Veganuary Inspiration

Henry Gale 19 January 2020

I know, it’s a bit late for an article to help you with Veganuary. If you have been successfully  trying a vegan diet this month so far, you probably won’t need my help in making it through to the end. The rest of you, like me, didn’t attempt or manage it this year. This article is for you: three vegan recipes for students who may feel that eating vegan for a month is unachievable. It’s not too late to start: add some tasty vegan dishes to your diet now and maybe you’ll be hopping on the trend next year (I could never have imagined myself writing this article last year)!

I have loved cooking my meals as a student for all three years of my degree, though I had hardly cooked a thing before I started at Cambridge. The routine of putting aside time every day to focus on myself has been a massive help to my wellbeing in this university’s intense environment. Chatting to anyone who happens to be passing through the kitchen means I never spend a day without interacting with at least a few people, and a shared meal is a great way to strengthen your connections with friends. That’s why I’ll always recommend trying your hand at cooking!

The excuses for not cooking may seem to be increased by choosing a vegan diet, especially for students in Cambridge. The kitchen facilities your college provides are minimal, your intense schedule leaves little time for cooking, your budget is tight, you don’t know fancy techniques, and there’s nothing you hate more than washing up.

The recipes in this article aim to accommodate all of these concerns. They are all for a single portion. You won’t need an oven or a freezer, only a hob and a fridge, and no fancy equipment like food processors, blenders or deep fryers. The recipes don’t take ages to make, and I’ve roughly calculated how much they cost (not very much!). They’re easy to prepare and won’t give you much washing up. And I haven’t included any expensive, unfamiliar meat or dairy substitutes either. Without further ado, here are three Cambridge student-friendly vegan recipes.

 

Vegetable Curry (under £1)

The beauty of vegetable curry is that you can swap so many things in and out depending on what’s in the fridge and it’ll still taste great. I’m swapping out the rice you might expect with curry for potatoes – you might swap back to rice and add any other veg you like. If you can’t cope with the heat, swap out the chilli for a bit of chilli powder.

Ingredients:

  • Olive oil, salt and pepper
  • 1 large potato, or a few small ones, cut into chunks (20p)
  • 1 onion, sliced or roughly diced (15p)
  • 1 garlic clove, sliced or crushed (3p)
  • 1 small chilli, or half a big one, finely chopped (7p)
  • 200g chopped tomatoes (23p)
  • 1tbsp curry powder (11p)
  • 1-2 handfuls of spinach (20p)

 

Washing up:

  • 1 saucepan or frying pan
  • Wooden spoon
  • Bowl or plate & cutlery

 

Instructions:

Heat some oil in the pan and add the potato chunks, onion and garlic with plenty of salt and pepper. Fry for 5 minutes, adding the chilli halfway through. Then add the tomatoes, curry powder, and a little water. Simmer for ten minutes. Test the sauce’s thickness, taste and seasoning, before adding the spinach, stirring until it wilts. Serve.

 

Sun-dried Tomato Spaghetti (under 75p)

The only thing you’re comfortable cooking is pasta, but you’re sick of pesto (plus shop-bought pesto isn’t vegan)? The Italians only need garlic and oil to make spaghetti taste great, but let’s face it – student-level cooking with supermarket own-brand oil won’t achieve that. So, I’ve created a light pasta dish which uses sun-dried tomatoes and their oil to add flavour and texture to your spaghetti. Hopefully this is some pasta you’ll be able to enjoy without grated cheese!

 

Ingredients:

  • Olive oil, salt & pepper
  • 120g spaghetti (5p)
  • Some sun-dried tomatoes from a jar (50p)
  • 1 garlic clove, sliced (3p)
  • 1 handful of spinach (15p)

 

Washing up:

  • 1 saucepan
  • 1 frying pan
  • Wooden spoon
  • Bowl or plate & cutlery

 

Instructions:

Boil the spaghetti in a saucepan of salted water. When the spaghetti is nearly cooked, fry the garlic with the sun-dried tomatoes in some oil from the jar. Drain the spaghetti when al dente, and add to the frying pan with the spinach, stirring until the spinach wilts. Serve drizzled with olive oil and seasoned with lots of salt and pepper.

 

Ratatouille (under 90p)

So much more than the sum of its (few) parts, this is the ultimate comfort food, especially welcome at this chilly time of year. This is also adaptable – if you’re cooking for two, instead of doubling up the vegetables, why not add an aubergine and a pepper instead?

Ingredients:

  • Olive oil, salt & pepper
  • 1 red onion, chopped (24p)
  • 1 courgette, chopped into chunks (42p)
  • 200g chopped tomatoes (23p)

 

Washing up:

  • 1 saucepan or frying pan
  • Wooden spoon
  • Bowl & cutlery

 

Instructions:

Heat some oil in the pan and add the onion and courgette with plenty of salt and pepper. Fry for 10 minutes, letting the vegetables soften. Add the chopped tomatoes and simmer for another 10 minutes. Then it’s up to you – serve it with some thick bread or couscous.