In an attempt to stay current in these *unprecedented* times (sorry, I couldn’t help myself), this article will speak to those culinary creatives among you seeking a little inspiration when faced with a dismal under-equipped college kitchen – or bedroom.
Before I get into things, I should stress that eating meals exclusively made using your microwave is, frankly, quite sad. Coming from a girl who notoriously ate toast for breakfast, lunch, and dinner on a gloomy day in Michaelmas of first year, I can say with confidence that consuming nutritionally-dense food in the company of good friends far exceeds the rewards of lazy ineptitude. With this in mind, I would honestly advise against recreating this ‘what I eat in a day’ until perhaps it is your only option (eek: isolation!).
Breakfast: Porridge (pimped, obviously). An absolute microwave STAPLE.
But first, coffee. Brew up (you know you’re an adult when maternal instincts extend to your Nespresso machine), then heat your milk (I vote oat) in the microwave on high for just under a minute. I use my 350ml cafetière (lid off in the microwave!!!) to facilitate frothing, but each to their own.
Oats, salt, milk, an assortment of toppings (not optional).
- Combine a ½ cup of oats (approx. 40g) with a pinch of salt and ¾ cup of water or milk. I like to do this either the night before or as soon as I’m up, as it helps to achieve that ultimate creamy texture and also supports nutrient intake (soaking aids the break-down of oat starches and phytic acid, making minerals like zinc, iron and calcium more available for absorption!!).
- When it’s nearly time to eat, add a dash more liquid, stir in some chia or ground flaxseeds, and heat on high for 1-2 minutes. Keep a watchful eye on your oats – if they start to bubble aggressively, whack the heat down a notch.
- After this first cook, give your porridge another good, loving stir and consider adding more liquid if she’s looking a little thicker than desired (thicker than a bowl of oatmeal, if you will) (the isolation’s really getting to my head).
- Now’s the time to add any cinnamon/cocoa/other, but note you’ll need to stir THOROUGHLY and add more liquid.
- Chuck your bowl back in the microwave and heat for a further 1-2 mins. Remove (careful – she’s hot!), stir, and allow to stand while you prep the toppings: banana, berries, seeds – knock yourself out. I like to finish things off with a drizzle of tahini or nut butter, and a splash of liquid sweetener.
Lunch: Super stuffed sweet potato. Rogue, I know. But this recipe is a game-changer.
Now, as someone who typically consumes (pimped) porridge at about 11.00, lunch tends to pass me by (I head for a cheeky 4pm snack instead). But to those of you looking for a hearty bit of midday sustenance, I offer the following.
A sweet potato, beans of your choice, seasoning, a packet of veggies, and something to make it bouji… cheese/tahini/yogurt/sour cream/avocado.
- Prep your potato. Wash/scrub, and poke holes all over your potato using a sharp knife. Do NOT skip this step! I will not be held accountable for any microwave explosions.
- If you have kitchen paper to hand, wet a sheet with cold water, lay it on a plate, then kindly wrap your sweet potato inside. No paper? No worries – it will work the same, just might retain a slightly tougher skin.
- Microwave your potato parcel on high for 3 minutes.
- In the meantime, grab and stab your veggie packet with your knife a few times (I repeat, no explosions please). When the machine beeps, flip your potato over and chuck in your veggie packet, then microwave everything for a further 2-3 mins.
- Prep your beans. I went for black beans but do get creative. Rinse the beans (if you are without a strainer, simply stab a few holes in the base of the can), transfer to a bowl and season – I like a bit of salt, paprika, cayenne, turmeric or even a touch of lemon juice.
- By now your potato and veggies will be crying out to be eaten – remove them from the microwave (hot, hot, hot!!) and unwrap, checking that everything is cooked to order.
- Slice your potato down the middle, season and add a little butter (mash it in), then lay over your bean concoction. Stack your veg on the side and top it all off with a sprinkle of cheese, a scoop of yogurt or some sliced avo. Oh yes.
N.B. bean/veggie leftovers will do well for a day or two stored in an airtight container in the fridge.
Dinner: Pasta et al.
Ah, the crème de la crème of all meals. But, make it microwave.
Without wishing to take this embarrassingly too far, settling in for a quiet night in with your microwave calls for a little attention to detail, in my opinion.
Firstly, set the tone: you’re staying in, perhaps seeking solace after a taxing day in the metaphorical office, keen to avoid the global pandemic festering in your local Nandos. Maybe you’re just tired of yelling through Perspex in College’s socially-distanced hall. Whatever brings you to this place, furnish it with good vibes – I go for jazz, my neighbour (thanks thin walls) prefers a podcast, you do you.
Dried pasta, water, pasta sauce, veggies of your choice, cheese.
- Decant your pasta portion into the DEEP microwaveable bowl/jug and cover with freshly boiled water. The deeper the bowl, the better. I learnt this the hard way.
- Now microwave (careful, she’s hot already) for the time stated on the packet: approx. 8-9 mins. Watch that she doesn’t overflow – putting a shallow dish underneath to catch any spillage might be a good shout.
- When the time is up, check the pasta is cooked through with a fork before draining and transferring to your plate (to drain, position a plate on top of the bowl if you still don’t have a strainer).
- Now you have some options here: repeat the packet vegetable technique we learnt at lunch… or supplement your dish with some pre-cooked lentils or chickpeas. Crack open a jar of sauce, warm it through in that same bowl we used for the pasta, mix in the veggies, smother over the pasta, sprinkle with cheese and bish, bash, bosh.
Pair with a tasty beverage of your choosing, sit back, and revel in your culinary triumph.