Put the couscous and dates in a large bowl, season to taste and pour over the hot tea. Cover with clingfilm and leave for 5 minutes, or until the grains have swollen and absorbed all the tea.
Fluff up the couscous with a fork, stirring in about half the ingredients from the roasting tin at the same time, but leaving behind the whole chillies, if using. Spoon into 4-6 bowls and top with the remaining ingredients.