Conquer your hunger and learn to cook

Credit: Eunice Oh/ Credit: Eunice Oh/ Sweet potato salad plays the sweet richness of potato (or yam, depending on what kind of person you are) against the sharp flavor of onion, the smoothness of buttery avocados, and the zing of cilantro. (credit: Laura Scherb/Operations Manager) Sweet potato salad plays the sweet richness of potato (or yam, depending on what kind of person you are) against the sharp flavor of onion, the smoothness of buttery avocados, and the zing of cilantro. (credit: Laura Scherb/Operations Manager) Save the Summer Splunk over freshly cooked fettuccine. Top it with some cheese, and it'll look fresh out of a five-star kitchen. (credit: Laura Scherb/Operations Manager) Save the Summer Splunk over freshly cooked fettuccine. Top it with some cheese, and it'll look fresh out of a five-star kitchen. (credit: Laura Scherb/Operations Manager)

Microwave cooking is so freshman year. After those two wonderfully naive and shiny semesters, life gets real, and so does the lack of food in your kitchen, if you’re lucky enough to get one on campus or decide to move off campus. You’re one year closer to being a real person, and part of that life is acknowledging that, yes, you too can cook.

So, without further depressing ado about how you probably aren’t on the meal plan anymore, here are some recipes that will make subsisting not only filling, but also delicious.

Summer Splunk, serves 2

This dish is named for the sound that the amazing vegetable stew makes as you plop it on top of a mountain of pasta — splunk. The beauty of this recipe is its variability. In the winter, substitute fresh veggies for frozen ones. They won’t be quite as delicious, but you’ll still be just as satisfied. To that end, if you don’t like one of the ingredients, change it! Trust your gut. It’s growling. Make sure to time your multitasking well — start the pasta when you start the onion. Then you’ll have a chance to drain and cool it before you add it.

1 white onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 zucchinis, sliced
1 container of grape tomatoes, sliced in half
3 spicy Italian sausages, grilled and sliced
3 ears of fresh corn, off the cob
Fresh basil and thyme, to taste
Rosemary, to taste
Olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
½ box of fettuccine, cooked and drained
Parmesan cheese

1) Saute the onion and garlic in the olive oil until the onions are limp and the garlic is browned. You should be able to smell the deliciousness.
2) Add the zucchini, stirring it in with the onion and garlic. Add salt, pepper, and any other spices (except the basil) that you’re using. (Hint: Oregano would be a great substitute.)
3) When the zucchini is cooked down (it’ll shrink as the moisture leaves it), add the tomatoes and corn. These vegetables take less time to cook. Add the basil, then taste your creation so far. If you think it needs more salt or pepper or anything else, add it! You’re in charge here.
4) Toss the sausage in and lower the heat. Let it all stew for a few minutes so the flavors mingle. Flavor mingling is essential.

5) Toss the drained and cooled pasta with olive oil and some salt. Put a generous serving on a plate.
6) Top that with a serving of the veggies, the cheese, and any remaining basil.

Not Your Momma’s Fried Rice, serves 2

Greasy fried rice is the ultimate guilty pleasure when the 2 a.m. munchies strike. The next time your mouth waters at the thought of the sticky rice and the salty sting of soy sauce, close the GrubHub tab on your browser and make your own. The key to a great fried rice is the rice. A sticky white rice makes for a perfectly textured final product. Use leftover rice from last night’s order to make yourself feel better about the fact that you’re eating at 2 a.m. in the first place.

1 cup of white rice, cooked
1 bag of frozen veggies, defrosted so they won’t be watery and gross
Chicken, cooked (or tofu, or beef, or pork, or nothing if you aren’t feeling very protein-y)
2 eggs
Soy sauce
Sesame oil (if you don’t have it, don’t sweat it)
Lots of vegetable oil
Lots of salt
Red pepper flakes

1) Start by throwing some vegetable oil in a pan. Make it a big pan, though, because all of this is going in.
2) Cook the veggies in the oil, making sure that they’re not too watery going in. Watery veggies make for sad fried rice. Season them appropriately.
3) When the veggies start to brown and get crispy, add some sesame oil and soy sauce and let them fry in the oils for a bit. This frying is essential for flavoring the fried rice.
4) Add your protein of choice and lightly fry it with the veggies and oils. Add more seasoning if you think it needs it.
5) Add the rice to the pan and stir it around to mix everything in together. Keep stirring so nothing sticks to the pan and burns.
6) Make a hole in the middle and crack the eggs into it. Let them cook just until the whites are turning ... well, white, and then stir them into everything else. Make sure there’s an even coating and don’t forget to stir! Your tongue will thank you later.
7) When the egg-covered mixture of deliciousness is cooked, add a decent amount of soy sauce. I usually keep adding until everything has turned brown, but it depends on what you like! Add more spice here if desired.
8) Let the soy sauce cook into everything for about a minute, then take it off the heat. Consume and let the food coma begin.

Sweet Potato Salad, serves 4 as a side

This recipe is easy. And it’s vegan. It’s v-easy. Even if you love eating animal products, you’ll still fall head-over-heels for this substantial salad. With a nice baguette, this could easily become a cheap but impressive dinner for two. Moreover, it’s embarrassingly easy, super healthy, and pretty darn delicious. You literally cannot lose.

3 or 4 large sweet potatoes (or yams)
1 purple onion, chopped
2 avocados, diced
1 red pepper, diced
2 cans of black beans, drained
1 can of corn, drained
Olive oil, for drizzling
1 bunch of cilantro (unless you’re one of those people who is genetically predisposed to hating cilantro because it tastes like soap)
Salt and pepper to taste

1) The first thing you have to do is preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Don’t panic about the fact that you’re using the oven. It’s just for baking the potatoes. Stay with me.
2) Next, take a large, very sharp knife and slice the sweet potatoes or yams. The slices should be reasonably thick but not thick enough that they don’t cook. I usually eyeball it, but for those of you who need a measurement, I would say around 1/2 inch. But, again, don’t panic if they’re too big or too small. It’ll work out.
3) Toss the slices in some olive oil, then put them in a pan and roast them for about 20 minutes. Check them often to make sure they’re not burning to crisps. When they’re soft enough to be speared by a fork, take them out and set them aside to cool.
4) Chop, dice, and drain everything that needs to be chopped, diced, or drained. Combine all of the chopped, diced, or drained things in a large bowl and set it aside.
5) Now that your potatoes have cooled a little bit, dice them and add them to the bowl. Toss everything around so the colors mix up and it looks fun and festive. Add your salt and pepper until it tastes seasoned to you.
6) Chop some cilantro and sprinkle it on top to make it look fancy, like you know what you’re doing.
7) Set it on the table, admire, and pat yourself on the back for making something that gorgeous. Then make sure you turn the oven off.

Note: This recipe was inspired in part by a recipe found on audreysapron.wordpress.com.

One Last Bite of Wisdom

There is little feeling more satisfying — or adult-like — than sitting down to a plateful of food that you just brought into existence with your own two hands, a few appliances, and a recipe. Not only did you create something, but now you get to stuff your face and Instagram a picture to make your friends jealous. Chances are, it’s healthier, cheaper, and more aesthetically pleasing than what they’re eating tonight.

Don’t be afraid to change things about recipes to make them taste better for you. You won’t ruin it — you’ll only make something new. Cooking isn’t about being right or wrong. It’s about finding what tastes good to you and sharing it with your friends and family.

Or keeping it for yourself, pigging out, and slipping slowly into a food coma as you realize just how amazing you are at life.