A really big part of university life is the ability to feed yourself. The past 18 years I’ve had very little need to cook. So, this summer I’m going to learn how to cook for myself, hopefully without getting food poisoning.

For now I’m using my mum’s cookbooks, my favorite’s being James Martin’s ‘My kitchen’ (it divides everything into season so it’s not one I’ll be using that much when I’m at uni but for now it’s useful), ‘500 Greatest Ever Vegetarian Recipes’ editor: Valerie Ferguson and some others. I’d suggest to anyone becoming a student next year to start learning a few recipes that they will actually cook (no point only learning how to make pasta from scratch if you don’t know how to turn it into a meal).

I should point out that I’m a vegetarian 99% of the time (a few drunken burgers have been consumed over the years).

This is one of my favorite recipes that I’ve attempted:

Turkish-style New Potato Casserole (500 Greatest Ever Vegetarian Recipes, editor: Valerie Ferguson)

  • 60ml olive oil
  • 1 large onion (chopped)
  • 2 medium aubergines (cubed)
  • 4 Courgettes (chunks)
  • 1 green pepper (seeded and chopped) – I swapped this for a yellow pepper as I’m not a fan of the green ones
  • 1 red or yellow pepper (seeded and chopped)
  • 115g of fresh or frozen peas
  • 115g of french beans
  • 450g of new potatoes (cubed) – I’d recommend boiling these first as the huge amount of veg involved here can make it harder for them to soften.
  • 1/2tsp cinnamon, ground cumin & paprika
  • 5 tomatoes (halved, seeded and chopped)
  • 400g of can, chopped tomatoes
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic (crushed)
  • 2tbsp fresh parsley
  • 350ml vegetable stock
  • salt & pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 190oC/375oF/Gas5. Heat 45ml of the oil in a heavy-based pan (this needs to be very large if you’re using the quantities the recipes suggests). Add the onion and fry over a medium heat, stirring occasionally 5-7 minutes, until golden.
  2. Add the aubergines, saute for 3 minutes, then add the courgettes, peppers, peas, beans and potatoes. Stir in the cinnamon, cumin, paprika and season.  Cook for another 3 minutes, stirring all the time. Transfer to a shallow ovenproof dish.
  3. Mix in the fresh and canned tomatoes in a bowl. Stir in the parsley, garlic and remaining olive oil.
  4. Pour the stock over the aubergine mixture, and spoon the prepared tomato mixture over the top.
  5. Cover with foil and bake for 30-45 minutes (mine took longer but it depends on the oven I suppose), until the veg is tender. Garnish with black olives and parsley (I left out the olives).

Happy cooking!