3 easy recipes for college students

Tristan Rathbun, Staff Writer

Most college students don’t yet realize how easy it is to cook. We expect it to require time, labor and skill that we don’t have, but that is far from the truth. Do you have a pot, a stove, a knife and a cutting board? That’s all you need!  

Here are three simple recipes that I often turn to when I’m hungry, busy and don’t want to do too many dishes. It should be noted that the spice suggestions are low to accommodate milder tastes, but feel free to increase the measurements as needed.

1. Mujaddara

This is a pared-down version of the classic Lebanese dish that I think makes it perfect for a quick meal. In an authentic setting it would be served alongside a selection of delicious sauces, but this is meant as an easy weeknight dinner. If you choose to sauté your onions rather than caramelize them, this dish will take an hour to make, and you only have to be present for about half of that time.

What you’ll need:

  • 1 cup dry lentils
  • 1 cup dry rice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2-3 large yellow onions
  • 3 cups broth, your choice
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • Salt to taste, according to your choice of broth
Salmon filet and cooked vegetables. (Casey Lee/Unsplash)

What you’ll need to do:

  1. Slice your onions as thinly as you can. This will help to speed up the cooking and makes for a nicer texture.
  2. Add the olive oil and onions to the pot. Turn to a low heat.

You’re going to be caramelizing the onions for the best flavor, but that can take up to an hour. If you want to sauté the onions to save time, skip to step four.

  1. If you’re caramelizing the onions, then I commend you! Your patience will be rewarded. Stir them frequently for about an hour, or until they turn to a golden brown and are slightly sticky.
  2. Once your onions are done, add the spices, liquid, rice and lentils to the pot and stir them together. This is where you want to check on the salt content of your broth.
  3. Cover the pot with a lid and bring to a full boil. Once it reaches a boil, turn the heat down and let it simmer for about half an hour.
  4. Let it cool, then serve.

2. Dal

“Dal” is a word in Hindi that roughly translates to lentil, at least for our purposes. While this recipe may not be truly authentic, it is made in the spirit of Indian cuisine. I prefer to eat this over rice, but it works just as well on its own. There are infinite variations of recipes using this ingredient, and so this name is a bit simplistic, but so is the recipe.

What you’ll need:

  • A cheese grater or knife as a substitute
  • A strainer or colander
  • 1 cup dry lentils
  • 1 can crushed or diced tomatoes
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • ½ cup of milk or cream, your choice
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger or about ¼ teaspoon of ginger powder
  • ½ teaspoon of cayenne pepper or more for a spicier dish
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cumin
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Frozen pizza from the grocery store cooked in your oven at home. (Chad Montano/Unsplash)

What you’ll need to do:

  1. Put the lentils in the pot with enough water to cover them and bring to a boil. Keep them going until they are soft and tender. This should take about ten minutes.

If you are using the powdered variety of the spices, skip to step three.

  1. While the lentils cook, grate or mince your ginger and mince the garlic. 
  2. Drain the lentils and return them to the pot. Add the spices, ginger, and garlic. Turn the stove to a medium heat.
  3. Add the tomatoes and about a cup of water. Stir and let it simmer for about half an hour with the lid on the pot.
  4. Remove the lid and make sure the lentils are soft and thick. Stir in your cream or milk, turn off the heat and serve.

3. Cajun Cabbage, Sausage and Noodles

I received this recipe from a friend in Louisiana, where the dish is a beloved comfort food. He refused to share his spice mix with me and so I was forced to approximate his ingredients, but feel free to sub in your own. It is easy to make and it tastes delicious! This dish is best served topped with green onions and your favorite Louisiana hot sauce. 

What you’ll need: 

  • 12 ounces smoked sausage
  • ½ head of cabbage
  • ½ bag of egg noodles (about 8 ounces)
  • Green onions to taste
  • Hot sauce to taste
  • Butter to taste
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon oregano
  • ½ teaspoon thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil, your choice
  • Salt to taste
Bowtie pasta, basil pesto, and tomatoes on a bed of lettuce. (Eaters Collective/Unsplash)

What you’ll need to do:

  1. Boil the noodles.
  2. Finely shred the cabbage, slice your sausage and assemble the spice blend.
  3. Drain the noodles and add the oil and sausage to the pot. Set your stove to a medium heat.
  4. Once the sausage has browned, add the cabbage and spices to the pot with about ¼ cup of water.
  5. Once the cabbage is wilted, add the noodles and the butter and salt your dish.
  6. To finish, slice the green onions and sprinkle them on top.