Simple student meals

by Poppy Goldsmith

Once your cupboards are stocked and your freezer is full, the cooking rota has been agreed upon and you’ve brushed the dust off your apron, why not celebrate moving into your new house by sharing a great home-cooked meal (cheaper, healthier and tastier than a takeaway) and, of course, a few bottles of wine.

Slow-cooked Bolognese sauce
This classic sauce is much better than anything from a jar and guaranteed to become a favourite amongst your housemates. It can be made in advance during the day (arts students – this one’s for you) and heated up when needed. (Serves 6)

4 tbsp olive oil
800g minced beef
3 rashers bacon, finely chopped
1 1/2 onions, finely chopped
2 sticks celery, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 glass red wine
1 tbsp tomato puree
2 tins chopped tomatoes
1 tsp sugar
Salt and pepper
1/2 tsp dried oregano (optional)

1.  Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and cook the bacon pieces until crisp. Transfer to a large saucepan.

2.  Cook the onion, celery, carrot and garlic in the same frying pan with the bacon fat until softened and then add to the bacon.

3.  Lightly fry the mince until browned (it is best to do this in three batches) and add to the vegetables. Deglaze the frying pan by adding the red wine and stirring. Stir the wine into the meat and vegetables.

4.  Stir in the tomato puree and add the tinned tomatoes and sugar. Season with salt, plenty of black pepper and a pinch of oregano if using.

5.  Bring the sauce to the boil and then turn the heat right down, cover the pan and simmer for two or three hours if possible, although half an hour will do if you’re in a hurry.

6.  When ready to eat, heat the sauce and serve with your favourite type of pasta and freshly grated parmesan.

TIP: this sauce can easily be converted to a great chili con carne with the addition of a tin of kidney beans, 2 tsp of chili powder and a pinch of cumin seeds.

Thai vegetable curry
This cheap, tasty and healthy curry is packed with fresh and fragrant flavours. The Thai ingredients can be bought at a very low price from the wonderful Asian supermarket at the top of North Road. (Serves 4)

2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 red onion, roughly chopped
1 green pepper, roughly chopped
Large handful green beans
1 carrot, cut into thin batons
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Handful frozen sweetcorn
1 tbsp Thai red or green curry paste
1 tin coconut milk
2 tbsp Thai fish sauce
Squeeze of lime juice (if you have it)
Large handful coriander leaves, roughly chopped (optional, but gives the dish a beautiful fresh flavour)
Fresh red chilli, finely sliced
Handful peanuts or cashews (optional)

1.  Heat the oil in a large pan and lightly fry the fresh vegetables and garlic until beginning to soften.

2.  Add the curry paste, stir in to the vegetables and fry until fragrant.

3.  Stir in the coconut milk and fish sauce, add the frozen sweetcorn, bring to the boil, and then gently simmer until the vegetables are soft. Remove from the heat.

4.  Stir in the lime juice and most of the coriander.

5.  Serve in bowls with rice or noodles, and garnish with the remaining coriander leaves, fresh chili and nuts.

TIP: for a special occasion or if you’re simply feeling indulgent, add some cooked king prawns just before serving.

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