Cast your mind back to the Easter vac—a bygone era before coursework or prelims revision, filled with holiday related snacks and access to a fridge stocked by my mum. Although there’s a lot to be said for my college, with its tacky-floored bar and prospectus-glossed amenities, moving back into college always leaves a kitchen sized hole in my heart.
Where I’d usually spend a lot of the vac cooking for myself, this April was generally spent on the sofa, recovering from ankle surgery. However, as soon as I could ease myself onto one crutch and back towards the fridge, I set to making the most of my last two weeks with a clean stove top to myself. The final three days of my vacation-kitchen-programme were highlighted by a Passover dinner, an Easter egg hunt, and my own, last supper.
“Moving back into college always leaves a kitchen sized hole in my heart”
With a slight allergy to following recipes (or instructions in any form), lunch is typically a scavenged affair, although my options are always improved by my family’s sportsmanlike approach to religion and its associated dietary restrictions. One side of the kitchen is stacked with Easter eggs, which themselves are flanked by enough matzah to soak up a generously sized puddle. Having mastered the art of carrying an easter egg with one hand whilst using a crutch with the other, I decide it’s time to brush up on my culinary skills.
When I do hobble into the kitchen, I’m on a mission to make something relatively simple. My ingredients will have to be basic, but my journey is intrepid: half of a sweet pepper resides behind one of two dirty chopping boards, a slightly wizened lemon sits on the bread bin, and I manage to procure a sprig of parsley in a similarly disheveled state. At least the shallots are in the fridge! I could spend the rest of my article writing a love letter to shallots: I’ll just indulge myself enough to say that they are transformatively delicious and grossly middle class (and so much more expensive than onions that I would never cook with them at uni, even with a kitchen of my own).
Vegetables in hand, I reckon I have enough ingredients to throw together a pasta sauce. I wish I was better than pasta, or more inventive than pasta, but I have one free arm and a hankering for carbohydrates, and so the box of spaghetti emerges from the cupboard, and the last supper lunch begins.
When making your last supper pasta sauce, locate the nearest and cleanest knife to finely dice your shallots and the bell pepper half that you hope wasn’t lying out for any reason. Add the shallots to a pan on a low heat with butter (or lactose free butter, if you want to commit to the Jewish experience). Next, roughly chop 3 asparagus stems you found when you took the butter out of the fridge and add them to the pan with the diced peppers.
In the meantime, if you managed your time well you’ll have a pot of boiling water ready for you to salt and add your pasta to. Otherwise, turn the heat down as low as possible on the vegetables, salt the pan, and hope nothing burns.
Once the pasta has cooked for about five minutes (or just 2 minutes less than the packet says), splash a little bit of the pasta water into the pan because you’ve heard food bloggers say it’s meant to help with binding the sauce to the pasta, you think? The steam will probably make sure the asparagus is fully cooked, anyway. Next, immediately add the pasta into the pan. Add some lemon zest, some roughly chopped parsley, and squeeze some lemon juice before mixing everything together in a pan which is now too small to contain your lunch. Eat it quickly and feel relieved that you can stop trying to spell parsley.
For dessert, scan the selection of Easter eggs and pick the one least likely to cause offence if anyone caught you eating it early.
Ingredients (per person)
- Half an onion (or, one shallot)
- Half a bell pepper
- 3-5 asparagus stems
- Handful of parsley
- Approx 100g of pasta
- Half a lemon (juice and zest)