As a college student, you need your brain firing on all cylinders in order to make the most of your education. This starts with cooking meals that will keep you nourished and ready to go. Fresh, healthy ingredients will keep your plate light and full of goodness for your brain.
Here are four nourishing, easy recipes that make great weekday meals for any college student:
Tomato and Olive Spaghetti
This beautiful, fresh pasta is adapted from Jamie Oliver’s recipe for “Simple Summer Spaghetti.” It’s so nutritious and easy that the hardest part might be waiting for the pasta water to boil:
- 1 pint mixed red and yellow cherry tomatoes, halved
- 6 ounces Kalamata olives, stoned
- 10 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 14 ounces spaghetti or linguini
- salt and pepper
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 bunch basil, leaves picked
- In a large bowl, use your hands to burst all the cherry tomatoes and slightly squish them. Mix in the olives, garlic, and vinegar. Tear in the basil leaves and pour in the olive oil. Let sit for 10 minutes.
- Cook pasta according to directions on the package. Quickly toss with tomato mixture and serve.
This recipe is so simple that you could even leave out the last three ingredients. You would still have a fresh, delicious pasta that beats red sauce from the jar every night of the week.
Baby Kale Salad With Lemon, Parmesan and Crispy Roasted Chickpeas
This salad features baby kale, a super food. In its younger version, baby kale is more tender and less bitter than fully-grown kale. Chickpeas add protein and a crunchy texture to this fresh and delicious salad adapted from Jennifer Sagal.
Ingredients (for the Roasted Chickpeas)
- 1 (15oz) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Ingredients (for the Salad)
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, from one lemon
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 small garlic clove, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 5oz bag or container Baby Kale or Kale/Dark Greens Mix
- 1/2 cup shaved Parmigiano-Regianno
- Preheat oven to 425° F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
- Place the chickpeas on the prepared baking sheet and toss with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for 10-12 minutes, stirring once, until the chickpeas are slightly shrunken and crispy. Let cool.
- In a large bowl, combine the lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Add the greens and toss until evenly coated. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Arrange on plates and top with Parmigiano-Regianno shavings and crispy roasted chickpeas.
- Note: If you can’t find baby kale, feel free to substitute any other deep green blend, arugula or Lacinato kale.
Making a whole chicken is intimidating. It may seem like a fancy meal, but it’s actually one of the easiest meals you can make. Buying a whole chicken will give you several meals and it costs quite a bit less than buying chicken breasts on their own.
Nigella Lawson wrote a book called How To Eat, and she describes the best way to roast a chicken. It’s simple and perfect for college students:
“My basic roast chicken recipe is the same as my mother’s: I stick half a lemon up its bottom, smear some oil or butter on its breast, sprinkle it with a little salt, and put it in a 400 degrees F oven for about 15 minutes per pound plus 10 minutes.”
If we follow Nigella’s rules, it couldn’t be easier to roast a chicken — even when you’re studying for finals. You can impress your friends and make your whole apartment smell incredible. Remember that if your chicken comes with a little bag inside, remove those before you begin.
Three-Ingredient Tomato Sauce
This recipe has many sources, but we consulted Marcella Hazan’s version on the Steamy Kitchen blog for the particulars. With three ingredients and almost no preparation, you can make what you’ll swear is the best tomato sauce you ever had.
- 1 half of one onion
- 1 28-ounce can of whole, peeled tomatoes
- 5 tablespoons of salted butter
Put the tomatoes, onion, and butter into a pot and simmer uncovered for 45 minutes. Stir occasionally. When it’s done, remove the onion and serve with your favorite pasta.
Don’t shy away from eating canned tomatoes — the tomatoes inside were picked when they were ripe and canned right away. These are often more healthy and nutritious than the greenhouse or long-distance tomatoes you find at your grocery store.
Remember that the best cooks improvise. Use your basic everyday recipes, like the ones we’ve outlined here, in many variations. Swap the basil in the Tomato and Olive Spaghetti out for other herbs such as parsley or oregano. Add olives or parmesan cheese to the Three-Ingredient Tomato Sauce. Use these recipes as a baseline and experiment to start creating your own unique dishes. Happy eating!
CC Photo by Ryan Kazda