Uni cooking 101: Three easy meals for £5
Student flat kitchen tried, tested, and approved!
As we start the year, many of us are being thrown into self-catered flats and having to learn to cook for ourselves full-time. So I’ve created and compiled a few easy, 30 min recipes that don’t take an early toll on the year’s budget. Plus, they’ve all been tried and enjoyed by my flatmates, who have had an entire year to improve their British palates by eating what I so kindly share with them.
Recipe #1: Chicken Flautas
They were a little too fat to be called flautas, so the word “flauchilada” was thrown around, too. You can sub chicken for tofu or mushrooms or whatever you wish, too, because the method of flavouring the protein is super simple and versatile. My flatmates liked this one the best.
- 2 pre-cooked roast chicken breasts
- 200-215ml salsa (I’m obsessed with salsa, so I usually have a thing of homemade in the fridge, but store-bought works perfectly fine, too.)
- 1.5 tbsp minced garlic
- 1 tbsp butter
- 6-8 tortillas
- Cheese (I splurged for the fun Mexican cheese, but other cheeses would work great, too)
- Olive oil
- Fajita seasoning
- Chicken seasoning
- Optional: extra salsa, half a box of mushrooms (highly recommend!), finger chilis (I used 5), peppers, onion, sour cream, avocado, coriander, Mexican rice
- Shred chicken and dice optional ingredients to throw in with chicken (chilis, mushrooms, onions, peppers).
- Preheat oven to 180º.
- Heat pan and throw in a knob of butter.
- Add chicken and optional ingredients if using, as well as garlic, fajita seasoning, and salsa. Add salt and pepper to taste. Mix and cook until salsa is cooked in (5-10min). Remove from heat.
- Brush the outside of the tortillas with olive oil. Fill with a couple of spoonfuls of chicken mixture and top with shredded cheese. You could add preheated Mexican rice here for a little more substance. Roll up and top with more cheese, if you like.
- Throw in the oven until cheese has melted and tortillas have crisped up but not burnt cheese (10-15min).
- Serve with whatever you please. I added sour cream and avocado with extra salsa on the side.
Recipe #2: Lemon cream pasta
This is basically if you took chicken piccata sauce (heaven is a place on Earth) and let it have the spotlight. Some piccata sauces don’t use cream, but those are inferior versions. Cream, lemon, and white wine will always win. This was my vegetarian-friendly dish, but I added chipolatas to mine, so you can really add whatever you like.
- 250g pasta (half a bag)
- 20g Butter
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- 115ml double cream
- 300ml white wine
- 300ml broth (veg or chicken)
- 1-2 lemons
- 1 box mushrooms
- Optional: herbs (coriander or parsley work), breadcrumbs, protein (chipolatas were fab), chicken/veg bouillon seasoning
- Prep: slice the mushrooms. That’s it.
- In a pan, melt a good amount of butter over medium-high heat. Add in mushrooms, garlic, and salt & pepper. I added chicken bouillon and threw 6 chipolatas in at this point to brown. Pull sausages out once browned and slice to add back in later.
- Cook the pasta. (Don’t drain without reserving some of the water for step 6).
- When mushrooms have browned, pour in white wine and broth (the broth powder will likely want you to use 500ml water per square, but use 300ml for a more concentrated flavour. The wine will help the broth powder be more subtle, too). Cook 10-15 min or until the alcohol has cooked off.
- When wine is cooked off, add lemon juice to taste. 1 lemon is good, but I like lemon flavour a lot, so I went for 1.5.
- Pour in the heavy cream. Add some starchy pasta water to the sauce. Take the sauce off the heat and add the pasta and the sausage.
- If desired, add herbs or breadcrumbs and serve.
Recipe #3: White wine chicken bake
The easiest of the 3 dishes is a rich, flavorful, one-dish bake. It can be eaten alone or served with a starch. I love it with mashed potatoes—the potatoes soak up all that extra sauce like chicken gravy. It isn’t a gorgeous dish, so my photos weren’t great, but it’s delicious and my personal favourite of the 3.
- 200ml white wine
- 2 chicken breasts
- 1.5 tbsp minced garlic
- 1 egg
- 1 package cherry tomatoes
- 200ml beef broth (but use the whole cube)
- 100g shredded cheese
- Seasonings: 2 tbsp chicken bouillon powder, 2 tsp garlic, 1 tsp onion powder, 1 tsp cayenne or paprika, 1.5 tsp parsley
- 2.5 tbsp cornflour
- 35-40 g butter
- 50ml double cream
- Optional: pasta/rice/mashed potatoes, mushrooms (I used just a handful), red pepper flakes
- Slice chicken breasts in half, flatten with a rolling pin (or bottom of pan!).
- Preheat oven to 180º.
- Crack an egg in a flat oven-safe dish. Scramble, add the chicken, and coat it with the egg.
- Add garlic, salt and pepper, and all the seasonings. Mix again to coat.
- Throw in tomatoes to the dish. If using mushrooms, slice and add, too. Add corn flour and mix once more. More salt and pepper to taste.
- Add wine and beef broth. Use a whole cube with 200ml for better flavour. Sprinkle cheese on top to cover. Arrange small pads of butter over the top.
- Place into the heated oven for 30 min.
- After 30 min, pull dish out and add 50ml cream. Stir and place back in oven for 5-10 min.
- Serve alone or over pasta, mashed potatoes, or rice. Add fresh parsley or more red pepper flakes if desired.